Do you work with small groups, corporate groups or sports teams? In any of these cases, the number one thing you can do to increase intensity during your circuit sessions is to develop unity between the members of the group. You can set up the most amazing set of exercises in the history of circuits, but without competition, encouragement and friendly banter between the particiapants you are never going to get the results you know are possible. Here are some bullet-pointed ideas for you to try out.
Single station acting as the circuit time keeper:
Set your circuit up in a line format where all the stations face the ‘time keeper’ station that dictates how long everybody works for. This will allow the team to encourage the participant who is working on that station as they are completing their own challenge. This usually works best if the ‘time keeper’ is doing something cardio based. If your typical work time is somewhere between 30-60sec long, make sure you pre-plan this station so you know it will take the clients the right period of time to complete it.
• 200m sprint = approx 60sec
• 15 Burpees = 30-45sec
• 5 Shuttles (5m increments) = 30-45sec
• 30 Dbl arm battle rope slams = 30-45sec
• 20x Walking lunges = 30-45sec
The use of this format creates great team spirit as team members encourage each other to complete the exercise as quickly as possible so less work is done by all. It also forces the individual on the time station to be accountable as he or she knows the team is relying on them to keep working.
As far as cheap and effective team bonding sessions go, they don’t get much better than this! The number of participants will dictate the length of rope required however normally 1.5m of rope per person is about right. This session can be done in virtually any outdoor environment however a flat field and hills work best. The concept of the session is to perform a field run interspersed with various exercises and drills, BUT there are a few catches.
• All team members must be holding the rope at all times unless the instructor says so.
• No part of the rope is allowed to touch the ground at any time of the session unless the instructor says so.
• All team members must call out rep numbers together where applicable and reps must be carried out in time.
• When any of the rules are broken during general jogging or drills a punishment is given to the team for example, Burpees
• Push-ups – The team must figure out a way to perform push-ups together while abiding by all the rules above, in particular the first two.
• Jogging with rope above level of head – Team must carry rope above the head for a period of time without letting the rope drop below the level of the head.
• Indian file – The last person on the line while jogging must let go of the rope and sprint to the front. This pattern is continued until all team members have sprinted. Again the rope must not touch the ground during this process.
• Overhead lunges/squats – The team must perform a series of reps of the movement chosen with the rope being maintained above the head at all times.
• 1 or 2 – Have the team number off 1,2 at the beginning of the session. While jogging randomly call 1 or 2, the people that are allocated that number must let go of the rope and sprint around an object and return back to the rope. The remaining team members must cover the slack of the rope so it doesn’t touch the ground during this process.
A typical session would run between 30-45min depending on the fitness level of the group. You as the instructor can dictate the severity of punishments and strictness of the rules. This session is fantastic for teaching team work, communication and creating unity amongst a group of people. Helloooo, bootcamp!
This is a really fun circuit format where the group have the opportunity to be quite jovial with each other.
Place 12 cones in a line 10 of which have exercises written on the underside of the cone (not seen by the participants). The exercises must vary in intensity and difficulty from active recovery exercises such as prone hold through to burpees. Be sure to also write the number of repetitions you wish the participants to do. The two cones that are left blank are ‘joker cards’ and represent an exercise or series of exercises that are more difficult in nature than any of the cones, this gives the session a bit of suspense as no one wants to draw the ‘dud’ cone. The participants take turns in choosing a cone that the entire group must do together. In between each cone the group must perform a cardio based exercise for 1min (jogging, skipping, step-ups, shadow boxing). So for every cone that is performed there’s one minute of cardio attached to it (I like to alternate the cardio stations between skipping and jogging).
The session finishes when all cones are completed.
What other ways do you create comradery amongst your groups? Leave us a comment below!
There are many forms of visualisation, and most of us know it in a sporting context as the use of imagery to reinforce a desired outcome of an activity or competition. It’s often used in preparation for the activity, for example an Olympic lifter going through their cues before they go to the platform or a soccer player seeing themselves performing the team plays.
Visualisation from a sports psychology perspective has been around for quite some time and is an important part of an athlete’s mental focus (studies have shown that visualisation alone can improve performance without training!). It can also be found in any good counsellor’s clinic, yoga studio or meditation retreat. So why wouldn’t we as Personal Trainers look to tap into this powerful tool also?
In fairness, visualisation techniques aren’t really part of the Cert 4 framework, are they? However the use of imagery techniques can also work for our clients as a powerful motivator. I am living proof of that, as are many of my clients. We even see extreme examples of it in use on weight loss reality TV shows, where trainers might shout at the participants asking the question, “Why are you here?” This cue then fuels a flood of images in the mind which hopefully represent where they see themselves in 10 years, and all of a sudden there is some fire in the belly and they are able to overcome the challenge they were given with ease.
We too can use imagery to get the most out of our clients. This is how:
On one hand, like any skill, practice makes perfect and by that I mean have your client think of the image regularly and feel the passion it ignites (stick a picture on the bathroom mirror and tell them to look at it while brushing their teeth). On the other hand, call on their image only when your client needs you the most to push them to a place where they wouldn’t take themselves. Whether that’s a strength set to failure or burpees at the back end of a hard core circuit. Save it for those big occasions when you are truly teaching your client how strong they actually are, and watch them take control of their goals.
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.