If you’re fortunate enough to have a battle rope in your tool kit then chances are you have the option of setting up a game of tug of war. Tug of War was actually an Olympic event in 1920 however dates back to 500BC as an ancient Olympics event.
For us of course it dates back to our childhood and this is virtually the entire reason behind bringing it back into our bootcamp sessions. The sessions that our clients love the most are the ones that draw out the ‘child’s play’ within us while still physically challenging us.
“So what options do we have?” Can I hear you say?
Well outside of standing there and everyone pulling on a rope of course here are 3 of my favourites:
Do you, like most gym goers, believe that it takes over an hour each day in the gym to see results? This idea of sweating it out for hours and hours each week stems from a traditional cardiovascular exercise mindset. The popularity of cardio coincided with the widespread use of in-door fitness equipment such as the treadmill. For decades, fitness enthusiasts believed that 45 to 60 minutes (or even more!) on a treadmill at a low intensity would generate the greatest amount of fat loss. Modern research is proving this is far from true. Let’s take a look at the emergence of a new type of cardiovascular training that saves you time and burns far more fat.
THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL CARDIO
The treadmill-based cardio workout that almost everyone is familiar with has one major flaw: your body will quickly plateau due to a lack of changing stimuli. The long duration of the low intensity exercise may be challenging at first but your body, in its need for homeostasis, will be hyper efficient at adapting. After several workouts, your body knows what to expect and doesn’t need to work nearly as hard as you keep working at the same incline for the same self prescribed time limit. In other words, you aren’t challenging yourself. So what is the solution? High intensity interval training.
WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?
High intensity interval training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T., is a form of cardiovascular-based circuit training. Although it is traditionally based on bodyweight exercises, low volume can be incorporated. H.I.I.T. involves completing set variables for a number of exercises, targeting alternating muscle groups, in rapid succession. No rest period is allowed until you complete one full set of every exercise.
BENEFITS OF H.I.I.T.
H.I.I.T. is as intense as it sounds. Is it all just fitness hype? Not at all. One real world example is to think about runners who specialize in sprinting. They aren’t running long distances. They are utilizing maximum effort for a very short period of time. Despite very short workouts, sprinters are extremely lean and fit. Science also has a lot to say about H.I.I.T.
Workouts that are short in duration yet extremely high in intensity have been shown time and time again to be one of the most effective methods for triggering fat loss and muscle building. As you’ll see in this study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, H.I.I.T. was proven to be vastly superior to its traditional cardio (long duration/low intensity) counterpart.
One of the biggest excuses used when people don’t exercise is the amount of time it takes. Another study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism focused on just how effective H.I.I.T. was at saving time for the subjects. The result? It was confirmed that H.I.I.T. is a highly effective and time efficient way to work out.
BEGINNER’S H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
Here’s a great sample H.I.I.T. workout to get you started. Best of all, one set is going to be quick and to the point. Allot yourself 1 to 3 minutes to rest before beginning another set.
Bodyweight Squats: 20
Reverse Lunges: 20
Mountain Climbers: 15
INTERMEDIATE H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
10x100m Sprints @ 75-80% effort – Walk 30m recovery Slow jog 70m
High intensity interval training is not only the best way to burn fat and support muscle growth, but it can be performed anywhere at any time. Incorporate a H.I.I.T. workout into your routine up to four times per week for great results.
Our PT Accelerator Program has a full subject on metabolic conditioning, called 'Advanced Circuit Design'. Check it out here.
Who said that a personal training session has to be boring and intimidating? Every trainer has that client who dreads Leg Day. You won’t be able to visit a single gym without finding a trainer with clients that still insist on the treadmill for their Cardio Day. If you’re a trainer that wants to incorporate fun into your client’s workouts, then look no further than your childhood. Believe it or not, children’s school yard games are an amazing way to sweat up a storm and stay fit. Let’s revisit the top 3 kid’s games that you can utilize during your sessions.
WALL BALL DRILL
Needing only a tennis ball and a large wall, this game can be played indoors or outside. Rules may vary based on where you’re from, so it’ll be important to adjust accordingly by doing the following:
Have your client start with the tennis ball. He/She will stand at least 15 feet away from the wall.
STUCK IN THE MUD
If you are a trainer with group sessions, then this is a perfect game to utilize. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and client will work up a sweat.
Choose one client to be “it.”
This one requires groups of 4, and acts as a great drill to use during the warm-up process
While wanting to achieve a dream physique is hard work for your client, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. By adding in the games mentioned above, you will provide your client with a much-needed change of pace.
For more awesome tips and tricks LIKE our Facebook page which is jam packed with exercises, drills and training ideas click here to check it out.
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!
I finished up this morning with a couple of boxing bag drills on a client and it just reminded me how effective they are as a conditioning tool.
So I thought I’d share them with you – boxing bags are reasonably common so this might just act as a reminder like it was for me, or you could very well soon have a new favourite conditioning drill! One thing is for sure though, you’ll need a boxing bag that is lying around the gym (unloved) or one that the gym manager is happy for you to pull down and get creative with. Hot tip if you want to keep working there: ask first!!
These two drills are as a fantastic “finisher” at the end of a session, just to ensure your client leaves the gym totally spent.
Drill one – Burpee, Flip and Jump:
Drill two – Bag Slams:
This drill should be left to those clients that already have some sound conditioning under their belts because of the intense nature of the movement. Weak cores and suspect lower backs need not perform this movement.
Leave a comment below to let us know what you think of these exercises! Will you give them a try?
It’s that time of year again summer is just around the corner! Gym members realise they better make use of their gym membership again as the swim suit will be out again soon!’
So I thought I’d write up an outdoor circuit format that is an old favourite of mine; metabolic circuits are the best way to get clients out of winter hibernation and off to a head start before the weather warms up. I hope you enjoy it – remember that you can get as creative as you like with the tasks you program into the circuit.
An ABC circuit is a format designed to suit large outdoor groups (up to 18 people) by dividing your clients in teams of three and assigning a series of three fitness exercises to each group. Once each member has completed the round of three exercises, they rotate to the next set.
A classic set-up may look like this:
Person A – is stationed at an active rest exercise (e.g. Plank)
Person B – is stationed at a strength exercise (e.g. Squats)
Person C – is stationed at a cardio task (e.g. Shuttle runs)
Person C is the ‘time setter’ for the group of three, so person A & B work for as long as it takes for person C to complete the cardio component. Once person C has completed their task, each person rotates one spot, (Person A becomes Person B, etc). You will want to design the cardio tasks to take between 30-40 seconds to complete, that way it should take your entire group around 30-40min to get through 5-6 sets.
As mentioned, once all three members have completed the cardio task, they move onto the next set of exercises. 60-90sec rest can be given to the group after each set of three depending on the fitness level you are working with. This circuit obviously works with as few as three clients in your group as well, and if the weather is too cold or wet you can do this in the group fitness room at the gym if it’s available!
Let us know what you think in the comments after you try it out!
Thought I’d share a few thoughts on power training with you; I’ve always been a fan of this form of training for its uplifting (or dare I say it, ‘empowering’) qualities!
There are many ways to define power, however from a gym perspective power can be considered as your ability to generate a large volume of force in a short period of time. This force is generally used to overcome an external force; whether it’s gravity in relation to our bodyweight or a weighted object that we are holding/pulling. What defines your power is how quickly you can overcome those forces just mentioned.
This is relevant to not only the athlete but also the average client. Numerous studies have linked power acquisition to improved strength levels, so for a person that wants to improve their chin-ups or perform a squat that’s one or two times their body weight that’s an important point to note. By training our muscles to move quickly, we increase the excitability of our motor neurons, which engages more muscle fibres to contract more quickly, particularly as they come out of the stretch reflex cycle.
My number one tip for power acquisition is this. Your nervous system is highly adaptive; if you train your muscles slowly, they will perform slowly every time. So regardless of how much weight you’re pushing, if you’re not moving quickly don’t bother moving at all!
My top 3 power exercises:
Power cleans: this is an advanced movement, but one that is worthwhile investing time into learning. It represents the perfect blend of speed and strength acquisition.
Split jumps on a box: this exercise creates a safer environment for your client to push themselves as hard as possible during plyometrics, without exposing them to the high impacts that come with other forms of plyometrics.
Squat jumps in a suspension trainer: adding a small active pull against the handles while jumping will give you an extra 10-15% in speed of movement and therefore height. The use of over speed training has been around for some time, and these jump squats are an easy way to apply this methodology. The theory of forcing muscles to move quicker than humanly possible encourages the motor neurons to re-wire and adapt to the new found speed of movement and ultimately creating a more power for you.
If you love power training then my book is a must for you, check it out via the red button below.
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.