Help participants turn up the heat with strategic overload.
If you are looking for a plateau buster to challenge your students, this class has been designed for you. It’s intended as an occasional class to help participants adapt to a higher level of strength and endurance through progressive overload. “Overload” is an amount of resistance (stimulus) necessary to further improve fitness; “progressive” refers to a gradual approach to introducing more work for the body to overcome. Through participating in a class like this one, students learn how to choose the resistance levels that will best meet their fitness needs and goals. A welcome consequence: participants are likely to notice results faster.
It is imperative that you, as coach, regularly cue participants by asking, “Could you use more resistance?” or suggesting, “If you could have completed even two more reps, try using the next weight up” or just saying, “It’s never too late to choose heavier (or lighter) weights.” Participants begin to feel empowered when they hear these cues. And in time they understand the importance of progressive overload and of working to fatigue.
Metabolic Magic Details
Format: Endurance and strength class. The 12 exercises are chosen based on function. Traditional equipment provides the foundation for a good endurance and strength class. Balance challenges provide participants cross-training opportunities as well as ideas for balance exercises they can do at home. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Perform each exercise to fatigue two times—first the endurance set (15 reps) and then the strength set (8 reps).
- A participant may finish the first (endurance) set and realize she did not work to fatigue (based on your verbal cues of how it should feel), so make sure you factor that in when cuing the second (strength) set. For example, if someone used 8-pound weights during the endurance set and did not reach a state of fatigue, encourage her to try significantly heavier weights (e.g., 15 pounds) for the strength set.
- Whereas “pure” strength training is more anaerobic, endurance plus strength training is more cardiovascular; therefore, the weights should be significantly heavier for the strength set.
- Encourage participants to choose weights conservatively the first time through the workout. After they’ve had a chance to try the exercises, they will understand the concept more clearly and be in a better position to make customized choices.
Total Time: 60 minutes
- dumbbells: light and heavier weights (one set for endurance, another for strength)
- two sets of tubing: one thinner, one thicker
- stability balls
- Xercuff ™ resistance bands or “O” bands
- light medicine balls (enough for partner work, one ball per pair)
Music: Choose music suitable for a circuit training or muscle-toning class (124–128 bpm).
Warm-Up (3–5 minutes)
Perform the following dynamic stretches to instrumental music (5 reps each stretch):
- Arm circumduction (circling in both directions).
- Shoulder adduction/abduction through the horizontal plane.
- Single-arm side stretches with knees slightly bent. Reach vertically along the horizontal axis and then over through the frontal plane—both sides; rest opposite hand on thigh for back support.
- Light squat to deeper squat (keeping core engaged).
- Trunk rotation around the horizontal plane. Do this last because it poses the most amount of risk to the back if the body is not warmed up.
Main Exercises (45 minutes)
Perform each exercise for endurance first (15 reps), with 30 seconds for transition. Use heavier weights for strength moves (8 reps). Each rep should take 6 seconds to complete: 3-second concentric phase (contraction) and 3-second eccentric (lengthening) phase. Both sets can be completed in approximately 3–4 minutes. Teach the following exercises in order.
- Squat to overhead press.
- Back lunge; return to standing; do lateral arm raises (alternate legs).
- Balance challenge: do single-leg balance (close eyes for visual challenge or use BOSU® Balance Trainer for unstable surface), 60 seconds each leg.
- Chest press with bridge on stability ball. End rep with arms no closer than shoulder width apart (heels stay on floor).
- Chest flye with bridge on stability ball. End rep with arms no closer than shoulder width apart (heels stay on floor).
- Balance challenge: do single-leg bent-knee dead lifts with 5-pound dumbbell, 1 minute each leg. Place dumbbell on floor in front; keeping back flat, bend forward from hips while reaching down for dumbbell. Once you have grasped dumbbell with both hands, simultaneously extend arms and torso until you reach vertical stance; repeat each time, placing dumbbell back down and picking it up every other repetition.
- Standing tubing row with partner: single leg for balance challenge for person doing the work; the other person is the “base”; 1 minute each set, and then switch. Base should have tube around his waist with legs staggered for better center of gravity; use more challenging tube for second set.
- Standing biceps curl to “scaption” (shoulder depression/scapular retraction, full shoulder abduction working within frontal plane). Upon completion of curl, draw arms out to sides (like “sunshine arms”). Once you have found shoulder abduction, slowly lower arms back down to arm curl position while maintaining excellent shoulder blade retraction and depression. Encourage class to choose lighter, more manageable weights for this exercise.
- Balance challenge: stability ball quadruped. Lie prone on ball, hands and feet in contact with floor; elevate opposite arm/leg. Switch after 30 seconds. Repeat 2x each side.
- Sagittal-plane shoulder extension (medial raise to vertical) to overhead triceps press (elbow extension).
- Lateral stepping: step length of room in athletic stance (using the Xercuff or “O” band). Do first minute at slow pace and second minute at very rapid pace. Keep feet parallel to properly engage abductors and glutes.
- V-sit medicine ball toss, medicine ball crunch pass and bicycles. Perform first two core exercises with partner and light medicine ball, and third exercise solo; 45 seconds for each move.
Cool-Down and Stretch (5 minutes)
Make sure participants’ heart rates are within normal ranges before transitioning to cool-down. Perform the following stretches, holding each for at least 30 seconds:
- Seated wide-angle stretch (straddle stretch): walk hands from one leg across to other leg, and back.
- Seated bound-angle stretch (butterfly stretch): grasp ankles and use elbows to apply gentle pressure to thighs.
- Standing single-leg quadriceps stretch: grasp shoelaces, draw lower leg in toward glutes, engage core and posteriorly tilt pelvis, keeping thighs parallel. Do not pull lower leg all the way to glutes, as this can hurt the knee.
- Front hand clasp: with hands clasped and arms extended in front of body, round the back and shoulders, bending knees slightly and performing partial squat to protect the back.
- Behind-the-back hand clasp: with hands clasped behind back, extend arms as much as possible without straining shoulders. If grasping hands is not possible for some participants, have them actively extend arms behind back.
- Side stretches: reach arm up and over to one side and then the other.
Becky Langton, MA, has worked in the education/fitness field for more than 15 years and owns Training Wheels Education Services Inc., a fitness consulting business.