Small-Group Training Techniques

by Jay Dawes, MS on Feb 18, 2010

Over the last several years, small-group personal training has dramatically increased in popularity. This form of training is not only time-effective for the personal trainer but economical for many clients unable to afford private sessions. However, many trainers who excel in a one-on-one training environment struggle when attempting to coordinate group sessions. Here are two techniques that can be helpful when you are trying to manage and structure a training session for three or more clients at once with limited equipment and resources. Integrate these techniques into a comprehensive training program.

Supersets

Supersets are a valuable tool for maximizing space and time during group training sessions. A superset can be defined as any two exercises—one performed immediately after the other, with minimal rest in between—that work an agonist and antagonist pair of muscles or muscle groups. An example would be a push-up immediately followed by a pull-up. This training method allows you to maximize workflow, using greater training loads, as you transition clients from one exercise to the next.

Combination Movements

Combination movements, or hybrid exercises, are another useful tool when equipment or time is limited. These exercises combine two to three traditional exercises to form one complete movement or repetition. An example would be a dumbbell squat followed immediately by an overhead press once the client reaches a standing position. Combination movements allow greater volumes of training to be performed and can improve metabolic efficiency.

Using just these two techniques alone, you can design virtually limitless training combinations and variations to keep your clients interested and challenged from one workout to the next. Below is a sample program of how these techniques can be used in creating an effective group training session. Clients would perform the exercises at the appropriate training load and then rotate from one station to the next with appropriate rest or transition time. Approximately 15 seconds of transition time is used in this model.

Sample Group Training Structure

Perform the following section with all group members, beginning at Station 1 and progressing sequentially to Station 3.

Station 1

Station 2

Station 3

foam rolling: 3–5 minutes

general warm-up: 3–5 minutes

dynamic warm-up: 3–5 minutes

Station 1

Station 2

Station 3

barbell squat to overhead press
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 2)

Romanian dead lift to bent-over row
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 3)

crunches on stability ball
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 1)

Rest 3–5 minutes between series, and repeat twice before moving to the next series.
If training a group of three, assign one person to each station. If training a group of four, simply add a rest station.

dumbbell presses + TRX® Suspension Trainer™ rows
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 2)

lat pull-downs + push-ups
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 3)

reverse hyperextensions
(30 seconds’ work; 15 seconds’ transition time to Station 1)

Rest 3–5 minutes between series, and repeat twice before moving to the next series.
If training a group of three, assign one person at each station. If training a group of four, simply add a rest station.
Rest 3–5 minutes between series, and repeat twice before moving to metabolic conditioning.

metabolic conditioning (10–20 minutes)

To learn more about small-group training from Jay Dawes, attend his session, “Smokin’ Small-Group Training” at the IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference™, April 22–25, 2010, in Rosemont, Illinois. For more information, go to www.ideafit.com/conference/idea-fitness-fusion-2010. Special conference payment options are available until March 9, 2010.

IDEA Fit Tips , Volume 8, Issue 3

© 2010 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Jay Dawes, MS

Jay Dawes, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Jay Dawes, MS, is the director of education for the National Strength and Conditioning Association in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he is also an assistant coach at NSCA?s Human Performance Center...

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