To achieve results, your participants need to be challenged in new ways. If your strength training classes are circuit-style and you want to up the ante, try adding strategic progressions. This workout, a traditional circuit format, cycles through several exercises with minimal rest. The key is to challenge participants by adjusting a variable during each cycle. With this approach, they enjoy the familiarity of the sequences, as well as fun surprises.
Circuit Progressions Details
Goal/Emphasis: muscular strength and endurance, emphasizing compound movements for a more functional approach
Time: 60 minutes
Equipment: steps, dumbbells
Music: 125–130 beats per minute
- In each circuit, perform the four exercises for 1 minute each, allowing 15 seconds to transition between moves.
- Rest for 1 minute after each circuit.
- After the first circuit, adjust the following variables:
– Circuit Two: Add a balance challenge.
– Circuit Three: Increase range of motion or add power.
– Circuit Four: Add movement in an additional plane of motion.
- Preview exercises before class. There is little rest between moves and, therefore, limited time for demonstration during class.
Warm-Up (7 minutes)
Do 8 reps of the following exercises, 3x:
- step-touch side to side
- alternating knee lift
- alternating traveling squat
- alternating rear lunge
- modified burpee (step back to plank)
- push-up on knees
Work Phase (48 minutes)
General tips for alignment and safety:
- Cue abdominal bracing to stabilize spine during squats, lunges and plank exercises.
- Encourage participants to take advantage of modifications as needed.
- Encourage students to maintain neutral neck position during planks and push-ups.
Circuit One: Simple Option
- Squat, holding dumbbells. Prog-ression: Use heavier resistance. Regression: Use no weights.
- Incline push-up, hands on step. Progression: Use lower step for more challenge. Regression: Do push-up from knees.
- Quadruped row, alternating sides. Progression: Bring knees closer together for narrower base of support. Regression: Use wider knee position.
- Alternating front lunge, holding dumbbells. Progression: Increase range of motion. Regression: Decrease range of motion.
Circuit Two: Balance Challenge
- Squat, holding dumbbells. Rise to toes while standing. Progression: Squat while holding weights overhead. Regression: Use no weights.
- Incline push-up, hands on step, with alternating hip extension (lift one leg with each repetition). Progression: Use lower step for more challenge. Regression: Do push-up without hip extension or with knees on floor.
- Plank row, hands on weights (alternating row from plank position). Progression: Bring feet closer together for narrower base of support. Regression: Use wider foot position or move to quadruped.
- Alternating front lunge with knee balance, holding dumbbells. Do two lunges right, lifting R knee to single-leg stance in between; repeat left. Progression: Add resistance. Regression: Tap foot on floor instead of balancing between reps.
Circuit Three: Increase Range of Motion/Add Power
- Squat, holding one weight. Swing weight overhead on standing. Progression: Add toe raise. Regression: Use no weights.
- Incline push-up, hands on step, with plyometric push at top. Progression: Increase tempo. Regression: Eliminate power or reduce tempo.
- Plank row, hands on dumbbells, alternating sides, with frog hop in between (hop feet forward to end in deep squat, feet outside hands, and hop back to plank). Progression: Add two frog hops between rows. Regression: Eliminate frog hop.
- Alternating front lunge, with plyometric lunge switch in between (step R foot forward to lunge, then hop to switch feet twice, step back to start position, then repeat L). Progression: Increase tempo. Regression: Eliminate plyometric lunge switch.
Circuit Four: Add Movement and Planes
- Squat, holding one dumbbell. Circle weight overhead in frontal plane, alternating direction with each rep. Progression: Increase tempo. Regression: Use no weight.
- Incline push-up, hands on step, with side plank after each push-up, alternating sides. Progression: use narrower foot position. Regression: use wider foot position.
- Plank row, hands on dumbbells, with rotation, alternating sides. Progression: Bring feet closer together for narrower base of support. Regression: Use wider foot position.
- Alternating front lunge, holding one dumbbell, with chop. Progression: Increase range of motion. Regression: Decrease range of motion.
Repeat the entire 24-minute sequence.
Cool-Down (5 minutes)
Hold each of the following stretches for 30 seconds each:
- standing quadruped (switch sides)
- standing pigeon, crossing R ankle over L thigh in semi-squat (repeat L)
- standing forward fold (hamstrings)
- chest expansion
- side bend with arms overhead (alternate)
- overhead triceps stretch (alternate).