Circuits or Stage Training
best way to introduce athletes to the world of strength training is to have them
perform body-weight/circuit type exercises. As you might guess, these exercises
use the athlete’s own body weight as the resistance. These exercises can
Sit ups (crunches, chinnies, etc)
Body weight lunges or squats
training consists of a consecutive series of timed exercises performed one after
the other with varying amounts of rest between each exercise.
For example, a
simple circuit training routine might consist of push-ups, sit-ups, squats,
chin-ups and lunges. The routine might be structured as follows, and could be
continually repeated as many times as is necessary.
Do as many
press-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Do as many squats as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Do as many sit-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Do as many lunges as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Do as many chin-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
Circuit Training so good?
The quick pace
and constant changing nature of circuit training places a unique type of stress
on the body, which differs from normal exercise activities,
training and other conditioning workouts.
demands of circuit training tend to prepare the body in a very even,
all-round manner. I have found circuit training to be an exceptional form of
exercise to aid in the prevention of injury. Circuit training is one of the
best ways I've found to condition your entire body (and mind).
There are many
other reasons why circuit training is a fantastic form of exercise, and what
most of these reasons come down to is flexibility. In other words, circuit
training is totally customisable to your specific requirements.
training can be totally personalised. Whether you're a beginner, or an elite
athlete, you can modify your circuit training routine to give you the best
A circuit training routine can be modified to
give you exactly what you want. Whether you want an all-over body workout, or
you just want to work on a specific body area, or you need to work on a
particular aspect of your sport, this can all be accommodated.
Also, you can change the focus of your circuit
training routine to emphasize strength, endurance, agility, speed, skill
development, weight loss, or any other aspect of your fitness that is
important to you.
Circuit training is time efficient. No wasted
time in between sets. It's maximum results in minimum time.
You can do circuit training just about anywhere,
at the track in a gym or at home, in a park or playground.
Circuit training is a favourite form of exercise
for the British Royal Marine Commandos because they tend to spend a lot of
time on large ships. The confined spaces means that circuit training is
sometimes the only form of exercise available to them.
You don't need expensive equipment. You don't
even need a gym membership. You can just as easily put together a great
circuit training routine at home or in a park. By using your imagination, you
can devise all sorts of exercises using things like chairs and tables, and
even children's outdoor play equipment like swings and monkey bars.
Another reason why I like circuit training so
much is that it's great fun to do in pairs or groups. Half the group exercises
while the other half rests and motivates the exercising members of the group.
the many types of Circuit Training
before, circuit training can be totally customised, which means there are an
unlimited number of different ways you can structure your circuit training
routine. However, here are a few examples to give you some idea of the different
This type of circuit involves working to a set time period for both rest and
exercise intervals. For example, a typical timed circuit might involve 30
seconds of exercise and 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise.
This is similar to a timed circuit but you push yourself to see how many
repetitions you can do in the set time period. For example, you may be able to
complete 12 push-ups in 30 seconds. The idea is to keep the time period the
same, but try to increase the number of repetitions you can do in the set time
This type of circuit is great if you're working with large groups of people who
have different levels of fitness and ability. The idea is that the fittest group
might do, say 20 repetitions of each exercise, the intermediate group might only
do 15 repetitions, while the beginners might only do 10 repetitions of each
or Running Circuit
This type of circuit is best done outside at a track or in a large, open area.
Choose exercises that are specific to your particular sport, or emphasise an
aspect of your sport you'd like to improve. Then instead of simply resting
between exercises, run easy for 200 or 400 metres. You can even use sprints or
fast 400 metre runs as part of your choice of exercises. As in “Oregon “ type
circuits you can complete your 15 press-ups and then run 200 metres to your next
exercise, complete a set of squats and run 200 metres to begin your sit-ups etc.
is a favourite
of mine I picked it up from Frank Horwill at a BMC endurance weekend. It
develops over 7 weeks, in week 1 you complete three sets of maximum repetitions
of each (7) exercises with a one-min. recovery between each set and two
recovery between each exercise. Record the reps.
Week 2 you
complete three sets of maximum repetitions of 2 exercises with a one-min.
recovery between each set and two
recovery between each exercise. Record the reps and continue for the seven weeks
until you are doing the seven exercises every day, when you have completed the
seven weeks you then continue with the seven exercise circuit on alternate days. All the equipment you are likely to need
is a bench or box for step ups and a chin up bar ( available from Argos for
around £7:00 )
Circuits are a
great form of exercise and it is something you can do as a club in a school hall
or gym during the winter especially if you have a large mixed group. I have a
video of George Gandy at Loughborough with a team of Spotters working their way
round the gym, and there are more than 300 athletes from all sports taking part
in his circuit session.
training is a fantastic way to develop strength & endurance, however, the most
common problem I find is that people tend to get over excited, because of the
timed nature of the exercises, and push themselves harder than they normally
would. This tends to result in sore muscles and joints, and an increased
likelihood of injury.
Below are two
precautions you need to take into consideration.
level of fitness. If you've never done any sort of circuit training before, even
if you consider yourself quite fit, start off slowly. The nature of circuit
training is quite different to any other form of exercise. It places different
demand on the body and mind, and if you're not used to it, it will take a few
sessions for your body to adapt to this new form of training. Be patient.
warm-up and warm-down are crucial. Don't ever start a circuit training routine
without a thorough warm-up that includes dynamic stretching. As I mentioned
before, circuit training is very different from other forms of exercise. Your
body must be prepared for circuit training before you start your session.
Stage training can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it and the
variety and limitations are as wide as your imagination.
training is an excellent way to simultaneously improve mobility, strength and
of these exercises are several-fold. First, this type of exercise is inexpensive
and easy to implement with little or no equipment required. Second, these
exercises strengthen the core muscles of the body (the core is defined as the
muscles surrounding the body’s center of mass – namely the abs, lower back, and
hip musculature) that help to stabilise the body. It is important to develop a
solid strength base in these muscles before progressing on to more advanced
The initial goal of any programme should be to build some muscular endurance.
Start out slowly, initially performing one set of 15 repetitions. As the
athletes develop, strive to complete three sets of each exercise, each
containing six-15 repetitions, three times a week as part of the regular
program. As an athlete matures physically and emotionally, you can begin to
introduce more complex exercises (multi-joint lifts, free weights, low intensity
plyometric as examples) into the programme. However, even the most basic
multi-joint exercise requires a solid strength base in the body’s core
musculature to minimize the risk of injury. If strength training is a part of
the overall training program, it is important to make it consistent – when
strength training is stopped, detraining (a loss of strength and the strength
associated benefits) will occur.
An example of a Circuit & a Stage training routine is shown below. A Circuit
works through the different exercises in turn whereas Stage training you would
complete all the press-ups ( 3 sets) before moving on to the sit-ups. Always try
to work your routines through the different major muscle groups, don’t have an
arm exercise followed by an arm exercise. Try Arms, Legs, Abs, Legs, Arms.
Circuit and Stage
Circuit Training ( speed
1. press - ups
2. step - ups
5. tricep dips
Complete circuit by working on
3 x sets of exercises above with 20 seconds on and 2 minutes between sets.
All exercises to be completed
with no rest, ( ie. 2 minutes of continuous work ).
This will increase to 30
seconds on ( ie. 3 minutes of continuous work ) when fitness improves, After
which you can move on to 4 x sets.
Training ( strength endurance
1. 3 x press -
2. 3 x sit - ups
3. 3 x step - ups
4. 3 x tricep dips
5. 3 x squats
6. 3 x incline press - ups
7. 3 x abdominal crunches
8. 3 x sprints or burpees
All exercises to be at 50% of
1 minute max. with 45 seconds between sets and 1 minute between stages reducing
as fitness improves.
every 4 to 5 weeks
Graham Smith B.A.F. Senior Coach
Level 4 Performance Coach
4 Strength & Conditioning Coach