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If you’re short on inspiration for a killer circuit for your small group training, put your clients through their paces with this, says regional fitness manager for Everyone Active, Elaine Denton.

This circuit is designed to be performed with one client per each piece of equipment at each station. You can, however, have multiple pieces of equipment and clients at each station if your resources allow. This can also add an element of competition between members. Depending on your group’s ability, set a time of one to three minutes per station and send participants around twice. As with all exercises, make sure you’ve checked they are appropriate for everyone in your group and that no one has contraindications that need additional attention. Another consideration is to make sure you can monitor each station equally during the circuits to ensure your participants are observing good movement precision. The temptation with circuits is to put the emphasis on number of reps rather than performing each rep carefully.

Farmer’s lift


ViPR Master Trainer Matt Truscott performs the Farmer's lift

ViPR master trainer Matt Truscott performs the farmer’s lift

Equipment: ViPR
Muscle groups worked: Quads, hamstrings, obliques and deltoids

Exercise: Begin standing with feet a little wider than hip-width apart, holding ViPR with a neutral grip. Squat down, rotating the upper body and taking ViPR to the outside of the right leg. Drive the chest upwards, straightening the legs and stepping the right foot across the body to point to the left. As you step the right foot across, press ViPR straight up overhead. Reverse the movement to return to the start and then repeat on the other side.

Regression/progression: To make the move easier, start with the squat and rotation, then progress to the step over, then progress to the shoulder press.

Make it count: Regress and work on each individual element before you start the whole sequence to make it a success.

Anchored wave


IMG_0276_SandRope battle rope.2


Equipment: SandRope
Muscle groups worked: Transverse abdominals (core) and deltoids

Exercise: Anchor one end of each SandRope to a sturdy object or anchoring point. Take hold of the other end (one SandRope in each hand) and come into an athletic position with hips and knees slightly bent, back straight. Raise and then quickly lower one arm to create a wave in the rope and then do the same with the other arm. Continue, alternating arms to maintain the wave in each rope. Once you have mastered this move, progress to moving both arms simultaneously.

Regression/progression: To regress the move, start with an alternating single arm. To progress, use a double arm move.

Make it count: Work as hard as you can for short bursts to get the HIIT effect on your heart (and muscles).

Single-arm kettlebell snatch


Equipment: Kettlebells
Muscle groups worked: Deltoids, pectorals and lats

Exercise: Begin by performing a single arm overhead press. Use the ‘hip snap’ to get the arc of the bell high but, at the top of the arc, continue to move the kettlebell upwards. Use an almost high pull action by bending the arm, followed by a fast vertical punch upwards to fully straighten the arm. Use a fast, smooth action to catch the bell at the top and prevent it from banging the forearm. Pause, looking forwards with the arm straight next to the ear and the shoulder stable. Fluidly lower the bell so it drops down between the legs and repeat.

Regression/progression: To regress the move, start with the snatch only to get your body used to the action. When you’re ready to progress, take it onto the toes and then add the press.

Make it count: Work towards a fluid, continuous motion.

Overhead walking lunge (with knee lift)


Equipment: Dynamax medicine balls
Muscle groups worked: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, deltoids and pectorals

Exercise: Begin standing holding a medicine ball level with your ribcage. Take a large step forwards with your right foot, then bend your hips and knees, lowering your back knee to just above the floor while keeping the upper body upright. Push through the front foot, straightening the legs and stepping forwards with the left foot, at the same time pressing the medicine ball over your head. Without allowing the foot to touch the floor, lift the left leg, bending the hip and knee to 90°. Lower the medicine ball back to the ribcage, step forwards with the left foot and repeat.

Regression/progression: Regression – start with the ‘dynamic’ lunge only, stepping forwards and back to start position. Progression – take it into a dynamic lunge with overhead press, then into a walking lunge with overhead press, then add the knee lift (post lunge, lift the knee).

Make it count: Get the lunge as deep as you can to get the burn in the butt!

Atomic push-ups



Equipment: TRX
Muscle groups worked: Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, rectus and transverse abdominals

Exercise: Begin in a push-up position with your feet in the TRX foot straps, core engaged, abs braced and the body in a straight line from head to toe. Bend the arms, lowering the chest to just above the floor to perform a push-up, then straighten the arms to return to the start. Pull your knees into your chest, driving your hips upwards as you do so. Straighten the legs to return to the starting position and then repeat the whole exercise.

Regression/progression: Regression – start with the push-up only. Progression – do the push-up and tuck.

Circuit maker or breaker: Keep your abs fully braced to prevent the butt from ‘sagging’ and to keep the base of the exercise strong!

BOSU burpees


Equipment: BOSU
Muscle groups worked: Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, rectus and transverse abdominals, quads and calves

Exercise: Begin standing with the BOSU just in front of you, dome side down. Squat down, taking hold of the outer edges of the BOSU, then jump your feet back into a plank position. Lower your chest to just above the BOSU to perform a push-up and then jump your feet back towards your hands. Release your hands, then jump up as high as you can, swinging your arms upwards for extra momentum. Land softly with hips and knees bent, then repeat.

Regression/progression: Regression – break the exercise into two parts. Start with the burpee (walk it through if needed) only for a few reps, followed by the push-ups (knees if required). Progression – perform the burpee and push-up (you can push up from the knees and progress to the feet to start).

Make it count: Regression and progression is key to success with this move – take it one step at a time!


 Elaine Denton

Elaine Denton

Elaine Denton has been working in the fitness industry for 14 years and is a regional fitness manager for Everyone Active, group exercise instructor and REPs Level 3 personal trainer.

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