The Evolution of the 14 Station Mega-Circuit
by Sarah Rippel , Author of Build N’ Burn
14-Station Mega-Circuit Workout:
30/20 interval; 2 rounds
- Kettlebell: Level 1 = Sumo Deadlift; Level 2 = 2A Swing; Level 3 = 1A Swing
- Lateral Squat: Level 1 = Bodyweight; Level 2 = DB; Level 3 = DB Arms-Extended Front Hold
- Medicine Ball: Level 1 = Woodchop; Level 2 = Slam; Level 3 = L/R Slam
- BOSU: Level 1 = Hi Plank Hold; Level 2 = Hi Plank L/R Tilt; Level 3 = Pushup; Level 4 = L/R Tilt Pushup
- Single-Leg Contra-Lateral Anterior Reach (L): Level 1 = Knee Depth; Level 2 = Cone Depth; Level 3 = Floor Depth
- Single-Leg Contra-Lateral Anterior Reach (R): as above
- DB Punches: Level 1 = Slow; Level 2 = Medium; Level 3 = Fast
- Split Squat (L): Level 1 = Bodyweight; Level 2 = Arms Overhead; Level 3 = DB Overhead Hold
- Split Squat (R): as above
- Mountain Climbers: Level 1 = Basic; Level 2 = Slider Single-Leg; Level 3 = Slider Alt-Leg; Level 4 = Slider Bilateral
- Kettlebell 1A Row (L): Level 1 = Staggered-Stance Contra-Lateral Supported; Level 2 = Unsupported
- Kettlebell 1A Row (R): as above
- Jump Rope: Level 1 = “Fake”; Level 2 = Basic Jump Rope; Level 3 = “Sprint” Jump Rope
- Slider Leg Curl: Level 1 = Eccentric; Level 2 = Full Range
First off, I wouldn’t set up a 14-station circuit these days BUT…I have to say that this particular workout actually ran really smooth back in 2011.
I believe the reason why I opted for 14 stations was that I had planned for 14 ladies to be in attendance that evening.
What was good about it:
Laying things out in a circle was beneficial in that everyone could see what was going on.
It was a fun workout and ran smoothly once we started. I had a really good run for those years I was working with larger groups. In general, I had ladies in my groups who wanted to be there, who paid attention and were ready to do the work!
That being said, here’s what I don’t like:
Having to take 10 minutes to explain a circuit is something I do not wish to mess with these days. I am thankful I am proficient at explaining exercises and I tend to command everyone’s attention, but I would rather spend that time introducing a new exercise or having the time set aside for some skill work.
I prefer to keep strength-focused work to 2-3 exercises at a time, so the emphasis is on technique, and for more “just keep moving” type of circuit work (like this circuit), I usually aim for 3-6 exercises. For example, one of the conditioning components of my current group programming is a 1 min work/20s rest circuit of rowing, sled drags, air bike, & farmer carry, done for 4 rounds.
I like to keep circuits like this at 20-25 minutes, whereas higher-Intensity “sprint type” interval circuits take 10-15 minutes.
In general, I feel that “3” is a good number of exercises for most people because it’s not an overwhelming list of things.
For us fitness professionals, it’s not a big deal to think about doing a pushup, followed by a lunge, followed by a this or that and then three other things…BUT for the average client, just making it through the door to us can be stressful after a long workday & being in traffic…so why add more stress to their day?
Side note: exercise is stress, and there’s a lot to be said for programming sufficient rest intervals, etc into workouts to make sure we are giving people the right amount of stress and not pushing them over the edge (It’s way easier to push them too much).
There is not a lot of equipment required for this 14-station circuit, so it would be easy to pair people up to go through it, rather than have one person at a station.
I feel partnering up accomplishes a few really good things – it’s more fun for people, they can lean on each other if they forget how to do something, and it tends to push people a little more.
This circuit used a 30s work interval coupled with a 20s transition/rest interval for 14 stations. This comes out to 11:40 for one round of this circuit. We did two rounds, which comes out to almost 24 minutes.
Since we did two rounds of the circuit, each exercise was done for two 30s sets. I do not feel that this is a sufficient amount of time spent for some of the exercises.
I have always been technique-focused in working with my clients, and in thinking about technique I feel we can all agree that a person needs consistent exposure to an exercise in order to ingrain proper movement & gain confidence in their abilities. For the explosive work, I most definitely feel that 30s is an appropriate amount of time, but for any others, it’s not long enough to get a solid amount of reps.
Here’s what I would do with the circuit seven years later:
I would keep the focus as metabolic conditioning, but use a 60 second work interval with a 30 second rest/transition.
In addition, I would set the timer to give a “halfway” notification during the work intervals.
Here’s where it gets fun:
During the first 30 seconds of the work interval, a dynamic movement is performed, immediately followed by a static hold for the remaining 30 seconds.
Perform 3-5 rounds of an exercise pair in this manner, resting 30 seconds after the 60 second work interval. After completing three rounds, move on to the next combo.
The emphasis here is on a heavy-hitting mix of dynamic movements and isometrics. In addition, there is a lot “get down and then get back up” involved with the pairings! In short, there’s a lot of activity going on without a lot of chaos.
Here are 5 Combo examples based on the exercises used in the 2011 mega-circuit:
Kettlebell Swing 30s (regress to KB Power Swing or KB DL)
Goblet Squat Hold 30s
Continuous Skater Jump 30s (regress to Skater Jump with reset after each rep or Alternating Lateral Lunge or Squat)
Plank Variation 30s
Medicine Ball Over the Top Slam 30s (regress to a regular Slam or a Vertical Chop)
Glute Bridge Variation 30s
Jump Rope 30s (regress to Jumping Jack or “Fake” Jump Rope)
Hollow Hold Variation 30s
Slider Fast Mountain Climber 30s (regress to Fast Mountain Climber without sliders or Slo-Mo Mountain Climber)
Hollow Hang from Pull-Up Bar 30s
So there you have it! If you’re like me, you have a mountain of old workouts that can easily be “recycled” like I have done here. It’s both eye-opening and motivating to look back at how things have changed over the years with regard to one’s programming approach. I don’t know about you, but I am constantly working to refine my practice & continue to bring my best to my clients every day. Being able to learn from our own experiences is priceless! Until next time…keep bringing your best!
Check Out Sarah Ripple’s Build N’ Burn – Done For YOU 16-week Metabolic Group Training System for Fit Pros
Other articles by Sarah Rippel:
2 MetCon Group Training Workouts That Get Results! http://thefitnessbootcampclub.com/2-metcon-group-training-workouts-that-get-results/
Maximizing the Efficiency & Effectiveness of Your Small Group Training Programming Part I & Part II