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Using Timed Sets in Your Bootcamp-Video

Timing is Everything

 By Shawna K

 Teaching boot camp means you’re going to have a variety of fitness levels right?


How do you deal with it?


What do you do with Mrs. ‘I-haven’t-exercised-for-20-years’ Jones and Mrs. ‘I-just-finished-my-fifth-sprint-triathalon’ Smith standing side by side before you ready to experience a challenging and inspiring workout?


Hey, I’m Shawna Kaminski and I currently own and operate Calgary NW Fit Body Boot Camp. In the past I’ve had multiple boot camps and a group training studio. I was also a school teacher for almost 20 years. I’m no stranger to teaching groups and this ‘problem’.


If you’re like many trainers, you may solve this problem by offering beginner and advanced sessions. This is viable, but not the best solution. You know that your client’s time is limited and it’s difficult to find a training time that’s perfect for everyone. Do you give that prime training time to the beginner? To the advanced trainee?


Is it possible to train both the beginner and the advanced client at once?


How would that look?


Well, timing is everything.


By this, I mean ‘timed sets’.


If you have your clients counting reps, you’re in for some problems. First of all, it takes a lot of effort for your clients to count reps. They come to you and don’t want to think, counting is thinking. Secondly, we all have clients that count by 2’s or 5’s and end up done before the set seems to start, then what? As well, the beginner never feels successful, possibly only getting a handful of reps done and the advanced person gets bored waiting for everyone to finish.


By using timed sets, all clients can work at their own pace and feel successful. Mrs. Smith can get a ton of quality reps while Mrs. Jones may only get a few done, but they both feel challenged and not overwhelmed.


If you want to up the intensity for your advanced folks, have them count their reps within a timed set. Then have them match their reps in all subsequent sets. This increases workout intensity and holds them accountable. (And if they lose count, or don’t want to count, it’s of no consequence since you’re keeping the pace of the workout with your timer.)


Keep the pace going at boot camp and change activities often. Intensity (and results) will fade when clients are left to their own devices, or if they’re counting reps too long.


Group training and boot camp is a little like teaching kindergarten (trust me I know this first hand), in order to keep everyone’s attention and interest and effort top notch, variety is necessary. Tell clients how long they’ll be doing a specific set and encourage them to push to the end of it. Clients respond well to the ’30 seconds of anything’ mentality, where as if they think they’re doing a specific exercise for 3 minutes their motivation and effort wanes.


Here’s an example of a timed set that you can do with your clients:


Do 30 seconds of each exercise (strength and then cardio) with a five second transition. For this set, you can set a timer with a 30/05 repeat for 9 sets, after that, if you’d like to repeat the circuit again, allow for a 30 second water break and hit the circuit again:


Prisoner squat/Burpee

Push up/mountain climber

Renegade row/squat jump

Bicycle crunch/skater jump

Plank recovery (30 seconds)


Since I’ve been teaching for more years than I care to count, and running fitness boot camps for more than six years, I know people prefer timed sets over counting reps. It frees them up to concentrate on form and not on the number of reps they need to do.


I highly recommend using timed sets with your boot camp clients and small groups.


Here’s a short video explaining how timed sets can benefit YOUR group training or boot camp:

If you’re looking for challenges for YOUR boot camp, take a look at Challenge Workouts: Boot Camp Edition  and see if it’s right for you. You’ll find all kinds of fitness challenges to add to your boot camp to up the excitement and results in your camp.

 Exclusive Discount here:

Challenge Workouts: Boot Camp Edition

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2 comments on “Using Timed Sets in Your Bootcamp-Video


Great post contribution by Shawna. Thanks Georgette.
I have to remind myself sometimes what’s in it for them, and not for me. I love doing time challenges with reps for my own workouts..but I’ve been a trainer for years, this comes naturally. I forget that not everyone can keep count and exercise at the same time, especially early on the morning when the brain is still in sleep mode! Lol. The timed sets is definitely the way to go and makes everyone feel like they accomplished a lot.


Sara…you are welcome:)! Yes it does work well too:)


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