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Deceptively Devious Conditioning Circuit

Deceptively Devious Conditioning Circuit

By Sarah Rippel, Author of The Ultimate Group Training System ,Build ˜N Burn & The Brand NEW Build N Burn 2.0


Knowing is not the same as applying.


That;s a gem of a quote from my newest remote training client, who is also a fit pro! It resonated so much with me that I jotted it down during our initial phone call.


During our first call, we got to talk about goals and all the important stuff that will help me build out her program, but also about the fitness industry and being a trainer/coach.


I believe she was answering a few questions about her nutrition when she said that, but the quote obviously applies to anything in our world as fit pros (and also in life, if you think about it)!


As they say, you can have all the book smarts in the world, but if you are unable to apply that knowledge, what’s the point?


You know how you’ll write up a program and everything looks great on paper, but then things don’t seem to work so well when you are taking a client (or a group) through a workout? I know it’s happened to you because trust me, it’s happened to me plenty of times!


I know I’ve done my share of overthinking and making workouts a bit too complicated. In looking back at some of my older programs, both are obvious to me, but I don’t feel any of this was a negative thing at all. I believe there was a lot of learning that came from my process of taking information,packaging it, so to speak, and then putting it into practice.


I continue to embrace simplicity and honor it as an important factor in the programs I design for my clients. What’s both refreshing and gratifying is when clients make comments such as that workout seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard! That was the collective feeling my 7AM crew had after we got done with this circuit last week! 


If you have been following my work for a while, you know that I am a big proponent of strongman cardio. For this style of conditioning you typically use loaded carries, sled pushes/pulls, and other nontraditional forms of exercise that I refer to as grunt work.


I like using a 60sec work/60sec rest interval for these circuits, but you can also go with 90/90. Sometimes I use a target recovery heart rate to dictate the rest intervals. Either way, I love this format because I feel you just get to work & don’t have to think too hard about it!


If using a heart rate-focused approach, I recommend resting until your heart rate comes down to 115 or so.


One simple option that I have really found impactful when using timed intervals is the use of a rest walk instead of simply resting!


I know, it’s not that groundbreaking, but I feel it adds to the overall metabolic impact of the workout AND I would rather have people continuing to move than sitting around. If someone needs to be still for a little bit, that’s always an option. When we are performing shorter, more intense intervals, I feel that true rest is more appropriate.


So, back to my whole knowing and applying concept. Back in May, I worked out with my 7AM group for six weeks. This was the first time I ever consistently trained alongside clients. I realize that some know-it-alls may say I was taking away from their training or it is irresponsible for a trainer to work out with clients.


I am not of those opinions, but I will say that you most definitely need to know your clients. In my case, my 7AM ladies wanted me to work out with them because they thought it would be motivating! In addition, I was feeling the need to work out alongside friends at the time, as the thought of training solo just seemed boring.


Long story short, what was really great about this experience was the simple fact that I got to test out my programming on myself, while I was observing my clients as well as continuing to gather feedback from them. This program became known as “Sky’s Out, Thighs Out,” and is available through TrainHeroic. 


The structure of the conditioning work in Sky’s Out, Thighs Out was used in my brand New Build ˜N Burn 2.0, which is a 12-week program paired with a massive playbook of exercise progressions!


So, back to my 7AM crew’s collective that workout seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard! comment. After six straight hours of working with clients, it was time for me to work out, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.


I am in one of those between-program phases where I am doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and I also started running again. I have come to embrace these phases, as they enable me to refocus!


I decided I would go through the circuit that surprised my 7AM group and see what all the fuss was about. I mean, any workout that renders them less chatty between exercises has gotta be work experiencing! They were physically able to talk, as no one was gasping for breath or redlining, as I call it. If they would have been, that would have meant very poor planning on my part, as a 60-second work interval should never have people gasping for air.


We want middle-of-the-road intensity and sustainable movement with this format! Anyhow, they were simply not talking because they were focused on moving and recovering at the right intensity. It was awesome!


I decided that deceptively devious is the perfect description for this circuit! With the work intervals being a minute long, it’s obvious that you want to pace yourself, but there isn’t time to lollygag either. None of these exercises are brutal, but they are more along the lines of get down to work!


So, without further ado, here’s the workout, which is a spinoff of a Build ˜N Burn 2.0 circuit! Since my groups beta-tested that exact program, I have continued to use the format while changing things up. Always evolving!


60:60 x 3 Rounds:

*Rest walk during rest intervals!



  • On the KB burpee power swing I used a 16kg KB, but my clients used 8-12kg. You can use a jump-back or step-back benign burpee.To regress: KB Benign Burpee Goblet Clean, KB Benign Burpee Deadlift.
  • My pace on the Erg was between 2:35-2:45. You could substitute any cardio.
  • I held an 8kg KB on the zig zag walk. I like having my clients perform loaded walks because I feel it improves their performance & they get more out of them! You could do any type of banded walk, such as a Mini Band Lateral Walk + Racked KB!
  • I used a pair of 16kg KBs for the famer carry. Any loaded carry could be performed, such as a KB Double Rack Carry or my personal favorite, an Ultimate Sandbag (USB) Fist Carry.
  • I used a 25# water-filled power USB for the ½-leg threading. These can obviously be done with bodyweight alone. To regress: ½-Kneeling Windmill (bodyweight, KB, or USB) or any Turkish Get-Up variation with a USB or KB, such as the TGU to High Hips.
  • I used a 15# slam ball for the wall sits, holding it for 30-40sec and then getting rid of it for the remainder of the minute. You guessed it, there are plenty of wall sit variations!

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