The KISS Principle for Group Training: Part 2
By Sarah Rippel
In part one of this series, I discussed how the “keep it stupid simple” approach can help in designing effective group training programs as well as coaching. If you missed part one, I encourage you to check it out!
The two strategies I covered in part one were “focus on threes” and “plug learning weeks into your overall programming.” Part 1 KISS Principle for Group Training+(3x3x3 Circuit Workout)
In this article, I will discuss one more strategy!
Any and all of these strategies can be combined into your group training program design process as well as your delivery of quality coaching…so that your clients keep coming back for more!
KISS Strategy #3: FACILITATE MASTERY THROUGH REPETITION
When I sat down to put together the initial framework of my most recent product & program – Build ‘N Burn 2.0, my goal was to design something that allowed me to layer progression seamlessly from one workout to the next, one week to the next. In addition, I wanted to give my clients an opportunity to not only get in some quality sweat-time, but to learn & practice new variations that built on what they had mastered. That original program was beta-tested with my groups and went through several upgrades before being released to the public as Build ‘N Burn 2.0!
With BNB 2.0, I really wanted to drive home the fact that most of our clients need LESS variety. I realize that many fitness professionals assume their clients will get bored without constant change. Trust me, they won’t. Our clients need solid programming that allows them to revisit familiar exercises and circuits. I promise that not only will your clients not get bored with this approach, they will get BETTER!
In the group setting, it is common to have clients of different levels of ability working out together. Beginners will most definitely need more time to practice new skills and refine technique, whereas more advanced clients will need to add intensity to familiar skills. This can be done by increasing loading, decreasing rest breaks, &/or increasing movement complexity.
So how does one develop a program where all levels can be training together & each person gets the right “dose” of quality training time? Here are a few suggestions & examples:
- Blend quality basic movement with “get your heart rate up” stuff.
A great way to approach conditioning work is to use a combination of familiar variations of squat, hinge, press, pull, carry and “no brainer” monostructural movements (rowing, running/walking, bike, etc). By keeping exercises simple & programming rest breaks when needed, the intensity can be kept at an appropriate level.
Here is an example of how this could be done with a group that has people of all levels, from beginner to advanced:
15 Minute AMRAP:
1) 100m Walk
2) 50m Kettlebell Farmer Carry (15-20# pair/35-40# pair)
3) Goblet Squat to Box x 10 (15-20#/35-40#)
*10-20sec rest between exercises & 30-60sec rest after each round. Move at a sustainable pace! Coach can select specific lengths OR individuals can determine based on intensity.
1) 200m Run
2) 100m Kettlebell Farmer Carry (25# pair/45# pair)
3) KB Front-Load Squat x 15 (20-25# pair/35-45# pair)
*10sec rest between exercises & 30sec rest after each round. Move at a sustainable pace!
1) 200m Run
2) 100m Kettlebell Farmer Carry (35# pair/55# pair)
3) KB Front-Load Squat x 15 (35# pair/55# pair)
*30sec rest after each round. No set rest intervals between exercises. Move at a sustainable pace!
*Recommended loading is noted for women/men.
*Substitute 125m Row or Ski or 300m Air Bike for 100m Walk
*Substitute 250m Row or Ski or 600m Air Bike for 200m Run
- Repeat variations several times within a training week to give an opportunity to really own them.
Warm-ups are a great place to hammer the basics! If you have a select “pool” of warm-up movements to draw from, you can create warm-up sequences that are similar for all levels, yet varied in complexity of movement. Repetition could be addressed by using the same warm-up format each training day in a week, or by alternating two separate formats (as in the example below).
While beginners need more of an emphasis on basics, intermediate to advanced clients can be exposed to more variations of the basic movements. Variety can be “layered” throughout a training week by means of progression in stances/set-ups & loading positions. In other words, a push press may be performed in two conditioning workouts that week, with the first day using a sprinter stance and the other day using a more traditional bilateral stance.
In addition, similar variations can be performed on separate training days using different equipment. The push press could be done using an Ultimate Sandbag on day one, while on day two it could be done with kettlebells.
Here is an example of how this could be done for a “level 2” individual:
Warm-Up (A) x 2-3 Rounds:
1) Bird Dog Iso-Drag (alt) x 5/side
2) Hip Bridge with LeverBell Rotation + Chop x 8-10 (switch @ 1/2)
3) Around the World with Rotation x 3-5/side
4) Side Plank Iso-Pull (top leg straight lifts + band) x 4-6/side 1-2x per set
Conditioning x 2 Rounds:
1) Inertia Wave Crossfire x 20:40
2) USB Lateral Step Clean x 20:40
3) MB Over the Top Slam x 20:40
4) KB Offset Push Press in Sprinter Stance (L) x 20:40
5) Inertia Wave Crossfire x 20:40
6) USB Lateral Step Clean x 20:40
7) MB Over the Top Slam x 20:40
8) KB Offset Push Press in Sprinter Stance (R) x 20:40
9) Cardio: 1:00 moderate intensity
*20sec work/40sec rest for each exercise
Warm-Up (B) x 2-3 Rounds:
1) Dead Bug Chop (no legs) x 5/side
2) Arc Press-Out in Sprinter Stance x 5/side
3) Band Archer Row (alternating) x 10-12/side
4) Arc Press 90/90 Squat x 3-5/side
Conditioning x 4 Rounds:
2) USB Offset Push Press (switch sides ea round)
3) Bear Hug Sprinter Stance Squat (switch @ 1/2)
6) ½-Kneel to Stand with Lift/Chop (R)
*30sec work/30sec rest for each exercise
Warm-Up (A) x 2-3 Rounds:
1) Bird Dog Iso-Drag + Band (alt) x 5/side
2) Hip Bridge with Lift x 4-5/side
3) Around the World with Forward Step x 3-5/side
4) Side Plank Iso-Pull (staggered) x 7-10sec x 3/side
Conditioning x 3 Rounds:
2) Air Bike
6) Max Wall Sit
*60sec work/60sec rest walk instead of rest!
- Have a “progression matrix” on hand that enables you to jump ahead or go back a step as needed. This enables you to see the big picture of progression and how it unfolds.
Here is an example of a progression matrix for the squat:
SQUAT PROGRESSION MATRIX
- Press-Out Squat
- Bucket Load Squat
- USB Bucket Load Squat
- Med Ball Bucket Load Squat
- Goblet Squat
- USB Bear Hug Squat
- Front Load Squat
- Unsupported Front Load Squat
- Offset Load Squat
- Unilateral Squat
- USB Bear Hug Squat in Sprinter Stance
- Front Load Squat in Sprinter Stance
- Unsupported Front Load Squat in Sprinter Stance
- Offset Load Squat in Sprinter Stance
- Squat to Overhead Press
- USB Offset Load Squat to Overhead Press
- USB, KBs
- Squat to Overhead Press in Sprinter Stance
- Offset Load Squat to Overhead Press in Sprinter Stance
The squat progression begins with the press-out, which teaches proper patterning and isn’t meant to be loaded more than 10-15#. Use a USB, bumper plate, KB/DB, med ball, or sandbell.
From here we move to the anteriorly loaded variations which continue the press-out’s assistance in helping with proper bracing. These variations can be loaded up!
The offset load squat is a great way to give a unilateral effect with a symmetrical stance. Once again, if you do not have your grip going & lats engaged, the movement just feels a little wonky.
Moving to the shoulder position, we create a true unilateral load. The same is true with a single racked kettlebell.
The sprinter stance is a progression from the bilateral squat stance. The demand is shifted a bit more to the forward leg, thus making this a modified unilateral position. We go through similar variations using this stance.
To wrap up this article, I want to reiterate how important it is to employ a strategy that places emphasis on mastery of the basics & an adherence to the right amount of repetition!
I believe that one of the most detrimental things a fitness professional could do to a client’s progress is to give them the opportunity to learn and “own” a movement, then be in a huge hurry to move on to the next variation. This usually happens because the trainer assumes their client will get bored. This is a surefire way to ensure your client’s progress slams to a halt! That excitement they feel when they finally “get it” is quickly squashed when in the next training session, they are overwhelmed by a progression they are simply not ready for.
As fit pros we must always remind ourselves that most of our clients do not love this exercise stuff like we do! Their progress may be hindered or even derailed when we drop the ball.
How can that ball be dropped, you ask? Here are a few common ways:
- When an actual program is not in place and instead there’s a situation in which the fit pro just constantly changes things up. This is quite possibly “organized chaos” but more than likely it’s just chaos!
- When there are a ton of new exercises thrown into one workout. The clients may seem to appreciate the variety but there’s a heck of a lot of confusion. Again, chaos!
- When the fit pro chooses exercises based on the “cool” or “unique” factor instead of being beneficial and appropriate for the client(s).
- When the fit pro continues to overwhelm people with variations that are too challenging for their level of ability. Hello, injury risk! Even in a scenario where people are not getting hurt, this would mean they are moving and performing poorly & probably doing so for the duration of their training experience.
Thank you for taking the time to read this latest installment in my “KISS” series!
In the meantime…..
Check out top level programming by Sarah Rippel :
Home Program Design Mastery plus Done for You programs,templates and more!
“The Ultimate Small Group Training System” The most Comprehensive Guide to Semi-Private and Small Group Training for Fit Pros.
Build N’ Burn – Done For YOU 16 Wk Metabolic Group Training Program for Fit Pros
Check out The Done-for-You 12 week Build ‘N Burn 2.0 for Fit Pros:
Other articles by Sarah Rippel:
Bodyweight + Dumbbell Metabolic Circuits II