Plank Circles Drill

Last weekend I attended a joint bootcamp between Homegrown Fit and Healthy Muhm. It was really cool to see the two bootcamp groups come together for a workout.

I picked up this really fun plank drill while I was there.

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Plank Circles

This is an awesome way to either finish off your group or to use as part of a warm up.

Time: 1 minute per round. Do 3-5 rounds at a time.

Group size: 6+

How To:

  • Get everyone in a plank circle, heads in the middle, shoulders touching.
  • One person starts the drill by standing up and stepping over the legs of the person to their right.
  • Then they continue running around the circle, stepping over everyone’s legs til they get back to where they started.
  • The next person goes once the person to their left has stood up and stepped over their legs. You can see this in the video if you watch it.


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5 Fitness Test Drills and Ideas

Last week I talked all about how to plan your sessions to handle multiple fitness levels. The most accurate way to identify a campers fitness level is to run frequent fitness tests.

Also if you have been reading Bootcamp Ideas for a while then you will also know I’m not a big fan of measuring BMI, body fat or weight.

Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean that it’s valuable.

That is an easy trap to get into and a dangerous one.

On the other hand fitness testing is very practical, not only for your planning but also for showing clients improvement even if the scale or mirror is trying to tell them otherwise.

There are many different ways to test your clients’ fitness and I’m sure you have your favourite methods (which I would love for you to share below). Here are some one’s that are super easy to implement.

shoes race

Mile Testing

This is a test I hear frequently in the US.

A mile is around 1.6km. By coincidence, back in Australia I used a 1.5km loop to regularly test my clients fitness levels.

Set up: Plot out a route that you can easily explain to your clients. Out to a landmark and back or a loop around your park both work well. MapMyRun is a good tool for measuring how far a course is.

Execution: A simple stop watch is all you need for this. Call out clients times and have them remember the time as they cross the finish line. Then once everyone has completed their run, mark off the run times on a spreadsheet.

Alternative: Instead of always running the same route, plot out a few different routes for variety. For example I had 3 courses. We would rotate through them every 4 months. I used a 1.2km steep hill out and back run, the 1500m run I mentioned about and a 1km loop that featured a nice gradual climb and a steep descent. Clients would run the loop twice for a total of 2km.

Beep Test

I remember participating in the beep test at school. I hated it and now your clients can learn to hate it too.

For those who aren’t aware, the beep test is a 20m shuttle run that gradually increases in speed. You have to keep up with the periodic beep or you are out. Read more.

It is a good way to estimate your clients’ VO2max level.

Set up: You need an accurate way to measure and mark out a 20m distance. Netball courts are great for this – two thirds is approximately 20m. Buy a beep test app for your phone or source a CD. You will then need a way to play it loud enough for everyone to hear.

Execution: Play the test. Clients must not fail meeting a beep two rounds in a row. The can miss one beep but must make it up on the next beep.

If they do fail to make it then they are out and their score is the last completed level.

One Minute Strength Testing

I like to do this with push ups. Not just regular push ups but hand release push ups.

This way it becomes a repeatable test. The depth of the push up is always to the ground and the height of the push up is until arms are extended. The core must be tight, no dancing worms.

Set up: Get everyone lined up in alphabetical order. This will make it quick for you to mark down the reps at the end.

Execution: Set a timer for one minute and go. Have people count their own reps or run the test in two groups with one half of the group doing push ups while the other half counts. Then swap and test the other half.

Alternative: Run the test for 2 minutes instead. This requires a lot more endurance. Also check out Chris Commando’s killer series of one minute tests on the Facebook group.

Cadence Testing

This is a military style test where you actually count out each rep to a cadence.

Example: For push ups it goes 1 – down, 2 – pause at bottom, 3 – up and 4 pause at top before returning back to 1. The 1st and 3rd counts are on the second mark while the 2nd and 4th counts are on the half second. So it takes 2 full seconds to complete the round.

As you can imagine it gets boring (and makes your voice hoarse) pretty quickly counting from 1 to 4 dozens of times in a row so I developed my own version.

I like to do this test with squat jumps.

Set up: Set an interval timer for an unlimited number of 2 second rounds. Make sure you have some way of counting the rounds.

Execution: Clients begin in a squat position. Hips must be at knees or lower (but not resting at the bottom). Every 2 seconds on the beep clients will perform one squat jump before returning to the squat position.

A clients score is the number of rounds she lasts. A client is out when either they can no longer get their feet off the ground during the jump or if they can’t get their hips low enough between reps.

Have them raise a hand when they are out and call out the current round. Collect the score from them afterwards. Watch for people just sticking their ass out and not squatting.

The Squat 3/4 Mile

From Andi Garcia. Thanks to Andi for inspiring this post.

This is an outdoor drill that doesn’t take too much time to complete 5-10 min depending upon fitness level and can be incorporated into any class.  Be sure to do a short warm up prior to doing this drill.

I’m lucky enough to have access to a track, oval in shape and distance around is 1/4 of a mile (therefore 4 laps = 1 mile).

Basically everyone starts with 100 squats and runs 3/4 the way around the track and does more squats deceasing the number of squats by 25 each time.  In the end you’ll end up where you started and have ran around the track 3 times or 3/4 of a mile.

Have everyone start together all at once.

Everyone starts off doing 100 squats, the runs/jogs 3/4 of the way around the track.

At the 3/4 mark, do 75 squats, then run/jog 3/4 the way around again.

This time do 50 squats, then run/jog 3/4 the way around again.

This time do 25 squats, then run 3/4 rhe way around the track.

You will end up right where you started.  For those folks who finish early have them alternate between doing 5 push ups and 10 jumping jacks until everyone has finished.

For fitness testing: Your score will be the time after you have completed your last 3/4 lap.

About Andi: My name is Andi Garcia.  I’ve been a group fitness instructor for about 4 years now.  I teach many different group fitness class, bootcamp being one of them, teaching for my local recreation center.

Now you: How do you test?

What methods do you use for testing your clients’ fitness? Do you do individual tests or set up a drill that must be completed.

I’d love to hear about them, please share in the comments below.


Image: akunamatata

Three Awesome Drills to Put in Circuits

One type of circuit I love to create is a drill circuit. Instead of exercises, a drill circuit is made up of… can you guess?.. drills!

This has several benefits:

  • More enjoyable – working on a task instead of counting reps
  • Takes longer – one circuit for 2 or 3 rounds can take up the entire workout time
  • Less stopping for explaining – one explanation of everything at the start and off they go
  • Builds teamwork – drills often require several people meaning that instead of doing push ups by yourself, you’re working together with your team mate

With the latest Little Bootcamp Book out just this week, I thought I would share two of my favourite drills to put in a drill circuit.

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Partner Tyre Flip With Shuttle

Number of people: Two

Place 3 cones in a row, each 10m apart. Grab a truck or tractor tyre and lie it flat near the middle cone.

The pair should stand on either side of the tyre with their backs to a cone (see diagram).

One client flips the tyre once and then sprints away from the tyre around their cone 10m away. While they are doing this their partner flips the tyre back in the opposite direction and then sprints around their cone.

After sprinting to their cone they run back to flip the tyre again. Clients keep flipping and sprinting until it’s time to change stations.

partner tyre flip and shuttle

I-Go You-Go Rope Slams (Tabata Style)

Number of people: Two (put beginners in threes, taking it in turns)

You probably don’t have enough ropes for everyone in your bootcamp. Neither did I, so this was my solution to sharing equipment while still working hard.

To get around this I do timed interval training of 20 seconds.

Assign two people to one piece of equipment. In this case let’s say the equipment is a tractor tyre and the exercise is tyre flips.

Person A goes first completing as many rope slams as possible in 20 seconds. Person B counts the reps. As soon as 20 seconds is up I call out ‘Swap’ as which point Person A stops slamming and Person B takes over. Person B will then try to equal or beat Person A’s score.

After another 20 seconds it’s time to swap again. After 4 minutes of this both people will have had 6 attempts and they will be ready to go to the next exercise.

For quick change overs, do single slams with one person in either end of the rope (see video).

You can also do this with tyre flips, sled pushes, tyre drags, rope sprints. You get the idea.

Team Rope Sprints

Number of people: Three

Set up two cones 30 to 40m apart. You can go further if you like. I usually do this as a team drill and I want to keep rest times short so I set out a short sprint distance.

Assign 3 clients to a rope. Clients A and C start at one end. Client B goes to the other cone. Client A hoists one end of the rope onto their shoulder and sprints to the other cone dragging the rope behind them. The resistance that the rope causes will make this very difficult.

Once client A reaches client B they drop the end of the rope on the ground. Client B picks it up and sprints back to client C. Client C then picks it up and sprints it back to client A starting the cycle over again.

Repeat for reps or time.

rope sprints


More drills like this

All three of these drills come from the Little Bootcamp Book of Tyres and Ropes (yes, I know, it’s a mouthful). There are 10 more drills like this in the book, plus a tonne of exercises and 10 done-for-you workouts.

Some of those workouts are drill circuits and will show you how to incorporate the drills above into a workout. Find out more.

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Best Teambuilding Drill Finalists Part II

Missed the last post? Check out the ice breaker drill submissions!

plank jumps

Team Builders

This drills are designed to get your clients to work together in teams. Always a good way to build community and loyalty in your bootcamp.

Ton Up Partner Workout

By Rubin Allen

Split the group into uneven pairs of fitness level (fastest and slowest ) The aim is for both partners to finish 100 reps each and complete as many shuttles as possible.

Set up cones to shuttle between 15 metres apart.

The format is 1 person completes 10 reps of the first exercise while partner 2 must get as many shuttles between two cones directly in front. For example: If 2 gets four shuttles by the time 1 has finished the first exercise , 1 carries on from four and adds his shuttles on.

There are 10 exercises written on a white board:

  • Push ups
  • KB squats
  • Vsits
  • X star jumps
  • Slamball
  • Close grip push ups
  • Squat jumps
  • Walkouts
  • KB swings
  • Burpees

When 1 finishes push ups 2 takes over whilst 1 does shuttles. When 2 finishes, 1 goes back to push ups then adds on 10 reps of KB squats. So starting at the beginning and adding an exercise on each round. On the last exercise the client will have achieved 100 reps total, shuttles must be accumulated as well.

About Rubin

I live in Cambridge, UK working as a PT and outdoor fitness instructor with Parkfit.

Filthy Fifty – Partner Workout

By Nancy Krueger

  • 50 sit-ups
  • 50 Burpees
  • 50 Kettlebell Swings
  • 50 Box jumps (or jump squats)
  • 50 Pull-ups (or ring rows)
  • 50 Push-ups
  • 50 walking lunges (count each leg)
  • 50 Tricep Dips
  • 50 Squats
  • 50 Heels to Heavens

One partner works, while one partner rests. HOWEVER, the resting partner must hold 10-20lb medicine ball (or weight) above their head. If the weight or ball comes below their head at anytime, 10 burpee penalty for both!

Partners can choose to break up the exercises however they wish, if one is really good at something, or more fit, they can do more. The first set of partners to complete the “Filthy Fifty” win and decide the finisher exercises for the day. This really encourages BOTH partners to work hard for each other as well as cheer each other on!

About Nancy

I have been running my own Boot Camp in my small town for 3 years now. I do it on the side outside of my “day job”, so still have no website or link to share, but LOVE this site and sharing ideas with others!

Fetch the Frisbees

By Bob Andrews

Break group into several teams (4-6 each team).

Each team is assigned different color Frisbee, I throw the Frisbees in the open field and call out an exercise (squats, push ups, burpees, mtn climbers, planks etc.) then blow the whistle, one member of each team runs to get Frisbee and back. While their teams does that exercise until teammate gets back.

Then we do it all again with a different teammate running after Frisbee.

Do for 28-30 minutes.

About Bob

I run a free bootcamp in the evening from 6-7pm at my church, most are not members but live in the area, some travel over 20 mi., been doing this almost 4 years, just this past February opened my own morning warehouse from 5:30-6:30am. We do crossfit type exercises but this is for the average person. Morning groups are small but evening groups I’ve had 64 on a few occasions but average around 30. I’m WITTS certified as well as TRX COURE COMPLETION.


By Luci Romano

For 10 players.

Using cones form 2 circles. One small inner circle. One large outer circle.

A STRAIGHT line of cones from the inner circle to the outer circle. For example from the centre of a clock all the way to 12 o’clock.

Player start off by standing around the smaller inner circle were they perform 50 jump ropes.

From here the PLAYERS form two straight lines, against the line of cones leading to 12 o’clock, facing back to back to one another.

The players that arrive to the line first must jog on the spot, waiting for remaining players to join them.

The players closest to the inner circle must hold a plank, while the 2 players closest to the outer circle both sprint around the circle as quick as they can. One player sprinting clockwise and the other sprinting anti clockwise.  All other players must perform a quick jog around the circle, 3 jogging clockwise and 3 jogging anti clockwise, and back to the beginning.

All players then return to the inner circle for the next drill for 40 star jumps. Repeat the drill above with 2 new players sprinting around the circle while 2 new players hold a plank, and all other players perform a quick jog around the circle.

The drill continues with 30 squats, 20 pushups, and 10 Burpees. Repeat the entire drill 3 times.

About Luci

I specialize in Both One on One Personal Training and Group Boot Camp Sessions.  My Bootcamp workouts are intense exercise sessions that challenge every muscle in the body.

I advocate eating healthy and regular work-out sessions. I enjoy jogging, cycling, boxing and kickboxing. I have a black belt in Martial Arts – the style Chuan Fa. My inclination for sports started while I was at school.

The workout I have submitted is always enjoyed by my clients. By rapidly moving from exercise to exercise with little rest in between, they tone and firm muscles while getting a good cardiovascular workout at the same time.

What Lies Beneath

By Lindsey Hilliard

Equipment: Cones, labels

Aim: Everyone works together in this drill to get through all the cones.

Set up:

Use approximately 15 cones (at least one per camper) and allocate an exercise to each cone by placing a card underneath (so the campers can’t see what the exercise is without lifting up the cone).

Start campers holding a plank in a line or in a circle.  Cones should be placed around 30m away from group.

Pick a camper to go first.

While everyone else is holding a plank, the first camper sprints out to the cones, picks one at random and brings it back to the group. That camper then tells the group which exercise is in the cone they just chose.

Everyone in the group performs the exercise together, while the next person sprints out to get the next cone. Once that camper returns with the new cone, everyone performs changes to the new exercise.

This pattern continues on until all the cones have been collected and everyone has had at least one turn at sprinting out to a cone for collection.

The aim is for each person to complete as many reps as they can until the next person returns with a new cone.

It’s up to you which exercises you choose to allocate, depending on your group.  I tend to use bodyweight exercises for this one.

I used this one recently when combining two bootcamp groups together. It worked well because as the group moved through the exercises and begin to tire, they really encouraged each other to sprint out to the cones and back.

It’s a great idea for the instructor to encourage each of the runner’s by name so everyone learns each other’s names too.

About Lindsey

My name is Lindsey Hilliard and I run bootcamp sessions aimed at mums. Mums are generally a unique group, who don’t have the time to go to a gym or enough fitness education to work out on their own.  Most of my clients come to me with a goal of losing their baby weight and have very low fitness levels (to start with).  I put a large focus of my training into fat loss and core strength (as most have lost this during pregnancy).

I love training this niche group because it has a real ‘community’ feel about it and we all have so much fun together.

My business, Fit la Femme, has been running bootcamps for just over 2 years now.

Sponge Race

By Jade Hough

Teams of 3 or so.

Equipment: 1 bucket each team (full of water), 1 sponge per player (I use the car wash sponges the big yellow ones), and 1 bottle – 1.25lt or 2lt soft drink or similar (empty of course).

Place the bucket approx. 30 meters away from the ‘start’ line.

Each team member must dunk their sponge in the bucket of water and race to the other end and try to squeeze as much water as they can in the bottle. Continue back and forth till the bottle is full.

I play this game where there is a tap to refill the bucket otherwise the water won’t last too long.

I found a 2lt bottle took around 10 or so minutes last week (bit longer than I had anticipated – and that was after giving both teams a few tips) so perhaps a 1.25lt bottle would suffice).

It’s very entertaining to watch!!!

About Jade

I’ve been a PT for 5 years now and have played sport (baseball in particular) since I was 5 so love team games!! UB Fit Personal Training.

Cards Drill

By Michael Havazelet

Split class into equal teams and you need one deck of cards per team.  The cards mean the following:

A – 20 Burpee tuck jumps
K – 20 Pullups
Q – 20 Box jumps (24″ box)
J – 20 Thrusters
2-10 Hearts – Jumping jacks x 10
2-10 Spades – Squats x 5
2-10 Diamonds – Crunches x 5
2-10 Clubs – 100ft Sprints
Joker – Half mile run, must bring 2 teammates, remaining teammates can continue working and pulling cards.


6 of Hearts = 60 jumping jacks

3 of Clubs = three 100ft sprints

9 of Spades = 45 squats

When the whistle blows, members from each team start taking cards off of their deck one at a time, completing the exercise as per above. First team to finish their deck completely wins and others must complete some kind of punishment. Alternatively, the team that finishes first can get 1 “point” and you can play best of 3, 5, etc.

Works well as a warmup or as a main drill. Good way for people to get to know each other and the format pushes people to work harder since they are working for a team.  Less fit clients also feel good because they are still contributing with each card they complete and don’t feel like they are behind as with more conventional drills. Works for any number of people assuming you have enough decks.

On a side note, you can substitute any exercises you want that work for your particular gym, just make A, K, Q and Js harder exercises and the rest more basic exercises. I save the two Jokers for some kind of twist such as a partial or full team run.


Image: Beyond Burpees

Best Teambuilding Drill Finalists

You guys sent in some awesome drills last week for our teambuilding drill competition. It was great to see some familiar names from our last competition.

Here they are for you all to try out. Now is time to vote them down to just two winners!

Although there will be no prize for it, it would still be cool to know the ‘people’s choice’. Let us know which ones you liked and used below.

Beyond Burpees

Ice Breakers

These drills and games are designed to get your clients to know each other (and also laugh a lot).


By Theresa Prior

After completing your regular drills of mobility warm-ups, have participants form a circle and jog on the spot.

Each participant in turn states their first name and how many letters are in their first name. They (or the instructor) suggest a bodyweight exercise to perform using the amount of letters in their name as the count.

EG: ‘Hi, my name is Theresa! Let’s do 7 star-jumps!’ ‘Hi, my name is Jack! Let’s do 4 push-ups!’

Challenge: Have participants, one at a time, go around the circle and say each name. If they stuff up, or forget entirely, have the whole group do some (your choice) burpees!

About Theresa

I am a qualified Outdoor Education teacher, currently teaching Science to primary school students. I am a happy wife and mother of two pretty amazing little girls! I am also beginning my own PT business. My main focus is on teaching and supporting families to become healthier, more active and happier!

Peg Tag

By Jodi Dunell

5 + participants

Each participant starts with a certain number of clothes pegs pegged onto their clothes (avoid “personal” areas). I find 6 – 8 pegs is a good number.

Mark out an area that will allow your group to be able to run around and tag each other and not be too cramped.

On the word “Go” participants are to steal a peg off someone else and peg it to themselves. The person with the most pegs at the end of a given time (I have found 60sec – 90 sec a good time limit) is declared the winner.

Redistribute the peg and repeat but reverse the rule. This time the winner is the person with the least amount of pegs. They have to put their peg onto someone else.

I have found this game creates lots of laughs but be careful of the sneaky cheats hiding their pegs or putting them in unnoticeable areas or tactics to gang up on someone!!! Great fun and cheap just use your clothes pegs from home.

About Jodi

My business is called JUMPT. I have been in the fitness industry for the last 8 years. I conduct group sessions and work at the local gym as a fitness instructor taking circuit, spin, pump and boxing. I have a diploma of fitness, am completing a diploma in life coaching and am a master practitioner in NLP.

Two Metre Tag

By Ben Loxley

With new clients coming in to my studio often, I believe making them feel more comfortable with other clients is key to them having a great workout!

Pair up with someone you have never trained with (if possible).

The aim is to tap your opponent on either shoulder or knee while staying in a 2mx2m grid (approx). Moving around as much as you like to tag or avoid being tagged by your partner.

If you get tagged, complete one burpee and get straight back into the drill.

Play for 5 minutes changing partners EMOM.

Really makes people feel comfortable with physical contact.

About Ben

I own a yoga and fitness studio, we practice hot yoga and try to take our fitness classes away from the stereotypical class. Always changing things up, keeping our clients guessing and having fun!


By Jo Sharp

Equipment: 2x beach balls

Set up:  Divide clients into 2 groups in a seated circle. Each group has a beach ball and is seated with their feet on the ground and their knees up. At the start of go the groups lift their feet and go into a leg press position.

Rules:  The aim is to leg press the beach ball to another team member.  The first team to successfully do 4 leg presses throws without the ball hitting the floor gets 1 point.  When a point is scored the opposing team have to do 10 burpees. The game then restarts until a team gets 4 points. The winning team then decide what exercise the losing team have to do. Feel your abs talking to you after this one.

About Jo

Hi Jo Sharp here, I am based in both Sydney & Bali. I run regular fitness camps and online fitness challenges. Training does not have to be complicated, my aim is to keep it simple so it can fit into everyone’s lifestyle.

Like Sharp Moves on Facebook & follow on Instagram for my fitness updates.

America’s Cup Racing

By Maree Iloyd

For large or small groups.

Note: Just making sure everyone knows this is a yacht race. The ‘grinders’ are the powerhouses of the boat. See link.

Standing one foot forward, one backwards, facing partner. Hold hands. Imagine you are at a hand bike machine.

Trainer starts timer and begins a running commentary pretending you’re in a race.  Partners ‘grind’ arms in a circular motion, one person going forwards and other backwards.

Trainer calls ‘tack’ in the commentary and partners switch rotation direction.

Trainer calls “jibe” and partners jump feet to other foot forward.

Partners change pace according to the trainer’s commentary and “race” for the finish.

Usually ends in partners laughing their heads off, puffing and arms spinning crazily.

Variation for less enthusiastic yachting minded trainers is to time 30 seconds in one direction then 30 seconds in other.

About Maree

I’m a Mum to two young girls and I run an outdoor fitness group for Mums where the kids can come too. The name of the company is Fit With You.

Check back shortly for the team builder category.


Image: Beyond Burpees