The Simple Guide To Planning Sessions For Mixed Fitness Levels

The Fitness Variation Cure

When someone joins the Bootcamp Ideas email list they are sent an email with a question:

‘What is the number one thing you are struggling with right now as a bootcamp trainer?’

I keep track of what trainers write back to me in a spreadsheet. To date over 250 trainers have taken the time to respond.

The most popular response I receive is not surprising. It’s why most trainers come to Bootcamp Ideas in the first place, ‘to find fresh workout ideas’.

The second most popular response I get is:

‘I struggle creating workouts that are effective for all of the different fitness levels in my bootcamp.’


I’ve heard you and have put together this little guide with some different ways to have your groups of mixed fitness levels work together seamlessly.

Let’s start with some planning tactics and then I’ll go into how to actually put them into practice.

Four methods for handling various fitness levels

1. Exercise Variations

Plan out your workout as you normally would. Once completed create 1 to 3 additional variations of the workout by modifying the exercises.

Doing this before the workout, rather than on the fly, makes you look more professional and serious about your clients fitness. So don’t wait until the session to try and make these modifications.

Here’s an example of a drill modified for different fitness levels:

Original drill:

10 minute AMRAP

  1. 15x Push Ups
  2. 15x KB Goblet Squat
  3. 10/side Side Plank Hip Drops
  4. 10m Bear crawl

Modified for different fitness levels:

10 minute AMRAP

Beginner Intermediate Advanced Reps
1.  Push Ups on knees Push Ups HRPU 15
2. 8kg KB Goblet Squat 12kg KB Goblet Squat 16kg KB Goblet Squat 15
3. Side Plank Hip Drops Alt. Side Plank Hip Drops Side Plank reach throughs 10/side
4. Bear crawl  Bear crawl Reverse Bear crawl 10 m

Alt. Side Plank Hip Drops: alternate sides each rep without letting hips touch ground in between.

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Two Super Challenging Drills For Your Bootcamps

Here are two CrossFit style workouts that can be scaled and used in your bootcamp as either fitness tests or finishers.

The second one is pretty tough and should just be reserved just for your fittest groups or heavily scaled. Thanks to Fernando Pabon for the drills.

One: Body Rock

Do five rounds of the following for time:

3×1 – (every 3rd rep = 1)

  • 10 3×1 Mountain Climbers
  • 10 3×1 Body Squat Jump (3rd squat completed with jump squat – squat, squat, squat, jump)
  • 5 3×1 Sprawls (start in the push-up thrust legs forward to shoulder width recover in push-up)
Clients should aim to complete this workout under 15 minutes. Your fittest clients should aim for 8 minutes.

Two: Top Of The Day

21-15-9 (21 reps the first round, 15 reps the second round and 9 reps in the third and final round)

  • Burpees
  • Pull ups
  • Hand stand push ups
  • 200 meter run after each round (just once each round)

(1 lap around your park for distance check)

Do this with max out put. Record time. Do workout next week and compare time.

About Fernando

Fernando Pabon is a Navy veteran who trains local athletes.

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Image: Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

Olympic Themed Bootcamp Fitness Test

There is still a couple more days to ran an Olympic themed workout. Here is the one I threw in for my clients. We used ours for this rounds fitness test.

Olympic Pentathlon Fitness Test

Goal: Strength/Conditioning

Time: 60 minutes

Equipment: Mats, Bench

Warm Up

5 minutes of running. Dynamic movements to prepare your clients for the workout.

Fitness Test Concept

In the spirit of the Olympics this round I have put together an Olympic themed bootcamp test based on a Pentathlon.

Clients will need to complete 5 exercises, a run, lunges, push ups, dips and squats. There are three levels, Beginner, Intermediate, and Veteran.

Olympic Pentathlon

Measure this test in two parts; the strength exercises and the run. Combine the times for a total score.

The reps required are in the (brackets).

Beginner Intermediate Veteran
Reverse Lunges (30/leg) Forward Lunges (40/leg) Forward Lunges (30/leg) and Reverse Lunges (30/leg)
Kneeling Push Ups (50) Push Ups (50) Hand Release Push Ups (50)
Squats (50) Jump Squats (50) Jump Squats (60)
Dips – knees 90 degrees (50) Dips – knees 135 degrees (50) Dips – legs straight (50)
Run (1500m) Run (2000m) Run (3000m)


If there is time left over do one of this sites finisher drills.


400m cooldown run and stretch.

Image: joncandy

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A Badass Bootcamp Fitness Test

This year I’ve decided that along with a small test at the start and the end of each bootcamp (such as 1 minute of push ups or a 1 mile run) I am also including some recurring workouts that will pop up during the year for my bootcampers. These workouts are special in that they can be measured and repeated constantly. Here is one of the workouts.

Note: This workout is quite challenging. Be sure to provide plenty of support and motivation throughout, especially to your less fit clients.


Goals: Crosstraining/Endurance

Duration: 1 hour

Equipment: Cones, Mats

Warm Up

Spend 10 minutes with a basic warm up of shuttle runs, power skips, suicide runs, side runs and spider lunges.

How It Works

Individually, clients are to complete as many rounds as possible of the circuit below. Their time limit is 15 minutes.

Clients can perform either of the exercises options but should try to stick to their exercise choices for the entire 15 minutes.

Make sure you go through all of the exercises beforehand. Allow everyone time to practice the bear crawl both forwards and backwards.

  1. 15x Marine Pushups (alternate exercise: marine pushups on knees)
  2. 10x Burpees (alternate exercise: walk feet out rather then jumping out)
  3. 5x 5 metre forwards Bear Crawl, 5 metre reverse Bear Crawl (alternate exercise: do all bear crawls forwards)
  4. 1x 50 metre sprint to cone and back

Take scores by first taking full rounds and then taking total number of reps from any incomplete rounds. For example, if a client only gets up to 8 burpees on their last round they would get 23 reps in addition to their complete rounds.

Finisher (if time)

Tabata intervals (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest). Alternate the following two exercises for 4 minutes. (Thanks kmoore!)

  1. Elbows to knees squat
  2. 10 seconds squat hold and 10 seconds squat pulse


150 metre run, 50 metre walk, stretch

Image: Reggie_Lavoie

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