When you finish up at Joe Blog PT Academy, you leave knowing things like how to teach a push up, where your rectus femoris is and what a superset is.
Which is great when it comes to one on one training with clients but leaves you fairly unprepared to run your first group fitness session.
So you consult Mr. Google for some ideas and you find cool sites like this which are filled with lots of awesome training ideas. Or at least it seems that way until you go to read your first workout and you see some weird letters on your screen.
What is an AMRAP? Some kind of musical drill?
EMOM? Does that mean I should email my Mum?
Accumulator? Ladder? Circuit? HIT? HIIT? Tabata? I Go You Go?
I get it, I’ve been there too and it’s quite confusing.
So in today’s post I wanted to take a moment to explain what some of the common drills are that trainers use. I’ve also included some rad examples for you to try out with your group.
Let’s dive in.
You may already know what a Circuit is but I thought it would be a good place to start so we’re all on the same page.
A Circuit is a series of exercises done one after another like this:
- Push Up
- Pull Up
The exercises can be completed for a set time or for a certain number of repitions. For example 30 seconds each or for a set amount of reps like 12. Once the time/reps are completed, clients go to the next exercise.
As you might have guessed by the name Circuit, once you finish the last exercise you go back to the first.
Like I mentioned, you probably already new that but now whenever I mention circuit you know exactly what I mean.
AMRAP is an acronym that stands for As Many Rounds As Possible. On rare occasion is can also stand for As Many Reps As Possible.
It involves completing a Circuit (using reps) as many times through as you can in a set amount of Time. A walk-a-thon is technically an AMRAP.
In the drill below, clients keep repeating the circuit in order until 5 minutes are up. For fitness testing you can get them to keep track of how many rounds they completed and compare back to that number later.
Example: Bench Plex
5 minute AMRAP
Choose ‘bench’ height suitable to your level. Complete as many rounds as possible in the 5 minutes.
- 5x Box Jumps
- 10x Step Ups (10 ea.)
- 15x Bench Dips
EMOM is also an acronym and actually has nothing to do with Mom’s. It stands for Every Minute On the Minute.
This means that you’ll need a timer or stopwatch running.
At the start of each minute clients will complete a sprint or an exercise or a series of exercises. Their goal is to complete it as fast as possible because whatever time they have left before the next minute starts, they get as rest.
In the example below, clients complete 5 reps of each exercise each minute for 5 minutes. That’s 5 rounds total.
Example: Deconstructed Burpee
5 minute EMOM
- 5x HRPU
- 5x Squat Thrust
- 5x Vertical Jumps
If you open a dictionary (or tip: Google ‘define: accumulate’) Accumulate means to aquire or build up and that’s exactly what this type of drill does.
Accumulators begin with clients just completing one exercise. It can be for reps or time, your choice.
In the second round you give your clients a second exercise. So now they do the exercise from the first round and immediately after the new exercise too.
Each round you add an extra exercise until you’ve reached your time limit or have added all of the exercises on your list.
Here’s a small version of an accumulator taken off BootCraft:
Example: Starts Easy
Clients complete this drill at their own pace. Give them a number between 6 and 10 based on their fitness level. This will be the number of reps the will complete for each exercise.
Start on exercise 1. Then repeat 1, then 2. Back to 1, then 2, then 3. Back to 1, etc.
- Jump Squats
- High Plank with forwards reach (like this plank but with straight arms)
- Band Rows – elbows at 45 degrees
- Static Lunges (sometimes called split squats)
Once clients have done all 5 exercises in a row they are finished.
Like the Accumulator, Ladder drills involve addition. In this case though we are going to add to (or substract from) the number of repetitions.
For example, a client starts with an exercise and set number of reps like 5 push ups. Each round they add one rep to the number of push ups. So 6 push ups, then 7 push ups and so on just like the rungs of a ladder.
You can also start with a high number of and go lower with the reps each time. Like 15 push ups, then 14 and so on until you reach 1.
It doesn’t have to be just adding or substracting 1 rep either. You could add 2 reps each round or 5 reps or even 10. It’s up to you.
Ladder drills can be combined with supersets, Circuits (including AMRAPs), EMOMs and more.
The example below combines a Ladder with an AMRAP. Clients start with just 1 rep of each exercise and add 1 rep each time through the circuit until 5 minutes is up.
(I studied coding some time ago, so I write a ladder drill as X++ where X is the starting reps)
5 minute Ladder
- 1++ Ring Pull Ups
- 1++ 1 Leg Glute Bridge (L+R=1)
- 1++ Heavy KB Squat
You may have looked at that last example and said ‘Huh?’ when you read the note next to the glute bridges. That’s OK, that was my reaction when I first read this notation too.
L+R=1 means one rep on the Left side and one rep on the Right side equals 1 total rep.
You will also see L+R=2 which means that one rep on each side equals 2 total reps.
Back to the acronyms with this one. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.
Not to be confused with HIT (High Intensity Training) which is a broad term to encompass most training styles that raise your heart rate.
The key word with HIIT is Interval which just means that a timer is going to be involved. Usually each round of a HIIT workout consists of work (doing an exercise) followed by a rest period.
30 seconds work followed by 30 seconds rest is a good place to start for most fitness levels. As your clients get fitter you can increase the work to rest ratio or make the work period harder to continue to challenge them.
Example: Short Circuit
Time intervals of 30s work with 10s rest to move to the next station.
Here are some sample exercises. If you used equipment during the main drill, you might like to make these a little more exciting.
Take a short rest and then repeat the circuit once more if you have time. If not, once through at 100% is enough.
Tabata Intervals are a type of HIIT. Tabata is a very specific type that consists of 8 rounds of 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds of rest. If you’re quick with maths you’ll realise that’s just 4 minutes.
Due to it being quite intense, Tabata makes a great finisher but not so much a full workout.
Traditionally Tabata is just done with one exercise like sprints or squats, however crafty trainers out there have made a some fun alternatives.
Example: Tabata Mash Ups
Alternate between two exercises each work round. So in round 1 do exercise 1, in round 2 do exercise 2, then in round 3 go back to exercise 1, etc.
- Jump Squats
Example: Tabata Active Rest
Instead of just letting your clients rest during the 10 second rest period have them do a stationary exercise like holding a squat position or a plank.
Example: Tabata Circuits
You can use Tabata timing for your circuits. Set up 4 or 8 stations in a circle. Clients do an exercise for 20 seconds, then have the 10 second rest period to make it to the next station. Continue for the 4 minutes and then take a 1 minute rest.
Define: I Go You Go
There is really nothing like partner and team drills to help build your group fitness business into a thriving community.
I Go You Go is a very simple, yet effective partner drill. As the name sounds it involves one partner going while the other rests, then after a set distance, time or number of reps they swap roles.
It’s also great if you have a limited amount of equipment as they are taking it in turns.
In the example below, clients take it in turn dragging and pulling in a sled for 5 minutes.
Set up a cone 20m away.
Drag a sled/tyre using a rope to the cone then pull it in hand over hand. Drag the sled back to your partner and again pull it in hand over hand. Swap.
Chipper drills get their name because you ‘chip away’ at them.
Chippers start with a big list of exercises. Each exercise has a target number of reps. Clients start at the top of the list, knocking off one exercise at a time and working their way down the list as they complete it’s repetitions.
They make great team workouts because you can set a team total number of reps for each exercises that the group has to work together to achieve.
Example: 300 Reps
Start at the top of the list and work your way down one exercise at a time.
I thought I should include this term as you will see it from time to time and it can have a few meanings.
A Pyramid drill can be an Accumulator. It can also be a ladder drill
Basically it’s anything where the number of reps or rounds is increasing.
Get these in a cheat sheet
Once I sat down to write this out it got longer and longer. I know some of you like to be able to print these things out so I’ve put the above into a little printable PDF.
I’ve also added a one-page cheat sheet of all the terms for you to refer back to.
To grab it, just pop your first name and email in below and I’ll send it to you. You’ll also join my weekly newsletter in which I send you stuff like this!
If you’re already on the email list, you’ll see a link to download in this week’s email.
Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He ran a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his wife and find new ways to make bootcamps even better.