Planning the perfect bootcamp workout is kind of like joining King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on the quest for the Holy Grail.
It’s always just out of reach. Every time we add something to a workout we have to take out something else. And just when we create a workout that’s perfect for one client we realise that there are 2 other clients who won’t be able to do it.
So, unfortunately, we have to compromise. Every workout you plan will suffer in some ways so that it can be better in other ways.
That is the real skill of a great group fitness instructor. The ability to pick what you’ll compromise on and what you won’t. If you’re not careful it’s very easy to end up compromising on the wrong things.
Here are 3 things I see trainers compromise on that they shouldn’t:
1. Too Much Standing Around
This is a common mistake I see new trainers make. In an effort to make their sessions stand out they overcomplicate drills and exercise selection which leads to clients standing around cooling down in the middle of a session while the trainer is setting up or demonstrating the next drill.
You can avoid this by picking drills that flow from one to the next. Here are some tips:
- Prepare campers for exercises you’ll do later in the workout by including variations of them in the warm up.
- Re-use equipment set ups for multiple drills.
- Overplan your sessions with more drills than you need so you don’t finish early.
Exception to the rule: Workouts that require lots of rest can involve standing around. So let’s talk about them next.
2. Not Planning Enough Rest
It’s one thing to have clients standing around because you haven’t planned the session well and another thing entirely to have them doing scheduled rest. Often under pressure from a few clients who get really twitchy whenever you ask them to rest, we’ll end up creating workouts with zero rest breaks.
Hands up if you’ve heard this before: ‘I don’t want to rest,’ they’ll tell us, ‘I’m here to workout.’
Wait a minute. Who is the trainer here?
Not all workouts require your heart rate to be pumping the whole way through. Some workouts need the heart rate going up and down. Some need time to give the nervous system a break. Some require max efforts (not half-arsed efforts). These workouts need breaks and you should feel confident in yourself to program these in.
Here’s a tip for workouts that need lots of rest:
- Be upfront at the start of the workout. Tell your clients that today’s session will have more rest breaks. Encourage them to really take a break during the rests and then to really go all out when they are exercising.
- Grab some mobility exercises and get clients doing them while they rest. This will help satisfy those twitchy clients by giving them something to do.
- My go to response for hardcore clients who complain is, ‘If you don’t feel like you need a rest, then you aren’t working hard enough during the efforts.’ Followed by me handing them a heavier KB or setting up a cone further away just for them.
Exception to the rule: Metafit and similar short, intense workouts have very short rest breaks. They aren’t trying to be a strength or anaerobic workout. That’s because the goal there is to go hard for the short amount of time and this is why goals are so important.
3. Don’t Have A Clear Goal
Without a clear goal for your workout it becomes really easy to compromise on the wrong things. Which means each workout ends up becoming very similar to the last one and after a while you’ll notice that clients stop getting fitter. A workout goal will help create variety and flavour in your sessions and that will keep your clients coming back.
(I filmed a great video for my free 21 Days of Bootcamp Ideas series on how I break down how I pick the goal for a workout. I recommend checking that out if you haven’t already.)
The key thing to remember is that each workout you run can’t be everything for everyone. That’s just joining King Arthur again and his elusive quest for a shiny cup. Quit chasing that shiny cup and use that round table for some box jumps and dips.
Pick one goal for your workout and do it really, really well. Next workout, pick another and do that really well. And so on.
Tips for picking a workout goal:
- What energy system will you train today?
- Is this workout going to be fun or more serious?
- Is there a new skill I want to work on with my clients?
- Watch the Week 1 and Week 2 videos in 21 Days of Bootcamp Ideas for examples.
If you can get these three mistakes fixed, you’ll find that your clients will stick around longer, they’ll keep getting results and your skills and confidence as a trainer and workout planner will grow.
Which of these 3 areas do you feel like you need to work on?
Let me know in the comments below.
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.