The Small-Group Circuit Workout

Grow your groups and keep your clients coming back with this challenging, high-energy Group Personal Training Specialization (GPTS)–based routine.

The beauty of small-group training is the camaraderie and good-natured competition it inspires in participants. When building a group workout, you want to take advantage of that group dynamic with a program that lets them work together as well as push each other to see what they can do. 

“I like to have clients work out in a circuit of challenging moves that includes partner moves as well as individual exercises,” says Russell Wynter, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, BCS, FNS, GFS, GPTS, MMACS, WLS, Master Trainer, co-owner of MadSweat in Scottsdale, Ariz. “That way, everyone really gets a great workout and has a lot of fun in the 45 minutes we’re in there.”

The following mixed-phase routine is one of his small-group training go-tos. “Just make sure you’re watching the kinetic chain checkpoints and keeping tabs on their form,” Wynter advises, “just as you would when working one-on-one.”

Warm-Up
Self-Myofascial Release: Calves, adductors, IT band, thoracic spine; 1 x 30 seconds 
Static Stretch: Calves, adductors, hip flexors, lats; 1 x 30 seconds.

Partner: Floor Touch to High Five 2 x 30 seconds each leg, controlled tempo, 15 seconds rest

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A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, facing your partner about arm’s length away. Each of you, lift your right foot off the floor and balance on the left. Extend your left arm overhead.
B. Keeping your back flat, hinge forward, reaching to the floor with your left hand. Return to the starting position and give your partner a high five. Switch legs after 30 seconds and repeat.

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Squat Jumps with Stabilization 2 x 30 seconds, controlled tempo; partner monitors feet/knees during isometric hold, 15 seconds rest

A. Stand with feet pointed straight ahead and shoulder-width apart. Squat slightly as though sitting in a chair. 
B. Jump up, raising your arms overhead, and land softly with the ankles, knees, and hips slightly flexed. Hold the landing position for a few seconds. Repeat.

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Burpee 2 x 30 seconds, 15 seconds rest

A. Start in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back to a push-up position.
B. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible from the squat position. Land softly and repeat. 
For variations, checkout “Four Amazing Burpee Variations.”

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Squat to Calf-Raise 2 x 30 seconds, controlled tempo, 15 seconds rest

A. Stand with feet pointed straight ahead, shoulder-width apart. Squat back until thighs are nearly parallel to the floor.
B. Return to the starting position, immediately rising onto your toes as you move past the start position. Hold for one second. Lower and repeat.

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Plyometric Push-up 2 x 30 seconds, 15 seconds rest

A. Assume a classic push-up position, arms extended and hands beneath shoulders. Bend arms and lower chest until upper arms are parallel to the floor.
B. Push up hard enough for hands to come off the floor and catch some air. If you can, clap hands together while in the air. When you hit the floor, lower immediately into the next repetition.

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Partner: Squat to Medicine Ball Chest Pass 2 x 30 seconds, controlled tempo, 15 seconds rest

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed straight ahead. One partner holds a medicine ball at their chest with both hands. The partner with the ball then performs a squat, pushing hips back and bending knees until thighs are parallel with the floor.
B. The partner doing the squat then drives heels into the floor, pressing back up to the starting position and pushing the ball forward to pass to partner. The partner catches the ball and immediately drops into a squat and repeats the motion, passing the ball back.

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Staggered Hand Push-up 2 x 30 seconds, 2/0/2 tempo, 15 seconds rest
 
A. Assume a classic push-up position with arms extended and hands beneath shoulders. Stagger hands by placing right hand back and left hand forward.
B. Bend arms and lower chest until upper arms are parallel to the floor. Press back to start. Repeat. Alternate hands for second set.

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Floor Cobra 2 x 30 seconds, slow tempo, 15 seconds rest
 
A. Lie facedown on the floor. Contract glutes and pinch shoulder blades together.
B. Lift chest off the floor with thumbs pointed up and arms externally rotated. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds. Slowly return body to the floor, keeping chin tucked. Repeat.

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Tuck Jump 2 x 30 seconds, repeating, medium to fast tempo, 15 seconds rest
 
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, pointing straight ahead. Squat slightly as though sitting in a chair.
B. Jump up, bringing both knees toward chest. Attempt to have the thighs parallel with the floor. Land softly, maintaining proper alignment, keeping feet, knees, and hips pointed straight ahead. Repeat.

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Multiplanar Lunge 2 x 30 seconds each leg, 2/0/2 tempo, 15 seconds rest
 
A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, pointing straight ahead. Lunge forward with toes pointed straight ahead, knee directly over toes. Push off the front foot through heel onto the back leg, maintaining balance on the back leg.
B. Repeat, lunging to the side 
C. Repeat again, lunging at a 45-degree angle and pivoting on the back foot. Rotate through each lunge position.

Cool-Down
Self-Myofascial Release: Calves, adductors, IT band, 1 x 30 seconds
Static Stretch: Calves, adductors, hip flexors, lats, 1 x 30 seconds
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