Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old School Circuit Training

I have an old moldy copy of a book on circuit training written by the original developers of the technique, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson from Leeds University. It smells weird and the pages are brittle, but it is very interesting.

There were no machines used in this gym, it was all full body gymnastic and strength work that would be pretty hard for a lot of relatively fit folks to complete. I'm going to list some of the exercises and try and provide a description that is relatively accurate so you can see what I mean.

Rope Swings: So, picture this, you have two ropes about arm length apart. You must grab a hold of both, take two steps back and then heave yourself forward with enough force that your feet touch a horizontal beam that is approximately 8-10 in the air.

Arm jumps: They utilized a ladder placed horizontally at "jump height. So, picture doing this on the monkey bars. Hold on to the outside support beams and by pulling up explosively, use your arms to "jump" your way down the bar.

Arm walk on parallel bars: So, just like it sounds, press yourself up in a support position on the parallel bars and walk though it on your hands (you are not in a handstand position, you are hanging between the bars).

Barbell Swings: This is very similar to a clean grip hang power snatch, except that you swing the bar overhead like a kettlebell swing.

Barbell Curls: This is the same as the barbell swing, but with an underhand grip. Very much like a power curl.

Wheelbarrow lift: They have it set up to look like a partial deadlift, but the action is the same as lifting a heavy wheelbarrow.

Dumbbell Jumps: Holding a dumbell in each hand, place both feet on either side of a 12" bench. Jump onto the bench by jumping up and bringing your feet together.

Squat Jumps: This is sort of a jumping B squat. One foot is slightly in front of the other such that when you land, your back foot is on the toe as in a lunge. Alternate feet with each jump.

Dumbbell squats: Holding dumbbells in both hands and with heels supported on board, squat to the ground.

Jump and heave: This looks like a jumping pullup, but chest to bar.

Jump and press: Using the parallel bars, jump up to acquire a support position. Dip slightly and extend the elbows explosively as you "jump" down the bars. This seems to be an explosive or plyometric dip.

Squat and press with bench: So, they would hook a long bench (10-12 feet) to the wall. Then, holding onto the end of the bench, they would squat to the floor and then come all the way up, pressing the bench overhead until they were on their toes. Similar to a thruster, but stabilized on one end.

These don't require as much explanation:
Rope ladder climb
Burpee: no pushup, no jump
Barbell squats: Butt to ankles.
Bench Stepping: Up and down 2-3 rows up bleachers
Barbell Press
Parallel bar dips
Wrist rolling

Now, I can't vouch for the safety of some of these as I've never used them before, but its interesting to see how some of these have clearly evolved over the years and have been integrated into other programs. Some have been dropped altogether. These circuits were performed with 40% 1RM training loads and were not done for time, just good form. About 20-30 seconds of rest was allowed between exercises as individuals moved from one to the next.

Circuit Training, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Adamson
The Camelot Press, Ltd., Great Britain 1959

Training Schedule September 27th -October 2

Two more weeks until the Warrior Dash!  If you haven't started running, you'd better get started.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, I wrote a new article for my Back to Basics Training blog on old school circuit training (and by old school, I mean 60 years ago).


I have nothing interesting to say today so I'm just going to get on with the schedule.  Please note, this is geared entirely towards being able to run through the woods, climb over walls, and jump over stuff.  If you don't intend on doing that, search this blog for something different with the Google search bar at the bottom.  Or, if you feel like exploring your testosterone boundaries, check out this article on T-Nation:  The Ten Manliest Exercises Ever


1 jump squat, 1 pushup, run 200-400 meters
2 jump squats, 2 pushups, run 200-400 meters
continue until you reach 8-10 total rounds


10 jumping Pullups
10 walking lunges, weighted
5 rounds
Walk or jog 1 mile

 Interval training
Run 1 minute, walk/jog 1 minute
3 miles


15 Weighted step-ups, one side at a time
10 deadlifts (20%-40% of 1RM)
12-15 push press (20-30% of 1RM)
5 rounds

Run 3-5 miles

Monday, September 20, 2010


My daughter told me yesterday that I looked like Tinkerbell.

I don't look anything like Tinkerbell so I asked her why.  She got kind of embarassed and then she put her hands on my hips and said, "Well, your . . . um . . . "

"Butt is big?" I finished for her.  She smiled and nodded her head.

"Why thank you!" I said. "I've been working on that." 

Don't be mad, Tink, you're a strong girl. 
I think that Tinkerbell would probably be an excellent athlete.  She has the figure for it.  Like it or not, most of our power comes from that large muscle group on our backside so having a big engine is quite an advantage.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training Schedule September 13th - September 19th

So, four weeks until the Warrior Dash.  Truth is, its not that far of a run.  But, we still have train with some distance if you aren't used to running.  Regular runners, you just need to do some pullups. 

If we were training for a longer distance, a 10K, half marathon, or marathon, we would phasing out the heavy weight training and doing some maintenance strength and power training with bodyweight, light implements, and/or plyometrics (jump training).  But, this is a short distance and its not worth detraining all of our strength just to run three miles.

And so, we continue to lift.  I wouldn't lift heavy a day or two before the actual race just because running with DOMS is not fun, but there's no need to give things up entirely.


Power Clean, doubles, 6-8 sets
Front squat 3x10
Push Press 5x5

Run 1 mile


Weighted walk, 3-5 miles, carry, drag, and/or push weight


3 mile run


30 kettlebell swings
Run 200 meters
3 rounds

Then run 1/2 mile


Rest day or 3-5 mile walk or run


Power Snatch to overhead  squat, doubles, 6-8 reps

10 Jump Squats
10 pushups
400 meter run
4 rounds


Run 3 miles

Monday, September 6, 2010

Training Schedule September 6 - September 11

Happy Labor Day! My personal take on Labor Day is that it is a way to honor mothers and so I take the day off.  Of course, holiday weekends always warrant a little slacking off in my opinion.  Or maybe I'm just lazy. 

So, same as last week, training for the Warrior Dash!  And that means MORE RUNNING!

Again, if running isn't your thing, well, I have almost eight months of training schedules to choose from here.  Pick one and get started.  If you haven't noticed, I have a google search function at the bottom of the page so that you can search my blog for different exercises and training schedules.  For example, tire flips.  Here is a picture of Jason Davidson, my fellow weightlifting coach, demonstrating a tire flip with one of the lighter tires over at the Athletic Performance Center.

Tuesday, August 7th

Clean and jerk, eight sets of doubles, increase weight to a max
Assistance, sumo deadlift, 3x10 (yes, this works the adductors and helps you get up from your front squat without your knees caving in)
Bench Press, 5x5

Run 1-2 miles, pacing intervals (run set time or distance, rest two minutes, repeat until you have completed the total distance)

Wednesday, August 8th

10 pullups
100 jump rope
20 kb swings
Rest 1-2 minutes
4-5 rounds

Thursday, August 9th

15 box jumps
15 pushups
50 meter sprint
5 rounds
This should be high intensity, rest 3-4 minutes between rounds

Run 1/2 - 1 mile

Friday, August 10th

Rest day, walk or jog

Saturday, August 11th

Snatches, 8 sets of doubles, increase weight as you go

Rest 5-10 minutes, 2 mile run, pacing intervals