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Off season strength work: Circuit training

— by Kevin Mackinnon

At the end of a long and busy race season, your body needs a break from your regular training routine. That doesn’t mean you need to, or should, stop everything. Being active can be fun and, just because the race season is over, doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the benefits exercise can provide.

I typically try to get my athletes to take a few weeks of doing “what you like, when you like.” The goal is simply to enjoy some time away from a structured program. Some athletes might like to take a much longer break, which is more than fine, too.

One thing I do try to encourage, though, especially for masters athletes, is some strength training. That said, the last thing I want them to do is hit a weight room on a regular basis for monster workouts. This is where circuit training comes in. I got my first introduction to circuit training in a drafty gym at Rugby School in England (yes, where C. Webb Ellis first picked up the ball and ran). The circuits we did there consisted of body-weight exercises, and I’m still a fan of that type of training, especially in the fall. Here’s a suggested circuit for you to do. The idea is to fly through the exercises in rapid succession – you can either do them for a specific time (I like 30 to 40 seconds of each exercise with 10 seconds rest) or a certain number of reps – say 10. The circuit shouldn’t take longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

You can modify the exercises, too, to make them a bit more challenging as you get further into the fall. Keeping your elbows close to your body while doing push-ups will force you to utilize your triceps a bit more. You can also add an exercise ball and some additional exercises on that to provide a bit more variety, too.

Circuit training is a great way to maintain overall body strength even when you’re taking some time from your regular training routine. You’ll find it’ll be a bit easier to get back into the swing of things if you’ve maintained a bit of overall strength, and these workouts can also serve as a nice build into a more extensive strength program as you start ramping things up in the winter months.

Exercises you can work into your circuit

  1. Pushups
  2. Abdominal Curls
  3. Dips
  4. Stepups (to a bench or a couple of stairs)
  5. Squats
  6. Plank
  7. Lunges
  8. Side Planks