Bootcamps: Not Just For Crushing People (and doing “stuff”)

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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Cressey Sports Performance’s group fitness coordinator, George Kalantzis.


Group training is becoming a staple in the fitness industry and people are trying all sorts of group classes to get their exercise fix in.

People want and love group training, and when you can combine a great atmosphere with properly coached exercise that not only produce a training effect, but also address individual limitations/ability level/postural deficiencies/weaknesses/and strengths; it’s a win-win for everyone.

At Cressey Sports Performance (CSP), our strength camps run 3x’s a week, with four classes a day.

Exercise selection is based upon how easily it can be regressed (or progressed). Essentially we don’t dig too deep into our exercise tool box for the sole purpose of “doing stuff,” but rather choose exercises and drills which can easily be “ramped” to one’s individual needs and ability level. For us, it’s all about whether the exercise is coachable, and which can help the client move better as we go along.

Changing too much and making exercises “exciting” for the sake of exciting is a way to keep people from mastering the basics.

Basics are boring, but they work.

And the sooner someone can get a handle on the basics, the sooner their exercise rolodex (which don’t even exist anymore) can be expanded.

Below are some “big rock” themes to how we run our strength camps at CSP.

Density Training Days

Monday is density day. We tend to keep things relatively simple. Meaning, the circuit designed is based upon the time frame allotted. After warm-ups and explanation, we tend to have around 40 minutes to get some work done.

Typically, circuits will range from 10-20 minutes, which allows for a decent amount of work to be done. For the smaller time frame we might use 2-3 exercises in a block, and for the larger time frame we will have anywhere from4-6 exercises in a circuit.

The order of exercise chosen should depict the flow of your gym and the number of clients in a class. Anything from 2-6 exercises with 8-12 reps works best for density training along .

Example Density Day with TWO larger circuits and Finisher:

Circuit #1

A1: Barbell Reverse Lunge 10/leg
A2: Barbell Push Press x10
A3: KB Swing x 10
A4: Pushup x 10
A5: Medicine Ball Stomps to Floor x 10


Circuit #2

B1: Dumbbell Front Squat x 8
B2: Renegade Rows 4/side
B3: Prowler Push 40 yards
B4: 1 Arm Farmers Walks 20 yards/side
B5: KB Clean x 8


KB Clean and Squat Ladder

1 Clean, 1 Squat, 2 cleans, 2 squats, 3 cleans, 3 squats. 4 cleans, 4 squats 5 cleans, 5 squats and back down.

Metabolic Conditioning Day

This day is the most popular among clients and runs on Wednesdays. It tends to attract the largest groups and gets the best feedback.

I think clients like the idea that they never know what they are going to get that day. It could be a ten exercise circuit, or four mini circuits of 3-4 exercises. It all depends on the cycle of the program that week.

Here is an example of FOUR mini circuits, with rounds of 35s/15s, 25s/10s, and 20s/10s

Round 1 = 35s work, 15s rest, Round 2 = 25s work, 10s rest, Round 3 = 20s work, 10s rest, Round 4 = death stares from clients

Circuit #1

A1: Donkey Kong Slam Battle Ropes A2: Kneeling to standing Battle Ropes

A3: Sitting Battle Ropes                       A4: Plank Battle Ropes

Circuit #2

B1: Single Leg Hip Thrust Off Bench – Right       B2: Single Leg Hip Thrust Off Bench –  Left

B3: Standing Pallof Press – Right                          B4: Standing Pallof Press – Left

Circuit #3

C1: TRX Rows           C2: TRX Pushups

C3: KB Squats           C4: KB Cleans

Circuit #4

D1: Prowler Push    D2: Sledge Hammer to Tire

D3: Sprints               D4: Airdyne Bike

Check out footage from a METCON day


Strength Day

These are designed much like density days, except we tend to keep the reps lower and allow clients to lift a bit heavier.

It’s not uncommon to see women deadlift twice their body weight on a Friday morning session.

It is very important to note not everyone will trap bar deadlift.

We have a solid structure in place that allows us to individualize all workouts. There are examples of clients in their late 60’s that require modifications of all sorts and clients who are in top shape that require more advance workouts. What’s great about strength days is that it allows us a better opportunity to customize the flow of the day for anyone who needs it, which gives a sense of “velvet rope customer service.”

People feel they’re being taken care of (which they are).

Here is an example of strength day.

Station # 1 : 15 Minutes

A1: Deadlift Variation x5
A2: Hollow Body 5 Reps
A3: Pull-up Variation 5 Reps
A4: Reverse Sled Drag x 5


Station # 2 : 15 Minutes

B1: Dumbbell RDL x 8
B2: Dumbbell Bent Over Row x 8
B3: Dumbbell Single Leg Deadlift x 8/leg
B4: Pushups x 8
B5: KB Swings x 8

Finisher: Break Into TWO Groups

Group #1

Complete every rep/movement on the minute for FIVE minutes

A1. KB Squats
A2. Med Ball Floor Stomps x 5

Group #2

½ the group does prowler sprints for 30 seconds, the other half holds a front plank for 30 seconds Total of 10 rounds for 5 minutes

This is not a see-all be- all approach to group training, but it does produce results and clients keep coming back for more.

I hope this can help you think outside the box when it comes to group training.

Note From TG: a few resources that may help on the topic and that I’d encourage you to check out are Bootcamp in a Box and Group Training Playbook

About the Author

George began his time at Cressey Sports Performance as an intern in the fall of 2013, and returned in 2014 as CSP’s Group Fitness Coordinator, overseeing all Strength Camp coaching and programming responsibilities.

George is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and was awarded an honorary discharge after eight years of service. He possesses an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University and is currently attending massage school to become a licensed massage therapist.

Outside of CSP, George maintains a fitness-related blog that can be found at

He and his wife Shawna reside in Manchester, NH, with their fur-baby Lola the dog.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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