Successful group strength-training workouts keep a high level of motivation and a low level of competition. Each participant works out at a comfortable level, uses a variety of equipment for muscle stimulation and depends on the instructor for safety cues and encouragement. A strength-training session never has to be the same with the numerous equipment options available. Keep your class fresh and exciting every week with new ideas.
Strength-training classes can use one piece of equipment, five pieces of equipment or no equipment. The choice is yours and depends on your available options. Most health clubs have dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, medicine balls, exercise balls, steps, kettlebells, poles or gravity resistance trainers. If you do not have access to any equipment, bodyweight exercises provide effective strength training, too. Once you select your equipment, you can determine how your class is structured.
A traditional group strength workout begins with a five-minute warm up. Then, select one or two exercises for each muscle group. Begin with the large muscle groups such as the back, legs and chest before you progress to the smaller muscles of the arms, shoulders and calves. Aim to complete one to three sets of eight to 15 repetitions, depending on the fitness levels of your participants. Prepare modifications for participants who have injuries. For example, instead of instructing a shoulder press, teach an upright row for a client with a shoulder injury. Keep the amount of rest time between exercises to a minimum. One way to do this is to alternate lower body and upper body exercises so half of the body rests while the other half works.
Your strength exercises can be arranged into a circuit for training variation. Select eight to 10 exercises and set up the equipment into stations around the group exercise room. At the beginning of class, show your participants each exercise. Ask each person to start at a station and set your timer between 30 and 180 seconds. Your participants then move to the next strength station and complete the exercise for the same duration. You can also add aerobic movements into your circuit between the strength exercises. Add knee lifts, jogs in place, jumping jacks or jump roping to increase the heart rate and burn calories.
Boot camp classes are gaining in popularity and are high-intensity workout sessions. A boot camp uses much or little equipment, depending on your goals. Many classes use bodyweight and an aerobic step for all of the exercises. Plan for smooth transitions between the exercises to reduce rest time. For example, perform a plank and then a set of pushups. In this type of workout, your strength exercises are an active recovery from the high-intensity aerobic movements. For example, perform a squat with a hop for one minute and follow this with a bicep curl for one minute. Add core exercises, balance movements and single-arm exercises to provide your participants a well-rounded workout.
- IDEA Health and Fitness: Injury Prevention -- Group Strength
- American Council on Exercise: Circuit Training Basics
- "IDEA Fitness Journal"; Core Conditioning Camp; September 2012
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.