Workout Compendium

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Welcome to our Workout Compendium! An introduction to the Types of  Workouts found on the site. What they involve, who they will benefit, how they are beneficial in transforming your training and helping you get leaner and stronger, faster.

Workouts Compendium

(Click on any of the links below to bring you straight to a workout description.)

Accumulator

Accumulator workouts involve adding extra exercises, extra reps or longer times every round to increase the intensity of the workout. 

Example 1:

Select a number of reps for each exercise, for example, 10 reps. This will be the number of reps the will complete for each exercise.

Start with round 1 doing just the first exercise listed and complete 10 reps. Then start round 2, adding your second exercise onto the list.  Complete exercises 1 and 2 for 10 reps each. Round 3, add the third exercise. Complete exercises 1, 2 and 3 for 10 reps each etc.

First round: 10 X Jump Squats

Second round: 10 X Jump Squats. 10 X Push-ups

Third round: 10 X Jump Squats. 10 X Push Ups. 10 X Lunges.

Fourth round: 10 X Jump Squats. 10 x Push Ups. 10 X Lunges. 10 X Pull-ups.

Fifth round:  10 X Jump Squats. 10 X Push Ups. 10 X Lunges. 10 X Pull-Ups. 10 X Sit Ups.

Once you have completed all 5 rounds you are finished.

Example 2:

Select a handful of exercises (5 in the example below) and start with a low number of reps for each exercise, for example, 10 reps. The plan is to increase the number of reps slightly with each round.

For the very first round perform 10 reps of each exercise listed. Then begin round 2, adding 2 reps onto the total for each exercise (12 reps in this case). Complete 12 reps of each exercise. Round 3, add 2 more reps onto each exercise.  Complete 14 reps, next round 16 etc.

First round: 10 X Jump Squats. 10 X Push Ups. 10 X Lunges. 10 X Pull-Ups. 10 X Sit Ups.

Second round: 12 X Jump Squats. 12 X Push-Ups. 12 X Lunges. 12 X Pull-Ups. 12 X Sit Ups.

Third round: 14 X Jump Squats. 14 X Push-Ups. 14 X Lunges. 14 X Pull-Ups. 14 X Sit Ups.

Fourth round: 16 X Jump Squats. 16 X Push-Ups. 16 X Lunges. 16 X Pull-Ups. 16 X Sit Ups.

Fifth round:  18 X Jump Squats. 18 X Push-Ups. 18 X Lunges. 18 X Pull-Ups. 18 X Sit Ups.

Once you have completed all 5 rounds you are finished.

AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)

AMRAP means completing as many rounds or reps as possible and resting only when absolutely necessary.  It is a useful way to monitor your fitness progress. Using your previous scores as targets to beat is also a great way to motivate yourself when revisiting the same workout, ensuring you channel your maximum effort into every workout.

Directions:

Each workout consists of 6 exercises performed in a circuit with a prescribed number of reps for each exercise. Set a timer for 5 minutes and do as many circuits as possible with no rest.  At the end of the five minutes, rest for one minute, then start the circuit from where you left off.

Example: 5-minute AMRAP

Complete as many rounds as possible in the 5 minutes.

  • 5x Box Jumps
  • 10x Step Ups (10 each side.)
  • 15x Bench Dips

Cardio Workouts

Fun and challenging workouts for when you need to get the cardio in.  Your tools of choice? Up to you! Grab the bike, rowing machine or even the humble skipping rope for fun, challenging and varied high-intensity workouts to burn fat and build muscle.

Directions:

Cover the prescribed distances for the cycling, sprinting and rowing intervals as fast as you can, then drastically reduce your intensity and cover the distance again.  Repeat this 10x.  For the skipping, alternate between 30 seconds high intensity and 30 second’s rest, repeated 10x.

Example: 100m sprints/100m jogs. Sprint 100m. Jog back to the start line for recovery. Repeat 10 times.

Eliminator

Essentially you begin an eliminator workout with a big list of exercises. Each exercise has a target number of reps. Beginning at top of the list, complete one exercise at a time. Once you have completed the required number of reps of that exercise, it is removed from the list.  You then move onto the next exercise.

These type of workouts are great for people short on time.  They are very straightforward and can be very physically demanding

Even though it is one round of each exercise, the reps are generally higher than found in your average circuit than in a regular set up in a circuit. Furthermore, each exercise has to be completed in order before moving onto the next. This means the muscle groups in each will be working to probable failure (you may need to rest on some exercises, but make it brief!!)

Example:

Start at the top of the list and work your way down one exercise at a time.

 

  1. Barbell deadlift – 50 reps.
  2. Pushups (any variation) – 50 reps.
  3. Box jumps – 50 reps.
  4. Abdominal floor cleaners – 50 reps.
  5. Single-arm clean and press (kettlebell or dumbbell) – 50 reps.
  6. Alternate lunges with rotation – 25 reps each leg.

For more Eliminator workouts see Spartan 300 Workouts for workouts worthy of the 300!!

Circuit Training

A circuit is a series of exercises done one after another for a specific time or number of reps and sets.  For example 30 seconds each or for a set amount of reps like 12. Once the time/reps are completed, clients go to the next exercise.

Depending on your level and experience, circuits will have a set number of rounds or sets.  A round is one full completion of all reps of each exercise listed in the circuit.  After completion of a set (there may be a short rest to catch your breath) the circuit resets and you start again at the first exercise listed until the time has expired or the total number of sets has been achieved. A beginner might start with 2 sets, meaning they complete the circuit 2 times (taking a short rest after completion of one full set).  Someone more advanced might do 4 or 5 full sets (each exercise listed in the circuit 4-5 full times).

If the circuit is a timed circuit, the clock will be set for 20-45 mins (depending on level).  The circuits are continued until the time has expired.

Example A:

  1. Push Up x 15
  2. Squat x 15
  3. Pull Up x 15
  4. Lunge x 15

Repeat the sets 4 times with little or no rest.

Example B:

  1. Push Up x 15
  2. Squat x 15
  3. Pull Up x 15
  4. Lunge x 15

Repeat the sets until 30 minutes have elapsed.

Clusters

Lift weights long enough and eventually, you’ll reach the point of exhaustion where you can’t go on.  Failure is good of course, it forces your muscles to repair and grow back bigger.  With cluster set circuits, you add brief pauses between reps, allowing you to lift longer and push failure back further.  The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn.

Directions:

Each workout consists of six exercises, performed 25x each divided into sets of 5.  Complete 5 reps of the first exercise, then rest for five seconds and repeat a further four times before moving straight onto the next exercise and so on.  Choose a weight with which you would normally reach failure after 15 reps.  Rest for 60 seconds between exercises.

Example:

Select 6 exercises, for example, Barbell chest press, Barbell deadlift, Barbell Push Press, Front Squat, Bent over row, Barbell Curl.

Barbell chest press: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Barbell deadlift: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Barbell Push Press: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Front Squat: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Bent over row: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Barbell Curl: 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 reps. (Take 5 seconds rest between each individual set).

Continue in this format with each exercise on the list until all reps and set of each listed exercise is completed.

Complexes

Complexes are fairly straightforward.  Pick up a piece of equipment (barbell, kettlebell, sandbag etc) and don’t let go of it again until you have finished every rep of every exercise listed. Consequently, you may have to go lighter with the weight than normal to allow yourself to finish the circuit.

Complexes test your grip strength, willpower and muscular endurance.  They are ideal for people looking to boost their metabolism to burn fat.  Furthermore, since they combine lower, upper and full-body moves, working all muscles in each exercise they make your body release anabolic hormones.  These hormones encourage muscle building.

Directions:

Each workout consists of five exercises. Complete the prescribed amount of reps for each exercise in order without resting, then rest for 90 secondsRepeat this four times to complete the workout.  Wherever possible, avoid putting the equipment down between exercises.

Example:

Barbell Deadlift: 10 reps.

Bent over row: 10 reps.

Barbell Power Clean: 10 reps.

Barbell Push Press: 10 reps.

Barbell Back Squat: 10 reps.

Barbell High Pull: 10 reps.

Do not put the barbell down until you have completed all the exercises on the list. That is one set! Rest 90 seconds and repeat for as many rounds as required.  Beginners x3 rounds, Advanced x5 rounds+.

Death By

As the name suggests you know it is probably going to be a killer! 😀  Often is just one exercise, but sometimes it involves two or even three exercises, chained back to back.

The idea is to complete so many reps of a specific exercise in one minute, adding one more rep with each minute.  This continues until you fail to undertake all the required reps within a minute.

The first round is easy since you start off with just one rep.  The next minute you undertake two reps. Then three the next minute.  Then the real test begins, how long can you last after the rounds start going into double figures?!  You are out after you have failed to complete your required reps for that round within one minute.

Example: Death by Burpees

First Minute: 1 X Burpee

Second Minute: 2 X Burpees

Third Minute: 3 X Burpees

Fourth Minute: 4 X Burpees

Fifth Minute:  5X Burpees

Continue until failure….

Deck of Cards Workouts

With a Deck of Cards workout, you take a basic pack of cards and assign an exercise to each suit.  The number of the card is the number of reps you have to undertake that round. With regards to picture cards assign the following number Jacks = 11 reps, Queens = 12 reps, Kings = 13 reps and Aces = 15 reps.

There is flexibility in these workouts because you can undertake as many rounds as you like and deal as many cards as you like for that round also.  They are also great for when motivation is low and you don’t want to commit to anything too taxing. (This is a great psychological ploy, once you start exercising and the blood is pumping you are more often than not able to push yourself!)

Example:

Hearts = Burpees.  Clubs = Pull ups.  Spades = Push ups.  Diamonds = Sit-ups.

1st Round: Deal 6 cards. 4 of Diamonds. Ace of Spades. 9 of Diamonds. 10 of Clubs. Queen of Hearts. 3 of Hearts.

This translates as 4 Sit-ups. 15 x Push Ups. 9 X Sit Ups. 10 X Pull-Ups. 12 X Burpees. 3 X Burpees.

2nd Round: Deal 6 cards. 8 of Clubs. King of Hearts. 5 of Spades. Jack of Clubs. 3 of Diamonds. 3 of Clubs.

This translates as 8 X Pull-Ups. 13 x Burpees. 5 X Push-Ups. 11 X Pull-Ups. 3 X Sit Ups. 3 X Pull-Ups.

Descending

These workouts combine the muscle-building benefits of drop sets with the fat-blasting bonus of circuit training.  They are essentially the descending part of a ladder workout (see below).  The aim is to complete all the rounds of the circuit as quickly as possible.  Each workout starts with a high number of reps, which is reduced every round.  This means your work decreases as your fatigue levels increase, so you shouldn’t reach failure on any exercise. This is another type of circuit that is great for when fatigue or mental resistance is high. 

Directions:

Each workout consists of six exercises, performed in five continuous rounds.  Perform 12 reps of each exercise in the first round, ten in the second, eight in the third, six in the fourth and four in the final circuit.  Rest as little as possible between exercises and rounds.

Example: TRX Descending Workout

First round: x 12 reps

  • TRX Chest Press.
  • TRX Squat Jump.
  • TRX Inverted Row.
  • TRX Pistol Squat.
  • TRX Jackknife.
  • TRX Pendulum Swings.

Second round: x 10 reps

  • TRX Chest Press.
  • TRX Squat Jump.
  • TRX Inverted Row.
  • TRX Pistol Squat.
  • TRX Jackknife.
  • TRX Pendulum Swings.

Third round: x 8 reps

  • TRX Chest Press.
  • TRX Squat Jump.
  • TRX Inverted Row.
  • TRX Pistol Squat.
  • TRX Jackknife.
  • TRX Pendulum Swings.

EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute)

The EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) protocol keeps the intensity high and rests low to challenge your power of recovery and force your body to adapt.  It’s especially good at boosting power endurance, as you need as much power in the last minute as the first.

Directions:

Each workout consists of one exercise performed for a specific number of reps, every minute on the minute for a specific number of sets.  For every workout use a timer and start each set at the beginning of each minute.  The quicker you get through the reps in each individual minute, the more rest you will have earned before the next round starts.

In the example below, you must complete 5 reps of each exercise each minute for 5 minutes. That’s 5 rounds total.

EMOM’s can help you push yourself since because of the potential for longer rests it is easier to go heavier with weights or reps. 

Example:

5-minute EMOM

  • 5x Push-Ups
  • 5x Burpees
  • 5x Prisoner Squats

Every minute on the minute, perform the above exercises in order.  The faster you complete them the more time you have to rest until the start of the next minute.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.  This type of workout involves alternating periods of high intensity with those of low intensity.  Usually, each round of a HIIT workout consists of work (doing an exercise) followed by a ‘recovery’ period (active rest to keep the heart rate up but also allow you to recover). They are lung bursting but can provide the benefits of an hour-long workout in a fraction of the time.

Example:

Time intervals of 30s work with 15s recovery to move to the next station.

  1. Push-ups (30 seconds work/15 seconds jogging on spot or star jumps).
  2. Suicide Planks (30 seconds work/15 seconds jogging on spot or star jumps).
  3. Jump Lunges (30 seconds work/15 seconds jogging on spot or star jumps).
  4. Mountain Climbers (30 seconds work/15 seconds jogging on spot or star jumps).
  5. Shoulder Push Ups (30 seconds work/15 seconds jogging on spot or star jumps).

NB: 30 seconds of work per station with 15 seconds of rest.

NB: With the following Ladders and Pyramid workouts there is always some confusion and overlap with what exactly each type of workout involves.  For the purposes of simplicity, I have divided them into two distinctive workouts.  The ladder workouts revolve around the gradual adding and subtraction of reps of an exercise in each round.  The Pyramid workouts I have kept firmly in the resistance training camp.  Here they involve higher reps and lower weight in the earlier sets, with lower reps and increased weight with each round you undertake. 

Ladder

Start by selecting two exercises and perform a low number of reps on the first set (1-4 reps). Each set you undertake you add 1 rep to each exercise so it is gradually becoming more intense. Have a target number of reps to reach (for example 10 reps of each exercise) Then, after you have hit your target, work your way back down the ladder again, deducting one rep from each set.  You finish the workout once you reach the starting number of reps (1-4 reps) again.

Directions:

Each workout consists of two exercises. Perform one rep of the first exercise, followed immediately by one rep of the second exercise, then have a brief rest (15 seconds).  Perform two reps of each exercise, then rest.  Next set you will perform three reps of each exercise and so on, all the way up to a target number of reps (for example 10 reps). Rest for a specific amount of time between reps (15-30 seconds) as you work your way up the ladder.  Once you have completed ten reps of each, work your way back down the ladder to one rep of each exercise, keeping the rest periods the same.

Example:

Ladder workout: Burpees and Mountain Climbers (10 reps and return).

 First round: 1 rep burpee. Rest (optional). 1 rep Mountain Climber.

Second round: 2 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 2 reps Mountain Climbers.

Third round: 3 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 3 reps Mountain Climbers.

Fourth round: 4 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 4 reps Mountain Climbers.

 

Continue until reach tenth round…

Tenth round: 10 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 10 reps Mountain Climbers.

 

After completion of tenth rep, make your way back down the ladder, returning from 10 reps to 1.

Eleventh round: 9 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 9 reps Mountain Climbers.

Twelfth round: 8 reps burpees. Rest (optional). 8 reps Mountain Climbers.

 

Continue until reach 19th round one burpee, one mountain climber.

Pyramid

Pyramid training is a collection of sets, of the same exercise, that start with lightweight and higher reps.  Every round you gradually increase the weight and perform fewer reps. A full pyramid training set is the progression of this.  After reaching a ‘peak’ set to say 80% of your 1RM (80% of the maximum weight you can lift for that exercise) you gradually reduce the weight (but increase the reps) with each round until you complete the pyramid.

The number of rounds/reps you undertake will, of course, depend on your level and ability, it can range from 3 rounds (beginner) to 7 rounds (advanced).

Some Benefits of using Pyramids:

  • A fun and challenging workout.
  • Great potential for failure (and therefore muscle fatigue and hypertrophy).
  • Time-efficient.
  • Easily scaled up or down in terms of challenge.  Add weight, increase the sets. Drop weight, undertake upwards or downwards portion of the pyramid only.

Example: Bench Press Pyramid Workout

Set 1: 12 reps / 60% of 1RM

Set 2:  10 reps / 70% of 1RM

Set 3: 8 reps / 80% of 1RM (Heaviest set)

Set 4:  10 reps / 70% of 1RM

Set 5:  12 reps OR to failure / 60% of 1RM

Strongman

Classic Strongman style carrying exercises are great for building muscle and burning fat, and you don’t need to be towing a truck to feel the benefits.

Directions:

For each workout, perform the exercise continuously for one minute, then rest for one minute.  Repeat this for a total of 5 roundsGo heavy, but not so much that it compromises your form.

Example:

Kettlebell Walking Lunge: With a kettlebell in either hand, perform walking lunges with alternating legs for 1 minute. Then rest for 1 minute. Then repeat for 5+ rounds.  Go heavy but go slow, eccentric movement, time under tension and strength gains are the aim of the game with this type of workout.

Tabata

Tabata is a very specific type that consists of 8 rounds of 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds of rest. That’s right, four minutes is the amount of time that one of these workouts can last!

Tabata workouts are ideal as finishers for exercise or for when you are tired from work and lacking motivation.  Once you have done one of these workouts 9 times out of ten you can push yourself to do more.  They are also great for people short on time, with hectic lifestyles who have to squeeze something in quick or do nothing at all.

Directions:

Each workout consists of two exercises. Perform the first exercise continuously at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then perform the second exercise at maximum intensity continuously for 20 seconds and rest for another 10 seconds.  Do this four times to complete the workout.

Example:

1: Push-ups 20 seconds/10 seconds rest x4.

2: Jump squats 20 seconds/10 seconds rest x4.

NB: The exercises can be done continuously (4 sets of push-ups then onto the squats) or by alternating between the exercise (20 seconds push-ups, 10-second rest, 20 seconds squats, 10 seconds rest, push-ups, squats, continue until 4 sets of each have been undertaken.

Progression: Active Rest

Instead of simply resting during the 10 second rest period add stationary (recovery) exercises such as holding a squat position or a plank.

Progression: Chained Tabata Circuits

Increase the number of stations from 2 (4-mins circuit) to 4 (8-mins circuit) or 8 (16-mins circuit) depending on your available time.  Undertake an exercise for 20 seconds, then have the 10 second rest period to make it to the next station. Continue until you finish the circuit.

Time Cap

Very popular in CrossFit a time cap workout is the pre-set duration of time for a workout until you are allowed to stop. You draw up a list of exercises to complete within a certain time.  The time cap is the time you have to complete all exercises to finish.

If you finish before the time cap you have earned your rest but may choose to continue if you are feeling savage.  If you don’t make the time, don’t worry, there is always next time! Go harder then!! Please note, however, that while it can be fun to try to beat the clock but ensure you keep form and don’t compromise yourself to injury.  

Example of Time Cap Workout:

For maximum reps
10-minute time cap:

  • 50 x Burpees.
  • 20 x Barbell Clean and Press
  • 10 x Turkish Get Ups
  • Max reps Pull-ups

Ready to choose a workout?

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