Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-This Is How I Do It Pt. II!-

Before I begin, let me announce that the current session of Rippel Effect Indoor Fitness is rockin’! We are SO thankful to be indoors right now, as it was 29 degrees this morning! If you are interested in seeing what we’re all about, drop me a line at and you can come check out a class!

This blog post is the first of two that I am posting today. I know, another double whammy! I wanted to share two workouts with y’all so you can have more insight into how I do things, and hopefully give you some ideas to use on your own!

So, without further ado, here goes the first post of the day!

As a follow-up to my last post, “This Is How I Do It,” I wanted to provide a detailed description of the 14-station mega-circuit that I go through in the video shown below.

As explained in the initial post, I had to veer from the workout I had mapped out because we had to work out in a different room that evening. This meant no battling ropes and a lot less floor space, but we still managed to rock it with 14 people!

Below is my outline of the circuit showing the various progressions for each exercise. Also included is my rationale for choosing each exercise.

Sidenote: I feel that way too many trainers simply throw exercises together and don’t put much thought into their clients’ workouts. There should ALWAYS be a reason behind each and every exercise. If you are simply having people do exercises just to do them, or because you just wanna wear them out & make them sore, you’re not only wasting their time, you’re risking their safety and ultimately your reputation. Clients should not be afraid to speak up and ask their trainer why they are having them perform a certain exercise! Go ahead, I dare ya to ask your trainer! Some of you may be shocked to find out that they do not have an answer. 😦 Sad, but true!

Thursday 1/6/2011 14-Station Mega-Circuit Workout:

  1. Dynamic Warm-Up
  2. Mega-Circuit: 30/20 interval; 2 rounds
  • Kettlebell: Level 1 = Sumo Deadlift; Level 2 = 2A  Swing; Level 3 = 1A Swing
  • The Sumo Deadlift is an excellent precursor to the Kettlebell swing. Both movements effectively engage the posterior chain (in layperson’s speak, they really work your butt, lol). The Sumo Deadlift, when done properly, can be an awesome exercise to teach someone to sit back and “drive up” through the heels, utilizing the powerful hip musculature.
  • Lateral Squat: Level 1 = Bodyweight; Level 2 = DB; Level 3 = DB Arms-Extended Front Hold
  • The Lateral Squat is a great hip mobility movement. It is one of those excellent “bang for your buck” exercises, as it also obviously works the legs & hips. Make sure that feet face straight ahead and heels stay on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the adductors (inner thighs) and a good burn in the hip/glute of the working leg.
  • Medicine Ball: Level 1 = Woodchop; Level 2 = Slam; Level 3 = L/R Slam
  • The Woodchop is a total-body movement and can be considered a “standing core exercise.” It’s also very good for shoulder mobility. An advanced variation would be to come up on the toes with each rep, encouraging “triple extension” (ankles, knees, and hips), which is a very important action of the lower extremity. The Slam is a progression on the Woodchop. It is a ballistic movement that requires coordination and emphasizes power production. A non-bounce ball may also be used, which changes things up a bit in that the exerciser must squat down to retrieve the ball from the floor after each rep.
  • BOSU: Level 1 = Hi Plank Hold; Level 2 = Hi Plank L/R Tilt; Level 3 = Pushup; Level 4 = L/R Tilt Pushup
  • The BOSU Pushup progression begins with a Hi Plank Hold. This is an excellent progression that builds on the basic Hi Plank and adds the stimulus of instability. This position can be further challenged by the addition of a L/R Tilt, where the goal is to keep the body as still as possible while manipulating the arms. You really must “lock down” the entire body, especially the core/glutes, in order to perform this movement effectively. The scapular stabilizers are doing a ton of work! The BOSU Pushup is more than just a pushup! I am a big fan of the pushup anyway, but performing pushups on the BOSU introduces more of a core stimulus as well as excellent stimulus for the scapular stabilizers.
  • Single-Leg Contra-Lateral Anterior Reach (L): Level 1 = Knee Depth; Level 2 = Cone Depth; Level 3 = Floor Depth
  • Single-Leg Contra-Lateral Anterior Reach (R): as above
  • The Single-Leg Reach progression is a very simple series, yet a very effective & challenging one with numerous options for “tweaking.” Balance work is important for everyone! It is especially important for runners, as running is a single-leg activity! For this workout, we stuck with bodyweight and utilized depth as a way of introducing more of a challenge. It is very important that when standing on one leg, the foot is pointed straight ahead and the knee is never allowed to lock out.
  • DB Punches: Level 1 = Slow; Level 2 = Medium; Level 3 = Fast
  • Dumbbell Punches may look kinda goofy, but they are an excellent way to train the core in a standing position. They also get your heart rate up and encourage the “cross-body connection” that I have spoken of in earlier posts.
  • Split Squat (L): Level 1 = Bodyweight; Level 2 = Arms Overhead; Level 3 = DB Overhead Hold
  • Split Squat (R): as above
  • The Split Squat is not only a great leg/hip movement, but an excellent way to stretch the anterior hip of the non-working leg. It is also the one and only way to introduce a beginning exerciser to the wonderful world of lunges! The Split Squat challenges balance as well. Manipulating the arms by putting them in an overhead position engages the core, and the addition of a weight to this position further enhances this effect.
  • Mountain Climbers: Level 1 = Basic; Level 2 = Slider Single-Leg; Level 3 = Slider Alt-Leg; Level 4 = Slider Bilateral
  • I love Mountain Climbers for several reasons, but especially because they combine a locomotive movement with upper body stabilization. The core is challenged, there are numerous progressions & variations, and ultimately one could perform a contra-lateral slider movement such as “Floor Scrubbers” (click the link to see my YouTube vid)!
  • Kettlebell 1A Row (L): Level 1 = Staggered-Stance Contra-Lateral Supported; Level 2 = Unsupported
  • Kettlebell 1A Row (R): as above
  • There tends to be a predominance of “pushing” movements, especially in boot camp-style workouts, therefore it is very important to emphasize “pulling.” The Kettlebell 1-Arm Row is a basic exercise, but there are several ways in which one could introduce more of a challenge. The easiest is by decreasing the support of the torso by not allowing the non-working arm to rest against the forward leg. An even more difficult variation would be to perform a 1-Arm/1-Leg Row.
  • Jump Rope: Level 1 = “Fake”; Level 2 = Basic Jump Rope; Level 3 = “Sprint” Jump Rope
  • Nothing like the good ol’ Jump Rope! This is one of my favorite pieces of equipment – it’s cheap, effective, and a challenge! Wanna know why you don’t see many people jumping rope in the gym? It’s HARD! Once you get the coordination down, you can rock & roll with variations, all the while keeping the heart pumping and improving your overall fitness.
  • Slider Leg Curl: Level 1 = Eccentric; Level 2 = Full Range
  • The Slider Leg Curl is an awesome movement that is somewhat similar to Stability Ball Leg Curls (click the link and see my YouTube vid). Yes, it’s a supine movement and could be considered non-functional for that reason alone, but it’s too good not to perform! You must fully engage the core/glutes in order to perform this exercise. Oh, and it burns soooooo good!

3.  Floor Work & Stretching

So there ya have it, last Thursday’s workout & my rationale for all of the exercises. Give it a try and let me know what you think by leaving your comments below!


2 responses

  1. Renee Hall

    Thanks so much, Sarah! I just got my AFAA certification and have been asked to teach Boot Camp. I have taken a lot of different classes at our gym, but had no idea where to start for lesson plans.

    I was truly appalled by one of our teachers too. He does exactly what you described above. I feel like all he did is dislocate my shoulders! The members were complaining about him yesterday morning. Even they noticed.

    Any how, THANK YOU for this!! I really appreciate you posting this so those of us who are thrown into teaching with no experience have some direction.



    March 24, 2011 at 5:57 am

    • Hi Renee!

      You are very welcome! 🙂 Thank you for leaving your comments! One of my goals is to put information out here so that other fitness pros can utilize it! I have so much I can share! Now if I would just get back into the habit of blogging more often, lol! 🙂

      The less-qualified (and more often than not, dangerous) instructors eventually weed themselves out. People notice, as you mentioned. I hear stories from my clients and boot campers on an almost-daily basis. Lately I have heard many about a relatively-new boxing gym that has opened up here in Baton Rouge. Apparently there are instructors there who think everyone needs to push it to the max and not rest, and injuries are the result. Some people like that kind of approach (minus the injuries), but most people do not like an in-your-face, screaming, testosterone-driven overly-intense workout. People will try these kinds of programs because they are new and cool, and most will end up quitting b/c it’s just too ridiculous.

      Have a great day!

      March 24, 2011 at 7:05 am

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