Justin Singer

Retention8 min read

Creative and Fun Bootcamp Exercises for Your Clients

Use These Exercises at Your Studio

Get creative and fun to keep your clients interested in working out! Here are some crazy bootcamp exercises for your clients to keep their interest.

There's a reason bootcamp exercises have a hardcore reputation. They take basic training out of the military setting and into the gym. You're missing out on a huge opportunity if you're not already incorporating them into your clients' workout regimen.

Weight loss and fitness are a $60 billion industry in the U.S. Bootcamp-style routines combine some of 2017's most popular fitness trends, including HIIT, strength training and bodyweight training. Plus, bootcamp workouts can work every muscle in the body.

Keep reading for the comprehensive guide to building a great bootcamp for your clients with creative exercises that will keep them engaged and excited.

How to Build a Bootcamp

It's not just a "Drop and give me twenty" situation.

Creating a killer bootcamp isn't quite as easy as stringing a series of bootcamp exercises together. Successful bootcamp workouts are structured a lot like a circuit, but the jury's out on whether you should have no rest in between or an interval-style rise-and-fall of work throughout.

There are two methods to try. One way to do it is a set of around 10 exercises with limited rest in between. In this method, you set a time limit (between 30-90 seconds) per exercise.

The other method is to set it by the number of reps. Keep in mind that if you set a high rep -- which you'll certainly be tempted to do for bootcamp exercises -- your client may get demoralized, or not exert as much effort.

If you're not sure which to use, refer back to what you know your clients like and what works for them.

Basic Training

For a successful bootcamp, the American Council on exercise recommends an even mix of cardio and strength training with flexibility woven in. Remember when we said great bootcamp exercises can incorporate the year's best fitness trends?

You should also make sure you're balancing challenge with reasonability. You want your client to reap the benefits without getting injured. This is where rest, or balancing high-activity bootcamp exercises with lower intensity moves, comes into play.

You can also make good use of your equipment depending on what the client hopes to achieve and how the bootcamp will help get them there. If you're not sure where to get started with equipment, or the basics you should have on hand, check out this list of 13 must-haves.

Breaking Down the Workout

The key to a successful bootcamp isn't simply the series of bootcamp exercises. It's the workout as a whole.

Like any great workout, you need a strong start, and that means a good warmup. A good way to start is an aerobic activity to get the muscles warm and the heart rate moving. Five to fifteen minutes of jogging would serve you well here, especially when paired with a series of dynamic range-of-motion movements.

This brings you to the active part of the workout -- the part where you get to have a lot of fun with bootcamp exercises. The trick here is to evenly balance strength work with cardio, which is achieved fairly easily by alternating between the two.

Then, finish with a 10-minute cooldown (hello, stretching!)

Best Bootcamp Exercises to Try

And now the fun begins.

Keep in mind that this list doesn't cover all the bootcamp exercises under the sun. Nor does it cover every available muscle group. They're just a few favorite exercises to try out in your next bootcamp-style routine.

Also, keep in mind that every client is different. It's easy to want to ramp up the intensity because putting in the work equals seeing the results, but you have to stay aware of whether certain moves don't work for your client. Don't be shy about modifying either.

And so, without further ado: a couple favorite bootcamp exercises to tone up and rock out your next client session.

Cable Rows

Ever wanted to be a rower? Got a client dreaming of a muscular upper back? Add cable rows to your go-to list of bootcamp exercises.

The point of the rowing machine is to imitate rowing a paddle in water (minus, of course, water resistance.) When practiced effectively, cable rows do wonders for your upper back strength.

Head on over to the rowing bench and follow these steps, but whatever else you do, do not round your lower back at any point during the exercise.

  1. Take a seat on the bench. Reach for the handles with a flat back, hips aligned with your shoulders.
  2. Pull the handle toward your sternum. Imagine there's a pane of glass on either side of you to keep your elbows from winging out and another pane of glass pressed against your back to keep it flat.
  3. Extend your arms back to neutral position, keeping your back flat.

The key to this move is to press your shoulder blades together as you pull back. Imagine your shoulders are a nutcracker and you're trying to crack a walnut between them.

Repeat after me: Whatever you do, do NOT round your back, at any point or at any time. You will injure your back.

Want to see the move in action? Click here.

Crunch Around the Clock

All the abs, all day, every day.

This crunch variation belongs on your list of bootcamp exercises for a reason. It works every part of the abdominals in one bang-for-your-buck variation.

Be warned: It's an intense move, and if you plan on doing a full bootcamp routine, put crunch around the clock first. You'll see why.

Come into a crunch position, lying faceup with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Knees should be roughly 4-6 inches apart with your hands clasped behind your head. Follow these steps, moving slowly, holding each for about one second before returning to start between steps.

  1. Crunch to bring your right elbow to the outside of your right hip.
  2. Crunch to bring your right elbow outside your right knee.
  3. Crunch to bring your right elbow on top of your right knee.
  4. Crunch to bring your right elbow to the inside of your right knee.
  5. Crunch to bring your right elbow to the inside of your left knee.
  6. Crunch to bring your right elbow on top of your left knee.
  7. Crunch to bring your right elbow outside your left knee.
  8. Crunch to bring your right elbow to the outside of your right hip.

Switch sides and repeat the process. Et voila: one rep.

Don't say we didn't warn you.

Dive-Bomber Pushups

Who knew yoga and bootcamp could get along so well?

The dive-bomber pushup marries two classic yoga asanas (downward facing and upward facing dog) with the pushup for three bootcamp exercises rolled into one knockout. It combines back, hamstring and shoulder flexibility (thanks, yoga!) while it strengthens your triceps, chest, and core.

Before diving in, though, your client should be comfortably able to perform standard pushups. Otherwise, they'll spend a lot of time trying to balance. A bit of baseline flexibility in the hamstrings and shoulders doesn't hurt where your downward dog is concerned, but it isn't as much of a prerequisite.

Here's the dive-bomber, broken down.

  1. Start in downward facing dog position, hands and feet planted on the mat with your butt reaching towards the sky. Think upside down V.
  2. Your back should be flat and ideally, your knees should be straight but not locked. Heels don't need to touch the floor if you can't do it comfortably, but you should be reaching them towards the floor for a hamstring stretch. Keep your hands a bit wider than your shoulders.
  3. Lower your shoulders forward so that your chest brushes the ground. Then, push into the ground so your chest comes through between your hands until you can look up towards the ceiling and your chest faces forward in an upward facing dog position.
  4. Pause for a few counts.
  5. Do the movement in reverse, bringing your chest back through past the ground while your hips reach towards the ceiling. Return to your downward facing dog.

Don't rush into a lot of reps. The goal here is quality in all parts of the movement, so start with a lower rep count until you can maintain good form.

The Breakdancer

Admit it: You're impressed when you see a breakdancer's skills at work.

Seriously, this is one of those bootcamp exercises you don't want to skip. It's a killer move that brings the body through almost every angle of movement and works joint stability while strengthening the core.

Start out on your hands and knees. In one movement, drive your right leg all the way under your hips so that the front of your hips face up, with your right leg extended towards the ceiling.

At the same time, reach your left hand towards the ceiling to meet your foot. Return to your original position and do it on the other side.

Plank Reach and Rotate Lift

Ah, our old friend the plank. Who knew the plank could get better? (Spoiler alert: It can.)

The plank reach and lift takes a classic core move and modifies it for even greater toning work in the shoulders, and it does it with a simple modification to marry regular plank and side plank.

The key here is not to get over-ambitious with your planks - or let your client show off if they're not ready to. What's more important is a rock-solid plank and side plank. Then, add the fancy stuff.

Here's how you do it, broken down step by step.

  1. Start out in plank position, the top of your pushup.
  2. Reach your right arm directly forward parallel to the floor and hold for one count.
  3. Lower your right hand.
  4. Rotate into your side plank on the right side, with your left arm reaching toward the ceiling in line with your shoulders.
  5. For more of a core challenge, you can start to lift your top leg, pointing your toes. This can be a balance issue if you're not used to doing side planks this way, so stick to your regular side plank if you find you can't maintain good form.

The key here, as with all of your bootcamp exercises, is to feel it out. Take your time to do slow, controlled movements where you can feel your muscles working.

And again: You don't need to be anyone's superhero. Stick with good form over a greater challenge, even if you think side plank is simple. It does a lot more than you think.

Kettlebell Swing

This is one of the harder moves in your repertoire of bootcamp exercises. There are a lot of components to keep track of and a lot of moving parts, which means there are a lot of ways it can do damage if your client isn't maintaining proper form.

It can also be a tricky move if your client has bad knees and isn't in proper squat going up and down.

One way to test the waters before giving it a whirl in bootcamp is to have your client practice the move without the kettlebell. This way you can make sure they know good squat form before they start working with added weight.

Here's how the move works:

  1. Start out in a squat. The kettlebell should be in front of you.
  2. Using your hips and core to create momentum, swing the kettlebell to face level with your arms straight.
  3. With control, come back down into a squat with the kettlebell between your legs, keeping your chest up and knees slightly bent.

For a full breakdown of the move, click here.

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