Fitness Trail: What is a boot camp format? |

Fitness Trail: What is a boot camp format?

Jackie Wright
The Fitness Trail

Boot camp large group and small group training programs are common, particularly within gym and health club settings. However, these formats vary widely.

Therefore, the challenge for the consumer is understanding exactly what the specific boot camp format includes and whether it will fit their needs.

While the following list, complete with class format descriptions, is not exhaustive, it may provide you with some guidelines for seeking out and finding the right boot camp format for you. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Military-Style/HIIT Boot Camp

• Begins with a thorough warm-up including light jogging or low-impact versions of the higher intensity and impact movement patterns which will be performed during the body of the class.

• Usually includes HIIT segments fused with muscular strength training intervals.

• Examples would be box jumps followed by pushups.

• It is common to find these formats designed in a circuit formation so that the participant completes a series of 8-10 exercises and then repeats the series two to three times. However, you may also find formats wherein all participants perform the exact same exercises simultaneously or a fusion concept (i.e., two/three lines of participants each line performing a specific set of exercises, then all lines switch).

• This series may be repeated several times throughout the program including more intense variations performed.

• The class ends with an effective cool down stretching/flexibility segment.

• Be prepared for a “drop and give me 20” coaching style by the instructor.

• If you are looking for an intense total body workout, with multiple repetitions and sets, and a great calorie burner, this may be the boot camp format for you.

Cardio-Muscular Strength Training Circuit Boot Camp

• The class begins with a thorough warm-up usually performed on the cardio equipment being utilized for the cardio segment of the class (i.e., group indoor cycles, rowers, etc.).

• The cardio segment is performed on group indoor cycles, treadmills, running tracks, rowers, etc. for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending upon the total class length and includes both steady state and HIIT.

• The cardio segment is then followed by a full muscular strength training segment which may be performed on traditional selectorized, plate loaded, cable/pulley or free weight and other small equipment (i.e., kettlebells/medicine balls, BOSU, stability balls, wobble boards, Strongboards, Gliding Discs, resistive tubing, punching bags and slide boards, etc.).

• The abdominal/core strengthening segment and cool-down/stretch follow the cardio segment.

• If you are looking for a boot camp class format which may be a little easier on the joints but still provides you with great total body workout, this may be the class for you.

Muscular Strength Training Boot Camp

• This class format does not include any specific cardio segment.

• You may warm-up jogging lightly or briskly walking outdoors or on a treadmill and then begin muscular strength training circuit.

• Usually, the participants will perform 10-14 muscular strength training exercises two to three times, working all major muscle groups of the body.

• Following the circuit, a thorough cool down stretch is performed.

• If you are looking for a boot camp class format which focuses entirely on muscular strength training, this may be the class for you.

• And you must still perform cardio training to round out your exercise program

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness in Granby. She may be reached at and her email at

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