Dec 02

Bodyweight Circuits – The Efficient, Effective, And Practical Way to Condition High School Athletes

I have been coaching soccer for 25 years from the NCAA Division I level on down to youths. In recent years, my coaching has been exclusively with youths and teenagers. I’ve also trained myself with the traditional isolation style weight lifting and traditional cardio for 30 years. I made the transition to bodyweight circuits myself and as a soon to be 50 year-old, I am in the best shape of my life, benching over 300 lbs, squatting over 500, and running 1.5 miles in 10:38.

A year ago, my older son started coaching high school wrestling. As a favor to him I have taken on strength training for high school wrestlers.

I’m here to tell you, having teenage boys in a weight room is a nightmare. It’s like herding cats! First there is the matter of weight room time in a high school of 3000 with many sports teams. Next you are dealing with supervising teenage boys, teaching them form, squelching malingering and horseplay, and dealing with plain old fashion safety. And recording progress and results? Forget about it! You’re talking about kids who can’t remember to bring a pencil to class!

Enter bodyweight circuits. This method of jockeying rapid-fire bodyweight exercises is the foolproof method that the military has used to condition recruits for decades. There is little or no equipment required. A step, curb, or chair is the most you’ll ever need. Their bodies are the fitness machines that supply the resistance. That means a wrestling room, gym floor, or open field will suffice. The growing popularity of bodyweight training has fitness center directors quaking.

Exercises are easy to teach, and easy to supervise. The simpler the exercise, the better. Everybody does the same thing at the same time. Some may argue that an athlete can’t get strong using their own body weight. Explain that to an Olympic gymnast who can press his entire body weight on unstable rings. Have your 200-pound football player who normally does 150- lb military presses attempt handstand push ups against a wall and you’ll get your answer.

What about cardio? Body weight circuits replace boring cardio workouts with endless exercise combinations and interval times, not to mention that they cut exercise time. Adding reps or modifying an exercise will add difficulty. An effective circuit workout is only 10-20 minutes long. That’s it! That leaves more time for teaching the important techniques and tactics of your sport.

One further benefit is fat loss. Let’s face it. All extra fat does for a wrestler is put him in a higher weight class with a stronger opponent. It keeps soccer players and basketball players earth-bound. Even football offensive linemen need to shed excess fat that limits their mobility and most importantly, increases health risks.

Instead of distance running or wind sprints, try this at your next practice:

Have your athletes line up in concentric semi-circles so that you can see them. Use a stopwatch or a countdown timer. Have them perform the exercises below in sequence continuously for 15 minutes. Don’t have them count. You count out the reps for them. They’ll need the wind for breathing. You control the cadence of each exercise, check for form, and provide encouragement. In a few short weeks your team will reap the results.

Here’s the workout:

  • 10 Burpees
  • 15 Jumping Jacks
  • 10 Push Ups (or Hindu Push Ups for greater difficulty)
  • 10 Mountain Climbers (or cross body mountain climbers for greater difficulty
  • 15 Squats (or Hindu squats for greater difficulty).


If you want exercise advice feel free to email me at or message me on Facebook. You can also see my exercise videos there. To get the secret of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight go to

Clint Grimes, is a retired US Navy commander. He is certified by the California Interscholastic Federation and is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the boys soccer teams at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, CA.

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