Bootcamp Workout Ideas

Boot camp workouts endure, because they combine three basics of any fitness program -- strength, cardio and agility -- into one challenging workout. Usually a combination of military and athletic training drills, boot camp workouts resist highly choreographed moves and instead strive for simplicity. The drills involve body weight or simple tools. Whether you run a boot camp outdoors near a park or in the confines of a fitness facility, choose moves you can modify according to various fitness levels.

Take the workout outside to give participants a break from the gym. (Image: Mark Bowden/iStock/Getty Images)

The Framework

Structure boot camp workouts like a circuit. Plan to do 10 to 12 exercises in a row with little or no rest in between them, for example. Set a time limit for each exercise, usually 30 to 90 seconds. An alternative way to structure class is by number of repetitions. However, if you ask for a high number – for example, 100 pushups -- you may not get 100 percent effort out of your participants. Warm up before the workout with light cardio moves such as marching in place and dynamic stretching. Have your boot campers do knee hugs, torso twists and body-weight squats.

Outdoor Options

An outdoor environment gives you an opportunity to be more creative with the workout. Head to a park or playground where you can push your participants beyond their limits. Use a swing, for example, for suspension training. Participants get into pushup position with their ankles resting on the swing’s seat and do pushups or pull the knees to the chest for a challenging jack-knife variation. Use a park bench for stepups and dips. A grassy area is perfect for sprints. Boot campers can also do traditional moves, such as jump lunges, prisoner squats, burpees and mountain climbers to round out the outdoor workout.


Instead of bogging participants down with loads of fancy equipment, hand them a set or two of dumbbells for a simple boot camp routine. Use the dumbbells to boost the intensity of classic moves. For example, have participants do jumping jacks while pressing light weights overhead. Put boot campers into a plank position for renegade rows. Use the dumbbells for a pushup with a rotation into a side plank with a shoulder raise. Interweave straightforward exercises, such as dumbbell curls and squats, throughout the workout to keep participants from being overwhelmed.

Alternative Equipment

Other pieces of simple equipment you can use in boot camps include medicine balls, resistance bands and fitness benches. Incorporate the medicine balls into partner drills. Have two participants face one another and jog sideways as they pass the ball. Also have them use the balls for single-person drills, such as lunges with rotation and medicine ball pushups. Resistance bands can easily be used indoors or out. Use them for side-stepping abductor strengthening and to simulate lat pull-downs by holding the tubing taut overhead with an end in each hand. Have participants pull it down to the bridge of the nose for several reps. Avoid using the fitness bench for step aerobics moves. Instead, use it for uncomplicated cardio drills such as plyometric jumps.

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