How to Build a Circuit Training Course for Kids

Children stretching with physical education teacher.“The circuit training program along with a healthy clean diet is the way to excellent results.” – Lee Haney, 8-time Mr. Olympia

Why Circuit Training?

Training children in a circuit is a beneficial and time efficient way for them to achieve the fitness goals you want them to reach. As Fabio Camana, M.A., M.S. states, it is a “high volume (repetitions), low resistance (weight) workout with short rest intervals and is geared primarily at improving muscle tone and definition, while improving cardiovascular fitness. This workout involves all major muscle groups (stations) in one continuous cycle, alternating between the different areas to allow for muscle recovery and to force your heart to work harder in pumping blood (and oxygen) to these constantly changing areas.” In other words, through circuit training, children will be able to completely hit the most important cylinders of physical fitness:

  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Strength Training
  • Endurance Building
  • Agility Training
  • Balance
  • Coordination

In addition to covering a wide range of important areas, circuit training is also productive because it:

  • Engages the entire class for an entire class period. Circuit training creates an environment and goals that are always changing. This helps children be more competitive and interested in what they’re doing for a longer period of time.
  • Accommodates any level of participant. Unlike certain weight training and cardio workouts, a circuit is more versatile because higher or lower levels of stations are easily modified.
  • Can be done inside a gymnasium. This type of workout eliminates issues with space. A circuit training course can be done inside a gym without any worries of running out of room.

So, if you want a flexible activity for the whole group that can keep students engaged the whole time—and you’re willing to take the time to explain it and set it up—then a circuit course may be just the thing for you.

Recommended Equipment

The equipment listed below should be enough to create hours of different stations in your gymnasium. Adjust the amount of equipment needed based on the number of participants and their fitness levels.

  • Agility Ladders
  • Medicine Balls
  • Hoops/Dots
  • Bean Bags
  • Mini Hurdles
  • Cones
  • Balance Pods
  • Resistance Tubes
  • BOSU Balls
  • Sports Balls

*Other items that are included in high-intensity or short, competitive games can be included as well such as scooter boards or jump ropes.

Know Your ABC’S

An all-encompassing approach to children’s circuit training will focus on agility, balance, coordination and strength. Covering the ABC’S with a wide-range of activities will not only help children to be physically fit, but they will also be well-rounded in the different areas of fitness.

  • Agility
    • Ladders
    • Hurdles
    • Cone-weaving
  • Balance
    • One-foot hops
    • BOSU
    • Pass a ball on one foot
  • Coordination
    • Bean bag toss
    • Ring toss/bowling with cones
    • A game of basketball
  • Strength
    • Body weight reps (squats, push-ups, etc.)
    • Resistance tubes
    • Medicine balls

The Ins and Outs

  • Demonstrate and Direct. Before you begin, always explain and demonstrate what to do for each station. You’ll also want explain the direction that the participants will move. This will avoid confusion and allow you to maximize your time.
  • Play Music. Pick tunes that are around 120 beats per minutes so that the tempo is upbeat, but isn’t too fast or slow. You’ll want to choose songs that your students will know and you will also want to ensure that everyone can hear you so don’t make the music too loud.
  • Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs. Spend about five minutes as a class warming up before you begin and a cool-down with stretching is a great way to end your circuit.
  • Consider the Level of the Participants. For younger kids, make it more geared toward body-weight activities (push-ups, body squats, sit-ups, etc.) and cardio. For older kids, don’t worry as much about limiting the repetitions or weights.
  • Limit the Number of Stations. Aim to have no more than 12 stations but no less than 7. Too many stations will have students forgetting what to do next.
  • Suggested Stations. Jump rope (agility), horizontal jumping (agility), dashes (agility), cone-weaving (agility), mini hurdles (agility), small-area tag games (agility), hop scotch (balance), BOSU (balance), throwing balls with partners (coordination),  jumping jacks (coordination), hula hoops (coordination), crab walk (coordination), wheel-barrow races (coordination), basketball/knockout (coordination), sit-ups (strength), push-ups (strength), chin-ups (strength), body squats (strength), lunges (strength), vertical jumps (strength) and medicine balls (strength).
  • Duration. The length of time spent at each station should again be based on the fitness level of the participant. For example, younger students should have shorter stations. Each station should be 60-120 consistent seconds to make sure the participants get the most out of each activity. The total length of the circuit training workout should be a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Rest. Allow for a 15-30 second rest period in between the stations.

 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an activity that is fun, engaging and gets results, then give circuit training a try. By adding fun games and adjusting the difficulty level, your students will be unlocking the door to a healthier future. If you haven’t already, put circuit training in your P.E. toolbox, and who knows, you may even be laying the foundation for a future Mr. or Mrs. Olympia like Lee Haney.

Sources and Additional Reading

Netfit – Children’s Fitness

Livestrong™ – Circuit Training Exercises for Kids

IDEA® – Fitness ABCS

ACE® – Circuit Training

One Response to “How to Build a Circuit Training Course for Kids

  • Heather
    3 years ago

    Great article! I love using circuits in my physical education classes. Keeps all students moving no matter what ability level they are at. I just did a rhythmic gymnastics circuit which the students thoroughly enjoyed.

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