ICT_301.4_Circuit Training Specifics – The Role of an Instructor

You must first complete ICT_301.3_Circuit Training Specifics – Structure of a class before viewing this Lesson


Roles of the Instructor & Considerations The roles of the instructor are to:

  • Implement the principle of circuit training, which is that the client or clients work at sub‐maximum levels over a period of time with either no rest, or minimal rest, between exercises.
  • Plan a safe and effective session/progressive programme to meet needs
  • Ensure that participants are exercising safely and effectively throughout the session.
  • Provide motivation to the group as a whole, and to individuals.
  • Correct poor posture or poor techniques, wherever possible.
  • Evaluate session/programme to ensure it continues to achieve its aims



  • The instructor should have an effective method of ensuring the Fixed Time for each station is adhered to. It can be easy for the instructor to focus on correcting posture or technique and lose track of the time taken. This is corrected by having a audio timer which beeps the start and end of each station (which takes account the transition time). It can also be sorted by having a ‘Timer Station’, where a clock is placed next to a designated station and whoever is on that station shouts ‘start’ and ‘stop’. It can also be changed where the Time/Station is dictated by how fast a designated station is completed i.e. everyone changes when the client on station 4 has completed 12 shuttle runs.
  • That there must be progression within each station for different abilities to push themselves. This allows a variety of different abilities to participate within a single session, and also stops clients feeling that they aren’t fit enough to participate (because they can’t do 30s or press ups) or that the session is too easy (30s or press ups isn’t enough to achieve overload).
  • Exercises must be selected and arranged so that all factors of fitness and the overload principle are considered. The instructor should always think the order and of course the balance of exercises within the session. Skill exercises may be included in sports/activity specific circuits, but can decrease the effectiveness of a circuit by allowing a certain degree of ‘rest’ between stations that challenge the CV and ME systems.
  • ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’… Make frequent changes to your circuits sessions, just as one would to a Personal Training session. Every few weeks or even once a month change the format, layout, durations, number of stations and circuits, exercises, equipment, and the transitions. For a lot of variation, you can even change circuits during the session e.g. having active transitions (shuttle runs) for the 2nd of 3 circuits, with normal transitions for the 1st and 3rd.
  • Music ‐ You should ensure that you have appropriately motivating music included within the session. If you are looking at undertaking Choreographed sessions, then you should look to undertake an Exercise to Music Qualification. The music used in a Circuits session is for background only; so the beat, speed etc are less important. As long as it provides some motivation then it is fine. The music should be loud enough that the clients can hear it, but not too loud that your instructions cannot be heard. You should ensure that you have an appropriate PPL license and that music used is also licensed. It is a good idea to have some slow tempo music that will be appropriate to the cool down period.


You should always be aware of not only what you are saying, but also how you say it. Here are some key points to consider when teaching circuits:

  • The success of a session is largely dependent on you, the Instructor.
  • When you walk through that studio door, you need to be excited and enthusiastic about thesession.
  • Arriving early will allow you to check room, equipment, ventilation, set up stations and beorganized for the start of the session.
  • This also goes for starting on time. If clients know that the session doesn’t start until 10 past,then that’s when they’ll arrive.
  • Try to welcome clients individually using their names, to make them feel their presence matters.This will also help you to screen newcomers.
  • When demonstrating each station ensure perfect technique, and consider an appropriateteaching position.
  • For difficult or complex stations a rehearsal may be appropriate.
  • For advanced clients or subsequent sessions a demonstration may not be required each andevery time.
  • Try to keep the introduction and familiarization concise; clients are there to be trainedremember.
  • Motivation during the circuit is key; think about both group motivation and motivatingindividuals.
  • Technique is also paramount; you want to try to scan everyone’s technique on every station.Although you will need to correct technique, clients will get frustrated if you are constantlypicking them up on poor technique.
  • ‘In the session’ or ‘overseeing the session’? Although being a part of the session, such as holdingthe pads at a punching station, will help get you involved, it will also mean you will not be able toproperly observe, motivate and correct the other clients.
  • Are you going to control the time yourself (maybe with a whistle), or make one exercise adesignated ‘time station’? Having a time station will make your life much easier.


It is a key role when planning your circuits session that you will have sufficient equipment for each and every client that attends or could attend. Using a Fixed Time, as opposed to a Fixed Reps, format will usually mean that less equipment will be required and you won’t have clients waiting for equipment to become available.

Common Equipment Used for Circuits:

  • Steps
  • Medicine Balls
  • Resistance Bands
  • Cones
  • Skipping Ropes
  • Stability Balls
  • BOSU
  • Dumbbells
  • Barbells
  • Punch bags or focus pads
  • Exercise mats
  • Kettlebells

What equipment you will use for your circuit will depend a lot on where you are running the circuits session. If you are lucky enough to be in a fully‐equipped studio within a health club, then you will probably have access to the Dumbbells, Barbells, Mats and Steps that are used for many of the BTS and other studio‐based classes. If you are running your own Circuits session in a non‐equipped environment, like a village hall, then you will need to consider what kit you have available and how easy it will be to transport.As much as possible, it is good to try to come up with as many bodyweight exercise variations as possible. This decreases the reliance on equipment and gets clients used to using bodyweight manipulation to achieve overload during circuits training.


Sessions should be adapted depending on the fitness level and experience of the clients:

Standard/Beginners Circuit

  • Teach and demonstrate exercises/stations giving progressions.
  • Ensure a thorough warm up, and dynamic stretch section.
  • All stations to be well supervised for correct technique by the class instructor.
  • When planning and conducting the session make sure that each and every participant will beable to handle the Fixed Time per station.
  • Give sufficient ‘rest transition’ between stations and between circuits.
  • Choose suitable exercises for beginners; avoid complex exercises which will be difficult toperform when fatigued (such as cleans).
  • Ensure sufficient water is consumed.
  • Take the group through a thorough cool down and stretch.Advanced CircuitAdvanced circuits will work in the same format as a beginner’s circuit, however the following should be considered:
    • Fixed Time periods or Fixed Reps may be increased.
    • Transitions can have CV aspect as opposed to a simple rest.
    • Harder exercises can be selected, but easier alternatives should also be provided.
    • Warm ups and cool downs can be shorter and more graded, leaving longer for training in themain session.
    • Demonstrations may not be required for experienced clients.
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