Circuit Training

How to Design and Administer a Caveman Circuit

How to Design and Administer a Caveman Circuit

Provided below is information on how to incorporate the Caveman Training Circuit training principles and how to incorporate these principles in the design and administration of an effective Caveman Training Circuit.

  1. Designing a Caveman Training Circuit
  2. Training Principles
  3. Posture and Technique
  4. Verbal Instructions and Cues
  5. Motivation, Pushing and Encouragement
  6. Circuit Layout
  7. Stressing Nutrition


Designing a Caveman Circuit

We recommend a maximum of 10 to 12 clients per Caveman Trainer. This ensures that the trainer can effectively supervise the participants, and ensure good form. The trainer would also be better able to motivate and encourage the group. If your group is larger, we recommend getting another trainer on board to help run the circuit.

There are a number of elements to analyse prior to designing any Caveman Circuit. First, check the weather conditions. If it’s expected to be raining outside, you may decide to assign only exercises that can be performed inside. If you decide to incorporate outside exercises during bad weather, you may want to only include those that won’t risk participants injuring themselves, like for example slipping or dropping heavy weights, an example of a good alternative would be sandbags and slam balls. Secondly, take a look at the booking sheet and the participants scheduled to attend. If you’re expecting more advanced clients, you may want to assign more difficult exercises. However, keep in mind that you should never adjust an Intermediate class to suit someone who you think can’t do the class. Instead, request that person to stick to the beginners class until you feel they’re ready to advance and they are invited to the Intermediate sessions. If you’re expecting a number of beginners, understand that the exercises you assign should reflect their abilities and that you’re going to need to pay more attention to your participants. If there are exercises that you believe particular beginners will be unable to complete, be prepared to have alternate exercise ready for that person.

Set a theme for your class. Think about what workouts you assigned the weeks prior and make sure that this workout is different. Not only will you limit your clients’ developments by not incorporating variety, you’re likely to adversely affect the motivation of your clients. You want them to show up excited to go, so don’t bore them with the same exercises and same theme each week. Some examples for the theme of your workout include be Cardio, Strength and Power, Agility, Progression, Full Body or Muscle Overload. Please note that because a Caveman Circuit requires mostly non-stop movement from your clients, they will always receive cardiovascular benefits due to their heart rate remaining elevated throughout the class.

If required, mix those exercises that significantly elevate heart rate with ones that hardly elevate heart rate. Stations that significantly elevate heart rate include burpees, mountain climbers, skipping and jumping. You want to ensure that each class raises the heart rate of your participants and that they end a class nearly puking, sweating and red faced.

Always keep in mind that Caveman Circuit places focus on training in the red zone and featuring high intensity exercise (HIT). It incorporates non-conventional exercises, functional training movements and asymmetric exercises. The goal of Caveman Circuit is to develop functional strength, cardio, endurance and agility. It is not about aesthetics and building huge biceps and huge quads. Cavemantraining is about utilizing what’s around you, using sandbags, tyres, heavy balls, slosh pipes, ropes, and one’s own bodyweight. We use anything but machines.

Put together a “challenge” portion at the end of each of your circuit workouts. The challenge features a set of exercises that are to be completed within 10 minutes. This part is about seeing who finishes first. Those who are finished all of the assigned challenge exercises first should be asked to encourage the remaining still finishing, even if it’s outside the assigned time. We recommend that you try to include exercises done in the circuit and/or ones that still are a part of your theme.

Following the “challenge” portion, participants will want to immediately sit down and rest and/or to hydrate. Allow them to get water, but prevent them from sitting or stopping abruptly. Instead, gather the group and take them through a structured cool down.

Training Principles

Cavemantraining develops functional strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, core stability, agility and balance. The circuits effective improve each of these areas because of the training principles that we focus on and implement.

Red Zone Training

Red Zone Training refers to exercising at an high intensity, with your heart rate elevated to 60 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate. Red Zone Training effectively develops the cardiovascular system. Caveman Training Circuits should feature exercises that elevate clients’ heart rates to this appropriate intensity and participants should move from one station immediately into the next to keep their heart rate up in the red zone.

High Intensity Training (HIT)

High Intensity Training refers to performing exercises to near muscular failure. Clients should experience near muscular failure towards the end of each assigned station.

Non-Conventional Exercises

Non-Conventional Exercises are multi-joint, multi-plane, complex movements.

Functional Training

Functional Trainings places focus on developing human movement, rather than isolating muscles.

Asymmetric Exercises

Asymmetric Exercises are ones that focus on one side of the body at a time.

Posture and Technique

The main objective of a Caveman Trainer is to make sure that all participants maintain correct posture and technique, not only so that you ensure their workouts are effective, but to prevent them from injuring themselves. Circulate around the circuit floor, and correct technique and form as you walk through the various stations. Never leave the workout area. Should a trainer spot a participant with bad form or technique, the trainer should begin by correcting with verbal cues from a distance. If that does not work, the Caveman Trainer will go up to the participant and use verbal and physical cues to correct the participant. If that still fails, the trainer will stop the participant from what they are doing and take the participant through the exercise step by step. If all else fails, the trainer will need to modify or change that exercise.

When working with beginners, place greater focus on good form. Rather than aim for exercise volume, ensure that participants are performing each exercise with the correct technique. Spend a greater amount of time going over instructions at the start of each beginner session than you would prior to intermediate classes. Feel free to increase breaks in between each round to reiterate teaching points and better explain exercises if participants are having problems with the technique at a particular station or stations.


If a participant lacks the core strength necessary to maintain a taut torso during exercises like push-ups, renegade rows and mountain climbers, do not allow them to participate in the exercise. Instead, have them get into a front static plank position and hold the position throughout the duration of that station. Once they’re able to maintain proper form in the static front plank position, they can begin performing the exercises for part of the duration of the station. The participants can slowly progress to performing the exercise for the full duration.


Often we find that participants struggle with proper push-up technique. Many times they will perform repetitions too quickly, without achieving the full range of motion. If assisting a male participant, place your fist on the floor directly under their chest and challenge them to touch your fist with their chest during each repetition. This will make them slow down and focus more on range of motion and technique. For females, a cup can be utilized instead of your fist.


Be sure to highlight to participants that when performing deadlifts or exercises where they are required to pick weights up, they should maintain a straight back throughout the movement. Stress to them that they should keep their eyes up and bend their knees in a half-squat when picking up the weights. This will help them keep their back straight and decrease their risk of injury.


Many of our workouts utilize a squatting movement to develop the major muscles in the legs. To decrease the stress placed on the knees, explain to participants that their knee joints should never extend forward beyond the vertical line of their toes. At the bottom of the squat, their thighs should at least be parallel to the ground. To help them understand and master the proper squat technique, have them push their hips back behind them prior to bending their knees. You can tell them to imagine that they are about to sit down on a bench or even a toilet seat that’s dirty.

It’s a good idea to always do exercises yourself before putting the participants through them. This way you know the intensity of the exercise and how the client will feel. You’ll be able to perform the exercise with the correct form and technique. A Caveman Trainer that does not perform the exercise himself first will feel guilty and won’t have the full confidence required to put participants through a hardcore circuit.

Stop the circuit and re-iterate information or an exercise if required, rather than letting the circuit continue and possibly become dangerous or people become confused. Be prepared to switch or replace an exercise if you see it simply does not work, be prepared to switch exercises if you work outside and the weather changes, remove exercises that become potentially dangerous, even if you have half of your circuit that needs to be removed, replace it with burpees if you need to, there is nothing wrong with doing 300 burpees instead of what you set out to do! Safety is priority number one.

Verbal Instructions and Cues

Because Caveman Circuits move rather quickly, it’s essential that a Caveman Trainer always uses a loud and clear voice to relay instructions. Cues should stay simple and remain consistent, so that clients quickly and easily understand a trainer.

For example:

Start of circuit = “GO”

Nearing end of station = “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”

Changing of station = “CHANGE”

Quick drink break or rest = “DRINK BREAK”

Nearing end of circuit = “2 STATIONS LEFT”

Last station of circuit = “LAST STATION, GIVE IT YOUR ALL”

End of circuit = “STOP TRAINING”

Do not change the cues as it will confuse people

Be sure to project your voice at a loud enough volume so that each participant can clearly hear you over their heavy breathing and any moving equipment. Consider shouting “change” at a higher volume than your countdown, so that everyone understands that it’s time to move to the next station. A firm and assertive tone would also galvanize participants into moving to the next station swiftly.

When participants reach the final station in the circuit, announce this clearly. Explain that you expect participants to give their all and to finish the workout strong. As a trainer, encourage your clients as necessary to ensure they use every last bit of reserve energy in their tank. Possible encouraging remarks include reminding participants that they’ll be done for the day after this final station, and that they will feel a great sense of accomplishment if they push through. Remark how finishing strong in spite of their fatigue will develop their mental toughness.

Motivation, Pushing and Encouragement

Also important to a Caveman Trainer is being able to get the most out of your clients. Don’t be afraid to push participants to their maximum abilities. If you find them walking to a station, tell them to run. Add on an extra station if there is to much walking. If a participant is not putting in enough repetitions on a station and resting, don’t be hesitant to do what you need to do to push them. Tell them to pick up and ask them why they are here. Tell them not to be afraid to push to the puking point. If they need to puke they can do so and then get back into the circuit.

With that said, be sure that you chose your words carefully. A Caveman Trainer should motivate, not belittle. Do not curse. If the entire group is not working hard, consider picking someone out of the group that you think can handle it and use them as an example. Make it harder for them and tell the others that they can expect the same if they don’t pick it up.

Understand that at times participants may get offended and mistake your encouragement for belittling or bullying. If you think someone might have been offended during the class, take them aside at the end of the class and explain your reasoning. Explain to them that this is Cavemantraining and that they pay you to push them. They pay you to correct their form and technique. They pay you to get the maximum out of them. It’s likely that they will understand you after you talk to them. If not, it may be better to extinguish your training relationship as this is not the type of training for them. Do not adjust the training methodology for anyone.

Circuit Layout

Organize stations so that there is a logical flow to the layout. This will allow participants to quickly and easily move from one station to the next and will minimize confusion. You can use a U formation, circular, zig-zag or other format that suits the layout of your premises. If any part of the circuit layout is not obvious, use chalk to draw arrows to the station, or make signs with clear instructions. You should also point out where all the stations are, including those that may not be immediately obvious, during the initial instructions prior to the workout.


Each station should be marked with a cone so that those working out can quickly spot and recognize the location of each station. Participants will be extremely fatigued during workouts so be sure each station is easy to find.

In addition to the cone, clearly label each station with the name of the exercise to be performed. In many cases, the equipment for the exercises will naturally mark out the exercise station. In cases where there is no equipment for the exercise, use chalk on the floor or make a sign with the name of the exercise.

Have alternate weights available at a station for those that require a lighter weight.

Once setup, test the circuit, see if there is enough space, see if no one gets in the way of another, test if the flow of the circuit is not confusing, test if that ball cannot be thrown further than you think it will go, test if the exercises are appropriate for the type of class, i.e. beginners, intermediate, advanced or MMA Workouts.

Stressing Nutrition

Always recommend that participants eat something light before their workout. Participants should also make sure that they are well hydrated before each workout. Newcomers to the circuit sessions often make the mistake of not eating before coming for their workout, only to hit the wall half-way through the workout. Having a small meal of moderate to slow-digesting carbohydrates and protein one to two hours before exercise will ensure that participants have enough fuel to complete the workout. One to two hours should also be enough time for the food to be digested. Also, recommend that participants consume approx half a litre (14 to 20 oz.) of water two to four hours before their workout. Participants will more efficiently cool themselves and will be able to provide their muscles with more fuel if they’re properly hydrated. Explain to them that without the fuel from food and proper hydration their body cannot perform and as a result they will not receive the full benefit of the workout.

Note: It’s a good idea to share this information with participants prior to them arriving for the circuit workout.

Use the cool down period to stress the importance of post-workout nutrition. Although participants may not feel like eating immediately after the workout, remind them that taking in a meal that consists of both protein and carbohydrates within 45 minutes to an hour of exercise will help to develop muscle mass and improve recovery. Failure to eat after exercise will result in the body breaking down muscle tissue for fuel. Participants who struggle to eat a full meal so soon after training can consider having a small post-workout meal within an hour of the workout to prevent catabolism, and a larger meal an hour or two after that. Remind participants to continue to hydrate themselves throughout the day to replace lost fluids, and advise beginners to keep moving and to stretch following workouts to minimize soreness.


Share the Knowledge
Shopping Basket