Circuit Training for Masters Athletes

Can Exercising with body weight, improve performance?
Circuit Training for the older adult and Master Athlete.
As the beginning of Winter Conditioning is here, its time is started doing more Circuit Training in the programme. When I first started athletics, my then coach had a weekly session at the local school hall. I was fit! Very VERY fit! And I put this down to having Circuit Training in the programme. Now over the years of course, I have tried new things and dropped others, and Circuit training was one of those dropped. However, over the past few years
I have re-introduced Circuit Training in the past few years and I think it maybe a huge part of my more recent success in getting back under 50 sec for a 400m as a Master Athlete.
Circuit Training has many benefits:
Cardiovascular HealthStrength IncreaseMuscular EnduranceFat LossBody Shaping

At this time of year when my training squad get back together I make a bold statement “To be a Sprinter, you first have to be an Athlete”
Meaning, without a solid foundation no extra special sessions will make you faster, the ability to handle your own body weight is crucial at any age. Even more so as we age, the older we get the process of keeping healthy and strong is literally the element that in the world of Masters Track is the difference between winning and losing!
Below are the details of a research paper carried out on Circuit Training for Older Athletes. But first I would like to share with you a copy of a document from the coach George Gandy, My Gandy works at the Loughborough University in the UK and this very Circuit Training programme is the one used for Sebastian Coe, I base my circuit training classes loosely on this programme even now.

Circuit Training for the Older Athlete, has been proved to be beneficial and the below research was carried out prove just that.
Total of 119 male and females were selected to participate in a circuit programme with 10 different upper- and lower-body exercises performed under time constraints.
This was done 3 times per week for 12 consecutive weeks. Participants also wore a heart rate monitor and were instructed to check their intensity periodically. The desired training heart rate was 70–80% of predicted maximum heart rate. Subjects were taught how to use the Borg scale of Perceived Exertion (13–14) also. The investigators showed that subjects were at or just below 70% of their target heart rate during the functional exercise circuit. Each station was 60 seconds and time was called out at 15, 30, 45, and 60 seconds. Initially, repetitions were limited and gradually increased in week 2-3.
Functional Exercise Circuit Stations
The following were the 10 stations:
1. Wall-Ball Dynamic Squat – While leaning against the ball, the subject flexed the knees, trying to attain a 90° bend before returning to the straight-legged starting position.
2. Single Leg Balance – The subject balanced on 1 leg while standing on a foam cushion. This task will was repeated on both legs, approximately 30 seconds per leg.
3. Cross-Legged Seated Torso Stretching – Subjects were on the floor with a torso rotation added after leaning forward.
4. Modified Push-Up – Subjects performed either a kneeling push-up or wall push-up.
5. Crunch – Subjects crossed the arms against the chest and knees bent so the feet were flat on the floor. The subject tucked the chin against the sternal notch and raised the back from the floor as far as possible while, at the same time, contracting the abdominal muscles.
6. Superman – While lying prone, subjects lifted the thighs and chest off the ground and held this position for 1 second.
7. V-Sit Stretch – The subject assumed a seated position with the legs outstretched, the back straight. Alternating between legs, the subject leaned toward an outstretched leg as far as possible. Upon stretching to a comfortable limit, the subject paused and held the stretch for 5–10 seconds before returning to the start position.
8. Stretch and Balance – Standing with feet shoulder width apart and arms at the sides of the body, the subject reached overhead with the right arm while simultaneously abducting the left leg such that that foot left the floor.
9. Star Exercise – Six rubber cones (height = 0.07 m) were positioned in a circle around the subject, with each cone approximately 0.094 m from the subject. While balancing on 1 leg, the subject flexed the knee, reached down, and touched the top of a cone. The subject returned to the upright posture (starting position) before attempting to touch another cone.
10. Weight Transfer – The subject picked up tote bags, one in each hand, representing approximately 20% of his or her body weight. With the arms at the sides, the subject walked around the outside of the exercise circuit and through or around obstacles that included stepping over barriers (there were 3 to choose from: 4.7, 7.0, and 9.4 cm), reversing direction, and walking backward while carrying the tote bags.

Pre-testing: Immediately following physical examination, subjects completed a Medical Outcomes Study Health Survey (SF-36) and a battery of tests that targeted mobility (e.g., sit to stand, get up and go, timed walk), flexibility (sit and reach), and balance.
Post-testing Results: After the 12-week Circuit Training, paired t-tests detected significant differences in pre- and post-tests for get up and go ( p 50.000), standing reach ( p 5 0.000), sit and reach ( p 50.000), self-reports of physical functioning ( p 5 0.001), pain ( p 5 0.001), vitality ( p 5 0.001), and doctor visits.
Discussion: This study sought to evaluate the relative value of a functional exercise circuit as a means of promoting mobility and self-perceived health in an elderly population (74 years average age). Given the nature of the circuit (e.g., directional changes, obstacles) and the time limit imposed at each station, researchers speculate that a progressive overload was produced that manifested itself as improved mobility.
Results snapshot:
Improved mobilityImproved stabilityReduced fall risk by 12.9%Improved hip and lower-back flexionPerceptions of improved physical functioningPerceptions of improved vitalityPerceptions of reduced pain83% AdherenceNo injuries sufferedNo special equipment needed
Practical Application:
As the research article stated, “A practitioner may find that a functional exercise circuit can be both challenging and beneficial for an elderly subject wishing to improve physical functioning and mobility. In addition, because the functional exercise circuit includes a series of movement patterns that must be produced under varying conditions (i.e., space negotiations, directional changes, level changes), the subject is afforded cognitive stimulation. Still, it is unclear at this time whether better results could be expected from a functional exercise circuit like the one employed here when compared to traditional exercise interventions. Nevertheless, considering that none of the subjects in this study was injured and that the participation is both time- and cost-effective, it seems logical to consider a functional exercise circuit an alternative form of exercise for older adults.”
Exercise for older adults in this case Circuit Training for Masters Athletes, shows that keeping active and working on using our won body weight has a lot of advantages to being healthy and performing.