The Beast is the name given to the ultimate circuit training challenge. If you have been training for a while, you may well have a higher than average level of fitness, but you may not be pushing yourself to the limits. This workout will determine how fit you really are. If you have ever attended a military boot camp fitness class, then you will have a good idea of what to expect. Until they have “Tamed The Beast”, you are still not a true athlete. Here is the Beast’s Three Day Schedule:
Day 1: Complete Rest
This may seem like an odd way to start an ultimate circuit training workout, but if you are thinking of doing the beast today, and were working out yesterday, forget about it. You need rest, otherwise you will not have replenished your energy reserves fully, and you my over-train, risk injury, and fail. Use this day to refuel, eat plenty of good carbs to build up the glycogen reserves, plus your usual proteins. Spend the day relaxing (or working).
Day 2: Active Rest
Go for a gentle run, for about half an hour, or cycle ride. During your run/ride you need to look for a place to challenge the Beast. The Beast can be carried out inside a sports hall or large room, but by using grass and park benches it gives a bit of variety, plenty of fresh air, and studies have shown that exercise outdoors is healthier too. It is also free to do whenever you like, so you could perform this circuit training set early in the morning, before the gyms and sports hall open.
To do a simple Beast, find a park bench with a nice stretch of grass next to it, where you can jog uninterrupted for 10 seconds – you need to chose a spot that you can dominate, so the more secluded the better. The last thing you want is for some people to start playing football or having a picnic on your spot while training. The grass area needs to be about 20-30 metres long and can be flat or hilly but at the end of your short jog the ground must be flat. For the Running Beast you will need a much larger area of open ground and you may be better off using a running track if one is available. Speak with your local athletics club about using their track if need be.
Take your time to find the right spot because this test will become your fitness benchmark. After you progress on to sport specific circuit training, every 6-8 weeks you should come back to tackle the Beast again. This helps you to gauge how well you are maintaining your fitness levels. It is very easy to fall back into a more sedentary lifestyle without really noticing. You may still feel fit when weight training or playing football with friends, but your fitness levels can drop quickly if you do not keep a close eye on them. The is really what the Beast is for. It is much easier to maintain a consistent routine, exercise three times a week and, if you find yourself slipping, make a real effort to improve your performance. Of course, if you are really serious about getting and staying in optimum shape, then you could make a weekly appointment to meet the beast.
When you get back from your jog or cycle ride, write down your intended exercises on two cards, mark them as odd and even exercises. You should put them in a waterproof bag, or laminate them, for days when it is wet, as otherwise you may find yourself struggling half way through the Beast, not because of poor fitness, but because you can have forgotten which exercise comes next in your routine! Once you have done this, you are all set for the real work, so spend the rest of the day enjoying yourself.
The next time you perform the beast, prepare in the same way, i.e. one day of rest, followed by a gentle run or bike ride. This will ensure that you are always in optimum condition, and also mean that for each session your are working out on a level playing field, and therefore will make comparisons with previous training sessions relevant.
Day 3: The Beast
Go back to your chosen killing field, and do not forget your exercise cards. If it is really wet underfoot you might want to take a couple of plastic sheets or a gym mat for the floor exercises. Also remember to take a stop watch.
Warm up for ten to fifteen minutes. Do a few mobilising exercises, jog for 5 minutes, stretch each major muscle group for ten to fifteen seconds each and then perform each exercise three times slowly with a jog between to raise your pulse and body temperature and rehearse the exercises and sequence.
Start at the park bench and jog for 10 seconds in a straight line and mark the point exactly, with either a track suit top or the gym mat / sheet. Leave the even exercise cards (exercises 2,4,6 and so on) at this point and the odd cards (with exercises 1,3,5.,.) on the park bench as a reminder. You are now ready to start.
- Number of circuits: 3 times through – this means no stopping for breath!
- Reps per exercise for each circuit: 12, 10, 12
- Half-sits (with knees bent, literally do half a sit up)
- Tuck jumps
- Clap press-ups
- Sit-ups with twist
- Squat thrusts
- Dips (bench dips or ideally parallel bar dips)
- Bench Step-ups or Burpees (mandatory in Running Beast)
- Close arm press-ups
- Dorsal raises / Back Extensions
- Jumping Jacks / Star jumps
Start the watch. Do exercise 1, jog to the marker and do exercise 2, then jog back again to do exercise 3 and continue through the exercises. Once all 12 exercises have been completed start again doing the number of reps required for each circuit.
In writing this may seem like a simple circuit training routine, but do not let this fool you. This is called the Beast because it is a killer. It is relentless. The jogging in between each exercise station gets harder and harder. The intention is to give everything you have during the exercises and take a rest during the jog. By the third and final circuit, just when you think it is all over and you are going to have to walk, you will find yourself getting faster again.
The first time out, completing the Beast without stopping during the jog will be an achievement in itself. Make a note of the time you take so you have something to beat on the next outing. Ensure that you keep a training log to record your progress
The Running Beast
You might like to test yourself on a rolling interval circuit, a variation on the theme of a running circuit. This is particularly good for training in pairs and small groups for team games. The competitive instinct will drive you on.
Pick a route of a mile round a park or woodland. If you want to be specific about distance, go to a local running track. Set your watch to beep at 1-minute intervals.
Jog for 1 minute along the route and when your watch beeps do the exercise. As in the Beast do the same exercises in the same order, except you should replace step-ups with burpees, or killers. Change the number of reps to 12,10, and 8. The incentive is that the faster you do the exercise the longer you get to jog and recover. It is a simple routine but incredibly effective.