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Training & advice

Oregon Circuit

This session gets its name from the University of Oregon in the USA where it was first invented. It involves fast running interspersed with circuit type activities like press ups, sit ups and squat thrusts. If you have a 'trim trail' that would be the perfect place as you could sprint between the stations where you perform the exercies. Alternatively sprint between 2 points approximately 20 seconds apart and perform exercises for around 20 seconds after each sprint. It is a good idea to sort the exercises into upper body, core and legs and perform one of each in order, for example, press ups, sit ups, squat thrusts, tri dips, back extensions, step ups...

By working on circuit activities and running between each station, you mix endurance work with resistance work and so tone and strengthen your muscles whilst getting a double whammy of aerobic and anaerobic activity. You keep your heart rate fairly high throughout and so get a good conditioning session for the heart. The session tends can be done and dusted in a short space of time because it gives such good return for your effort.

The Oregon Circuit can be done alone but is more fun if done with a training partner or in a group. You could work with a partner as you go around the stations or you could have each person working, for a set amount of time, on a different station before the whole group move simultaneously onto the next exercise.

The way that you order the exercises to be performed depends on what you want to get out of the session.  The Oregon Circuit is sometimes performed with leg-only exercises, other times it has two or three stations for legs, core and upper body and the stations are grouped with the leg exercises being performed consecutively before the core exercises and finally the upper body. However, the benefit of splitting the workout so that you alternate between different areas is that the heart has to work harder to move the blood from one area of the body to another so the cardiovascular workout is enhanced.

The Oregon Circuit should be built into your weekly training programme and you could even put it in twice per week if you are focussing on building strength-endurance. One of the great things about the Oregon Circuit is that, with limited equipment, you can set it up anywhere: indoors or outdoors, in a gym or at home.

So what should you put into the session? Below is an example of what an Oregon Circuit could look like but the secret to the success of this is that you keep changing the exercises and keep it fresh. By doing this, not only is it more fun but, you challenge your body in terms of strength and co-ordination. The human body is very adaptable and we get used to certain exercises in a short space of time. They start to feel easy and become less effective. If you always do sit-ups the same way, you may find that you can do lots of them and tell yourself that you have good stomach muscles, but try another exercise that works the abdominals and you may have to think again!

Oregon Circuit Example

Warm up

10 minutes of aerobic activity: easy running, rowing, cycling or cross trainer

Mobility exercises - Foot circles to mobilise the ankles, leg swings - swinging from the knee and the hip, hip circles, bending at the waist and to the side, arm circles, shoulder rolling or shrugging.

Perform the following exercises for 20 seconds each with 80 - 100m fast striding between each exercise

  1. Leg Clam with or without thera-band
  2. Step ups
  3. medicine ball push throws
  4. Bridge exercises
  5. Burpees
  6. pull ups from a bar
  7. Caterpillar walks: on all fours, walk your hands forward before following with your legs
  8. Running with high knees on the spot, preferably on a soft surface such as a sand pit or crash mat
  9. Tri dips
  10. Superman walks: on all fours as low to the ground as possible, walk opposite arm and leg forward together
  11. Squats
  12. push ups
  13. squirmies - lie on your back with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Keep your back on the floor whilst touching alternate heels with fingers
  14. Walking lunges

Five minutes of very slow running/walking followed by static stretches.