Death Circuit

Ok this is really the last of the circuits.  Brian and I decided on one more and we were determined to end on a good one.

What is the Death Circuit?

What follows is a modification of the Survivor Circuit  (formerly known as the Death Circuit).  The Death Circuit was developed at the University of Nebraska in the 80’s. 

In Advances in Functional Training, Michael Boyle discusses doing a modification of the Survivor Circuit that he uses with the Boston University Hockey team.  He modified the original Survivor Circuit using more full body exercises.  His athletes did the workout in a sequesnce but would not all start with the same exercise.  Boyle’s general exercise order is lower body, upper pull, upper push, core.  

Eighty seconds is used to perform each set and rest for the next one.  Reps are still done at normal speed and the remainder of the time is rest.  This should work out to approximately 20 seconds of work and 60 seconds of rest.  Each exercise is done for 10 reps at your 8-10RM.  Three sets are done of each exercise before moving on to the next one.

Our Circuit

I modified the circuit to eliminate the single joint exercises.  I chose the exercise order of knee dominant,  hip dominant, upper push, upper pull.  I chose not to do core exercises in this circuit because I wanted to maintain the 10 RM intensity. 

The circuit:

  1. squat
  2. hip thrusts
  3. bench press
  4. pullups
  5. right leg lunge
  6. left leg lunge
  7. deadlift
  8. close grip bench
  9. dumbell row

This circuit should theoretically take about 36 minutes.

So, how did it go?  Did we survive?  Was it Death?

Brian and I did this circuit together taking turns doing sets.  I started the stopwatch but it was difficult to keep track of exact times at 80s intervals.  We definitely got behind in the squats which was sort of expected.  I tried to keep a mental note of where we should be if we were on a 90 second interval.  Still wasn’t successful.  With all of the changing of weight between his sets and mine staying totally on time was impossible.

I wish that I had kept my watch running but I restarted it at the lunges.  Lunges to the end took up 25 minutes.  I’d estimate we completed the circuit in 45 minutes instead of 36. 

Overall, this was still an excellent full body workout but it did not quite live up to the hype.  If we could have cut out nine minutes of rest, I’m sure it would have been a different story.  I might try this circuit in the future by myself to see what it feels like if I can stick to the times.

If I weighed 200 lbs like Brian, this circuit would have gone a lot more smoothly.  Still, I think you’d really have to be cooking to get everything done in the given amount of time.  I was never standing around resting.  Perhaps this is why the original used machines.  I imagine athletes working with Boyle move from station to station rather than having to move benches around, find dumbells, etc.  Just goes to show, you can’t necesarily just take a workout, copy it, and expect it to work exactly the same way for your situation. 

Saying Goodbye to Circuits and to Brian

Brian and I have been doing circuit training for about six weeks.  I think the Survivor Circuit would have been a lot more challenging if we had tried this at the beginning of our circuit training together.  I have made ridiculous gains in strength endurance in a very short amount of time.  The first time I tried the Olympic lifting circuit, three times through felt like a death circuit to me.  Three weeks later I did five rounds with no problem.  I’ve also added ten pounds to my bench press despite the fact that I haven’t lifted heavy at all in the past six weeks. 

Training with Brian was awesome.  In the end, neither of succeeded in making the other puke.  It was a lot of fun trying though!  Brian was reliable, fun, and knew how to work.  Excellent training partners are hard to find and I can’t thank him enough.

Unfortunately Brian and I will now be parting ways.  I think he’d make an awesome ultimate player and he once tried to tell me I’d be good at jujitsu.  Alas, we are different athletes with different sports and it’s time to move on to more sports specific training.

Related Posts:

Circuit training as an indoor workout

Circuit training with Brian

Circuit training with Brian: part 2

Circuit training with Brian: part 3

2 comments to Death Circuit

  • Melissa Gibbs

    Wow. The death circuit was awkward to say the least. I usually use an egg timer to make sure I’m going all out for my usual 30 seconds on/off circuits but since this one had dramatic time differences I used a stop watch. It was impossible for me to follow until I got the rhythm of it toward the end. I also never really got anything done within the 20 seconds except lunges which I thought I dramatically did under weight. Because I was doing this on my own and didn’t always feel I used the heaviest weights I could, I shortened my rests to keep on the time and did end up ending at 36 minutes. I would say it wasn’t really my kind/my favorite circuit at all. I’ll probably do another repeat of an earlier one I “disliked” to end on a good one. I do like the pace though but it would have been difficult if I had gone during a busier gym time. I really enjoyed the hip thrusts exercise. Looking forward to your future posts on your training if the strength stuff is different than earlier posts. I tell everyone about the blog so keep it up…it’s awesome!

  • Ok. Good to hear your feedback. I was wondering if it was just Brian and I being slow but probably not if you had some issues with it too. So you finished it in 36 min and it STILL didn’t feel like death? I’m starting to wonder what was wrong with those Nebraska football players. haha!

    Hip thrusts are fantastic, though def look a little awkward. whatevs. We’ve probably both gotten used to that by now 🙂

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