The most impactful PE circuit workouts engage participants from the outset, get them to their target heart rate zones quickly and keep them moving throughout.
For adults and students alike, exercise time can be limited, so the quicker participants can get their heart rate up, the more beneficial the workout can be. During the school year, IHT has collected lessons from PE teachers that maximize student productivity no matter how much time they have to exercise. Teachers implement High-Intensity Interval Training PE circuit training workouts in different formats with similar results:
- Quickly get students exercising at an elevated heart rate;
- Engage students with a variety of exercises;
- Teach students how to get a health-enhancing workout when crunched for time.
Through the IHT Spirit Video Challenge, teachers submitted their most impactful PE lessons. Most showcased their favorite HIIT circuit lesson, including the following four lessons that work for students across each grade level.
Fun, F.I.T.T.ness and Forever Strong
Developed by the PE teaching team at Shelburne Community School, elementary-age students go from station to station working together to complete different exercises. Students stay at each station until they accomplish the task at hand before moving on.
“Our lesson focuses on students getting their heart rates up as soon as they come into the classroom,” said teacher Kelly Spreen.
Because students are younger, they get more time at each station – three minutes to work with a partner to complete the task – and the entire circuit can last from 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the number of stations that Spreen and teaching partner Craig MacDerment set up.
“I like that it provides a great deal of variety,” Spreen said. “You can have 10 different things going on and really focus on the fact that you’re giving kids a chance to find something that works for them.”
And because students work with partners, they improve their social and emotional skills along with their fitness.
“Even though they are going through different stations at their own paces, they still have a partner to work with, to provide feedback and kind of motivate them through the different activities,” Spreen said.
Fitness Friday HIIT
Hampstead Middle School health and PE teacher Kate Muskrat wanted her students to get one more workout in before they said goodbye to school for the weekend, so she began taking her classroom to the gym for a quick heart-rate-elevating PE circuit workout.
“This just seems like something that allows everyone to achieve greatness,” she said. “Even if they’re only holding the plank for 10 seconds, maybe at the beginning of the year they were only holding it for 5. That’s a gain. All we ask them to do is to do their best.”
Muskrat’s students see throughout the workout – and afterwards – if they are doing their best. They wear IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors, which show them in real time their actual heart rate as well as the heart rate zone (blue for resting, yellow for moderate activity and red for vigorous activity) they are exercising in. The technology helps push students during their workouts.
“We definitely see a difference because they can see where they’re at and they realize whether they can give more or not,” Muskrat said.
Fit for Life Tabata
At Lunenburg High School, Steve Boone’s PE students earned the right to help decide what exercises they perform during the Fit for Life Tabata. The customizable 8-station PE circuit workout challenges students to give their best effort in a repeatable four-minute circuit.
“I think students overall like this type of class better than your traditional, old school, physical education class,” he said. “I think they like individual workouts.”
With the data they view on their Zone heart rate monitors and through a workout summary email following class, students see how the personalized workout encouraged them to put forth maximum effort.
“It has been an unbelievable motivational thing for them,” he said. “It pushed them. The first thing they do when they get here is put them on and get to work.”
Students also have a say in what goes into their Tabata circuit at Klem North Elementary School. Teachers Matt Carpenter and Sarah Harding let students plan their five-station Fitness Frenzy PE circuit workout.
“We want the kids to understand why we’re doing the things we do and give them that freedom to develop routines,” Carpenter said. “Some of the kids really buy into it. They work together with a partner or in groups of three and they really push each other to see who can do the most burpees in the 20-second window.”
Students learn to complete a heart-rate-raising workout in just four minutes, a skill they can rely on later in life.
“It’s four minutes of work – 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off – and it’s one of those things where the kids don’t realize how quickly we can get our heart rates elevated, hitting that target heart rate zone,” Carpenter said.