I developed the T-Team circuit training system when I was consulting to a number of fitness facilities around Toronto in 1981. The idea originated from my experience as an elite athlete and a Master’s student in Exercise Physiology. It became clear to me during these years that specific exercise done in a time-efficient manner always led to the best performance results for me and my teammates. We did not have a plethora of fancy equipment – thus, I, as the captain on most of the teams and, later as head coach of a Varsity Rugby team, had to create ways to maximize results for specific results. After some experimenting, I came up with the time-monitored, rotational station circuit training system. I coined the name T-Team after the television character of the era – Mr. T! It also became known as the ‘Tight Team’ circuit for its propensity to deliver positive, overall fitness results in only 30 minutes once per week. You can see below a sample of the T-Team layout & the coach ready to lead a few of his clients through a session.I have been trying for years to figure out why the T-Team is so successful at delivering such overall positive fitness results in only 30 minutes once per week. Without the benefit of specific scientific analyses of the participants with pre, during and post results on various fitness parameters, I have been left to my own observations and feedback from my T-Team clients. An average circuit includes extensor chain activation (such as the reverse rope swing in photo below), explosive power moves (such as the held weighted ball power squats in same photo) and strength endurance (such as the weighted hammer swing in same photo below).I vary each station to focus on a different component of fitness – thus, no 2 systems are stressed in consecutive stations. Note the slider circle extensions to lock in total core activation and balancepreceded by the forward and backward squat lunge to develop balance and strength endurance of the lower body.I also generally include an agility component that ties in with aerobic energy activity. In this circuit, it takes the form of an angled backward crossover run through the ladder at a quick cadence with minimal visual support.To incorporate full bracing of the body against gravity whilst improving power endurance, I often put in something like a continuous hopping drill over hurdles (see photo below)where my clients must go over the hurdles in both directions (no breaks).Jumping up and down the side of a tire requires balance and coordination whilst improving one’s muscular development in the legs and gluteals. It also strengthens the feet when performed barefoot (the ‘footwear’ preferred by MOST of my T-Teamers).A station such as the progressive weighted ball lift on and off an elevated surface simulates the stress one’s body is under when moving objects around the house or at work. It develops muscular endurance in different planes through a wide range of motion – critical in avoiding needless injury.Finally, a pure total body strength and power endurance station such as the dead lift helps improve fatigue tolerance along with total muscle activation. When done properly, the body learns to protect itself even if caught in a compromising, potentially injury-inducing position.I change the 12 stations of the circuit every 10 weeks. Thus, the body never gets into a comfort zone. That is another reason why the programme is so effective. Beyond that, the 30 seconds at each station done consecutively with no rest breaks over 4 full circuits builds aerobic endurance, improves recovery capacity and packs in progressive intensity of effort week to week. Also having my technical expertise available (based on years of academic and field experience) is priceless. Of course, doing the circuit barefoot, in my opinion, is critically important to activate the body from the feet up and maximize the returns from each station.
Now I finally understand the powerful positive effect of my T-Team when so many other so-called circuit training programmes do not deliver the same results. If you cannot attend my T-Team, find one that is as good if not better in your neighborhood. You will not find a better way to spend 30 minutes of your day!!