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-= Circuit Training for the Referee =-
Circuit Training for the Referee
Preparing and Training…
Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society

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Circuit Training for the Referee

This circuit training is a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training designed to be easy to follow, give you a great workout, and target fat loss, muscle building and heart-lung fitness especially for the basketball, football or soccer officials. An exercise “circuit” is one completion of all prescribed exercises in the program; the idea being that when one circuit is complete, you start at the first exercise again for another circuit. Traditionally, the time between exercises in circuit training is short, often with rapid movement to the next exercise. Referee fitness program for the official who wants start strong, stay strong and finish stay in their officiating assignment.

The Basic Program

If you follow the complete program of three circuits at the nominated intensity plus warm-up and cool down, you should expend at least 600 calories – not bad considering you get strength development and cardio at the same time in under an hour of activity. Starting out, you can choose to do only one or two circuits and then progress to three or more and adjust weights and repetitions upward to suit your fitness as you progress.

In the beginning do this program four or five times in a week to develop a standard level of conditioning then work to improve but my recommendation is to do no more than three sessions and supplement that with a at least one pure cardio session like treadmill, running (sprinting), plus at least one pure strength training day on the weights.

Combining weights and aerobics in circuits or interval training, or on alternate days, is not new. However, studies show that there is scientific evidence that it works to improve overall fitness and metabolism. Also, in the beginning determine your strength level when workout with weights. Never lift more weight where you cannot complete a set of 10 -12 reps. The key here is to be consistent.

Equipment and Details

Time for each circuit: 15 minutes (approximately)
Equipment required: jump rope; two dumbbells.
Exercises: jump roping, dumbbell overhead pushdown, arm curl, squat, dead lift
Place of Activity: home, gym, high school track or open space
Number of circuits in a workout: three; but start with one or two and work up if necessary
Muscle groups targeted: shoulders, arms, back, legs, butt, abdominals

What You Do in This Circuit Program

  1. A complete circuit takes about 15 minutes total time, involves five exercises and requires one set of dumbbells and one step platform or equivalent of at least 6 inches (15 centimeters).
  2. The dumbbells should be of a weight so that the maximum number of repetitions of the upper body exercises, the overhead press and arm curl, is 10-12 repetitions, and not much more for one set. It’s important that these weights are heavy enough to build strength and muscle. The lower body exercises, the weighted lunge and the squat, are done with the same dumbbells at the side allowing more flexibility.
  3. The circuit exercise variables – dumbbell weight, number of repetitions, number of circuits — can be adjusted to get the kind of workout required depending on fitness and training goals.
  4. This circuit can be done at home, a gym, high school track field or the park. You need a space sufficient to utilize a step platform or equivalent, a set of dumbbells and sufficient room for lunges and squats. Perhaps choose a time when it’s not so busy if you plan to do the circuit at gym.
  5. The exercises involving leg movement are meant to raise the cardio intensity, while the standing weights exercises allow some comparative interval rest while focusing on muscle and strength development.
  6. The times set for each exercise include movement between exercises, interval rest and setup time for each. It’s a busy schedule on purpose.
  7. Always check with your physician for this program before you start.

Weight Training Basics You Need to Know

  1. One lift of a weight or completion of an exercise movement is called a repetition or ‘rep’ for short.
  2. A series of repetitions is called a ‘set of reps’ or a ‘set’ for short. Common exercise recommendation for beginners is for three sets of ten repetitions of an exercise, often written as 3×10 — for example three sets of ten squats, lifts or curls.
  3. When starting, try one or two repetitions with a low weight to get the feel of the procedure, then try up to 10 exercises consecutively (one set).
  4. Try lighter or heavier weights for comfort with useful intensity. If you can only do less than eight reps then you may be lifting too heavy a weight. If you can do many more than 12 reps without too much effort, say 20, you may need to weight up a little, although some programs for strength endurance use this many reps. This applies to all exercises described.
  5. You should rest between sets so that your body replenishes its energy system for the next round. Time taken between sets can be as short as 60 seconds or as long as five minutes depending on the intensity and weight. One to two minutes is usually adequate rest time for a ten rep set of moderate to low intensity

Start Strong, Stay Strong, Finish Strong


The squat takes many forms including with dumbbells, barbells, bar and plates, a Smith machine, or even without equipment at all using your own body weight. Start with a pair of dumbbells or a barbell of light weight until you get used to the form and technique. This description uses dumbbells.
The squat develops the muscles of the buttocks (the gluteus) and the legs, particularly the front thigh muscles (quadriceps).

Positioning the Body

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and allow them to hang comfortably at the sides.
  • Position the feet about as wide as the hips.
  • Keep the heels planted firmly on the floor and don’t allow them to rise up.
  • Tighten the abdominal muscles. You can identify these by pretending to clear your throat or by coughing. You will notice the ‘abs’ tightening automatically in the stomach region.
  • Stand tall, shoulders pulled back with good balance.

Overhead Press

The overhead press is a standard weight lifting exercise with many variations including seated, standing, with dumbbell or barbell. The standing barbell press is featured in this description.

As for all exercises, don’t lift too heavy to begin with and stop if pain is felt. Remember to breathe; exhale on effort.
Muscles worked: mainly the shoulder muscles, the deltoids, but other muscles such as the trapezius at the back of the neck and back, the triceps at the back of the upper arm, and the upper chest are also involved.

Body Positioning

  • Hold the barbell at the upper chest with the overhand grip. The weight should be less that what you might normally dead lift.
  • Hold heavier weights with the ‘clean’ grip with wrists cocked back to provide support, and slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Feet should be about shoulder width apart

Bicep Curl

The biceps curl is another highly recognizable weight training exercise working the muscles of the upper arm, the biceps, and to a lesser extent, the lower arm muscles.

Variations include standing position, seated, incline seated, and ‘concentration’ position with elbow resting on the (seated) inner thigh. The barbell is also used in a similar set of curl exercises. This description is for the alternating dumbbell arm curl.

As for all exercises, don’t lift too heavy to begin with and stop if pain is felt. Remember to exhale on effort and don’t hold the breath.

Muscles worked: biceps muscles at the front of the upper arm, and also the muscles of the lower arm.

Body Position

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at the sides with palms facing toward the side of the thigh and arms straight down.
  • Position the feet comfortably about shoulder width apart.
  • Brace the stomach muscles ready to lift the weight.

Tri-cep Pushdown

The triceps pushdown is one of the best exercises for triceps development. Variations include grip position and a rope handle instead of the horizontal bar. Done properly, this one really burns.

The triceps muscle at the rear of the upper arm comprises three heads and is a bigger muscle than the biceps at the front of the arm. Building big triceps is the key to bigger all-round arms if that’s your aim. Be cautious with this exercise if you have an elbow injury or if you develop persistent elbow soreness over time. ‘Light weights rule’ to start with.

Muscles worked: triceps brachii

Body Position

  • Face the triceps pushdown machine and grasp the horizontal cable bar with an overhand grip. The bar should be at about chest level.
  • Tuck the elbows into the sides and position the feet comfortably, slightly apart.
  • To start with, set a low weight with the pin and plate adjustment and practice a few repetitions to see how the device works. Versions of this machine may include other weighting mechanisms.

Dead lifts – straight-legged, stiff-legged

The Dead Lift is the exercise where you lift the barbell from the floor to a standing position. If you perform this with the legs somewhat straighter, rather than squatting right down with knees bent for the lift and replace, you will feel the hamstrings tense up. However, keeping the legs straight while bending the back in a curve is danger territory for injury for inexperienced lifters, even if the weight is light. Here is what I do. This is usually called a Romanian Dead Lift or RDL.

  • Choose a suitable bar and plate or barbell weight that you can lift comfortably to the upright Dead Lift position at the thighs — but not too light.
  • Keeping the legs straight or only slightly bent, lower the bar until it reaches a position where you can feel the hamstrings at the back of the legs start to work.
  • Stop somewhere around the shins — don’t go to the floor — then return to the upright position.
  • Don’t overdo this to the point of pain or discomfort in the lower back and try to keep that back straight rather than curved over if possible. Bend the knees slightly if necessary.
  • You can do repetitions of the RDL without setting the weight on the floor if you keep the weight light enough.
  • Be aware that the standard Dead Lift from the floor is also an excellent all-round strengthening exercise for the posterior chain of muscles of the lower back, butt and hamstrings, and also the abdominals, all of which may have a role in maintaining hamstring viability.
  • Do 2 sets of 10 exercises with 1-2 minutes rest in between sets. Move up to three sets when you get stronger — and less sore!

The above are only general sports work-out tips. If you are a professional athlete, or are involved in body building or more endurance training programs, please speak to a Registered Trainer for a customized plan.

Start Strong, Stay Strong, Finish Strong

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Page updated on... Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 15:04:05 -0700 PM - GMT ~ Zulu
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