Focus On: Bootcamp Workouts

Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday! Hope the week is smooth sailing from now on 🙂

For this week’s Focus On post, I thought it would be fun to do one of my favorite workouts to teach: bootcamp.


The great thing about bootcamp classes is that they’re always different, so you’re constantly utilizing different muscles and switching things up. It really depends on who’s teaching the class and what their format is, but here’s what you can *usually* expect from a bootcamp-style fitness class.

What to expect: To get your booty kicked. Some teachers take the whole *drill sergeant* thing a little far and use whistles and the like, and other instructors (this is how I teach it) just instruct and yell like they would in any other class. These classes are based on a series of drills, which can focus on muscular endurance, calisthenics and plyometrics. Some classes may use dumbbells or resistance bands, but will consist of mostly bodyweight exercises. Even though the *meat* of the workout is unknown, you can depend on having a safe warm up and cool down as the bread of your class.

Here are some of the exercises you might experience in one of your local bootcamp classes:

1) Plyometric drills: Fast, powerful and functional movements. These can help to improve athletic performance and the functioning of the nervous system. The goal of plyo movements are to create a very strong muscle contraction in a short amount of time, and the movements consist of a quick lengthening phase followed by a resting phase. In bootcamp classes, these movements can be used to spike up the heart rate so that you’re burning more calories during the strength exercises.

image Source

Other examples:

-Tuck jumps

-Box jumps

-Plyo push-ups

-Jumping lunges


2) The basics: Standard calisthenics that you’ve most likely seen before. These exercises can benefit muscular and cardiovascular fitness, and will consist of quite a few reps or sets during a class.



-Calf raises


-Jumping jacks


-Sit ups


-Flutter kicks

3) Props. Your instructor may use different props for class, including dumbbells, resistance bands, an agility ladder, medicine balls, or even hurdles.

4) Intervals or timed stations. There could be different stations set up, and you can rotate through each station during class. Along with the rising popularity of Tabata intervals, I’ve noticed that many instructors are using this technique in their classes, so you can also expect to be timed for intervals, like 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds on, repeating 8 times for 4 minutes total.

What to wear: Whatever you’re comfortable in, but make sure you have good supportive sneakers for jumping, running and lateral movement. My favorite is a pair of shorts, tank, headband (to keep sweaty bangs out of my eyes) and sneakers.

lulu (2)



-Variety. Changes are that class will be different every time, so as I always say: change creates change. This is a very good thing.

-Strength and cardio rolled into one workout! Fitness efficiency at its best.

-Group fitness energy and motivation. There is something so exciting and motivating about taking an intense class in a group setting.


-As with any group fitness class, the instructor and music make the class. If you don’t like your instructor (or he/she plays lame-o music), find another class.

-Make sure your instructor is correcting form and ensuring the exercises are done properly. Because of the nature of bootcamp class, it would be easy for someone to get injured if they’re not executing proper form.

-Not being sure how to combine this type of workout with a regular weight training and cardio schedule. Since it includes strength work –often to fatigue- I would recommend taking active rest, or only doing cardio on consecutive days with bootcamp-style classes.

For example:

Monday: Active rest

Tuesday: Bootcamp

Wednesday: Cardio

Thursday: Weight training/ light cardio

and so on.

Have you taken a bootcamp class before? What’s your favorite plyometric exercise?

More Focus On posts:





Rest Days


Post Navigation:


  1. Shannon @ Healthiful Balance on October 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Haha! Love that picture of you 🙂
    I’ve never taken bootcamp classes at my gym because they dont have them 🙁 But I wish they did!

  2. Melody Durham on October 5, 2011 at 11:01 am

    This must be a sign. My gym just posted a note on Facebook that a new Boot Camp class starts tonight. Maybe the universe is telling me I should go???

  3. Athena @ Fitness & Feta on October 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Yay, was so excited to see a post on bootcamp. I am also a fellow bootcamp instructor and LOVE all the exercises you just listed out. My favorite plyometric… so hard to pick just one… squat jumps! At least that’s my favorite of the week anyways. 🙂

    Great post!

  4. Athena @ Fitness & Feta on October 5, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Yay, I was so excited to see a post on bootcamp! I am a fellow bootcamp instructor, and love teaching these classes. And I love all the exercises you wrote about in this post. My favorite plyometric?! So hard to decide… jump squats! At least that’s my favorite of the week anyways 🙂

    Great post!

  5. TanyaS on October 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Love Boot Camp and go every Saturday morning, I’ve even convinced hubby that its not a “girly” group class and he’s started coming too.

  6. RachelG on October 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I was taking a bootcamp class at my gym that was just “alright”, so I’d always go to the Zumba class that was right after it to feel like I really got a good workout in. One day we had a sub teacher (who teaches the later bootcamp) and hoooooooooly moley! What a difference! The regular teacher would do the timed stations which were fine and got the heart pumping, but I never got that “I really accomplished something” sweat. The sub got me sweating like that and then some! I knew it was an effective/intense class when I saw the Zumba class coming in and ran for the hills. 🙂 I changed my schedule and am loving the new teacher and her Shaun T.-esq way of teaching!

    • RachelG on October 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

      also, my gym just switched over to Les Mills so the Group Power class I was taking turned into BodyPump. I really liked it and I thought the differences were minor even though the instructor kept saying “be ready for a change! be ready for a change!” lol.

    • Cat on October 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      Tell your gym that you like the “sub” better! They should know your feedback and I bet the sub would appreciate having it!

      • RachelG on October 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

        I’ve noticed when I go on Tuesday nights that I haven’t seen the original teacher around…I think when they switched the format/schedule they might have given her the earlier “easier” classes, so perhaps someone else already said something. 😉

  7. Faith @ For the Health of It on October 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

    This is my favorite focus on post, Gina! I bought a groupon for an unlimited month of boot camp classes because I thought it would be fun to get myself pushed to increase my physical stamina – I’ve been waiting for the weather to cool down and to wrap up my running before I took the classes, so I’m excited to see what’s in store as I start thinking about using the groupon! Looks seriously badass 🙂

  8. Brooke @ BittersweetBrooke on October 5, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I currently do not have the funds to join a gym so I have gotten a bunch of workout DVDs including Turbofire from your recommendation and Jillian Michaels Boost your metabloism. Are these both considered bootcamp? or is bootcamp and circut training different?

  9. Allie Q @ Fit Geek on October 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I looove bootcamp classes. However, when it comes to trying to classify them as either cardio or strength, I don’t so much consider them a strength workout in the classic sense. The exercises you do in bootcamp often have very high reps. Once an activity exceeds 15 reps, it’s triggering muscle endurance, which is not the same thing as muscle strength. Muscle endurance = how long/how many times you can contract your muscles. Muscle strength = how much weight you can move/how much power you can produce. Granted, they are closely related, but there is a difference. Also, endurance exercises trigger slow twitch muscles and heavier strength training exercises usually trigger fast twitch fibers.

    • Fitnessista on October 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Exactly right- but for the average gym-going girl, I would count it as strength and wouldn’t recommend more weight lifting on that day or on a consecutive day.

      • Allie Q @ Fit Geek on October 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

        Yeah, I was just about to add that I don’t think it would be a good idea to do strength training on the same day either, since boot camp stuff is usually more intense than the type of cardio people tend to do after weight training, like steady state on the elliptical.

        • Jacqueline on October 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm

          Actually in a bootcamp you are going to recruit fast twitch fibers quite alot especially if it involves a lot of plyo work. Regardless, the physiology of your body is such that slow twitch fibers will always be recruited first, but will always be followed by fast twitch when a force is applied to a muscle, regardless of what you are doing. This is because of the motor neurons in the muscle that are working by progressive activation. Bootcamps or basically, circuit workouts or complexes workouts are so great, because you are still doing mostly compound movements recruiting the most amount of fibers. Also, fast twitch muscles will always hypertrophy (build) because of their susceptibility to micro trauma (which causes muscles to build) so every time you are doing an exercise, these fibers will be recruited and they cannot really be isolated. So in a bootcamp, yes, you will recruit those fibers no matter what. Also, muscle strength and muscle power are two different things. I think you can gain a lot in the bootcamps, depending on what your ultimate goal is.

          • Allie Q @ Fit Geek on October 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

            You’re right; plyo will hit those fast twitch fibers. I was thinking more along the lines of classes where participants are doing hundreds of crunches or lots of bodyweight squats–stuff that’s not very explosive. And don’t get me wrong, I think bootcamp classes are great. They’re one of my favorite ways to workout. For hypertrophy I just prefer weight training.

  10. Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine on October 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Yay! I didn’t know much about boot camp and haven’t ever taken a class, so this is helpful. 🙂 Thanks Gina!

  11. Kerryne on October 5, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I have taken quite a few bootcamp classes, I do like them but your right it really depends on who is teaching. I definitely get more “into” it when I really like the teacher. My all time favorite class right now is Bodycombat. It seriously has done the most for my body in a short amount of time. Every class kills me. I love it!

  12. Blake @ Blake Bakes on October 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve actually been looking around for a new pair of sneakers. Mine are pretty old. Do you have any recommendations for a good, affordable brand?

    • Fitnessista on October 5, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      my favorites are asics, but the best bet is to go to a running store and get your stride checked by someone who works there. they’ll be able to teach you what brand and style will work best with your feet

  13. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List on October 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Long time reader, first time commenter! Love your blog!
    I teach bootcamp (step, spin and water aerobics too) and it’s my favorite class to teach as well!! I definitely DON’T use a whistle though. I’m not sure anyone would come back.

  14. Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs on October 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I used to take a bootcamp at my gym when I lived in California. I liked that they had different trainers at each station, and it was a huge circuit class with plyometrics and cardio mixed in. One thing I didn’t like was that it seemed to be very “boy” fitness orietned, and I felt like sometimes I wanted to say, NO I don’t do that, I’m a girl!!! But really working out is working out, girls can rock anything a guy can! and it was a great workout 🙂

  15. Allison @ Food For Healing on October 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    i’ve only done Insanity, as any kind of bootcamp whoopin’. But i would love to organize one once im all certified in fitness! it would be fun creating!

  16. mi-an d. on October 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    bahahahah love that pic of you! bootcamp is one of my fave exercises! it kicks my butt everytime! i actually just did my own bootcamp sesh here at home yesterday using an interval training app. i jumped rope for 30 sec, then lunges (30 s) then squats (30 s), then rest, then burpees (30 s), pushups (30 s), then plank (30s) and rest and then repeat like 10 times. :)) it was only 20 mins long and kicked my bootay!

  17. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on October 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I love your focus on posts and this one about bootcamp was especially helpful! I’ve always been scared of doing a bootcamp because I’ve known instructors who scream and say horrible things about students to “motivate” them which has always scared me. But it sounds like all boot camps aren’t like that! I think I’ll have to give it a try and fingers crossed I get an instructor like you!

  18. LJB on October 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I looove my bootcamp routine! Its 3-4 days a week. 10 circuits for 30 seconds at each station x3. With 30 second breaks in between. The routine changes weekly, so you never get bored! We use wheels, kettle bells, resistance bands, medicine balls, etc. No more than 10 people a class…I think small groups are the best way to go (esp. if you get intimidated, like me!) I started last year and have kept off 16 lbs since. Most importantly I am so much stronger than I’ve ever been. 1 other con to add—the expense– $200+/month. But sometimes, the cost can be a ‘pro’ because it gets me there, even when I’m super tired 🙂

  19. Kelly on October 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I LOVE BOOT CAMP WORKOUTS!! They seem to have become very popular as of late. I used to love BodyRock until she started incorporating too much equipment into her workouts. I’ve done them so long I can just make up my own. I have a few written down for traveling and they work out well. I classify them under cardio as there isn’t much of a real strength workout in most of them other than pushups, lunges and squats. The days around them are typically a rest day and yoga. Nothing beats a bootcamp workout when you only have 20-30 minutes and want something effective.

  20. Sam @ owlmazing on October 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    That picture of you is amazing! I would love to try a bootcamp style class…I’m crazy and enjoy getting my are kicked 😉

  21. Sarah Anne on October 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I loooooove bootcamp style classes. I used to take “Dancer’s Body Bootcamp” at a Drop-In dance studio and LOVED it. They did the interval and strength type stuff, but also did a bunch of centering exercises, jumps/leaps across the floor and so on. They were tough and really got me motivated to take more of their actual dance classes, and then workout more on my own.

    I also happen to LOVE(and hate) Plyometrics! I’m currently in my 2nd ‘go-round’ with P90x and when I first started, I hated Plyo, but now, it’s the workout I look forward to the most! I feel so much stronger when I can do one more Mary Katherine lunge, or one more tuck jump, and I walk away feeling like a powerhouse. It’s just so awesome. I think my favourite moves are honestly just squat jumps and leapfrog squats. tires/ airborne heisman’s are fun too. I like it all, I have found it’s made a huge change in my fitness levels. Even though it sucks and can be so hard. It’s worth it!

    • Fitnessista on October 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

      that sounds like a class i would LOVE

  22. Moni'sMeals on October 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I like Bootcamps and I LOVE your silly pic!
    GO Sergent Gina!

  23. Lena on October 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this TRX boot camp that I do. It’s super intense and makes me feel so accomplished afterwards 🙂

    • Liz @ Southern Charm on October 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      How cool that y’all have a TRX boot camp! A class I attend uses the TRX and I love them!

  24. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on October 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I love that first photo Gina – you look like you mean business LOL! I love bootcamp classes, particularly for the strength-cardio all in one combo. 🙂

  25. Tessa @ Amazing Asset on October 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    My internship this summer focused a lot of Bootcamp Style workouts and they are such a favorite of mine now! You never get bored with them (well it’s hard to, so many new moves all of the time!) and they are HARD in a good way of course!

  26. Anita on October 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Oh man bootcamp wears me out! I have to admit, I kind of save it for days that I am feeling super energetic, because it really wipes me out! I do always feel super accomplished afterword, though!

  27. Ali on October 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I have never done boot camp, and I would still be so scared to try! I cannot jump to save my life. I have done the P90X plyo video a handful of times, and even when I am doing it all alone, I am still embarrassed of my lack of ability to get off the floor! One time in dance class we were practising split jumps, and people thought that I was being funny the way I was doing mine. I wasn’t. That is how bad it is.

  28. Liz @ Southern Charm on October 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve never done boot camp, but I’ve been wanting to try!

    Box jumps and squat jumps are my two favorite pylo exercises!

  29. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries on October 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I LOVE Bootcamp inspired workouts/classes! When I worked at the gym, I took turns with another teaching a Bootcamp class every Saturday. I loved teaching it and doing the workout too!

  30. Hillary on October 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I. Love. Bootcamp. It is one of the only workouts where, when I’m finished, I feel like a serious badass. So powerful and effective!

  31. Ashley @ Thefitacademic on October 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Soooo, I’ve just started doing Cross Fit and it seems really similar to how you describe bootcamp classes. Have you ever done a Focus On post on Cross Fit, or do you think it could fall under the category of “bootcamp”?

  32. Roselyn @ A Balanced Fit on October 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Bootcamp is my FAVORITE group fitness class (after spin, duh 😉 ). I try to take it once a week, and sometimes I take it twice. I love box jumps and burpees…they really get the heart rate up and make me feel strong. 🙂

  33. Kaila @healthyhelperblog! on October 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I love bootcamp classes!!!

  34. Allison on October 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I did a boot campy style class a few years ago and it kicked my butt! I am hoping to start attending more classes at the gym soon and am really interested in BodyPump!

    P.S. Fun “Drill Sargent” picture 😛

  35. Michaela on October 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    you def made me lol by posting that pic of you 😀 hilarious!
    I would love to take some bootcamp classes, but none are offered where I live…

  36. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic on October 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Love bootcamp classes – haven’t been to one in a while and reading this post is making me want to attend a class soon! My favorite bootcamp exercise is prob the burpee or mountain climbers.

  37. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on October 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I think I’m the only person who’s never done a bootcamp class. Well, a formal one. I have had plenty of yoga classes that felt like bootcamp classes…sort of good, sort of bad, but oh boy, I have worked hard in some of them!

    Love that pic. I remember it and seriously, it made me smile again!

  38. Miriam on October 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I tried a couple of different classes…. Right now I’m taking a class with my sis that is call Bikini body. Fells like your description of bootcamp! It’s a class that last 1h30 : 30 mins of muscles training (we use dumbbells, resistance bands, disks, balls), 30 mins of cardio (a lot of plyo, jumping rope, interval) and 30 mins of pilates. It’s a win-win-win class… and the only class I ever took that did not disappointed me! I had it yesterday and today my whole body feels like it went under a train…! My kind of class 🙂

  39. jen f. on October 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    6 months and counting…i still haven’t started working out since i’ve had my baby! yikes. boot camp would be a good way for me to get back into the game though, since i’m so lax apparently i need a bit more motivation than usual, so it would be perfect 🙂
    Smoking Crayolas Blogspot

    • Fitnessista on October 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      it’s definitely a motivating type of workout! be easy on yourself though- you’ve had a busy 6 months!

  40. Amy on October 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for this ‘focus on’ post! I love bootcamp and just did a class last night. My husband and I go to bootcamp together on Tuesday and Thursday nights. It’s one of the few classes he will go to 🙂 I’m going to share this post on facebook and with my blog readers. Thanks again, Gina!

  41. kathleen @ the daily crumb on October 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    my “favorite”, i put it in quotes because i hate it while it’s going on, bootcamp exercise is box jumps. talk about getting your heart rate goin!

  42. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on October 5, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve never done a bootcamp class before, but I once did a Jillian Michael’s dvd with my roommate that was sort of like a bootcamp. It totally kicked my butt!!!

  43. AnastasiaB on October 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Great Focus On post!! I go to a boot camp 1-2 times a week and I love it. I have been going for about 18 months now and have never done the same camp twice, its always different and alway a challenge. My last camp was 2 nights ago and I am still in pain, my core and legs got a beating!

  44. Meg on October 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I love how you incorportated how to implement it into your workout plan 🙂 WOW you are so good Gina <3 This is why I read every single one of your posts <3 Amazing.

    • Fitnessista on October 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      aww thanks girl! <3

  45. Laury @ thefitnessdish on October 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I used to teach bootcamp and it’s my fav! I love plyo too. I’ve worked with a lot of athletes…ice hockey players doing dry land workouts. Lots of box jumps. Love box jumps. Love when my kids would improve their vertical leap so fun. My fav are jump squats [or jump lunges you may know them as]

  46. Ana on October 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    The bootcamp workout sounds so awesome, I would love to try it sometime, but I don’t think my local Y has it (the gym I am member).
    Are there any dvd’s of bootcamp workouts out there? Any you would recommend?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.