The elitefts™ Sports Performance Coach Education Series is a comprehensive educational resource for coaches in the collegiate, high school, professional, and private settings. This series will take a fundamental approach to various topics that will enable coaches the additional skills to enhance their coaching abilities, improve marketability in the industry, and drastically increase the impact they have upon their athletes.

Athlete tracking has been the biggest trend in strength and conditioning over the last few years, and for good reason. As technology becomes more advanced, more common, and thus less expensive, strength coaches have utilized their technology to receive a plethora of information. Everything from HRV to bar velocity, to GPS monitoring are being used to determine and improve the athletes readiness and performance.

There are, however, those activities where tracking and monitoring are not as necessary. Empowering athletes to put in the work to achieve a certain goal is imperative for developing leadership and accountability. This team culture of hard work and tenacity can shine through when the athlete is presented with an opportunity to take ownership in their development.

The following is a list of four different hypertrophy-based protocols for athletes in a team setting. These repetitive effort method based derivatives are best used with a partner and small groups. They are quantifiable but allow for an intrinsically motivated athlete to compete with his or her teammates.

Presentation Outline

Hypertrophy Circuits for Athletes

1. Mechanical Drop Sets

Coaches are constantly looking for ways to increase work done in a training session, without increasing the time duration of the session. Keeping enough volume to elicit training adaptation in a minimal amount of time given is a struggle all coaches face at one point or another. Some benefits of mechanical drop-sets in a team setting include:

    1. Increases work in a single, extended set without reducing load.
    2. Reduces of overall volume while maintaining time-under-tension.
    3. Minimizes athlete rotation through the same exercises.

To eliminate the changing of weights, you perform mechanical dropsets by changing angles, inclines, foot or hand positions, starting in the most difficult position and working toward the easier position. 


  • Dumbbell Elevators
  • Up the Rack Push-Ups
  • BW Rows (multiple foot positions)

Here are two more examples of mechanical drop sets you can use in a team setting.

MORE Two Bench Press Mechanical Drop Sets for Hypertrophy

2. Rep Goal

This was especially easy to implement with bodyweight exercises and provided an easy way to adjust volume by position, time of year, and sport. The goal is to give the athlete a total rep goal for an exercise. For example, with 25 glute-ham raises prescribed, athletes would be responsible for 25 reps in a few sets as possible. This is always coupled with another antagonistic exercise.

  • Total reps to be performed for a particular exercise in as few sets as possible.
  • Best when paired with one to two other exercises, specifically antagonistic movement.
  • Rep goal can be increased or decreased over linear cycle.


  • 25 Glute-Ham Raises
  • 15 Chin-Ups (vary execution)

3. Rep Ladder

This works best with a partner or a group of three or fourth at the most. The athlete will perform a certain number of reps for the first set. Each additional set would add that same number of reps. This was a way to build volume while minimizing fatigue. To control volume, the athlete can work their way up the rep range or up and then down.

  • Groups of two to four work best.
  • Work up rep range and then down.
  • Increase volume, minimize fatigue.


  • Pull-Ups 1 rep, 2 reps, 3 reps, etc.
  • Blast Strap Rows 3 reps, 6 reps, 9 reps, etc.
  • Push-Ups 5 reps, 10 reps, 15 reps, etc

With this method, if a group can work up to five pull-ups and then back down to one, they would have performed 25 pull-ups.

4. Standardized Drop Sets

These work well for most facilities because of the abundance of plates and bumpers compared to other equipment. Basically, this is a normal drop set, but more athletes can perform these at the same time.

  • Descending weight or pyramid.
  • Total rep goal, reps per set, or reps to failure.
  • Use plates, bumpers, DBs, or KBs.


  • SL RDL – 25kg, 20kg, 15kg, 10kg
  • Lying Triceps Ext – 45lbs, 35lbs, 25lbs

To see how these circuits fit into the overall training plan, check out this article: Summer Training for Football with 8-Week Program

 Mark Watts' Articles and Coaching Log



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