April 26

How Long Should a Boot Camp Workout Be?


When planning out your boot camp workout, deciding on the length should be one of the first things that you do. In this article, we will be helping answer the question “how long should a boot camp workout be?”.

This will help you to create your training program around that time. We will also provide you with an example of an effective circuit workout that you can try with your members immediately. 

How Long Should a Boot Camp Workout Be?

The standard length for a boot camp workout is 60 minutes, with an increasing number of 30 minute sessions becoming popular. There are rarely sessions that last longer than 60 minutes unless they are one-off charity events.

Longer workouts are not popular with boot camp owners for a number of reasons:

  • Tedium – It is hard to keep longer workouts interesting, members can become bored and lose motivation.
  • Planning – Longer workouts naturally require more planning and preparation. This takes a lot longer than most owners would like and requires more creativity.
  • Finances – Generally speaking, the shorter the session the better earnings per hour. People are prepared to pay more per minute for shorter sessions than longer ones. For example, most people would be happy to spend $20 on 30 minutes but would be unwilling to spend $40-50 for 90 minutes. You could organise three 30 minute sessions for $60 and earn more per hour.
  • Scheduling – Most people find it easy to fit a 30 minute or 60 minute workout into their day, but 90 minutes (plus time for getting changed, travelling, parking etc) is a different matter. This could mean fewer people joining your boot camp.
  • Biology – Workouts that last longer than 60 minutes are (for most people) too long and inefficient. Cortisol production begins to rise too high, and the longer the session lasts the worse it gets. Most of your members simply won’t be fit enough to reap the benefits.

Shorter workouts have many benefits, as mentioned above, you can usually charge more per minute for these workouts. Provided you manage to fill the same amount of time, this makes shorter workouts a better move financially.

But is it as easy to sell 30 minute workouts? And are they the best option for your members? The problem with 30 minute workouts is that you don’t have much time to play with.

Once you have warmed your members up, you only have 20 minutes or so to train them. Then you’ve got a rushed cool down and stretching.

Also, let’s say that you can sell your 30 minute boot camp for $20, while selling an hour’s boot camp for $35. The shorter boot camp strategy only works if the client performs twice as many sessions per week.

If you can get a client to pay $35 per hour for 3 hours, then that’s $105. You would need them to sign up to 5 x 30 minute sessions per week to match that. Sure, that’s more money for less work, but you may struggle to sign someone up for 5 sessions.

But financial implications aside (because if you are good at sales it doesn’t really matter) is a 30 minute boot camp enough to get good results?

Is a 30 Minute Boot Camp Enough?

You could get good results from a 30 minute boot camp provided that they are training often enough. The session would have to be quite high in intensity, and the members would need to have a decent level of fitness.

They would also need to be punctual!

The problem with 30 minute sessions is that too much of the session is spent on warming up and cooling down. It’s not like you can skip these parts either.

Well, you could probably get away without the cool down, but cool downs are so useful for interacting with your members and building that trust and loyalty that is so important for boot camp owners.

So, when can a 30 minute boot camp be a good idea?

  • When your membership has a decent level of fitness already
  • If you offer longer boot camps as well, so that members see them as a bonus
  • When you can offer circuit workouts at a high intensity
  • If you work in the City, where time is a precious commodity, and you can justify charging more

But if you have the option, a longer session will probably work best for a number of reasons (described above).

What Is A Typical Boot Camp Workout

Outdoor boot camp workouts

Before planning the length of your boot camp workout, it is a good idea to look at what others in your area are doing. A typical boot camp workout looks something like this:

Session starts at 10am (or whenever)

  • First 5 minutes = people arriving, setting up the music, getting ready for a warm up.
  • Next 5 minutes = Warm up
  • Next 10 minutes = Group games
  • Next 30 minutes = Circuit workout
  • Next 5 minutes = Cool down
  • Final 5 minutes = stretching

Sure, some boot camps will start straight away, but even if a large proportion of your members are punctual, there will still be people turning up a couple of minutes late. Expecting to be delayed by around 3-5 minutes is pretty reasonable.

A 30 minute boot camp would need to be completely efficient, as there is much less time to play with. This works well for indoor boot camps in gyms where people can warm up beforehand.

  • First 5 minutes = Warm up
  • Next 20 minutes = Circuit workout
  • Final 5 minutes = Cool down

As you can see, the actual time spent performing the circuit is around 20 minutes. This is only 10 minutes shorter than in an hour boot camp. But 10 minutes is quite a lot of time when it comes to circuits!

How Many Calories Do You Burn in 1 Hour Boot Camp?

The number of calories burned depends on many factors:

  • How hard you are exercising
  • How fit you are
  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Your weight
  • Your body fat percentage
  • The exercises you perform
  • The length of rest periods between exercises

This is why calorie estimates are so hard to find. The standard answer for circuit training is that you burn around 10 calories per minute. But this is just a random estimate, one person may burn 4 calories performing the exact same circuit as another person who burns 12 calories.

But if we say that 10 calories per minute is the modal average (the most common number of calories), then we can give you a rough idea of how many calories you would burn during a 1 hour boot camp.

Well, 60 minutes would mean 600 calories. But obviously, you aren’t exercising non-stop for 60 minutes. There’s 5 minutes of messing around waiting for everyone to get ready. Then there is a warm up which would probably only burn 5-7 calories per minute as the intensity is much lower.

The group exercises (games) are moderate to high intensity, but we’ll include them as 10 calories per minute to keep things simple. The cool down can be grouped in with the warm up, burning 5-7 calories per minute.

So, with these calculations, let’s get a decent estimate for calories burned during a 1 hour boot camp:

  • First five minutes = No extra calories burned (above metabolism)
  • Warm up = 5 calories x 5 minutes = 25 calories
  • Group games = 10 calories x 10 minutes = 100 calories
  • Circuit workout = 10 calories x 30 minutes = 300 calories
  • Cool down = 5 calories x 5 minutes = 25 calories
  • Last five minutes = No extra calories burned (above metabolism)

Total = 450 calories

As you can see, there are a lot of assumptions here, and individual factors will completely change this estimate.

Ultimate 1 Hour Bootcamp Circuit

Outdoor boot camp workout ideas

This is your ultimate guide to creating your own one hour boot camp circuit. Remember, if you don’t like an exercise then you can just replace it. The idea is to give you a template that you can follow and that you can learn from.

First Five Minutes

Accept that people will arrive late, and that they will spend time greeting each other, setting themselves up, and asking you questions. Factor it in to your session. If everyone arrives on time and you can start bang on time, then just add five minutes to the group games (see below). But you can use this time as a pre-warm up.

Warm Up (5 minutes)

We’ve got a great article that’s all about creating the ultimate warm ups for your boot camp, and it talks about avoiding common mistakes. The article also mentions our favourite warm up. The Pulse Raiser.

No equipment needed (apart from perhaps some cones). Your members will run 20m at 20% effort, then 20m at 30% effort, and keep going until nearly sprinting at 75% effort. It looks like this:

  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 20% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 30% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 40% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 50% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 75% effort for 1-minute

If you want to jazz this up then you can do, you can also turn it into a competition. But sometimes a simple and effective warm up like this is the best option.

Group Games (10 minutes)

Games can really help to improve the cohesion of your classes, introducing members to each other and sparking new friendships. They are also great for harnessing competition and/or cooperation. In our article on 7 fun ideas for boot camp workouts we mention one of our favourite group games, the tower:

Split your members into groups of two and pick an exercise. Burpees work really well, but so would push ups or most other exercises. The idea is that one partner performs a rep, then the other one performs a rep. Then two reps, three reps, and so on. The tower can go up to 20, but you may need to reduce that number depending on how fit your members are.

  • 1-1
  • 2-2
  • 3-3
  • 4-4
  • 5-5
  • … 20-20

Circuit Workout (30 minutes)

This is the showpiece of your workout; it is also where you can truly differentiate yourself from other boot camps if you want to. You could use kettlebells and create a kettlebell boot camp, or you could only use bodyweight. Or a combination of both.

This circuit workout is going to be 100% bodyweight, that way everyone can integrate it into their workouts.

The circuit involves 40 seconds exercise and 20 seconds rest for each circuit station. If your members are less fit, then change it to 30 seconds exercise and 30 seconds rest. This circuit was inspired by this article so check it out for more ideas.

  • Burpees
  • Glute Bridges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Lateral Lunges
  • Plank Get Ups
  • Lunges
  • Star Jumps
  • Push Ups
  • Squat Jumps
  • Plank

1 minute (40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest) per exercise. Repeat circuit up to three times. If your members need rest in between circuits, then just perform twice and give 3-5 minutes rest per circuit.

Note how we’ve separated the exercise, so that the first is cardio based, while the second is more strength or endurance based.

Cool down (5 minutes)

There are many fun cool downs out there but doing a reverse of the warm up pulse fits this boot camp circuit perfectly. This would look like:

  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 75% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 50% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 40% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 30% effort for 1-minute
  • 20m Shuttle sprints at 20% effort for 1-minute


Partner assisted stretching is a great way to improve cohesion and allows for better stretching. Just make sure that everyone knows what they are doing. You can teach your members to perform:

  • Assisted chest stretches
  • Assisted tricep stretches
  • Assisted hamstring stretches
  • Assisted glute stretches

So, what do we think is the ideal length for a boot camp? 60 minutes works best for most people. It allows you to have calmer periods at the beginning and the end of the session, and also puts less pressure on you to deliver a full workout.

40 minute boot camps could work well too, as can 30 minute ones. But these are better suited to more experienced gym goers, who can train at a higher intensity and need fewer rest periods.


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