The Throw-Sprint-Carry Metabolic Circuit Workout Protocol

I want to share with you a metabolic conditioning protocol that I call “TSC Circuits.” TSC stands for Throw-Sprint-Carry, and these are the three main components of each metabolic circuit workout.

When the good folks here at Breaking Muscle approached me about designing a workout plan, I knew immediately that this was a great opportunity to share a metabolic conditioning protocol used in the Performance U training approach that we call TSC Circuits. TSC stands for Throw-Sprint-Carry, which are the three main components of each metabolic circuit workout.

In this article I’m going to share with you why we designed the TSC metabolic conditioning protocol, how we recommend using it in various weekly splits, along with providing you a six-week workout progression that involves two different TSC metabolic circuits.

Who Should Use TSC Metabolic Circuits?

Put simply, strength training is the way to go when your primary goal is to get bigger and/or stronger. However, if you want to accomplish that without sacrificing your levels of athleticism and conditioning, you’ve got to do some other forms of training that demand these fitness qualities.

This is exactly what we designed the TSC metabolic circuits to deliver big on. We designed this protocol to be used as an adjunct to strength and hypertrophy workouts. In other words, if you want to gain muscle without losing your hustle, the TSC circuit is just what the doctor ordered.

Why Use TSC Metabolic Circuits?

As I alluded to above, we designed TSC metabolic circuits to include aspects of training that may be missed when doing strength and hypertrophy work:

  • The first part of the TSC metabolic circuit involves throwing medicine balls. These require total body force summation in different planes of motion (depending on how you are throwing the ball) at fast speeds. This is something that you certainly don’t get from doing compound lifts, which is why feel it serves as a nice complement strength training.
  • The second part of the TSC metabolic circuit involves sprinting. I certainly don’t have to tell you about the benefits of sprinting, or go into detail about how it’s a pillar of athleticism. I will say that, we incorporate sprints second in the TSC sequence, because we found that beginning with the medicine ball throws serves as a nice preparation to explode into the sprints without fatiguing the legs and increasing risk of injury.
  • The third and final component of the TSC metabolic circuit is a carry complex. Technically this is what we would call a farmer’s walk complex, which is a series of dumbbell exercises interspersed between several sets of dumbbell (farmer’s) carries.

Since the carry complex is slower, non-explosive, involves less complex movements than the sprints and the medicine ball throws, it is placed at the end. In addition to the strategic order of the TSC metabolic circuit protocol, we’ve also made sure to leave no stone unturned.

In that, the medicine ball throws demand a total body effort, the sprints are lower body dominant, and the farmers carry complex demands a upper body dominant effort.

In other words, the TSC metabolic circuit gives you upper body conditioning, lower body conditioning and total body conditioning exercises to ensure that each aspect of conditioning is covered.

Not to mention the cumulative metabolic effects from performing all three of these conditioning aspects (total body, lower body and upper body) back-to-back as you do in each TSC circuit round.

When to Use TSC Metabolic Circuits?

Since we use the TSC metabolic circuits as an adjunct to the training of those whose goal is to add hypertrophy or strength, we include one TSC metabolic circuit workout per week.

Here’s a list of how we include a TSC metabolic circuit training day within various weekly split setups:

Body-Part Split, Training 4x Per Week

  • Monday: Back and Biceps
  • Tuesday: Legs and Abs
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Chest and Triceps
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: TSC Circuit Day
  • Sunday: Off

Body-Part Split, Training 5x Per Week

  • Monday: Chest and Triceps
  • Tuesday: Legs and Abs
  • Wednesday: Back and Biceps
  • Thursday: Shoulders and Abs
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: TSC Circuit Day
  • Sunday: Off

Upper-Lower Split, Training 3x Per Week

  • Monday: Lower-Body
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Upper-Body
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: TSC Circuit Day
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Upper-Lower Split, Training 4x Per Week

  • Monday: Lower-Body
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Upper-Body
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Total-Body
  • Saturday: TSC Circuit Day
  • Sunday:

Total-Body, 3x Per Week

  • Monday: Total-Body
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Total-Body
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: TSC Circuit Day
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

How to Perform the TSC Metabolic Circuits

In this program I’m providing you with two TSC Circuit workouts – an “A” workout and a “B” workout. Whether you decide to use one of the training splits I listed above or use your own split, I recommend doing a TSC metabolic circuit workout once each week.

I’ll be providing you with a six-week progression, which involves alternating each week between workout “A” and workout “B.” We’ll be publishing them over a four-week period, so you’ll be able to plan in advance.

Now, I’m going to go over some general guidelines for performing the two TSC metabolic circuit workouts I’ve provided, along with any other TSC circuits you may design for yourself.

Then, I’ll go over the specific exercises in each of the two TSC circuit workouts to make sure that when hit the ground running, you are running in the right direction.

General guidelines for performing TSC metabolic circuits:

  • One round of the circuit involves performing a single set of each of the medicine ball exercises listed, followed by one round of shuttle sprints for the distance indicated, and finishing with a farmer’s carry complex for the reps in distance indicated.
  • The goal is to perform each circuit round in his little time as possible. That said, if you need to rest at any time; rest as much as you need as little as you have to.
  • Rest for the time indicated between TSC circuit rounds.
  • If you are performing a TSC workout outdoors, I recommend you use a rubber medicine ball for the throwing drills against the wall. However, if you are performing the TSC workout indoors, I recommend you use a Dynamax medicine ball, which doesn’t require you to stand as far away from the wall as when using a rubber medicine ball. This way you don’t take up as much space in the gym in order to accommodate the others who may be working out at the same time as you.
  • When performing the medicine ball throws, make sure that each throw is as hard as you possibly can. One each throw you want to think that you are trying to break the ball on the wall. Also, make sure to hit the wall at a spot that’s no lower than your waist height. Doing so allows the ball to get a nice bounce right back to your hands, so you can go right into the next throw.
  • When performing the sprints, I recommend to jog up to the starting cone and begin your sprint once you reach the cone instead of beginning from the still position. It’s no secret that quick starts can elevate your risk of pulling a muscle when doing sprints, so the jog up start is used in an effort that we feel reduces this risk. Keep in mind that we’re not running these prints to improve our forty-yard dash time. If that was the case, we’d certainly start from the still position as that is what is required during the combine-style test. But since that’s not what we’re training for here, we have the freedom of modifying the start in order to try to maximize training safety.
  • To perform the farmer’s carry complex you will need two sets of dumbbells: a pair of heavy dumbbells and another pair that are approximately 40-50% lighter than the heavy pair. For example, a 70-pound pair and a 35-pound pair. You’ll use the heavier pair to perform the farmer’s walks and the lighter pair to perform all the in-place exercises. Your place both sets of dumbbells at the same starting cone that you used for the sprints.
  • When performing the farmer’s carry aspect of the complex you’ll walk one lap between the cones you used on the shuttle sprints. That said, in the workouts I provided, one day you perform shuttle sprints with the cones 25 yards apart in the other day you perform shuttle sprints with the cones 50 yards apart. One day that you perform shuttle sprints with the cones 50 yards apart, you’ll simply use three cones instead of two, placing the third cone in the middle at the 25-yard mark so you can use it when you get to the farmer’s carry.
  • On the workout program I provided you, you will perform three rounds of each TSC metabolic circuit for the first four weeks. One weeks five and six you will perform four rounds of each circuit. That being said, the reps do slightly increase on each consecutive workout for the first four weeks.
  • Since you are alternating which workout you do each week for six weeks, you end up doing a total of each circuit three times. And, as I said above, each workout requires you to do a bit more work by either increasing the reps within each circuit, or the amount of rounds you do of a given circuit.

How to Perform the Exercises in the TSC Metabolic Circuits:

Note: I’m only describing the exercises that you may not be familiar with, as you already know how to do exercises I’ve included in each workout, like bent over rows, farmers carries with the dumbbells at your hips, farmers carries in the rack position with the dumbbells at your shoulders, an overhead dumbbell presses.

This video shows you (at 40-sec mark) how to perform both the medicine ball soccer throw with alternate leg step (from circuit B) medicine ball side rotary scoop throw (from circuit A) (at the 1:13 mark):

The medicine ball push throw with alternate leg step is performed in the same manner as the soccer throw with alternate legs step except the ball is exploded off of your chest (like a bench press style motion) instead of from overhead.

This video demonstrates how to perform the medicine ball rotary punch throw (at the 2:11 mark):

To perform the shuttle sprints, place two cones or water bottles roughly 25 yards apart or 50 yards apart depending on which workout you’re doing. Sprint as fast as possible back and forth between the cones. Touch the cones each time while being mindful not to cut back to the other direction at each cone faster than you can control.

  • If your cones are 25 yards apart: 6 round trips = 300 yards
  • If your cones are 25 yards apart: 5 round trips = 250 yards
  • If your cones are 25 yards apart: 4 round trips = 200 yards
  • If your cones are 50 yards apart: 3 round trips = 300 yards
  • If your cones are 50 yards apart: 2 round trips = 200 yards

This video will show you how to do dumbbell uppercuts.

Final Thoughts

In addition to the two samples workouts, keep in mind that what I’ve given you here is a metabolic workout formula that you can plug a wide variety of exercises into.

I invite you to no only try out the workouts provided, but to use this article as inspiration to develop your own TSC metabolic circuits.

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