This series of articles is a favorite workout of the week for TWENTY weeks. This is WEEK 20. See links below for weeks 1–19 for great ideas to add to your workout routine. These are some of the latest workouts we have been doing with our Spec Ops Heroes of Tomorrow group. If you are ever in the Annapolis MD area and want some of these workouts they are FREE to people seeking military, police, fire fighter professions or those serving / have served.
This is a mix of weights and calisthenics and higher intensity cardio events using the Tabata Interval protocol.
We do 5 minute sets of the Tabata Interval which is a 20 second sprint / 10 second easy pace repeat 10 times (equals 5 minutes). Then you spend roughly 5 minutes in the gym doing a Push, Pull, Full Body, Ab exercise for 1 minute each. Give yourself 15–20 seconds in between each exercise for transition time.
Warmup with 5 min tabata (20 sec fast / 10 sec slow)
Repeat 4 times
Push 1 min
Pull 1 min
Full 1 min
Abs 1 min
5 min tabata interval
Feel free to change the exercises each set
(push = pushups, dips, military press, bench press, shoulder workout - any chest — shoulder — tricep exercise)
(pull = pullups, pulldowns, DB rows, bicep curls, barbell high pulls — any back — bicep exercise)
(fullbody = burpees, dead lifts, power clean, hang cleans, KB swings, MJDB#2, thrusters — any exercise that works multiple joints in the legs, core, arms)
(Abs = situps, plank pose, flutterkicks, TRX rollouts, knee ups, leg levers, crunches, farmer walks — Any core exercise)
Run 1.5 mile easy
Run 1.5 mile fast
Warmup — 500m swim — any stroke
Repeat 10 times
100m at goal 500m pace
Pushups 1 min
Situps 1 min
squats 1 min or Pullups if you have a pullup bar on pool deck
Cooldown 500m with or without fin
See links for the other 19 creative workouts to add to any program:
Even though Maine has a short summer, it makes up for it in a spectacular color show when the leaves change. It’s a double edged sword, however, as leaf raking too quickly turns to snow shoveling. Most of us experience the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall (Autumn). Defined seasons aren’t arbitrary either as they are driven by our earth’s rotation. Or so you’d think. Our society has created a slew of other “seasons” like allergy, cold & flu seasons. This fall has ushered in even more buzz words like outbreak, contagion, and virus creating what feels like “fear season.” So, I say it’s time to turn the calendar and crush epidemics with a new weapon that may just surprise you.
Less is more, right? Yes, if you’re talking about miles per hour when you get pulled over for speeding, but not in the realm of eating. Whether you’re a celebrity-diet fan or experienced a night of too much booze and Burger King, chances are you’ve heard of the term fasting. Fasting may seem appealing when you’re in a crunch or trying to undo some serious damage, but think twice before you consider it.
Here’s what happens to your body when you skip a meal (yes, just a meal!):
Digestion Disruption: Our bodies are used to having food to digest. When you stop eating for a day or a meal, your body’s digestive system gets thrown off. If you aren’t eating, your body has nothing to digest. Help your stomach do its job– eat regularly!
Cortisol Chaos: By eating throughout the day, you can help keep your blood sugar in check. Skipping meals releases cortisol. Increased cortisol is closely tied to increased abdominal fat.
Mental imbalance: Humans need food to survive, that’s not rocket science. When you skip meals, you can slip into a thought process where you convince yourself you don’t need food. Slippery-sloping into a thought process where food becomes a guilt-trip is a big no-no.
Onset of Overeating: Ever skip breakfast and then realize it’s halfway through the afternoon and you have yet to eat? What likely happens as a result? A huge dinner! Our bodies function best when fed in reasonably moderate amounts at spaced intervals. So slamming a huge dinner not only confuses your body but will likely result in an overconsumption of calories.
Fat Foraging: When we skip meals or don’t eat, our bodies go into “freak-out-mode”, aka starvation. Our bodies start to think we won’t be getting food. As a result, your metabolic rate is reduced for the time being.
If these are the repercussions of just skipping meals, imagine the scale of consequences when applying this to a day-after-day fast. The key to lasting weight loss results is investment of time and effort. Fasting may lead to temporary weight loss, but can result in long term damage. Stick to the old-fashioned hard work and healthy eating and you and your body will be much happier.
Here’s a fun way to save your body from looking scary this Halloween: before you decorate the jack-o-lanterns with your family and friends, grab a heavy gourd and use to tone your trouble spots! My new video, the Slimnastics Stability Ball Workout (www.nikkifitness.com) was the inspiration for these moves, because you typically use a medicine ball or stability ball to perform them. My 4 year old is the reason we bought the pumpkin in the first place.
Every so often, I get asked how to train for a long run like a half marathon or marathon. Many young men and women prefer the accountability of a race and the thrill of competing in runs while preparing for Special Ops professions. If running is a weakness you must work on in order to succeed in future training programs, preparing for races that are also entertaining can be a great way to turn a weakness into more of a strength. Though a marathon is not necessary, it does make a great gut-check if you can keep from getting injured prior to your training. Here is an email from a young man who is making the transition from a collegiate power athlete and working on his skills to become a better long distance runner:
Stew, I just finished my senior year of college in AZ and have been trying to get better at running as I am preparing for Army Special Forces. As you know, this training requires you to run and ruck many miles each week, but I am having issues with keeping my focus during longer runs. Any suggestions? Should I try running different locations, races, marathons, different cities, elevation, beach/desert, trails? Thanks – Sean.
For over a decade and a half of writing about working out and acing fitness tests primarily, I often get questions that start off with, “Stew — what is the best way to (insert event)? The most common one is “run faster in timed runs”. Or “do more pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups” is often asked. And, of course, there is swimming times related question — “What is the best way to increase my swim speed / decrease swim times per given distance?” Or a very controversial topic — “What is the best way to build muscle?”
The reason why I bring up this topic is after reading an email from a young man trying to ace his situp test, I got distracted. He is seeking a goal to keep a pace of one sit-up per second or scoring 120 situps in 2 minute period. This is a great goal! It is not uncommon in the Spec Ops candidate world to see 120+ on 2 minute sit-up tests and there is a way to build up to get there. Is MY way the BEST way? I do not know — depends on how you define BEST. Here is the question:
“Stew — I have a sit-up test that a scored near the minimums on the first time (60 in 2 min), acceptable a month later (90 in 2 minutes), but I want to master this event as it once embarrassed me. The sit-ups — I overestimated my abilities and did not practice (like you said) and was ranked last in our group on sit-ups. Now I want to max it and not far away from it. What is the best way to get that max score in sit-ups?”
How do you define BEST? I Digress…
Every once in a while, I feel the urge to unplug from the news, social media and technology. Recently, after a two year hiatus from the news, I decided that enough time had passed to re-engage. I’ll admit that the timing couldn’t have been worse. It’s getting really scary out there, isn’t it? From rampant viruses to political turmoil, the news isn’t very encouraging. Fortunately, we, as a country, can still cling to some simple yet powerful truths — we have a strong military to protect us, the most advanced scientific achievements to make our lives better, and the resilience and fortitude that makes us all Americans. As Americans, we also have the freedom to take care of ourselves and there may be no better time than now to do that in a big way.
If you have ever stepped into a gym, most like you’ve used the old school method of 3 sets with 10 reps to try and build muscle. Then, 90% of you won’t return after a month because you don’t see any gains. Of course not! Think about what you’re doing. In order for a muscle to increase in size you have to first break it down. You’re not going to accomplish that will 3 measly sets of a weight you can lift 10 times.
Here is a different type of 50–50 split workout we like to do in October as we slowly transition from higher rep calisthenics and move into more weight training programs to build strength and power. The term 50–50 refers to the workout being about 50% calisthenics and 50% weight training. This is one of our new workouts we created this Fall.
Burpee / Run Pyramid:
1 burpee — run 30m
2 burpees, run 30m
3 burpees, run 30m
4 burpees, run 30m
5 burpees = burpee 1–5
Stair crawls down/up
We all have had some form of psych test in our lives. Do you remember the Myers-Briggs test you may have seen in high school, college, or in the military as well. I know I have taken it at least three times in my life. A recent question brought back some of those memories and prompted a little thought on the topic of personality types. Here is the question:
What are some of the personality types that make it through Special Ops training programs and go onto to serve in various Special Ops programs for a profession (like SEAL, EOD, Army SF, SWAT Teams, etc)? I saw your article on some of the traits needed for Mental Toughness as well as the many fitness requirements you recommend, but what type of people finish the training?
This weekend I’m pulling some self-imposed overtime. With everything going on in my life at the moment, I have to put in some extra hours to catch up with paperwork and correspondence which I hope will get me ahead for next week, or so I choose to believe at this moment! Does it ever feel like you’ve got too much on your plate? From your service/career demands to family obligations and a lengthy list of must-dos, it may feel like you’ll never get on top of it all. Maybe we can all take a cue from nature as summer is officially over and autumn begins. In the fall, everything seems to take a pause — the grass stops growing, leaves begin to turn, and flowers fade. If your world is spinning, check out these tips to help you take it down a notch or two.
If you have not seen or heard about the TED conferences you should subscribe — especially if you like to hear about new and innovative things occurring in the world with science / technology based research and development.
TED = (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference share the best ideas in the world for FREE by video. Check them out. This one is conducted by former Navy SEAL and current medical doctor — Kirk Parsley.
As many of the readers know, I use a method of periodization that evolves with the seasons. Some have called it the Solstice Running Plan, while I tend to just like changing my workouts every quarter (12–13 weeks) so not to burn out with any one type of exercise. For instance, each change of season brings in something new and gradually fades something out:
Spring (March — May): Progressive running build up as well as shift from winter weights to higher rep calisthenics, taper from longer swimming workouts, with shift in speed / agility training.
Summer (June — September): Peak build up of miles running, high rep calisthenics, high speed on swimming, only bodyweight exercise to include fireman carries, crawls, log PT, etc…(Almost no weights — focus is PFT testing scores)
Fall (September — November): Drop high rep calisthenics, introduce weight training, increase swimming distance / rucking, reduce running mileage over 12 weeks and focus on faster paced shorter runs.
It’s not hard to find hundreds of search results for workout tips when searching the internet. That’s why I was on a mission to find quick and easy workout tips that actually work, proven by scientific studies. Below are my findings:
Teenage high blood pressure occurs with some frequency and is often caught when high school student-athletes get physicals prior to joining a JV / Varsity athletic team. Here is an email from a young man who wants to one day serve in the military but tried out for football this past summer. He states:
“Stew, I took your advice and joined some team sports while is high school in order to prepare for being a part of a team when I join the Marines one day. But, I was borderline high blood pressure and not sure why — during my annual physical for sport. Is this something I can reduce with more exercise, diet, or do I need to see a doctor and get medicine?”
It is never a bad idea to do more than occasional blood pressure checks over the next several months. I would get your blood pressure checked at least every month to establish if borderline high blood pressure increases or decreases due to many causes. If you see any more high blood pressure scores, then yes, I would go to a doctor, BUT there are many causes for TEMPORARY high blood pressure. In fact, only about 1–3% of teenagers actually have high blood pressure, so it can be something you have to deal with but chances are low.
Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”? Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.” For those of you in combat situations or as first-responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”. The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.” Merriam-Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.” It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations. You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.
Here is a swim workout that requires a video to best explain. The focus is on three events:
Life Saving Buddy Tow — 25m
Combat Swimmer Stroke 50m
Freestyle 100m (6–10 strokes per breath)
The goal is to push yourself on the buddy tow — recover with the 50m CSS — then push your heart / lungs with 100m freestyle hypoxic type swim set.
Have you ever enjoyed a summer day that you wish would never end? Labor Day was one of those days for us here in Maine. Usually, by this time of the season, the crisp chill of autumn has set in and I’m reaching for my fleece. Instead, this week has ushered in steamy, hot weather and brilliant sunshine. So, you guessed it, I’m spending as much time as possible outdoors to soak up every ounce of warmth before it becomes a fleeting memory in a few short months. Last week we talked about peaking your performance with a better approach to sports nutrition. Whether you’re at the gym, on a bike, in the water or at home, this week we’ll continue to shed the light on overcoming inflammation to keep you moving.
The Two Minute Bodyweight Workout –4 to Floor
This article was authored by Sergeant Michael Volkin, inventor of Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards.
I don’t know about you, but I have too much stuff to do. Like you, every day I deal with email, Facebook, tweets, work, pets, family, and so on. Finding time to go to the gym is getting harder and harder each day. Well, have no fear. I have assembled for you a workout you can do anywhere called the 2 Minute Workout that only takes, you guessed it, 2 minutes! This workout will get your blood pumping, increase your energy level, burn some calories and strengthen muscles. Not a bad way to spend 2 minutes!
It is testing focus month for us in August / September (1st week) so we tend to mix in fitness testing elements with workouts.
Here is one we did to help with PT and running: