Favorite Pullup /​ Pushup Variety Workout


Here is an open topic for your favorite pullup /​ pushup variety workouts:

My top three are:

Pullup /​ 8 count pushup or burpee pyramid - Start off by doing 1 pullup — run 25yds and do one 8 count pushup or burpee (your choice).  Then continue up the pyramid:

run 25m — 2 pullups — run 25m — 2 burpees
run 25m — 3 pullups — run 25m — 3 burpees

Continue up the pyramid until you fail or you can reach ten and repeat in reverse order.  We did this one today and every 5th set we ran a mile.  So sets 1–5 then mile run, sets 6–10 then mile run, 10–6 then mile run, 5–1 then mile run.

Pushup variation #2:  Run 1 minute /​ 1 minute of pushups.  Each time you do pushups make them different — good examples of different pushups are:  regular PFT pushups, wide pushups, tricep pushup (close hands), 8 count bodybuilder pushups, 16 count bodybuilder pushups (5 pushups per rep), spiderman pushups, TRX atomic pushups,  feet elevated pushups, etc. etc.  See if you can do 10–20 sets of run and pushups.  WHen you fail at pushups and you still have time left — do squats until the 1 minute is up.

Pushup /​ Burpee variation #3:  I learned this one from a buddy who is a prison guard who shares what the prisoners are doing for exercise.  Basketball court or 30yd burpee pyramid:

1 burpee — run 30yd or length of court — 2 burpees — run court — 3 burpees — run court 4 burpees — and it does not get any easier from here.  The gold standard in prison they say is 25 sets of that which totals 325 burpees with lots of running in between.  Our group made it tougher and started adding other running options like bear crawl, low crawl, fire man carries, body drags every 5th set to change it up and make it tougher.  You always want to be tougher than the bad guys!

Let’s see some good ideas out there?

Stew Smith CSCS



  1. Sol says:

    I like all these workouts that are there to increase cardio & strength, especially for PFTs. One of my favorite pre-​​workouts is 15 pull ups, 40 push ups and 40 situps done 3 times through for time — so far my best time is 5:34.

    • Stew Smith says:

      Yes — super sets like that are great. We did this one at the Naval Academy on Farragut Field where there are 36 pullup bars:

      5 pullups, 10 pushups, 20 abs of choice for all 36 bars = yes that is 180 pullups, 360 pushups, 720 abs

      ps — on the last 16 sets do 20 second plank poses for a good core balance. (1 sec plank roughly = 1 rep of abs)


  2. Stew Smith says:

    Here is a great one you can mix in with swimming:

    3 min burpees
    3 min tread water — no hands
    3 min swim — any stroke

    Repeat 3 times

  3. chief says:

    15 push ups, 1 pull up
    14 push ups, 2 pull ups
    13 push ups, 3 pull ups…
    continues until…
    3 push ups, 13 pull ups
    2 push ups, 14 pull ups
    1 push up, 15 pull ups

    run a mile then do it again!

    • Stew Smith says:

      Chief — I love this one that is a great one that gets you 225 pullups /​ pushups. Maybe add a 50m run in between exercises for some added cardio each set???

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Stew Smith

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

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