Stew Smith's Archive:

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.

To see more from Stew Smith, check out www.stewsmithfitness.com

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Week #20: Favorite Workout

pullupup

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

Swim
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:

Week 19
Week 18
Week 17
Week 16
Week 15
Week 14
Week 13 
Week 12
Week 11

Week 10 — 6

Weeks 1 –5

 

Running More Than You Want To

Top 5 Tips for Proper Running Form

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.

What is the best way to…?

2012 London Olympics

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:

Situps“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…

Week #19: Workout of the Week

workout-of-the-week

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.

Related articles are periodization, Preparing for the Tactical Fitness Test

Weight Room
Burpee /​ Run Pyramid:
1 burpee — run 30m
2 burpees, run 30m
3 burpees, run 30m
4 burpees, run 30m
5 burpees = burpee 1–5
Max Pullups
Max dips
Stair crawls down/​up

Traits of a Special Operator

1police

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:

Stew,
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?

Sleep Deprivation Video from TED Conference

sleep deprivation and shift work1

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.

Workout of the Week # 18: 50–50 Workout

workout

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.

High Blood Pressure During High School Physical

Heart Health Hand

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.

Workout of the Week #17

Combat Swimmer Stroke

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.

Workout of the Week #16

Stew Smith Navy Seal

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:

Top Reasons Why People Fail Special Ops

specopsBUDS4

I love getting email questions that require me to think and recall over the years some of my experiences to share.  These questions are from a future SOF candidate, who asks a simple question, “Why is the attrition rate so high?”  Here is his specifics:

I was curious Stew, why are the attrition rates for SOF so high? It seems that to get into any SOF training program you have to pass a physical examination to show you can handle training, academic tests, and reach a pretty high level of fitness. Therefore; all those who start should technically be able to complete the course? But of course most end up quitting. Through what means do trainees feel that the course isn’t for them? Or is it that people believe the workload isn’t worth the reward? Is it naive to think that because you only meet the minimums that you cannot succeed in the course? Is it more of a solid success-​​driven mentality requirement?

Workout of the Week #15

workout-of-the-week

Here is a favorite combination workout we like to do once a week during late Summer /​ early Fall.  It is a combination workout of weight training, running, calisthenics, and swimming and/​or rucking.

Full body workout in it’s truest form:

Advice on Over-​​Training

Advice on Over-Training

For years, I have written about and discussed the fine line between training for Special Ops type programs and over-​​training.  But until recently, I realized I forgot one very important piece of information:

TELL OTHERS AROUND YOU THE SYMPTOMS OF OVER-​​TRAINING.

Because, you will not notice it until it is too late (typically).  Even though, over-​​training is actually hard to do by just training — it is easy to see symptoms pop up occasionally when your recovery balance is off:  Not enough sleep, not eating or hydrating well, and too many crazy workouts in a week are just the things to push any training program into the over-​​reaching /​ over-​​training zone if not attended to.

Workout of the Week #14

Workout of the Week #14

This is a way to mix in running mile pace runs with PT Pyramid training:

Pt Pyramid /​ Mile Goal Paced Runs

Run 1 mile timed  

Do 10 sets of

Pullups x 1

Pushups x2

Abs x 3

(do ten sets of the pyramid of the three exercises in circuit fashion selecting your abdominal exercise of your choice — for example situps, crunches, flutterkicks, plank pose (per second) Sample Set 1:  pullups 1, pushups, 2, situps 3  each set progresses until set 10 = 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 30 situps.…

Training You Shouldn’t Neglect

Training You Shouldn’t Neglect

We all enjoy different types of fitness, be it throwing heavy weight around in a gym, running, swimming, CrossFit and the millions of other things we do to stay in shape. Too often though, we neglect certain types of training until it is too late.  It becomes “too late” when we injure ourselves due to an imbalanced training regime. Lets face it, we all do it, and lots of people do it often.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about warming up correctly, going after certain support muscles (not just the ones we want to look better), stretching, flexibility, and correctly cooling down.  All of these things are key to maintaining a training balance. I’m going to explain each of them briefly, so you know what you shouldn’t be forgetting.

Workout of the Week #13

pullupup

This week is a combination workout that combines moderately heavy weights, cardio intervals, mixed with calisthenics.  Following the non-​​impact/​lift, you mix in a run /​ pt followed by a swim (or ruck for Army guys).

Also see links to previous 12 weeks of workouts of the week at the bottom of the page:

High School and High Cholesterol

bloodtest

It seems this is the time of year when high school students and graduates get physical screening tests for their sports, future military service, or college health screenings.  As the American population increases in girth, it is not surprising to see many younger adults /​ adolescents exhibit typical problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-​​diabetes in some cases.

Recently a young man (age 16) who plays football and runs track for his High School teams, but also serving in the Civil Air Patrol and does very well on his PT tests emailed us with a concern about the results of his pre-​​sports physical. He states, “I went for my annual check-​​up and found out I am close to High Cholesterol.”  Receiving the information I thought it was a joke (I weigh 141, BMI under 20, 5 feet 8 inches tall) I am very athletic and in great shape physically. Now my diet is all red meat, ice-​​cream, vegetables, lots of 2% milk, rice, ground beef. As you can see my diet is pretty bad but I eat a normal amount of junk food compared to my peers. Any tips?”

Favorite Workout Week #12

photo (6)

This workout has turned out to be another all-​​time favorite mix of swimming, running, sprinting, crawling, carrying, and calisthenics.  See if you like this 90–120 minute workout mix:

Swim PT  (see video link)

Repeat 5 times 200m swim for time
Burpees for same time it takes to swim 200m

500m Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS video DESCRIPTION)

Part 2 of the workout:

Run /​ Pt Workout *(best done on a football field /​ track)

Jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
bear crawl 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
walking lunges 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
fireman carry 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
burpee jump 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Check out more of our favorite workouts of the week on the Military​.com Fitness Blog.  Sign up for the newsletters for great up to date information on military news, events, and of course — cool workouts.

Favorite Workout Week #11: Last Week

zpp2

When the Spartan 300 Workout came out after a very popular movie with nothing but ripped up actors playing the Spartan Warriors, many people started doing this type of 300 total rep workout spread over six exercises of 50 reps each.  Here is just a sample of many combinations that are fun to add running to the max repetition circuit OR complete the 50 reps THEN rotate to the next exercise.

Spartan 300 Run /​ PT

1/​4 mile run at goal timed run pace (all runs)
Push press 50 (barbell 50% bodyweight)
1/​4 mile run
Kb swings 50
1/​4 mile run
Pullups 50
1/​4 mile run
Overhead weighted walking lunges 50/​leg (hold 25–40#DB)
1/​4 mile run
TRX Atomic Pushups 50 or weight vest pushups /​ bench press 135#
plank pose 2 min

 

You can either keep completing the reps for each exercise until you get 50 total then run.  OR if you want to run MORE, you can max rep set /​ run 1/​4 mile keep that exercise /​ run combo until you get 50 reps. Good Full Body Workout… Optional:  Cool down cardio 30 minutes of swim, bike, elliptical, easy.

Joining the Military — Talk With Parents

recruiter

Every now and then this email is received from a young man or woman seeking some advice on preparing for service in the military.  This one is a little different as this young high school graduate needs some information on preparing his parents on his desire to serve.  Since many of our readers are future service members and we have many veterans and active duty members who read these blogs, I thought maybe this article can be used to share some ideas on how you broke the news with your parents when you decided to serve.  Not every one has supportive parents period, much less supportive of serving in the military during times of conflict.  Here is the email that prompted this blog post and request to the readers to share their stories:     

Stew — I have been a multi-​​sport athlete my whole life and I am ready to serve my country.  However, my family has been really against enlisting and going to the military as an alternative to college, BUT I am 100% positive that’s what I want to do.  Both my sister and brother are in college sports and they expect me to do the same. What kind of tips can you give me to tell them.     Thanks for reading and I hope you can reply.    Sincerely,  JM