Archive for the ‘Physical Fitness Testing’ Category

Heavy Hump Day (Workout #26)

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Here is the 26th favorite workout of the week posted on the Military​.com Fitness Forums.

During the winter cycle, we start to add in more heavy lifting workouts but we always like to keep with the “heavy weights of the PT exercise world” — the pullup.  You can also add in some weighted pullup sets if you prefer.  Here is a fun cycle of building up to near 1 rep max level weight in the following lifts:

Reverse Pyramid Workout (#25)

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This workout was done years ago using calisthenics only while deployed on a submarine for a few weeks doing OPS in the Med.   Many people ask about good underway workouts so the calisthenics version is a great one.  The second version that we did this week is a combination of many calisthenics exercises and lifts:

Calisthenics version:  Reverse Pyramid from 25 to 1.  Start off with 25 reps of a few exercises that focuses on legs, abs, lowerback, and upperbody.  An advanced challenge is the following:

Squats, Pushups, Crunches /​ Situps, and Plank pose (rep per second) — do 25 of each, then 24, 23, 22,21, 20…all the way down to 1.  Totals 325 reps of each exercise.  For an added break, every 5 sets do a 5 minute cardio of run, bike, or elliptical.

Weight Cycle Spartan 300

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Here is another way to build a Spartan 300 but with a weighted version of exercises in five different categories to get a fullbody workout:

Here are the movements of the body that when arranged like this insures a full body and balanced workout:

Push — Pick bigger movements like bench press or military press /​ some push press too.

Pull — Do weighted pullups, pulldowns, heavy rows

Leg — Exercises with moderate weight like squats, lunges, leg press

Full — These are more dynamic movements like dead lift, power clean, hang clean, thrusters, but easier versions too like the MJDB — multi-​​joint dumbbell exercise.  (Take out the tricep ext if weight is too heavy)

Abs /​ Core — Mix in plank poses per cycle as well as weighted abs exercises.

Turkey Day Workout

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Enjoy a fun and effective workout the morning of Thanksgiving whether you are at home or travelling.  Here is one of our training group favorites to burn some calories and not feel horribly guilty for eating most of the day and sitting on your butt watching football.

If you cannot find a place to train or travelling out of town on Thanksgiving, here is a fun one you can do just about anywhere:

- Find a place to do pullups (local playground, monkey bars, park, build your own, use the TRX)

Mix in some running or rucking intervals into a big PT day.  We like to mix in several 1 mile runs so you total 4–5 miles of running mixed with as many rounds of pullups, pushups, abs, squats, lunges as well.

Workout of the Week (#22) — First 5 x 5

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As the weather gets cooler up here in the Northern hemisphere, we typically transition from the higher rep calisthenics, mileage of runs, and move toward the heavier lifting cycles, some cold weather rucking, and indoor swimming for a healthy mix of non impact cardio.  If you do not have a pool and cannot swim with fins for 1–2 miles of cardio, try the stationary bike, elliptical, rower or a SPIN class even.  Here is our first 5 x 5 workout of the season.

Workout of the Week (#21)

Combat Swimmer Stroke

We developed a new workout this week using a theme often used in the swimming workouts by making pyramids of the following distances:  500, 400,300,200,100.   Check out the adjustment to exercises and reps:

Warmup with burpee pyramid run:  1 burpee — 50m run, 2 burpee — 50m run, …3,4,5…stop at 10 = 55burpees

Stair crawl — (up /​ down 1 flight in bear crawl mode)

Periodization — Do I Need it?

Top fitness concerns for men

Here is a short but sweet question that requires a fairly lengthy answer to do it justice.  Periodization is nothing new to fitness and the training world, but it is one of those things that people have a hard time applying to their fitness program.  Here is the email question:

Stew, I am in my mid 40’s and have been doing roughly the same thing for more than a decade (run, lift, and some PT) – seems to be working for me.  I read about your periodization concept.  I think I understand the basics but what is periodization and why it is important to me?

The best definition I have seen:  Periodization is an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.  (Kravitz)

Operator Grip

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Having a good grip comes in handy not just shaking hands, but doing many tasks required of military and special ops personnel.  Here is a recent email asking about improving grip for exercises that include rope climbs, pullups, and even dry firing with your non-​​dominant hand.

Stew, I am actually pretty good at pullups, but have found it tough to do multiple sets of higher reps not because I cannot do any more pullups, but because I cannot hang on the bar any longer.  My forearms are on fire!  I have the same issues when doing rope climbs and even some tactical skills.  How can I get my forearms stronger?  

This is an excellent question as there are many things you can do to supplement your workout to get a better grip.  Your grip muscles are actually located in your forearm and your hand is mostly tendons attaching them with a few hand muscles involved as well.  This is why when doing pullups, rope climbs, farmer walks, and other tasks you feel your hands getting tired as well as your forearms.  The good news is that grip and forearm strength /​ endurance /​ muscle stamina can be added fairly quickly with a 5–10 minute circuit following normal workouts for upper body.  In a few weeks, you will notice a difference if you do the following circuit 2–3 times a week.  In a few months, you will have that “old man grip strength” that can hold onto anything for long periods of time too.

Week #20: Favorite Workout

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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.

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:

Week #19: Workout of the Week

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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

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

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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.

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:

Workout of the Week #15

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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

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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

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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?”