Archive for: Pushups
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…
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:
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
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.…
This week, we did an all-time favorite workout that we have been doing for decades. It truly is a classic workout and if you are ever in the area where we train, you can join us. Especially now, as we are cycling out of the weight / strength cycle and merging into the running, swimming, higher rep PT cycle to prepare for crushing any fitness test.
This Memorial Day Workout — will easily be the favorite workout of the week for many weeks to come. In the past few years, the CrossFit world has been naming workouts after American Heroes (Hero WOD). This particular workout is called the Memorial Day Murph and was one of SDV Team 1 SEAL, LT Michael Murphy’s (CMH recipient) workouts he did prior to SEAL training. It just so happens to be one of my long time favorites done with situps vs squats to help prepare for the PST exercises (pullup, pushups, situps)
PT Progression #5 is the PT and Advanced Movements Workout:
You now are ready to advance to full body movements in between sets of pullups and pushups and even replace pushups with more dynamic exercises like burpees, push presses, and 8 count pushups. Traveling to and from the pullup bar and the PT area will now require you to bear crawl, low crawl, fireman carry a partner, do a farmer walk with heavy weight, or any other creative method you can think of adding that will assist in your preparation for military, police, or fire fighting training.
PT Pyramid with More Mileage:
Every 5th set run a mile fast pace:
Set 1: 1 pullups, 2 pushup, 3 situp
Set 2: 2 pullups, 4 pushups, 6 situps
Set 3: 3 pullups, 6 pushups, 9 situps
Set 4: 4 pullups, 8 pushups, 12 situps
Set 5: 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 situps…
Part four of the PT Progression Series is about adding the final segment of most fitness tests into the calisthenics workouts — RUNNING. Learning to run at your goal pace is critical for optimal performance and you must practice it so often that it actually becomes “muscle memory” when you run. You should be able to transition from the the PT section into the running test easily and know by the way you are breathing, swinging your arms, striding how fast you are going. This takes practice though.
You can make a pyramid out of this one or make it one tough super set but each “rest” period in between sets is a run of a variety of distances. These type of workouts not only help your body learn how to transition from PT exercises to running, but can also help you in simulating other exercise events like obstacle courses, combat conditioning courses, and other job related challenges.
Part three of the PT Progression Series is to build upon a foundation that you have created over the past few months. Once you have mastered the PT Pyramid and the Super Set and can handle workouts with volume of 100 pullups and 200 pushups, then it is time to test your new found strength. This workout will increase your muscle stamina and endurance which is really the goal of mastering PT tests. The Max Rep PT is ideal for those who are stuck in the 10–15 pullup, 70–80 pushups / situp range. In a 5–6 week period of doing this workout just once a week as shown below, most people were in the 20+, 100+, 100+ range on the pullup, pushups, situps tests. But, like I said earlier, you need a foundation of fitness before trying this workout.
The new goal to achieving the volume of PT reps that you are used to is now to get those numbers in as few sets as possible. For instance, for our standard 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 situps workout then plan is to get these numbers in max rep sets. It is recommended to only do this workout once a week but you can combine like this during your week:
Whether you are trying to get rid of un-tonned “bat wings” or just looking or well-rounded multitasking exercises to tone arms, abs and legs, try these three workouts that take the traditional French Press, Triceps Kick-back, and Push-up to a whole new level.
I created a free quick video for KnowMore.TV but you can get the 30 minute workout in my Booty Camp DVD.
You’ll see challenging Triceps Push-ups, my “Wings, Thighs and a Six Pack” move and Skull Crushes for arms and glutes.
Add 20 reps of these moves in 3 sets to your summer fitness routine and you won’t be sorry.
Remember…“I wish I didn’t work out today” said no one ever!
Fitness, fit it in! Nikki
Here is a great email about how many people feel after a long day of work or sport practices and you have to also prepare for a fitness test in the military or special ops training in your near future.
Stew, I am a specialist in the Texas National Guard and I have an extremely hard time with my APFT. My civilian job involves constant lifting, pushing, pulling etc…of heavy objects, I can feel myself getting stronger but my pushup score is declining during tests. I have increased my workout to try to compensate but it doesn’t seem to be helping. When I perform pushups during the test it feels like I’m fighting my chest and shoulder muscles to move downward. I’m wondering if the constant heavy workout is affecting my range of motion and making pushups harder for me? Have you ever heard/encountered this? How can I get my APFT score back up?
When it comes time to training, we each have our favorite exercises. You know, you walk into the gym and you’re just like “Yes, I get to do ____ today!” However, are your favorite exercises the best exercises for you? Are you getting the results you’re looking for with those exercises? I breakdown a bunch of exercises that are not only beneficial for your body, but are also not the same boring stuff you did the last week. Check out some of my favorite exercises, muscle by muscle, that produce results!
Here is a good question about performing at a maximum level on fitness testing. As with weight training, you do not want to do daily high repetition calisthenics on the same muscle groups. In fact, when you push the limits of 500‑1000 reps in a workout, you could still be pushing it too much still. See what young hard charger says:
Stew, I used to do 1000 pushups a day and built up to 80 pushups in two minutes. After reading your article on Stop Doing Daily PT I dropped to 1000 pushups every OTHER day. I am doing well with everything else (pullups, situps, run, and swim) but cannot get over 100 pushups on the PST? What gives?
Your problem is pretty common actually. Even though your volume of pushups is very high, you would think that 100 reps in a two minute period is going to happen sooner than you think. Well, this increase is tough. It is like dropping from a 7 minute mile pace to a 6 minute mile pace. It takes time AND practice with two minute pushups tests. Also in the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD Physical Screening Test (PST) you have to swim 500 yards first, so when you do your pushup sets you should mix it with swimming. For instance do Swim / PT like this:
Photo courtesy of The New York Times
The cold winter weather might be keeping you home, away from the gym, or sending you out of town, packing for warmer climates. I was recently reviewed by the New York Times about moves for the busy business traveler, but you can do them anywhere, for any travel reason, or just at home in your living room.
The two they featured are (photo attached, curtesy, NY Times):
1) The Incline push-up. When feet are higher than the hands, you get a different challenge for those pectorals. Do 5 sets of 20 reps, for 100 a day. View photo.
2) The reverse fly with hydrant. This works the upper back (trapezius and rhomboids), which is the opposing muscle group to the pecs, so they are perfect to do together. Don’t have a weight? Fill a hotel iron with water and that will do for 20 or more reps! The move also targets your abs because you are off balance, and your outer thighs as you lift your opposite leg out to the side. View photo.
Most everyone has heard about the Spartan 300 Workout developed for the actors in the movie 300 by the Gym Jones folks. If you have not seen this or tried it, be warned it is pretty advanced, but you can make your own variations with some creativity as the core of this workout is fantastic.
The 300 is designed like this: Six exercises for 50 reps of each = 300 total reps. Now the original 300 is this specific series of exercises:
Short workouts a little birdy created
Sixty percent of our annual weight gain happens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Everyone can use some Fit Travel Workouts during the holidays and who doesn’t want Hard Core ABs into the New Year? so to get a jump on your resolutions and avoid the Heavy Holidays weight gain with a 15 minute workout session from my daily Twitter #moveoftheday tweets! Follow me for more@NikkiFitness — I tweet a new, free move every day!
Here is a very commonly asked question about adding calisthenics like pushups, dips, and pullups into a standard weight training program. The answer is that is can be done but it is not recommended one of the ways it is asked in this question:
“Stew, I am a little confused about adding pullups and pushups into my weight training program. I mean should I mix them into the days I do upperbody like bench press and pulldowns or should I do them on separate days in between?”
Here is a commonly asked email from military members who are placed in charge of their command’s group PT program, but this one is a request for more advanced workouts for his hardcore group at his command. See his request:
Stew, Thanks for your numerous articles / books as I have used them since I was a civilian several years ago. Now, I am placed in a position to spice up our Command PT and we have many advanced level athletes who spend much of their free time at the gym, running races, or preparing for their future Spec Ops careers. Any recommendations for tougher than average workouts we can do as a group?
Here is a common question that has multiple answers and methods to reach the ability to do pullups and pushups. You have to start somewhere. Check out the request:
Dear Mr. Smith: I have begun to follow your 90 day wkout. I am a young woman in my 20’s, and I am in EMT/Paramedic school, and I have never been able to do a real push up. Do you have any pointers on how I would be able to progress to accomplishing this goal? Also do you have any pointers on doing pullups? Any help would be a godsend and greatly appreciated.
Yes — there are many ways to build up your strength to do pullups and pushups and to be honest the common denominator between men and women who can do these exercises is that they practice pullups and pushups. But how to you get to the level where you can actually practice these calisthenics?
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.
There are many hurdles you have to go through to get INTO any of the Service Academies — academics, test scores, leadership roles, athletics, community service, the CFA etc…There are even more to get THROUGH the Academy but we can save that discussion for another thread.
Here is a video I made recently on the CFA and will help many of you get better scores in pullups, pushups, situps, shuttle runs, mile run and the oddly used basketball throw from the knees.