Workout of the Week: Spec Ops Leg Lift and Cardio Day

This is not your normal leg day, as we mix in some muscle stamina work along with strength training. Though it is more a strength and endurance workout, we call it the “spec ops leg day” when we add cardio options needed for special ops training. Give this workout a try if you are already used to this level of volume, distance and weight.

Squats Pyramid 1-10 with 100-meter runs in between: This is just a short warm-up that takes about five minutes with a total of 55 squats and 1000 meters of running. Do 1 squat, run 100 meters, do twp squats, run 100 meters, do three squats, run 100 meters. Keep going up to level 10. Stop the pyramid and move on to the next challenge.

400-meter lunges: This is a walking lunge workout with no added weight. Depending on the length of your stride, you will likely get 150-200 lunges per leg. If you need to, take a break and stretch as needed or do a 1-minute plank after every 100 meters to break up the leg exhaustion.

For spec ops candidates, you will be surprised at how often and how far you will lunge in your selection training. Get used to it.

Leg and Cardio Circuit: This circuit requires a moderate level of cardio mixed with a light-to-moderate level of weighted movements with squats and deadlifts.

Repeat 3 times

Run 800 meters at goal pace or bike 5 minutes with tabata intervals

Deadlift: 5

Dumbbell squats: 20

Box jumps: 10. If you prefer to step down versus jump down, that is fine.

Swimming Session: Usually later in the day, we will add in a swim with fins to top off the leg day. Doing the swim with fins and practicing the Combat Swimmer Stroke gives the workout a Spec Ops Leg Day feel.

Swim 500 meters to warm up without fins

Swim 2000 meters CSS with fins

Tread water 10 minutes with no fins and no hands. Whenever you’re in the pool, practice treading as a warmup or a cooldown for 5-10 minutes. This is a skill you need to master well before you attend training.

Ruck 45 minutes: If your future training does not have much swimming involved, you will be adding in more rucking. Get used to load-bearing activities. After a leg day, a ruck for at least 45-60 minutes is a smart move, as it will help prepare you for the many miles and many hours you will be spending under a ruck.

For those of you who can handle both the swim and the ruck, get it done and you will be well-prepared for long training days in any spec ops pipeline of training or selection courses.

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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