Workout of the Week: Warm Up With Calisthenics, Then Lift Heavy

The best way to maintain PT test scores for typical military fitness tests is through workouts with calisthenics repetitions. The debate in the fitness community starts when you decide to mix in weighted resistance training.

Does one type of exercise have a negative effect on the other, or can you find ways to support muscle stamina maintenance with calisthenics and build strength at the same time?

Here is a way that may work for you, depending on your current abilities.

Warmup with Calisthenics and Run. In the following workout, the warmup will get the blood pumping in the muscles that will be used later in the strength portion of the session. In this example, the push-up is a great way to warm up the bench press for heavier lifts.

Warmup 1 mile run You still need to run in the military fitness tests, so do not drop running from your strength cycles because starting back up again just before testing will be as challenging as if you are a beginner all over again.

You choose how you want to pace this run. My advice is about 75% of your goal mile pace. If you feel like pushing the last half to your full goal mile pace, go for it.

If you are trying to maintain a nine-minute, 1.5-mile run, run this mile at close to the six-minute or 6:30 mark. The goal here is run easily close to your goal pace for these short distances.

Push-up pyramid 1-10: Run 100 meters, 1 push-up, run 100 meters, 2 push-ups … up to 10.

Stretch. Mix in some dynamic stretches for both the legs and upper body during the 100-meter distances as needed.

Now you are warmed up for the upper-body day that will include both push and pull.

Repeat 5 times
Bench Press: 5 (or Weight Vest Push-ups: 20)
WV Pull-ups: 5
Rest 1-2 minutes as needed

*It’s great if you have a bench, but if not, the goal is to make push-ups harder by either adding a weight vest of 30-50 pounds or by doing TRX atomic push-ups for 10-20 reps.

Repeat 3 times
Pull-ups: max
Heavy Dumbbell Rows: 5
Biceps Curl and Military Press: 10. This is a combo movement that mixes the biceps curl into the military press.

Later, in a separate session, you can focus more intensely on the PT test. If you have a swim to add for certain special ops tests, you need to get in the pool after the run.

Repeat 4 times
Run 800 meters at goal mile pace for your timed run distance
Push-ups: 25
Sit-ups: 20-25 in 30 seconds (or substitute plank pose for 1 minute)

Swim. I have found that a visit to the pool at the end can help with cooling you down. A second wind arrives right when I need it to push the final sets of the swim workout.

Depending upon the placement of the swim in your actual fitness test, you may want to practice swimming first (Navy PST) or keep it last (Air Force PAST)

Swim: 500-meter warmup or 10-minute tread. Depending upon your current swim abilities, you may want to focus on treading water with no hands as your warmup if your swim time is sufficient.

Repeat 10 times
Freestyle Fast: 50 meters
Combat Side Stroke: 50 meters at goal pace (or use another stroke that’s included in your swim test)

The goal of this specific workout is to push this workout in the strength category, but warm up and cool down with the muscle stamina and cardio endurance also needed in the tactical professions.

If you are trying to gain weight, add more calories to balance the caloric expense of the run and swim session. Together, they will burn roughly 600-900 calories, depending on your body size and effort. You’ll need to add more than that number of calories if you are trying to gain weight, strength and maintain cardio activity at this level.

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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