Try This Workout Plan in the Month Leading to Your Next PT Test

In the final month leading to fitness testing, there is usually an increased focus on specific training for the events on the test. We need to develop consistent training habits regardless of whether it’s testing time, but making a few changes to address weaknesses should be a focus before testing.

When the testing events change, you may need more than a month to start working new events into your training program. Here is a common question about pre-test training, done without much equipment and on a set morning schedule.

Stew, I must ask you for some early morning PT advice. I have a small playground down the street with a swing set for a pull-up bar & a dip bar on a stair-like ladder, a TRX and 3 different kettlebells. The Navy PRT is in early September (a month away) with a new 3 minute 20 second plank. My intention is to do something in the mornings and mix things up on my own for a while. Thank you for your time and sage advice as always, Chris

Chris, that sounds like a great place to train. I’ve had something like that near me for decades and still have never joined the gym. There is only so much you can do with calisthenics, but with added TRX and KBs, you are golden.

With your short-term goal of crushing the plank, push-ups and 1.5-mile run on the Navy PRT, I most likely would focus on calisthenics for the next month. Then, change things up after the test.

My advice is getting on a system or split routine that you like to do several days a week.

Monday – Upper Body

Run to the playground. Then mix in running at a goal mile pace for 400-800 meters throughout a workout, such as the PT Pyramid, that includes pull-ups, push-ups, plank poses and dips. You can make these harder by adding a weight vest on pull-ups. You can use the TRX for push-ups or plank poses by placing your feet or forearms in the straps.

Tuesday – Leg Day

Mix in running at a steady pace for 1-2 miles with a few goal mile pace intervals. Add some leg calisthenics, such as squats and lunges, for 10-20 reps each for 3-4 sets. Make these harder by adding a weight vest or kettlebells. I personally like to run 400-800 meters, then do 20 kettlebell swings, 10 KB squats, KB farmer walks (2 x 25 meters) and repeat that circuit 3-4 times. Cool down after with an easy jog or bike.

Wednesday – Easy Day

Consider making this an easy day. Focus on mobility or an easy cardio and stretching day for 30 minutes or so.

Thursday – Upper body day

Change it up a bit. Try a regular circuit of exercises in a super set fashion with sub max effort on your reps. Work to push your total volume. You also should consider the Death by Push-ups challenge now that the Navy tests plank pose. Try a perfect plank pose for five minutes, but every minute on the minute do 10 push-ups, then go back to the plank pose. This will prepare you for both the push-up and plank tests of the Navy.

Friday – Leg Day Again

Try a moderate distance day of cardio (bike or jog) for 30-45 minutes but stop every five minutes and do 20 squats and 10 lunges per leg. The goal is to work the lungs and the legs to build some muscle stamina and running cardio endurance. Biking is an OK substitute some days if you feel you need a break from the impact of running.


You can take the weekend off or mix in another mobility day. If you are capable, do another upper-body day. Just make sure you have a day or two before the next upper-body day to avoid back-to-back days of upper-body training at this higher volume of activity.

I hope this gives you some good ideas. The morning training habit is a smart one, as it tends to be the time of day that life does not get in the way as much as it can during the afternoon or evening.

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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