Workout of the Week: Weights and Calisthenics Mix

Tony Horton, creator of workout program P90X, demonstrates an exercise during a calisthenics routine at the southside gym, Ramstein Air Base, Germany (U.S. Air Force photo/Brea Miller).

This upper-body workout is a great challenge and a way to work both strength and muscle stamina for those who want to push themselves off a sticking point or plateau in push-up, pullup, and even sit-up testing events.

Warm-Up Burpee Pyramid 1-10. Run 25m 1 burpee, run 25m 2 burpees, run 25m 3 burpees. Keep going up to 10, then stop and do a light stretch. This is a warm-up. In fact, do some dynamic stretches during the 25m distances such as butt-kickers, leg swings, hip openers, side steps, etc.

Lightweight Shoulder. Try this series of lightweight (3-5 lb.) dumbbell exercises to work the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder.

Push Pyramid 10-1. This is a reverse pyramid for pushing exercises or drop set-type workout. The first sets are lighter with more repetitions. Each set will progress in weight with fewer repetitions from 10 to 1. However, for both push-ups and bench presses, you multiply by 2 for each set. For the first few sets, you will do reps 20,18,16,14,12 as push-ups. If this is easy, add a weight vest if you prefer.

Push-Ups x 2 (20,18,16,14,12). Each set, rest with pullups 5-10 reps and DB rows 10/arm

Bench Press x 2 (10,8,6,4,2). Each set, rest with pullups 5-10 and bicep curls 10/arm

Pull Pyramid 10-1. This is a reverse pyramid for pulling exercises or drop set-type workout. The first sets are lighter with more repetitions, and each set will progress in weight with fewer repetitions from 10 to 1. However, for both pullups and pulldowns, you multiply by 2 for each set.  For the first few sets, you will do reps 20,18,16,14,12 and all the way down to 2 reps. The goal is to get the reps per set anyway you can.

Start off with pullups and, when you fail, finish the set with pulldowns until you get the numbers required for each set. THEN rest with push-ups 10-20 reps and military press 5-10 reps.

Time to get out of the weight room and get some cardio. Run 2 miles anyway you want to break it up in 1 timed run, or 400m or 800m sets with rest in between as needed. THEN:

If Navy or Air Force Special Warfare Prep:

Swim 500m warm-up, any stroke

10 x 100m freestyle with 6-8 strokes per breath for each 100m swims

= rest with 10 pullouts or tread 1 min no hands when needed

This is a complete upper-body challenge topped off with a PT test-style cardio cooldown on the back end. If you are seeking to get off of a sticking point in your PT test training, try this type of workout that mixes together some strength and stamina exercises to assist.

About the Author

Stew Smith is a Navy SEAL veteran who supports the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He also has more than 1,000 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum and over 130 Podcasts focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

As a writer on the tactical fitness topic, Stew creates training programs to help people prepare for any test, training program, or just lose weight and get fit for duty. More info can be found at StewSmithFitness.com.

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