Many people get stuck on pull-up, push-up and sit-up tests, especially when trying to get above-average competitive scores on special ops-level fitness tests (SEALs, SWCC, Ranger, Special Forces, PJ/CCT, RECON, MARSOC, etc.).
If a goal is to achieve 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 20+ pull-ups in two-minute tests, a common plateau before hitting those numbers is in the 80, 80, 15 range with the same exercises, respectively. These scores still are considered above average, but sometimes higher scores are required to get accepted into highly competitive units. It is recommended to do this workout once a week after two days off from upper-body activity. For instance, the week can look like this:
- Monday: Upper-body PT pyramid/run timed run fast/easy run recovery or swim.
- Tuesday: Run intervals and leg PT (squats, lunges, stairs/hills)
- Wednesday: Upper-body PT super sets with goal pace running 400- to 800-meter sets
- Thursday: Long run with leg PT mixed in every five-minute intervals
- Friday: Mobility Day
- Saturday: Max rep workout. See below:
Burpee pyramid warmup
- Burpee pyramid 1-10, with dynamic stretches for 25 meters in between.
- One burpee, run 25 meters, 2 burpees, run 25 meters, 3 burpees, run 25 meters ... We do this back and forth as a warmup on a basketball court. Mix in some dynamic stretches between burpee locations during the 25-meter sections.
- Run 1.5 miles timed (or your branch of service's timed run)
Max-rep sets (2-minute time limit on push-ups/sit-ups): Treat the following three exercises of 100, 200, 300 repetitions as a circuit of max pull-ups, max push-ups two minutes, max sit-ups two minutes and run 400 meters. Repeat that cycle until you reach the 100, 200, 300 repetition goals of the workout.
The goal is to do this in as few sets as possible. If you are in the zone of 80, 80, 15 reps for your PT tests, this likely will take you 5-6 sets. If it takes you more than 10 sets, stop at 10 sets and count the reps accomplished. No more than 10 sets. But just for your information, the record for this workout with our special-ops candidates is three sets.
- 100 pull-ups
- 200 push-ups (2 minutes)
- 300 sit-ups (2 minutes)
- Run 400 meters at goal pace each round of the 3 exercises
- 1-mile cooldown run
- Swim 500-meter warmup
- Repeat 5 times
- Swim 75 meters fast free
- Swim 75-meter CSS or breaststroke to catch breath -- no rest
What is your mile pace goal? If a six-minute mile pace, run 400 meters in 90 seconds each set.
More specifics -- See Classic Week of Workouts for more ideas.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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