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The PT Reset: Balancing the PT Test Exercises

PT Pyramid

During the process of building up your calisthenics volume to master PT tests or challenging selection programs, there will be days where it makes sense to do less and focus on balancing out previously overworked muscle groups. The PT Reset is a core group of exercises that work the upper back and lower back. Often these muscle groups are neglected if performing high repetition workouts of the standard PT exercises like pushups, dips, sit-ups, and pullups. Here are some ideas to balance all of your hard work and help your recovery and posture at the same time:

1. Add pullups. Even if your PT test does not require pullups, they help balance out the pushing muscles used for standard pushups, sit-up, and run test preparation. If you cannot do pullups, do some form of pulling exercise—like rows or pulldowns. In fact, rows are the perfect balance for pushups as they work the opposing muscle groups in the same plane as pushups.

2. The PT Reset Circuit: Here is a full core circuit that helps balance out many sets of push-ups and sit-ups by working the upper backside of the torso and the lower back muscles. The exercises stretch the front side of the torso by flexing the back side of the torso. Also using isometric flexes of the lower back, these exercises are relatively safe for most people (active or inactive).

Repeat 2-3 times

Reverse Pushups 10-20
Birds 10-20
Arm haulers 10-20
Swimmers 1 min
Side plank 1 min (right)
Plank 1 min
Side plank 1 min (left)

Dirty Dogs – 10-20/ leg
Donkey kicks - 10-20/leg

The first three exercises (reverse pushups, birds, arm-haulers) are calisthenics to stretch the chest and work the opposing muscles groups (shoulder girdle / upper back) of the pushups. These are also great for posture and can be done at any age.

The next four exercises (swimmers, plank, L/R plank) are essentially lower back exercises but actually engage the entire core. Anytime you do situps or crunches, you want to balance out your core with these lower back exercises.

The final two exercises are hip exercises that will help keep mobility especially after practicing running for fitness tests and sitting (or standing) all day for your work day.   These also work the glute muscles (butt) which can help you prevent typical overuse running injuries like Illio-tibial band (ITB) by having stronger glutes specifically the glute medius.

When To Add To Your Workout

Adding this 10-15 minute circuit can be done when you perform your standard upper body workouts as a cooldown. Or on an easy day / day off, you can mix in these exercises with stretching and mobility workouts during the middle or end of the week if you prefer.  If you do it on the days that you actually push yourself with upper body workouts, you can opt to do 1-2 sets of the circuit versus 3 or more sets on a Reset / Mobility Day Off.

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Stew Smith Military PFT Prep

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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