Here is an email from a military man seeking to get better at his pull-ups and pushups for an upcoming PFT for Special Ops Selection.
"I am a 2ndLt in the Marine Corps and I'm about to start the third week of the BUD/S Warning Order. I have been lifting less with the Warning Order workout - only 2 days a week, and I'm wondering what you would recommend in regard to lifting while doing the Warning Order workouts."
"My second question is about pull-ups. I have been stuck at around 20 -22 for quite some time now, and am looking for something new to help me break through. Thanks for your time."
I do not lift much weight but I do lift lighter weights with PT. My recommendation for your profession is to lift lighter weights with more repetitions, and to add in calisthenics so that you totally burn out in the gym. See the "Circuit Training" article for some ideas on how to organize your routine.
Personally, I like to do bench press a max rep set of 75-100% of your bodyweight, followed by max reps of pull-ups - then, to top off the upper body, add 50-75% bodyweight pull-downs followed by max reps of pushups until you fail. I work opposing muscle groups with weight/PT mix so I can rest one group of muscles while working the other, but never getting a true rest. This will help you increase your muscle stamina.
I lay off weighted legs as that will slow me down while running, but I do leg PT with running. See the "Burn More Calories" article for methods of performing the exercises correctly:
- Run -1/4 or 1/2 mile
- Squats - 20-30
- Lunges - 10-20 per leg
- Repeat above 5-8 times
To Get to 30 Pull-ups:
To break through to 30 pull-ups, you can refer to the "Pull-up Push Workout" article for some ideas - but the best way I think is to try the following workout:
Do this workout 1-2 times a week and another regular pull-up workout for a 3rd or 4th pull-up workout in 7-8 days.
100-150 pull-ups in as few sets as possible - rest with:
- Max sets of pushups 2:00
- Max sets of abs of choice in 2:00
- Option run -1/4 mile in 90 seconds (some days this is a great one)
In a nutshell, do max reps of pull-ups until you fail. Add in 1-2 negatives to completely fail. Then rest with pushups, sit-ups, and running, before mounting the bar again for pull-ups - no real rest in this workout.
The run is optional as it adds time to your workout. Once you get good at the pull-ups burnouts and failing on the other exercises, you will see that you can get that hard workout done in under 20 minutes. That is why I like to add the 1/4 mile at 90 seconds in - to make the workout harder.
Try this for one month and you will be in the 30 pull-up range.
Special Operations Fitness Articles:
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. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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