Weekend Workout Challenges

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner

If you are like most active people, the weekend is your time to shine when it comes to working out. The few weekday workouts you are able to squeeze in are shortened by work and life, so you use the weekend to play catch-up. The week is time to relax, but the weekend is your chance to push yourself, whether that means participating in a race, obstacle course, or other butt-kicking physical challenge. You should enjoy the challenge of an intense weekend workout that makes you forget the laziness of the week.

Whether you fall into this category or are the type that is always looking for a challenge, the following workouts are sure to make you sweat. Read on for some intense, Saturday morning workouts, practiced weekly by a group of future, current, and former special operations members.

I. The Classic Fast Run / PT Pyramid

Warm up by running one mile at an easy pace.

Sets 1-5:

  • Do 1 pull-up, run 50m, do 2 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 2 pull-ups, run 50m, do 4 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 3 pull-ups, run 50m, do 6 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 4 pull-ups, run 50m, do 8 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 5 pull-ups, run 50m, do 10 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar

Be sure to mix in some dynamic leg stretches between sets, and follow set 5 by running 1 mile.

For the next sets, switch up your mode of travel. Instead of running, try a bear crawl, fireman carry, lunges, low crawl, or broad jump. If none of these work for you, come up with one of your own.

Sets 6-10:

  • Do 6 pull-ups, travel 50m, do 12 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 7 pull-ups, travel 50m, do 14 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 8 pull-ups, travel 50m, do 16 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 9 pull-ups, travel 50m, do 18 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar
  • Do 10 pull-ups, travel 50m, do 20 pushups / burpees, run back to pull-up bar

Follow set 6 by running 1 mile

From here you can progress by repeating the workout in reverse order 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, or try sets 11-15.

If you keep going up, stop where you fail. Make a goal of one day reaching 20 sets, and don’t forget to run 1 mile after every 5th set.

One pyramid of 10 sets (up and down) will yield 110 pullups and 220 pushups or burpees. If you continue to 20 sets, you will have done 210 pull-ups and 420 pushups or burpees. That will take some time to build up to, but you can do it. And once you are able to, perhaps you should start considering a career in special operations.

II. The Special Ops Triathlon:

Run, swim, and then ruck, picking a mileage of each that fits your fitness level. The typical distance is a 3-mile run, 1-mile swim with fins, and a 3-mile ruck.

If you are running on pavement, find a hill that is roughly ¼ to ½ a mile long, and challenge yourself by running up and down the hill as many times as you can. Build up your endurance over time until you can eventually run up and down the hill a total of 5-10 times.

If you have access to a trail with natural terrain challenges, hit it fast. A great example is a Marine Corps Endurance Course (if you have access to a Marine Corps base). Strive for being able to run 5-7 miles, more if you are preparing for longer racing events.

If this isn’t enough for you, you might want to consider some special operations challenges such as Sandbaby Murph or the Devil’s Mile (as described in the links). Both take time to fully master, and I recommend you start off at 25-50 percent of the distances and repetitions listed in the links above when you first try them.

I hope this gives you hard-chargers some ideas for a better workout this weekend. Feel free to share your favorite go-to butt-kicker and what it helps prepare you for. Many of the above exercises have been helpful in simulating obstacle course races, log PT, and typical carries and crawls experienced in the various special operations selection programs.

Related Topics

Military Workouts Stew Smith Fitness Special Operations Swimming Running and Cardio Pushups and Pullups Workouts

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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.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness