Tactical Fitness: Options for Adding Weights to Your Training Plan

Tactical Fitness: Lifting a barbell

Trying to gain weight and strength is a common challenge for nearly everyone at some point in their life.  Here is a question from a teenager seeking to add weights to his training program for weight gain.


I have a question. I was reading up on an article on how to gain weight and got to a section about weight-lifting, and I was wondering how should I structure and set up my weight lifting workouts? 

Adding weights – especially free weights with barbells – should be taught to you by someone who has experience with them.  Look for a coach or strength conditioning coach at school to get technique assistance.  Your other option is to follow up any technique advice with coaching online with credible Youtube videos.  Look for technique steps and the breakdown of the lifts you need assistance with.

Design Options:

I usually do split routines, so I lift every day. I focus on my upper body one day, and my lower body the next days for 2-3 days a week each. However, some days are full-body option days as you will see below.  I also like to mix in calisthenics some days with weight vests (pullups, pushups, dips, squats, lunges).

Upper body:  Push / Pulling / Core muscles – Every other day, 2-3 days a week

Push Exercise Examples – Bench press, military, push press, light weight shoulder workouts, incline press, tricep ext / pushdowns, etc...pushups, dips...

Pull Exercise Examples – Pullups, rows, pulldowns, biceps, high pulls, power pulls

Core Exercises – Situps (if military needs require it), plank poses, flutterkicks, leg levers, ab wheel or TRX rollouts, 

Lower Body Exercise Examples –  Legs / Lower back / Core, every other day 2 -3 days a week (maybe one day being more full body movement workouts).

Squats, dead lifts, leg press, front squats, lunges, step ups, box jumps, side plank poses, etc...

Full body Exercise Examples – I like to mix in full body options too like: hang cleans, power cleans, MJDB#2, burpees, bear crawls, stair crawls, KB swings, KB snatches 1-2 days a week vs just doing legs only.

Sometimes we do full-body workouts every other 3 days a week with a short cardio cooldown option after, then on the days in between we just do longer cardio a core options (run, ruck, swim, non-impacts too like bike, elliptical, row).  It is good to change things up so you do not do the same workout week after week with no progressions or changes.

But workouts like Tactical Fitness, Navy SEAL Weight Training, USMC RECRUIT, and US Army Ranger mix are all together well balanced when paired with cardio options after (run, ruck, swim, other non-impact options too bike, elliptical, row)...

Set and Repetition Designs – You can do workouts with 1 minute circuits so you give yourself 1 minute per exercise for max reps (whatever you can handle for your weight).

You can do 5-10 reps of all weighted exercises using moderate weight. Moderate number of sets like 3-4 sets of each.

You can try reverse pyramids getting heavier each set:  10,8,6,4,2  or 5,4,3,2,1 for max weight 1 rep scores.

There are many options out there to do.  Find one that works for you.  Good luck and have fun mixing it up to find one you enjoy and what works best for you.

See related articles:  Circuit Training Options, PT Progressions (5 part series)


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