Here Are Some More Advanced Group PT Ideas

Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS New Orleans perform group PT.
U.S. Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) perform various exercises during a physical training session while attending Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar in the Philippine Sea, July 7, 2021. (Sgt. Daisha R. Ramirez/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Here is a commonly asked question from military members who are placed in charge of their command's group PT program, but this one is a request for more advanced workouts for the hardcore group at his command. 

Here is his email:

Stew, thanks for your numerous articles and​ books, as I have used them since I was a civilian several years ago. Now I am placed in a position to spice up our Command PT, and we have many advanced-level athletes who spend much of their free time at the gym, running races or preparing for their future spec-ops careers. Any recommendations for tougher-than-average workouts we can do as a group?

Thanks for the email, and it is by far one of my favorite requests of the week. I just so happen to be creating many new and unpublished workouts that I use with my spec-ops, wanna​​be group here in Maryland. The cool thing about these workouts is that they can be arranged to be a PT foundation for your intermediates and a challenging job-related skill workout for your advanced groups. They all stem from the basic PT pyramids and max-rep superset workouts, as described below:

PT Pyramid -- Foundation Building

Here is a standard workout of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and even dips if you wish that you can add into a PT pyramid routine that progressively gets tougher each set. If you hit all the reps on the even numbers of the pyramid (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2), that equals 50 reps of an exercise. Double and triple the repetitions, and you can see how quickly this workout becomes challenging.

Max-Rep Set Workout

Do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 sit-ups in as few sets as possible for a base routine. I have found this workout is a great one for those who are stuck at 15 pull-ups and seeking to improve to 25-30 reps. Usually if done just once a week, along with two other upper-body workouts of your choice (smaller pyramids, weights, etc.), you will see those kinds of gains with this max-rep failure workout.

Here are some new video links that show you how we have progressed into harder group PT workouts by using the above workout models:

Pull-up/burpee jump and fireman carry pyramid: This involves a pull-up pyramid going up until you fail (10-plus sets), followed by burpee broad jumps on the odd sets and fireman carries with a partner or bear crawls (25 yards) on the even sets. Keep going up until you fail at pull-ups. If you do not get to 10 sets, then repeat in reverse order. If you get above 10 sets, keep going until you fail and stop. No need to repeat. Many in this video were getting up to 15-20 sets on this workout.

Pull-up/run/kettlebell swings/burpees/bear crawl or fireman carry pyramid: Now there is a lot going on with this pyramid. Basically it starts with two pull-ups, a 25-yard run, two kettlebell swings, a bear crawl or fireman carry for 25 yards, double your pull-ups or four burpees, bear crawl back to the kettlebells and repeat two kettlebell swings (matching pull-ups), then run to the pull-ups for your second set, or four reps. This is a 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, ... pyramid. Whatever you do on pull-ups you double your burpees and kettlebell swings each set. Very tough workout.

100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 sit-ups progression: This progression of the standard 100/​200/​300 PT workout adds in running 100-200 yards each set, plus kettlebell swings that match your push-up numbers. The goal is to get 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 200 kettlebell swings and 300 sit-ups in as few sets as possible with added short, fast runs per set. Limit your set time to 1-2 minutes for push-ups and sit-ups, depending upon the timed events of your branch's physical fitness test (PFT). Most advanced members will get this one done in 4-5 sets.

These are classic PFT-based workouts that will challenge your group and help with acing the PFT exercises (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups). You can get creative with this one and add in other transition exercises like crab walks, wheelbarrow races, forward rolls, etc. 

Adding in exercises to be part of the pyramid or max-rep set routine is fine, too. We often add in plank poses for one minute, flutter kicks and various other push-ups to keep things interesting.

Good luck with adding in challenging PT workouts to your Command PT. I would only do exercises like these every other day at the most. You can always add in a cardiovascular-only or Leg PT day on days in between these upper-body intense workouts as well, if needed.

P.S.: Check out my Fitness APP for iPhone/​iPad for a mobile library of more than 115 exercises.

​​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

Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, has you covered. Subscribe to to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Story Continues