Favorite Group PT Warmups

Army general performs a medicine ball rollout.
Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, Commanding General, U.S. Special Operations Command, conducts a medicine ball rollout during a physical training event at the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Human Performance Training Center on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Feb. 11, 2020. (Staff Sgt. Keren-happuch Solano/U.S. Army photo)

When you have a large group (command PT) and have to do a workout formed up on a field in a circle or other type of formation, coming up with exercises to do is not necessarily that difficult. You are fairly limited to push-ups, squats, a variety of core exercises, lunges and maybe pull-ups if you have enough bars. Here is a series of warmups that can be ideal for smaller groups before a weight-room workout or can be used multiple times to create a workout.

Check out these different choreographies of exercises that yield a good overall result with group PT:

Jumping jacks/push-ups: Jumping jacks mixed with other exercises for a warmup is a classic (but a little boring way) to build up the reps of the workout:

Repeat 10 times

  • Jumping jacks 10
  • Push-ups 10*

*You can add in abs of choice after push-ups or replace push-ups with squats on leg days. Or on full-body days, do all the above: push-ups 10, squats 10, abs or core exercise 10-20.

You can mix in toe touches when transitioning from jumping jacks to push-ups, stay in the plank pose for a minute and add a variety of different push-ups (wide, regular, close hands) each round to break up the monotony.

The running PT pyramid: This quickly is becoming a classic. It can be modified with any exercise, and you can use the short runs (25-50 yards) as ways to add dynamic stretches or tougher exercises like bear crawls, fireman carries or other injured man drills.

  • 1 push-up, run 25-50 yards
  • 2 push-ups, run 25-50 yards
  • 3 push-ups, run 25-50 yards

Keep going up to 10 and back down to one to complete 100 push-ups and 19 short runs. Or keep pushing yourself and the group on the field or basketball court up to 20.  Once you hit 20, that is plenty (210 push-ups).

Here is where this one gets fun: You can replace push-ups with burpees, squats, pull-ups (on one end of a field and another exercise 25-50 yards away).

You also can alter the travel method: Replace jogs or sprints with burpee broad jumps, bear crawls, walking lunges, fireman carries, farmer walks or other dynamic stretches if you are focusing on warming up or cooling down.  Depending on the group, this "warmup" can turn quickly into a workout that is sufficient for most PT groups.

You always can go on a 10- to 15-minute jog or bike ride to complete a warmup, but if done for a short period of time, the ways listed above -- as a full-body warmup method -- will prepare you for any follow-on event like lifting weights, longer runs, a ruck or a tougher PT Pyramid Progression (see all five options for ideas). 

The rule is to warm up the body and muscle groups being used in the future workout by getting the blood pumping to those groups. That is a warmup.

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 stew@stewsmith.com.

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