You Asked, and Stew Smith Answers Your Top 10 Fitness Questions

A soldier tests himself on the bench press.
Cpl. Brandon Smith, a generator mechanic in Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (1CAB), 1st Infantry Division, put his bench press to the test during the 1st CAB’s Strong Man Competition at Bunch Fitness Center in Illesheim, Germany, Oct. 20, 2021. (Sgt. Tommie Berry/U.S. Army photo)

I have had many emails that ask similar questions, so I have compiled a list of what I consider the top 10 questions. They range in subject but are all relevant to fitness and health. Feel free to continue emailing me with your questions at

1. Should I Lift Weights as Fast as Possible?

If you are lifting weights to prepare for physical fitness training or boot camp, then you can stop lifting, period, and consult No Weights at Boot Camp.

Otherwise, I like to lift slowly on the "down" (should take about 2-3 seconds), then explode on the "up" to build power. There are some workouts I like to do occasionally, where you do a 20-second rep: 10 seconds down and 10 seconds up. Give that a try on your workouts once a week. -- Stew

2) How Can I Score Better on the Navy PFT Swim Portion?

The Navy's biannual PFT consists of a 1.5-mile run or 500-meter swim. The swim usually is a great running substitute for people with bad knees or lower back.

I would consider taking lessons or watch a swim team practice. You sometimes can pick up the techniques you need by watching swimmers swim. -- Stew

3. Is It OK to Do Push-ups and Work Abs Daily?

I would not do push-ups daily. Give yourself a day off between big push-up workouts (more than 100-200 push-ups in a workout). As far as abs back to back, they are muscles so they need rest, too, but they can function on less rest than major muscle groups. Do abs the same way you can run. I like to run on Monday and Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and rest on Sunday. -- Stew

4. Is a Rest Day One Without Weights, Cardio or Both?

I consider rest nothing more physically exerting than chores around the house or walking. -- Stew

5. Can You Explain the Double Crunch?

As mentioned in the "Resting with Crunches" article and eBooks, it is a mix of a reverse crunch and regular crunch at the same time, so you lift your shoulders and hips off the floor simultaneously. The only thing touching the floor is your middle back. -- Stew

6. During Reverse Push-ups, Am I Raising My Arms and Hands Off the Ground?

Yes. From the down push-up position, lift your hands off the floor and pinch your shoulder blades together. This is a great upper-back exercise; it helps with posture and stretches the chest. -- Stew

7. Is It Better to Do Cardio Before or After Lifting Weights?

I like to warm up with cardio for about 10 minutes and stretch, then lift weights, but then I go for my run, swim or bike for 30-40 minutes after lifting. I find that if I lift after running or other cardio, I do not have the power I had than if I lifted first. It is really up to you, though. To burn more calories, I would lift first, run second. -- Stew

8. Should I Add Anything to My Supplemental Weightlifting Routine?

You can do whatever you like. The supplemental weight program in the 45-day workouts are just that -- ideas to push yourself a little more than in the 45-Day Plan. -- Stew

9. If I Do Everything Correctly, How Much Weight Should I Expect to Lose?

Note: The emailer is 5 feet 9, 175 pounds and out of shape.

It is different with everyone. Drinking water is a major factor to your weight loss, too. You must drink lots of water, up to a half-gallon to a gallon a day. I have seen people just add more water to their diet and lose a lot of retained water weight fast -- up to 20 pounds in one week -- but they were seriously bloated. Usually expect to lose 2-3 pounds a week. -- Stew

10. Should I Do Weights and PT Exercises on Different Days?

I like to do them on the same day if I have a choice. It is OK to do one, but you do not want to do the other involving the same muscle the next day (i.e., push-ups on Monday and bench press on Tuesday). Think about the muscles you are using when lifting and give them a rest for 48 hours before seriously challenging them again.

Good luck with your fitness program. If you need any help deciding what you should do, please send me an email with your situation, and I will help provide some ideas for getting started, pushing harder or joining the military, too.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve.

-- Stew

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

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