How to Get the Most Out of Weightlifting and Military PT Workouts

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Senior airman prepares for the clean-and-jerk.
Senior Airman Jelani Acevedo-Morales, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Elements team member, prepares for a clean-and-jerk at Hurlburt Field, Florida, April 7, 2014. (Staff Sgt. John Bainter/U.S. Air Force)

I received an email from an Army soldier who is interested in still scoring well on the physical fitness test (PFT) naturally, but also mixing some weights and other resistance training into his weekly routine.

For those of you who like to lift weights only, it is recommended to lift weights, stretch and do cardiovascular activities (bike, swim, jog, etc.) to complete the workout. Mixing these components into your routine will build strong muscles and bones, create joint flexibility and develop your heart and lungs into more efficient oxygen-moving organs. 

The workouts that mix calisthenics with weight training are common circuit-training workouts, but I add a challenge of muscle burnout to keep the PFT scores high.

For example, one of my favorite circuits only takes about 20-30 minutes and will work out your upper body, unlike other routines:

Upper-Body Weight/PT Circuit Workout

 

Pull-ups

max reps until failure

Dips

max reps until failure

Sit-ups

max in 2:00

Bench press

50% max reps plus 2 negatives

Push-ups

max in 1:00 -- resort to knee push-ups, too

Pulldowns

50% body-weight max reps

Sit-ups

max in 2:00

Military press

max reps (dumbbells 10-20 pounds)

Biceps curls

max reps (10-30 pounds)

Triceps extensions

max reps (10-20 pounds)

Sit-ups

max in 2:00

Cardio of choice

20-30 minutes or repeat above if you can

* Only do this workout once a week. It is very challenging on your body to fail this many times in a workout.

Here is another upper-body workout I like to do. It will work opposing muscle groups with a weight exercise and a PT exercise while resting with a cardio and abs routine:

* Repeat five times.

Pull-ups max reps

Bench press 5 reps of 50%-75% of maximum single lift

Only do once.

  • Run or bike 10 minutes
  • Sit-ups max reps for two minutes

Repeat five times.

  • Push-ups max reps in one minute
  • Pulldowns 10, 10 (regular, reverse grips nonstop)

Only do once.

  • Run or bike 10 minutes
  • Sit-ups max reps for two minutes

* Choose weight that should challenge you on the last two reps. Do this workout 1-2 times a week, with 2-3 days between repeating upper-body workouts.

One of the best cardio, weight and PT mixes I like to do is with the legs:

Repeat three times.

  • Run or bike five minutes fast
  • Stretch legs
  • Squats with no weight 20-30
  • Leg press 10-15
  • Lunges 10-20/leg
  • Leg extensions 10-15
  • Leg curls 10-15
  • Jog or bike for 10-15 minutes for cooldown. Stretch legs well.

* Choose a weight that should challenge you on the last two reps. Do this workout 1-2 times a week, with 2-3 days between repeating leg workouts.

These are just some ideas of how to mix PT with weights. It makes the weight room more fun and will help your PFT scores as well. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

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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