New PT Pyramid (Calisthenics, Weights, Running, Carries and Crawls)

Master Sgt. Eric Rideaux, 9th Air Force, performs lunges using shoulder weights during a fitness demonstration for the Air Force's special operations community at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 9, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joe Yanik)

Are your workouts humdrum? Break out of your rut and get creative with your exercise routine while preparing for the challenges of many military or special ops training programs; practicing calisthenics with added weight, high repetitions bodyweight calisthenics, lifting weights, running, carrying equipment, and crawling should be considered. 

Here is a new pyramid workout (derived from the PT Pyramid classic) we created this week that by half way through, we knew we had a new program that will help us assess many of the tactical fitness elements in the future run throughs:

  • Classic Pyramid 1-10-1 methods:
  • Weighted pullups x1 (20-45lbs)
  • Bodyweight bench press or TRX pushups x 2
  • abs of choice x3
  • dips x2
  • bicep/military press x2
  • run 200m every set
  • bear crawl 200m every 5th set

Notes: Pull-ups - do weighted pull-ups as far up the pyramid as you can. When you fail, start to do regular pull-ups.  If you fail are regular pull-ups, replace with TRX rows, Pulldowns, or DB rows.  Go up the pyramid to 10 then back down to 1.  Total of 19 sets and will equal 100 repetitions.

Bench / Pushups - Strive to do bodyweight bench press up the pyramid as high as you can, then resort to either lower weight on the bench, TRX pushups, or regular pushups. Double the pull-up numbers each set. Total repetitions equal 200 total bench, pushups combination repetitions.

Abs of Choice – Do three times the number of abs that you do pull-ups each set. Total number of a large variety of core exercises equals 300 repetitions.  Mix it up each set:  sit-ups, crunches, flutterkicks, leg levers, and plank pose (1 rep = 1 second in plank).

Dips - Strive to do dips up the pyramid as high as you can, then resort to bench dips if you start to fail. Double the pull-up numbers each set. Total repetitions equals 200 total dips repetitions.

Bicep / Military Press – Do a combination exercise of a bicep curl with an overhead military press. If you start to fail, reduce the weight as needed. Total repetitions equal 200 total bicep / military press repetitions.

  • Every set (19 sets if you do 110-1), you will run 200m. You can run 100m away from the pull-up bar / weight room and 100m back if you prefer. This works well if you can have a place to run close to a pull-up bar / weight room or run on a treadmill for 40-60 seconds.  * One the odd sets, run/shuffle the 200m with a sandbag (4050lbs) on your shoulder or head.
  • Every 5th set, bear crawl 200m for a total of three sets of bear crawls.

This workout is an advanced workout if you try to complete the 1-10-1 pyramid, but the goal of using the pyramid is to use the beginning sets as a warmup, go up the pyramid each set until you fail (maybe 6 or 7 levels), then repeat in reverse order back to 1.  A warmup, max out, cooldown all built into a workout that challenges weight movement of your body in a large variety of planes and motions.

About Stew Smith CSCS Stew Smith is a Navy SEAL Veteran who supports the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  He also has over 1000 articles on Fitness Forum and over a 100 Podcasts focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

As a writer on the tactical fitness topic, Stew creates multi-week training programs to help you prepare for any test, training program, or just lose weight and get fit for duty. has the answer.

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