Need a Workout? Make Your Own Triathlon.

A participant runs during the Quantico Triathlon.
Participant Erik Armes runs during the Quantico Triathlon at Officer Candidate School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Aug. 24, 2019. (Lance Cpl. Sarah N. Petrock/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

I recently have been adding more cardiovascular activity to the workouts I do with local military recruits and have developed a fun, challenging program. You can easily alter the events to your preferences and future military/law enforcement training and use these programs to maintain a high operational fitness level. I call it the Military Triathlon.

Phase 1 of the Spec Ops Triathlon

The first segment of the workout consists of a standard aerobic routine. If you are seeking more land-based training, then I would suggest performing the three- or four-mile timed run. It is up to you if you want to run this in boots/pants or regular training gear.

Phase 2 of the Spec Ops Triathlon

The next segment is great for those of you seeking more Navy, USMC, Coast Guard or Special Ops-type water training. I suggest doing a 1,000- to 1,500-meter swim with fins after performing the run.

Phase 3 of the Spec Ops Triathlon

After the swim, dry off and put back on your gear. Pack a ruck with 40-50 pounds of gear in it and perform a six-mile timed ruck. Overall, this is not that bad of a workout. It takes a few hours to do. You always can get creative and add some upper-body PT after the run or the swim. Perhaps doing a max-rep superset of pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups in a nonstop circuit until you do five complete sets or hit a group of goal numbers like 100, 200, 300 (pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups) will complete your PT workout. Another addition is to add some squats and lunges every 15-20 minutes of the ruck. Try adding 20 squats and 10 lunges each leg during your ruck (with ruck still on) for your 60- to 90-minute ruck march.

I usually do the military triathlon once every other week or once a month and always after a day off workout activity. After the military triathlon, make sure you rehydrate, add proper electrolytes, eat well and enjoy the rest of your day. You earned it.

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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