Workout of the Week: Super Set and Swim PT

Marines pushup challenge
Lance Cpl. Ronald Hinson from Heath Springs, South Carolina, competes in the push up challenge portion of the Shanghai Commanders’ Cup (Photo By: Stephen Himes)

This high-volume circuit is a great example of breaking a tough workout like the Murph into multiple, easier sub-maximum effort sets: 1-mile run; (100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats); 1-mile run.

This 20 set (Super Set) circuit has added running sets to build up the interval and goal mile pace distances up to five miles total.

Repeat 20 times

Pull-ups 5

Pushups 10

Squats 15

Run ¼ mile

*goal 60-min time limit

When complete, you will have accumulated (in the course of an hour or less, if you constantly keep moving) 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats, along with 20 quarter-mile runs (a total of 5 miles).

It is up to you how fast you run those intervals. You can do them at your goal mile pace or you can try to sprint (run faster than goal pace) for some of them. You may find that, as the volume of the repetition increases, maintaining goal mile pace will be quite difficult, especially if you are shooting for 1:30 or faster ¼-mile runs, which is a 6-minute mile or faster.

Workouts like these are can be monotonous, but they are actually great ways to build your ability to "go to a happy place" and focus on something other than the dull pain and monotony. Believe it or not, you can achieve a state of meditative focus, which will enable you to dissociate from the cold or tediousness of the workout. See recent article: Benefits of Meditation.

Additional Swim PT workout: Once the run and the calisthenics are complete, add in a swimming workout if you have the energy, or save it for later in the day.

Swim 500-meter warmup, any stroke. The reason why we start off every swim workout with a 500-meter or 500-yard warmup is that typically most swim tests in the military/special ops/rescue swimmer world require a 500-meter or -yard distance (depending on the branch of service). This obviously has physiological benefits to the swimmer and will help you get into better shape for future tests, but it also carries a psychological benefit in always calling 500 yards or 500 meters a "warmup." After doing this for a few months of swim practices, when you take an official Physical Screening Test (PST) or Physical Abilities and Stamina Test (PAST) for the Navy or Air Force respectively, you will be able to say, "OK, this is my warmup."

Repeat 10 times

Swim 50 fast freestyle at 8-10 strokes/breath

Swim 50m CSS or breast stroke (try minimal rest -- see if the CSS is rest enough)

Once you get good enough with the 10 sets of 50/50m swims, advance to the next level of 10 sets of 75/75m swims of the same combination of strokes. Once 100/100m sets for 5-10 sets are easy, you will find that you will be able to maintain your goal pace on the testing stroke required for your PST or PAST. But this takes time and effort. You should be swimming at least 1,000-1,500m a day (4-6 days a week) in order to get in shape for a fast and competitive 500m swim.

Personally, I think a good goal is a yard or meter per second. Focus on 500 seconds for your 500 test, and you will score an 8:20 swim time. This is competitive, and it is easy math to figure out if you are on pace at 100 or 200 yards -- you should be at 100 or 200 seconds.

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