These Three Workouts Target Your Specific Weakness

Athletes battle through two minutes of push-ups during the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge.
Athletes battle through two minutes of push-ups during the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge at Arizona State University in Phoenix. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Kapica/U.S. Navy photo)

Many group training programs have different levels of fitness ability, as well as athletic history, among its participants. Here is a way to create a program where individuals in the group can alter a workout slightly to focus on natural weaknesses before joining the military, police and firefighting programs.

If You Are Overweight

For those who are overweight, here is a way to arrange a workout with options that will allow you to focus on running, cardio conditioning and muscle stamina.

Repeat five times.

  • Run or bike for five minutes. Bike if you are overweight because of being sedentary until running does not hurt your knees, shins, feet or back. 
  • Pull-ups max or, if too heavy to do pull-ups, do TRX rows or assisted pull-ups
  • Push-ups for one minute. Use your knees, if needed, to complete.
  • Sit-ups or crunches for one minute
  • Plank pose for one minute

*You also can mix in swimming as a cardio option if swimming is a part of future military training.

If You Are an Endurance Athlete

Running athletes typically can run a five- to seven-minute mile pace easily without much effort. However, calisthenics and weights to develop the upper body are the challenge. Spend more time under the pull-up bar than running, until you break into the double digits of pull-ups.

Typically, within 5-6 weeks, this athlete sees significant progress as they are usually light and, pound for pound, can get strong and build muscle stamina quickly.

Repeat five times.

  • Running three minutes at goal mile pace (run goal timed run for competitive fitness test)
  • Pull-ups max, plus negatives or TRX rows with weight vest
  • Bench press 5-10 then
  • Push-ups for one minute
  • Sit-ups or crunches for one minute
  • Plank pose for one minute

If You Are a Strength or Power Athlete

Running anything more than 100 meters typically is considered long distance for these athletes. Spend more time running or doing non-impact exercises (if needed due to impact injuries) than in the weight room. It is difficult to increase your running speed for timed runs of 1.5 miles or more while lifting heavy weights at the same time (one-rep max).

I found the most success by replacing heavy weights with calisthenics for a 12- to 24-week cycle, along with daily running and swimming.

Repeat five times.

  • Run one mile fast
  • Pull-ups max
  • Push-ups for 1-2 minutes
  • Sit-ups/crunches for 1-2 minutes
  • Plank pose for one minute

The workouts obviously can last longer with more sets, or you could move to part two of the workout, with a longer run or intervals for the athlete who is a weak runner. Move the endurance athlete into the weight room and work on strength, posterior-chain lifts (squats, deadlifts, leg press, etc.).  And if any of the students require a challenging water component, hit the swimming pool to work on technique, water skills and general comfort.

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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