Shifting Training Focus from Calisthenics to Weight Lifting

Soldiers carry two 40-pound kettlebells during the Sprint Drag Carry event of an Army Combat Physical Fitness test.
Sgt. Steven J. Clough, Battalion medical liaison with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Sprint Drag Carry event of an Army Combat Physical Fitness test hosted at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California, July 21, 2019. (U.S. Army/Amy Carle)

In a recent article about making workouts as you transition from one cycle to another, the focus was on how to fit different workouts into a proven 20 Year Periodization System that is specially designed for tactical athletes. The pyramid allows for a building warm-up routine that mixes calisthenics and light weights into a short and fast running program.

The autumn workout cycle is a special mix of the previous summer high rep calisthenics and cardio workouts and the heavier lift cycle of the winter. During the fall we reduce the mileage and repetitions of running and calisthenics, and add a progressive build-up of lifting and load bearing to prepare for the next few months of winter lifts.

Here is a new mix of warm-ups, peaking lifts, and short fast running mixed together in the classic pyramid format:

Run 1 mile -- warm-up jog

Push-up and squat warm-up pyramid with 100 meters runs in between.

How this warm-up looks:

Set 1: 1 push-up and 1 squat; run 100 meters

Set 2: 2 push-ups and 2 squats; run 100 meters

... keep going up to 10 push-ups and 10 squats to a total 1,000 meters running and 55 push-ups and squats).

If you find this easy continue up to 15 or 20 though you may find this no longer is a warm-up and quickly turns into a workout after 10 sets.

Tire flip or deadlift, kettlebell swings, pull-up pyramid 1-10 and 10-1.

This is the standard PT pyramid just with different exercises for the first ten sets, then changes exercises to avoid repetitions that get too high on some of the typical lifts. Typically, the first 5 sets of any pyramid is a warm-up, so go light on any weight being used.

Pyramid 1-10:

Pull-ups x 1

Push-ups x 3 or Burpees x 2

Deadlift x 1

Bear crawl or farmer walk to and from pullup bar to deadlift area

How this section of the pyramid looks:

Set 1: 1 pull-up; 3 push-ups or 2 burpees -- travel 25-50 meters by bear crawl or farmer walk (or fireman carry) to the deadlift area. Do 1 deadlift (*light work on technique). Run back to the pull-up bar.

Set 2: 2 pull-ups; 6 push-ups or 4 burpees -- travel 25-50 meters by bear crawl or farmer walk (or fireman carry) to the deadlift area. Do two deadlifts. Travel back to the pull-up bar (run).

...keep going up to 10 pull-ups, 30 push-ups or 20 burpees, 10 deadlifts (light).

Once you reach level 10 (set 10), change the main lift exercise and one of the calisthenics options. Remember this one goes in reverse order from levels 10 to 1.

Pyramid 10-1:

Pull-ups x 1 (add weight if possible)

Push-ups x 3 or TRX push-ups x 2

Kettlebell swings x 3 -- bear crawl or farmer walk to/from pull-up bar to kettlebell area (25 meters).

How this section of the pyramid looks:

Set 1: 10 pull-ups, 30 push-ups or 20 TRX push-ups, travel 25-50 meters by bear crawl or farmer walk (or fireman carry) to the kettlebell swings area. Do 30 kettlebell swings (*light work on technique). Run back to the pull-up bar (run).

Set 2: 9 pull-ups, 27 push-ups or 18 TRX push-ups, travel 25-50 meters by bear crawl or farmer walk (or fireman carry) to the kettlebell swing area. Do 27 kettlebell swings. Run back to the pull-up bar.

Set 3: 8 pull-ups, 24 push-ups or 16 TRX push-ups, travel 25-50 meters by bear crawl or farmer walk (or fireman carry) to the kettlebell swing area. Do 24 kettlebell swings. Run back to the pullup bar.

...keep going up to 1 pull-ups, 3 push-ups or 2 TRX push-ups, 3 kettlebell swings.

Run 1 mile easy

Optional cardio: Depending on what you need to work on the most, get some load bearing in with rucking and/or get a mile one swim with fins.

Ruck 30-60 min or swim one mile with fins.

This type of workout still focuses on muscle stamina, but starts to mix in strength components throughout the workout with weighted pull-ups, harder push-ups (TRX or burpees) and kettlebells or deadlifts.

This is a full body workout that typically is done after an easy mobility day, cardio only day, or rest day.

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