Since the mid-1990's, I have on certain occasions recommended someone try the Pullup Push and the Pushup Push Protocols to help increase their pullups and pushups respectively. Depending on your current progress in these two calisthenics exercises, you could see an increase in 1-2 minute fitness tests by anywhere between 25 to 100% in 14 days! Obviously, an improvement from 20 pushups to 40 pushups will be easier than 40 pushups to 80 pushups, so the range in improvement depends on your current max.
This is one of many ways to utilize the Overload Principle:
With calisthenics, you can use this overload principle by doing more sets and repetitions supplemented into your current workout daily. We will be increasing the volume with a system of repetitions and will help build muscle stamina (strength-endurance). The only difference with this routine is you will be asked to do pullups / pushups daily for 10 days straight - THEN take a 3 day rest from pulling or pushing exercises and then test on day 14. Try it out - you simply add the reps to your current workout. Check out the details below:
PULLUP PUSH PROTOCOL
Take your current pullup max effort score and multiply by 5. That is your daily number of pullups. So if you can do 10 pullups in one max rep set and fail at 11, then you need to do 50 pullups a day in a total repetition count of your workouts. See chart below as to how to manage ODD / EVEN days:
ODD DAYS: Supersets OR pyramids:
These are your normal pullup workouts and your goal pullup number is to be completed in a single workout period. Shoot for several max rep sets in this workout to push your maximum efforts. I like to take my goal number and try to achieve that number in as few sets as possible. 5-8 sets is a good goal. The fewer sets you have to do shows that you are building muscle stamina and endurance. To get better at pullups, you have to turn a traditional strength exercise into an endurance exercise - especially if you want 20+ reps.
Do your total maximum pullups x 5 anyway you can throughout the day and NOT in a single workout. Do small repetition sets until you reach your goal pull-up number in non-failure sets.
Rotate for the next ten days from odd day workout options and even day pull-up supplement, then take three-four days off from doing ANY pull-ups. Test on day 14-15 and let me know your results. Remember, this is a supplemental program, so if you are doing pullups and pushups in your regular workouts, these totals count toward the daily amounts. Mainly just add pullups
|Sample Routine if Current Max is 10 reps
|Pullups per Day
|Day 1 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps
|Day 2 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)
|Day 3 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps
|Day 4 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)
|Day 5 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps
|Day 6 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)
|Day 7 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps
|Day 8 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)
|Day 9 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps
|Day 10 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)
Push yourself and you can quickly perform better on your pull-up test. You can fit this type of program into your present workout plan by just adding 25-50 pullups on your rest days so you do a ten-day routine of pull-ups.
PUSHUP PUSH PROTOCOL
Take your current pushup max effort score and multiply by 4. That is your daily number of pushups. So, if you can do 50 pushups in one max rep set and fail at 51, then you need to do 200 pushups a day in a total repetition count of your workouts. See chart below as to how to manage ODD / EVEN days:
On ODD days:
Do pushups (or your max X4) in as few sets as possible (max rep sets) completed during a workout session. You can still do upper body workouts on these days if you are on a program already. This is a supplemental program that simply adds pushups to your regular workout program using maximum repetition sets
On EVEN days:
Do pushups (or your max x 4) throughout the day. This can be little sets of ten done every half hour or 40-50+pushups done four times throughout the day.
RULE: If your maximum is under 50 pushups (do no more than 200 pushups a day). If your maximum is 60-75, 250-300 pushups a day is fine. BUT I would not attempt this workout if you are in the 80 pushups zone currently. Your answer is to do a normal split routine of upper body exercises every OTHER day with maybe a pyramid, super set, and a max rep set workout once a week.
Repeat the ODD / EVEN routine for a total of 10 days. Then take 3-4 days off and do NO upper body pushing exercises that work the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Then on day 14, give yourself the pushup test (1 or 2 minutes depending on your PFT).
Sample: Take your current max, say 50, multiply by 4 to equal 200. That is your daily total.
|Sample Routine if Current Max is 50 reps on 1-2 min test
|Pushups per Day
|Day 1 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pushups should be 200 reps
|at least 200 reps
|Day 2 - Do 200 reps spread throughout the day (Max rep sets)
|Day 3 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pushups should be 200 reps
|at least 200 reps
|Day 4 - Do 200 reps spread throughout the day (Max rep sets)
|Day 5 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pushups should be 200 reps
|at least 200 reps
|Day 6 - Do 200 reps spread throughout the day (Max rep sets)
|Day 7 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pushups should be 200 reps
|at least 200 reps
|Day 8 - Do 200 reps spread throughout the day (Max rep sets)
|Day 9 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pushups should be 200 reps
|at least 200 reps
|Day 10 - Do 200 reps spread throughout the day (Max rep sets)
|Day 14 or 15
After this 2 week supplemental plan, I would not try it again. Go back to an every OTHER day approach to high volume calisthenics and make them an upper body and lower body split similar to these free workout weeks:
Three Favorite Workouts to Crush the PT Test
I would not attempt this workout if you are in the high teens of pullups or 80+ pushups. That is too much daily volume in my opinion and will see minimal gains.
Can you do both at once? Some have seen progress with that option, but these were not made or tested when doing both at the same time. My advice is to do pullups for 2 weeks and pushups for 2 weeks and see how you do in one month's time on both.
The best response are those under 40 pushups and those under 10 pullups. We have seen many 50-100% increases coming from this level in 14 days using this supplemental workout.
This is a supplemental workout - that means you need to be running, swimming, lifting, doing leg days, etc. Do not just do pushups / pullups ONLY for 2 weeks - that is a waste of 2 weeks of training.
I would not recommend this workout more than once every six months, since it is rather challenging on the same muscle groups repeatedly.
When it comes to pullup and pushups, what is an innovative phone app every PT Test Taker needs to know about if they want to crush fitness tests in the very near future? Yes there is an APP for that too and helps you keep track of your daily totals!
Situps - Here is how you do this 14-day improvement challenge with Situps
– Mark your current maximum score for your test (ie. 50 in 2 minutes). Do the type of exercise you will be tested: Situps — hands behind head with elbows touching knees, curl ups — hands crossed on chest with elbows touching knees, or crunches — hands crossed on chest with elbow toughing lower thighs.
NOTE – If your situp test is only 1 minute, the process is the same BUT your pace can be faster than in the 2 minutes test.
– Take your max score and multiply by three (50x 3 = 150) and do this number (or rounded up to nearest 10) for 10 straight days.
– Day 1–4: Do 150 situps in thirty-second sets BUT shoot for 20 situps in 30 seconds so for days 1–4 you will do 150 situps in timed sets of 30 seconds for four days straight. Your goal is to get 20 situps in that time so for this workout, you will do roughly 8–9 sets of 20 situps in 30 seconds. Spread these 30 seconds sets throughout your existing workout however you desire. I personally like to “rest with abs” in between sets of pullups or weighted exercises or even running / swimming intervals. This pace will set you up for 80 situps in 2 min. Go to 25 in 30 seconds if you want to strive for 100 situps in 2 minutes. But start with 80 first if you are stuck at 50 or below for your current max.
* Note if you are having trouble keeping the goal pace for 30 seconds, try it for 15 seconds and shoot for quick timed sets of 10–12 repetitions for 15 seconds. The first 15–20 seconds of a 2 minute situp test is where people start off too fast, so it is a good idea to practice the start of the test regularly..
– Day 5–8: You change the timed sets and shoot for 40–50 situps in 1 minute sets. Do 150 situps in 1 minute sets with a goal of 40–50 situps per minute. This should take you 4–5 sets done through your workout for four days straight.
– Days 9–10: You change the timed sets to 2 minutes focused on the same pace as above.150 situps should be completed in 2–3 sets for two days straight.
– Daily BACK Balance – Just working the front side of the body is where many go wrong. For every situp repetition you do in your daily workout, you have to get in the plank pose for the same number of seconds (150 seconds or roughly three minutes). Somewhere in your daily workouts for Day 1–10 you have to get a total of three minutes in the plank pose or mix in the PT RESET as well. Mix in the following back-side core exercises as well.
Rev Pushups -20
Swimmers 1 min
Side plank 1 min (right)
Plank 1 min
Side plank 1 min (left)
– Stretch the hip flexors, thighs, lower back, and stomach after each day of the 10 day situps program.
— Days 11–13: Time to recover – Rest your core - the entire system.
Take 3 days off from any core exercises. You can still run, swim, and PT but skip the ab exercises and lifting free weights for this period of 3 days.
– Day 14: TEST Day – Give yourself a 1–2 minute test (whichever your test requires) and focus on the goal pace you mastered.
As you start to fatigue and think you cannot do any more situps, slide your butt about 4-6 inches away from your feet. This will create a different angle between your stomach muscles and hips and you should be able to crank out 5-10 more situps in your last 20 seconds.
Let Gravity Do Half the Work
To conserve abdominal stamina in the situps test, only exert yourself on the “up” portion of the exercise and let gravity take you down so your shoulder blades touch the floor. Many times people keep their abs flexed while descending and waste too much energy. This error and lack of pace are the two biggest culprits for performing well on the curl-ups or sit-ups test. Of course, a lack of specific and consistent training will prevent you from doing better in the physical fitness test as well.
For more information on programs that will help you pass any physical fitness test, check out the StewSmithfitness.com Store and of course email Stew Smith at email@example.com for more info or answers to any questions.
There is More To StewSmithFitness.com than a You May Know
Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, Podcaster: I'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, eBooks, local and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession. See More at StewSmithFitness.com
(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more)
Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs
When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model. I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.
Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day
Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops
Online Coaching Options
If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section.
The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons.
Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)
Questions? Just email - Stew@StewSmith.com
At StewSmith.com - List of Products and Services
- FREE Articles
- Podcasts and Swimming Videos (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram)
- Books and eBooks in PRINT
- Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
- Online Coaching
Stew Smith Fitness