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||50 reps|
|Day 2 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)||50 reps|
|Day 3 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps||50 reps|
|Day 4 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)||50 reps|
|Day 5 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps||50 reps|
|Day 6 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)||50 reps|
|Day 7 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps||50 reps|
|Day 8 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)||50 reps|
|Day 9 - Regular Upper Body Workout = total pullups should be 50 reps||50 reps|
|Day 10 - Do 50 reps spread throughout the day (Sub-Max rep sets)||50 reps|
|Day 11,12,13||Rest Days|
|Day 14||Test Day|
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)||200 reps|
|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)||200 reps|
|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)||200 reps|
|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)||200 reps|
|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)||200 reps|
|Day 11,12,13||Rest Days|
|Day 14 or 15||Test Day|
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!
Other Program / Training Options
BOOKS / EBOOKS
It depends: The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base. You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation. Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout. Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough.
Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. This is ideal for people who have come from an endurance athlete background. Athletes like swimmers and runners will also require some strength training as you will be exposed to challenges under logs and boats during the first phase and many miles of rucking 50+ lbs of backpacks and gear in 2nd and 3rd phases of BUDS. Do not skip lifting in your year of training prep. However, if you are coming from a powerlifting / football background, supplementing a few lifts into your endurance / muscle stamina focus plan is something you may enjoy especially if training for a year or more during your prep phase.
Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging. It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run. It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it.
Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1.
Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created. It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.
Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete.
The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas. This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more.
Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as personalized training programs member's only program and the new :
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