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Adding Lifts to Calisthenics / Cardio Cycles - Adding Cardio to Lift Cycles

Stew smith

Tactical Fitness Training Cycles

When you hear advice like "get on a program" you have to understand that it means a system of training that will yield the results you need for a given goal. Addressing weaknesses while maintaining strengths is a delicate balance of primary focused training as well as supplemental workouts.  Depending upon those strengths and weaknesses determines who you should adjust your training. You can do shorter cycles if you need to focus or a break from the longer 12 weeks in my Tactical Fitness Periodization System

Many people actually think a single workout that can be written out on a page of paper is a program. When dealing with tactical fitness training, you need to need a variety of workouts and programming fit into a system that balances out movements, cardio activity, energy system stress, and actually improves performance for more than a test - though the test is your entrance exam so that cannot be overlooked either. 

Be Honest With Yourself

Most people are not fully honest and think things are easy and don't require any preparation time. For instance, I cannot tell you how many people thought that treading is no big deal and could not make it through the Prep Courses because they did not consider adding a 10 minute tread as a warmup or cooldown to their training day in the pool.  But the same neglect in training is often seen with people who are strong at a particular event and they spend more time trying to get stronger at an event like running or swimming or max rep pullups when they can already run sub six minute miles for 3-4 miles, swim a 7 minute 500m, or already do 25 pullups. Assess Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!  Usually when you have these types of strengths, you have an equal and opposite weaknesses. 

When you start on your journey transitioning into a tactical athlete, coming from an athletic program, you have to remember that you now have to get GOOD at everything - not necessarily great at anything. And do not underestimate the term "GOOD" it is still a high level of ability just maybe not collegiate / professional competitive level.  For instance - here are some common imbalances that show up on Day 1 of the Spec Ops Prep Journey: 

Runners - The fast runners typically lack upper body strength and load bearing ability. (Consider Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle).  

Swimmers / H2O Polo - The competitive swimmers typically have running impact weaknesses and lack ability to do load bearing and agility (logs, boats, o courses).  (Consider Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle but also progressively build running into higher volume with Navy SEAL Fitness later). 

Other Endurance Athletes - Depending on the sport, the heart and lungs maybe developed, but there are imbalances when they involve any strength training.  The good news is that high rep calisthenics typically comes quickly so mastering a PST is not that difficult IF they can swim, but the muscle mass and load bearing activities of selection maybe a challenge if not fully prepared in the weight room.  (Consider Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness / Navy SEAL Weight Training Combo, Warrior Workout Vol 2, Special Ops Prep - Seasonal Periodization Trilogy, and Spring, Summer, Fall Winter Combo.

Power Lifters / Strength Athletes - Many lack the ability to run timed runs at a fast pace (6-7 min miles) for 1.5 - 5 miles. In fact, anything over 100m is considered long distance. Many need to learn how to swim PERIOD so that can be some time just focusing on that. High rep calisthenics are not an issue for a set or two, but multiple sets and high volume workouts will crush them if they are not used to longer workouts outside of the weight room.  (Consider Calisthenics and Cardio Workout, Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness,  Stew Smith's Spring Summer Cycle)

Hybrid Athletes - You could consider decathletes, middle distance runners, lacrosse players, soccer/rugby players, and wrestlers that get a good amount of fast paced running, hard work in anaerobic zones, and a combination of strength training as well-rounded athletes.  If these athletes can pick up swimming quickly, the process is relatively short. (Consider Navy SEAL Fitness, Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week depending on initial PST scores, and a cycle of Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness / Navy SEAL Weight Training Combo). 

 The tactical athlete needs to get GOOD at all the above

All the above could get on a system of Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization Training where all the strengths and weaknesses will be exposed in a year of training - then depending on the strength / weaknesses you can alter the training plan and supplement as described below: 

Adding supplemental lifts into a calisthenics and cardio program is an option for those that want to lift some more just as reducing the lifting in the Winter cycle for those bigger athletes who need to do more cardio is possible.  Here are some rules I use with athletes that need an altered winter lift cycle or an altered summer run / pt cycle:

1 – Do your upper body lift / lower body lift supplement on days you do pullups / pushups and other upper body calisthenics / leg days respectively. If you are trying to gain weight - you have to EAT BIG! You will want a calorie surplus of 400-500 calories a day if you want to gain a pound a week!

2 – The reason for number 1 above is best to keep the splits together as you may find if you do not focus on arrangement properly you will wind up doing a high volume leg day followed by a leg lift day followed by a long run or ruck. Recovery matters when you lift weights as well as when you do higher volume calisthenics.

3 – I would avoid heavy weight training PERIOD (1RM) when doing lifts during the Spring / Summer phases as the goal of this phase is to focus on running / rucking endurance, timed run goal mile pace speed, and muscle stamina.  There is a place for heavier lifting and that is in the Fall / Winter phases of the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  We typically keep the lifts to body weight or 1.5x body weight for a general idea of what is “heavy”. 

4 – If you add a cardio event because you need to focus more of endurance, consider a non-impact option like swimming, biking, rowing, elliptical especially if you are feeling the impact of running / rucking miles.  Most people who are learning swimming, will need to add near daily swimming workouts to learn the new skill and get into swimming shape – no matter what type of land athlete you are.

5 - If you want to add in a strength cycle in the middle of a high rep calisthenics / cardio cycle as in the Summer, that is fine, but you really have to NEED it - not just because you want a 4-6 week cycle of lifting.  It could mess up your progress. BUT, if you are solid and maintaining all the elements of fitness at your goals, go ahead and mix it up by dropping a cycle of lifting in the summer or running in the winter.  It works to support that type of block periodization as well. 

It does take time and requires patience to transition from any background as the technique and skill acquisition / cardio conditioning / strength building. However, you may find it fun and challenging as the workouts add a wide variety of new exercises, goal times to meet, and opportunities for growth – just in other areas.  You may find you actually like some of the strength training, cardio / calisthenics events as you start to see improvement.


All these types makes it! If they improve on their incoming weaknesses. Remember there are THREE phases of Tactical Fitness no matter what program you use. 

Learning the differences between the specifics Is the first part of this training education as many people do not realize the differences of each phase of training and train "out of phase" depending on their immediate and future goals. 
Phase 1 - TO the training,  (specifics to testing)
Phase 2 - THROUGH the training, (specifics to selection / training)
Phase 3  - Active Operator Maintenance / Stress Mitigation 

Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training?

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Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

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