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Turn Weaknesses into Strength with the 50-50 Method (Multiple Options)

Stew smith

Weakness => Strength Using This Method

You may have heard me talk about the 50-50 Training Method when it comes to swimming to crush the Navy SEAL PST CSS 500yd test as well as Air Force Special Warfare Swim Skills and Conditioning and 500m PAST test. Both workouts have ways of focusing on a weakness of swimming conditioning. 

However, if you think about it, my mobility day and system's check training protocols use a similar method but it is in the format of 5 minutes on / 5 minutes off. Mobility Day is a prime example developed to focus on a weakness of flexibility and mobility but also offers a recovery day in the middle of the weak when you are training hard.  You can still work on your cardio as hard as you prefer, but every 5 minutes you have to work on joint, muscle flexibility and overall range of motion. 

People think mobility day is an EASY DAY.  It is relative to calorie output but if your weakness is flexibility and mobility it is a pure challenge and definitely not easy. The 5 minutes of cardio in between 5 minutes of working the weakness or dealing with aches / pains (rolling, massage tool, etc) is a break from the challenges of actually working mobility and flexibility with a purpose. 

If you add this workout to the middle of the week or as your day off / easy day, mobility day will be life changing especially if you are starting to age and feeling the breaks and bumps of previous years again. 

Is Treading a Weakness? 

Try the 5 min swim / 5 min tread workout option:

If treading water (or any drownproofing event) is a weakness, time to put it in the schedule and actually practice it with a regular purpose and consistency.  Try 5 minutes of swimming following by 5 minutes of treading (or other pool skill) for a total of one hour. 

Repeat 5-6 times
Swim 5 minutes (shoot for 300m - any stroke with or without fins*)
Tread for 5 minutes (variety of with fins / weight and no fins / no hands)

 *swim with fins on your leg days

50-50 with Pullups / Pushups / Situps - Plank

Here are a few different workouts you can do to build a combination of strength and muscle stamina needed for high reps on these three PST events:

Bench Press - Pushups Combo:  Do 5 sets x 10 reps of bench press BUT immediately following the bench set, do 10 pushups.  You want to select a weight where you might be able to do 10-12 reps of bench press so you do not want to go too heavy or too light to make this work.  You should be nearly unable to do the 10 pushups immediately following the bench press set. After each set of bench press / pushups, rest with some form of easy cardio (bike, jog, row, etc) for 3 minutes.

Weight Vest Pullup / Pullup Combo:  Do as many reps as you can with a 10-20lbs weight vest of pullups, then drop the weight vest and do as many reps of regular pullups as you can. Play around with different grips to see if you can get a few more reps each set. The goal is to match whatever reps of weighted pullups as you can without weight.

Situp / Plank Combo - Most likely you will have to take either or both of these fitness testing events if you join the military as many service branches have made changes to include plank poses.  However, the special ops side of the military still uses situps in a 2 minute testing format.  Might as well get good at both.  Here is how we do this combo set:  Do 50 situps in 1 minute which is a good pace to master if you want 100 is 2 minutes. Then immediately following the minute of situps, do a minute plank pose.  Spread this throughout the workout period 3-4 times as you improve on the ability of holding the situp pace and the plank strength for a minute easy.  If Army, you can replace the situps with leg tucks, follow it with knee ups (half leg tucks), THEN plank for 1 minute. 

Don't Forget LEG DAY (mixed with running of course):

Run 400m or 800m for time.  But make this time NOT A SPRINT but a goal pace run that you want to practice to be able to maintain for the total distance of your timed run event (1.5, 2, 3, 4, or 5 miles).  For whatever time you run, that is how long you have to do walking lunges, but you also get to rest / walk for the amount of time you ran too - so it looks like this:

Repeat 3-4 times
Run 400m at goal mile pace (beach, hills, or track optional)
- lunges for the time the run took
- stretch / walk for the same amount of time

*Goal - You will want to build up to 5-10 minutes worth of total running and lunging time to complete this workout. 

This is a great lungs and leg workout where you focus on cardio fitness as well as leg muscle stamina. No weight needed for this workout. 

I hope you enjoy the ideas for mixing into your training.  As you can see, whatever program you are doing, you can make a small change and add in something that will help you both maintain your strength and turn a weakness into a strength.  

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Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks 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

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

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

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Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


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