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Winter Lift Cycle Block Periodization Lessons Learned / Update

Stew smith

The 3 Week Strength / 1 Week Calisthenics / Cardio (PST related) Block Periodization Cycle Update and Lessons Learned  

The start of this Winter Lift Cycle, I decided to try something new as a long term strength training cycle can get stale with performance plateaus if you are not careful and actively pursuing recovery. You have to keep everything in near perfect balance in order to fully recover from hypertrophy and strength training cycles (nutrition, sleep, smart split routines, balanced overload principle with recovery / mobility days). You have a choice:
You can do a deload week which is very common during strength cycles or you can do a modified deload week and replace lifting with calisthenics and cardio.
That is what we did so far for two cycles:
1 - The first six weeks was 4 weeks strength / 2 weeks PT and Cardio focus.
2 - The second cycle we decided to try a 3 week strength / 1 week PT and Cardio focus.
Both worked well but depending on your needs, you can decide which one is best for you. Consider the strength cycle as a 12 week cycle. Here is what you get with either the 4:2 or the 3:1 cycle:
4:2 Cycle - This yields 8 total weeks of strength and 4 weeks of PT / Cardio focus in a 12 week timeline.
3:1 Cycle - This yields 9 total weeks of strength and 3 weeks of PT / Cardio focus in a 12 week timeline. Since this is a strength cycle (Winter Lift) three rounds of the 3:1 cycle makes sense if you need more strength.
Depending on your needs, one may make more sense for you to try.  If you need more strength training weeks, do the 3:1 cycle.  If you need to really focus on PT test scores and overall endurance, go with the 4:2 cycle.  Extending this type of cycle throughout the Fall and Winter (24 weeks) you can have significant strength gains as well as maintenance (or improvements as well) in the PST.

Check out the NEW Block Periodization Cycle we did Winter of 2020-21:

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / IFT
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

If you are about 6 months out from BUDS or another Spec Ops selection and you need some strength as well as a high PT test scores, you may find some improvements in both using either of the block periodization models. 
Here is what you will see regardless of which one you try:
- RECOVERY - You can tell the difference between recovery needs from the two and the PST cycle was a "recovery week". In fact, during the PT weeks, the mobility day planned in the middle of the week was not really needed.  Well, at least we did not feel like we needed it. We still did it and included a really good pool skills workout after it and worked on drownproofing and conditioning. 
The biggest thing for me is we felt like we needed a mobility day during each week of the strength cycle, but did not feel we needed it during the PST weeks - though still did it. Do not skip mobility day - it is very helpful with Day 4,5,6 performance. 

- PST scores (pushup, situps, pullups) were improved in most after 4 weeks strength / PST on week 2. Same for 3:1 as well. 
- cardio scores were also maintained (run / swim) a few improved. 
The 4-2 or the 3-1 is a minor difference in a 12-week cycle but could be a difference-maker for my guys who need more strength vs strength endurance.

What is the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization?

Introducing the Block Periodization Cycle 

It is up to you the order you want to do the 4 / 2 week blocks of training.  I advise starting with a 2-week block just to get a baseline test score - whatever your fitness test is.  For this case, we are doing the Navy BUDS PST (but it can be easily rearranged for the AF PAST or replaced by Army, USMC, or other tests if you prefer.  

Where to Find More Information About These 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.  

Check out the Stew Smith Fitness Store for more information on what we have available.

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

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