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Workouts That Prove Time is Relative!

Stew smith

Time is Relative as Proven with the Following Workout Combinations


If you have ever treaded water for 10 minutes or stayed in the plank pose for the same time, you have experienced the exercise time machine. The other day, we decided to add a fun grand finale to the an already challenging upper body workout. We discovered that the 10 minutes that it takes to do these workouts all made time speed up or slow down to an excruciating pace. 

10 min Death By Pushups - Here is a classic plank and pushup combination where you do 10 pushups every minute on the minute (EMOM) but you have to remain in the plank pose or up pushup position (leaning rest) for the time in between pushups sets.  In 10 minutes you will accumulate 100 pushups and 10 minutes in some form of plank or leaning rest. 

10 min Death by Pullups - For lack of a better title for this workout we just kept it similar to the above title to put these is the same category. This one is tough on pullups but easy on the time in between sets. You do 10 pullups EMOM for ten minutes. You will find the time in between sets accelerates too quickly for recovery. Simply rest shaking out or stretching your arms before you do pullups again. 

The time in between sets is roughly the same but the resting in plank time slows to a near halt while the resting to recover from pullups goes by WAY too fast. This is my first example of Time is Relative as theorized by Einstein and now proven by pullups and pushups EMOM workout. 

Treading And Swimming

It is no secret that treading water and swimming the same amount of time is not the same on the suck factor scale especially if you are a land athlete and relatively new to swimming. Water polo players and swimmers will obviously feel different to this example of the speed or halting of time. 

10 Minute Swim Warmup - Before every swim workout, we tend to do a variety of strokes for 10 minutes and often accumulate over 500m in this easy set of a swim warmup. Time is not particular slow or fast in this event - just a normal warmup drill IF you are in swimming shape to be able to swim 500m non-stop.  If not read - DUDE You Are Not is Swimming Shape

10 Minute Tread Warmup - However, if you need to work on your treading skills, we recommend a 10 minute tread warmup with as much NO HANDS tread as possible.  Most people underestimate the suck value of treading water. For many swimming 10 minutes fast is a normal challenge and most can complete just fine with have to push themselves for segments of the time or distance of the swim. However, if you have to tread water for 10 minutes, you have an issue within the second minute as the effort to tread is just as hard as swimming if not harder (especially if you are lean).  Time slows to an incredibly turtle like pace when treading water - especially with no hands or holding weight.  See tread video for help with techniques. 

Do not blow off treading water as many diving related special ops programs will require significant time in training in the treading position, with fins, without fins, no hands, holding weight, snorkel buddy breathing, and many more water comfort challenges the instructors can offer.  In other words practice.  Make it part of your warmup, cooldown and regular technique training of your workout. 


There are many other ways you can slow time with training - mainly by doing events that you suck at doing for a period of time that challenges your ability to focus. From leg lifts (6" off the floor), breath holds, bear crawls, to surf torture, these time altering events require some practice but more mental preparation than anything. Some methods to get through events like these other than practice them is to have a few mind game tricks of your own ready to deploy:

Tools to Master Time - Go to your happy place - Dissociating from the tedious and monotonous event that does not require thinking or creativity to solve problems is a perfect time to find that happy place in your head. It can be a memory, a song you sing in your head or out loud with a group, counting numbers, or listening to music if possible. If with a group of your peers, try talking to each other as that will often drown out the voice inside your own head that is trying to talk to you.  Remember the saying - Don't Listen to Yourself - Talk to Yourself."  It applies to any of these time altering situations. 

Positive Thoughts

One of my favorite things to think about when the training day turned into the later part of the evening was to imagine when the day was over and what my pre-bedtime ritual was going to be like. Get really detailed with the process to help you eat up more time.  For instance, I would imagine, going back to the barracks, cleaning off my wet and sandy clothes with a hose, take them off and hang them to dry while drinking a big glass of water and eating a banana.  Then I would go straight to the shower and get it nice and warm and think about the warmth and cleanliness occurring. While showering, my snack of beans and rice was warming in the microwave.  I would eat this after drying off and getting dressed in sweat pants / sweat shirt and other warm attire. Enjoying a big glass of milk was the final event while I prepped by gear for tomorrow then proceeded to bed under a warm blanket / comforter. Then I sleep. 

Envisioning my end of the day ritual was something I did when alone with my thoughts as it made the moments of suck seem to be a little less never-ended - relatively speaking of course.  

Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach / Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops 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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DO NOT RELY ON THE MILITARY TO GET YOU INTO SHAPE AT BASIC TRAINING.  You will get into better shape for sure during your training if you arrive in lower fitness form, but you need to arrive with a foundation of physical fitness that is specific to your future job in the military / fitness tests / training. If you show up out of shape, you could end up failing standards or injuring yourself causing longer delays or removal from training altogether. 

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Lifting Cycle Programs For Those Who Need a Strength Focus

You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.


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