Training Cycle Review, August to September 2015

Bottom Line Up Front: This will be a review of a strength and conditioning cycle I programmed myself that I performed from August to September 2015.



This is the first cycle I performed after changing jobs. This is important since it changes my physical training requirements. In my previous two jobs (for two years), I did not have mandatory physical training times and/or activities. I have written about different programming templates I used and then also described the cycle I used prior to this one. Since July 2015, I now belong to a unit that has physical training (at 0530-0630!) that I must attend. This cycle I will describe is to be done in addition to that.

The general structure of the unit PT program is as follows: Monday – Speed (sprint running), Tuesday – Muscular Strength and Endurance (kettlebells, body weight exercises), Wednesday – Endurance (run longer than 20 mins), Thursday – Unstructured (user’s discretion), Friday – Sports/Team-building.

I gave this structure to my subordinate leaders to make sure we weren’t doing the same things every day or variations of the same thing (run, push-ups, sit-ups, rinse, repeat like some other Army units). I let them pick what specifically we do inside that structure and execute it with my guidance. I will get into the art of programming unit physical training in another post. But keep in mind that if I do no other workouts on my own time, I still have 5 days of morning PT I will generally perform each week.


Taking into consideration I will already be sprinting and doing long, slow endurance work, I took all of that out of my normal programming cycle. The goal of the program below is to supplement the workouts I already have to do. The goal is to maintain/improve strength (lift heavy things), power (move heavy things quickly), and durability (doing crappy things repeatedly and not quitting).


The overall structure was as follows:

  • 25 reps of strength, 5 x 5
  • 15 minute increasing rep ladder for conditioning with one athletic movement plus one focus movement
  • Focus rotation: Squat, Core, Push, Pull, Hinge


  • “25 reps of strength” = one movement for strength done in 5 sets of 5 repetition (generally increasing weight each set after warming up)
  • “15 min increasing rep ladder for conditioning with one athletic movement plus one focus movement” = Pick one athletic movement (med ball throws into a wall or tire slams) plus one focus movement done back to back with 1 rep of one, 1 rep of the other, then 2 reps of one, 2 reps of the other, then 3 and 3, 4 and 4, etc. as high as you can get in 15 minutes (rest as needed but should be minimal to none ideally, all sets done in a row).
  • “Focus rotation: Squat, Core, Push, Pull, Hinge” = Each workout will focus on an area/movement of the body. Squat = knee extension (back squats or jumps), Core = spinal flexion/direct abdominal movements, Push = pressing away from the body (vertical or horizontal), Pull = pulling toward the body (pull-ups, rows), Hinge = hip & back extension movements (clean, snatch, kettlebell swing, deadlift).

The Workouts

Here are some examples of one rotation through:

  1. Squat – Strength Movement: Front squat. Conditioning Ladder: Box jump overs + ball slams.
  2. Core – Strength: Kettlebell Turkish Get-up. Conditioning Ladder: Tire slams w/steel mace + sit-up to med ball throw to wall (20lbs)
  3. Push – Strength: Barbell bench press. Conditioning Ladder: parallette pass throughs + ring dips
  4. Pull – Strength: Barbell row. Conditioning Ladder: ring rows + ball throws into wall
  5. Hinge – Strength: Hang Clean. Conditioning Ladder: double KB Swing + med ball over the shoulders (70lbs)


I did these workouts sporadically. Sometimes on a weekend, sometimes right after one of the group workouts, always on Thursdays since it’s open, sometimes three days in a row, sometimes twice a week. I ended up doing an average of 3 of these workouts per week. Just kept rotating through, picking up where I left off in the rotation. I got through each focus area 3 times basically in the month.


  • I greatly enjoyed the rotation of the areas of the body (squat, core, push, pull, hinge). I think it is very effective.
  • 15 minute ladders is tough mentally. I love that structure myself. I enjoy the building with each set.
  • I would have liked to get to each area more often, since sometimes it would be 10 days between workouts of the same focus.
  • I chose different movements each time I rotated through these same focus areas for greater variation.
  • I didn’t keep a log other than what I did in general. No weights or times recorded. I stopped obsessing over details like this about a year ago. It made me unhappy. Turns out I don’t need to know exactly how much I lifted each session or how many sets I did in order to make progress.
  • Kind of got bored after 30 days of the same structure. This is in line with the past. After a month, I usually program a new cycle to keep me entertained.

Future Adjustments

I ended up adjusting the total strength volume and rep scheme and changing the conditioning workouts to a different structure. I will write about that cycle in a future post. I just finished that cycle last week. The gist is the same though – same goals with a twist to supplement my unit fitness plan.

How Can You Use This?

If you are in the military with a unit PT program, you can follow what I am doing as a general structure to supplement your mandatory training. You probably do a whole lot of running. If you are not forced to do physical training of any kind, you could use this structure plus add in the sprinting and cardio endurance work. Example rotation would be: Sprint (row, run, bike), Strength & Conditioning (Squat), Endurance (run, row, bike longer than 20 minutes), Strength & Conditioning (Core), repeat with Strength and Conditioning workouts rotating through the focus areas (squat, core, push, pull, hinge).

QUESTION: Do you have any way you supplement your mandatory physical training? What are the strong or weak points of this structure? Post thoughts to comments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *