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Shake up command PT

Apr. 30, 2013 - 04:17PM   |  
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Try this circuit

Station times are 2 minutes each. Complete all stations without rest, then rest for 2 to 3 minutes and repeat. You can split the time between two cardio efforts if you want (example, No. 5).
1. Pushups
2. Crunches
3. Cardio: jump rope
4. Lunges
5. Cardio: Run the perimeter of the workout area for 1 minute; burpees for 1 minute
6. Planks
7. Pair up for ball toss
8. Cardio: suicides or stretcher carries
9. Squats
10. Seated Russian twist: Sit down with legs together and bend your knees. Lean slightly back, and twist side to side, touching the ground on either side.
Tell us:

Does your unit put its own twist on group PT? We’ve heard of units ditching the old workouts for CrossFit and even swimming. If you’re doing something different, let us know so we can spread the word in an upcoming feature. Email

At military posts throughout the world, on land or at sea, all hours of the day: “Everybody fall in. Let’s get ready to do some PT.”

The majority of large-group PT leaders will stick with the basics: a few warm-up exercises, formation runs of varying distances, pushups and pullups, and crunches or situps — a workout that has been tried and tested through the years.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? I asked Shiela Brand and Leon Freeman, two of our expert trainers who specialize in large-group workouts of 100-plus participants, to provide me with insight on how they work large groups.

Some of their techniques to shake up command PT, regardless of the size:

Circuit training — multiple exercise stations that everyone rotates through — is an easy way to accommodate large groups.

Never go in without a plan. A template will make sure you hit all the muscle groups as well as incorporate cardio exercises to give the group the most well-rounded session possible.

Cardio stations are the great equalizer. They can be added throughout the circuit (even after every muscle station) to accommodate any number of personnel or lengthen the session.

Time is easier to control than reps. The basic unit is at least 10 members at each station rotating every two minutes, or no less than one minute depending on the amount of time the group has.

If you do use reps as the unit of work, make the total number big and set minimums and maximums so everyone has to PT.

Incorporate easy, portable equipment. This may include medicine balls, agility ladders, BOSU balls, resistance bands and jump ropes. You can integrate these with body weight work.

Don’t neglect injury prevention. Do a group dynamic warm-up and an after-workout stretching session.

Use your imagination on the cardio stations. It doesn’t have to be running. Favorites are medical stretcher carries and pairing up for fireman carries.

Consider finishing with a team competition. We’ve found that nothing beats an old-fashioned tug of war. Throw a quick bracket together so one group comes out as top dog. Ë

Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Email him at

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