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Periodization Training = Longevity / Optimal Performance

As we age, overuse injuries tend to occur if a never changing exercise routine is done for too long or if you start something new and do too much, too fast, too soon.  Whether it is high mileage running, heavy weight lifting, high repetition calisthenics, and anything else for that matter, if we do not change the routine frequently, you have a high chance of getting injured or just burned out on an endless plateau.  Also, frequency, intensity, time doing workouts can play an equal part in both properly training you as well as over-training you.  Here is what I have done now for more than 10 years and it has enabled me to be without serious injury from training and keeps me in a condition where I can train with the younger generation in their teens and early 20’s.

I use the sun as my indicator of tougher workouts seasons, especially my running workouts.   If the days are longer like in the spring and summer then my workouts are longer.  This form of periodization enables me to keep the gains from hard seasons of workouts well into the shorter days / shorter workout cycles.  During the Fall / Winter months, I tend to taper a bit slowly from running and find more non-impact aerobics and add weight training to the calisthenics program - some heavy - some moderate. 

For instance, in my “solstice plan,” the workout cycle will bell curve to a maximum during the longest day of the year June 20 and will decrease slowly until the shortest day of the year Dec 20.  Now, when the New Year arrives and each day is getting longer, so do the workouts until they peak in June.  And the cycle continues.  As you can see below in the 15 month periodization cycle, my running/high rep PT cycles peak in Jun-Jul and my swimming drops to about 50% of what I do in the winter swim peak.  Also during the winter there is a peak in lifting that begins late fall / early winter.  Usually the lifting cycle is 12-16 weeks.  So arranged like this my running peak for both distance / speed is in June - July, swimming and rucking peak for both speed and distance is Dec-Jan, and lifting peak is late March.  This cycle has proved invaluable to my health, fitness, ability to stay active without injury for the past ten years.

Why periodize?  Well for athletes it is all about peaking during the season / championship season, but the for tactical athlete there are no off-seasons.  The military has an easier schedule to fit this type of program into as you can PEAK prior deployments on the elements you will need for deploying to a combat zone:  speed, agility, strength, good foundation of endurance.  For the police and fire fighter - finding the "off-season" is harder if not impossible, so the extra stresses of workouts need to be perfectly timed as both stress reliever as well as capability increaser / maintainer. 

Red Line = Running / PT
Blue Line = Swimming
Black Line = Lift



As you see, the easier running part of the workout comes in the middle of winter and the toughest part is in the summer.  Winter workouts do not mean you do NOTHING - they are just easier in time involvement, mileage, and repetition than the summer season.  My book Maximum Fitness is a 52 week workout that demonstrates the cycle into 4 x 13 week periods that include:

1st Quarter - Calisthenics / Cardio Workouts - The goal of this cycle is to build a foundation of moderate to high reps of calisthenics or bodyweight exercises to improve fitness testing scores, but to also burn off some of the bulk you created during the winter weight lifting cycle.  Progressing the running each week is critical to this cycle as well and will help prevent over-use running injuries when starting back up again.   

2nd Quarter - Calisthenics / Cardio Workout (more advanced) - This phase takes the last cycle and builds upon it further with more maximum effort (high rep / high mileage cardio) workouts.  Typically at the end of this cycle you will reach a peak in cardiovascular and bodyweight performance.  At this point, you will be ready for a change.

3rd Quarter - Some Calisthenics / Some Weights / Cardio Workouts - So, you change your routine a bit.  Decrease reps of calisthenics, but add weights incrementally each week to build up your strength.  Cardio options grow by adding more non-impact to your running routine as you taper a bit to prepare for the weight cycle.

4th Quarter - Near 100% weights / less running more non impact cardio - The weight routine in Max Fitness is more of a weight gain cycle - body building like workout.  But as a former football player and power lifter, I have always enjoyed this cycle and found that within 4-8 weeks, I was back to old max weight (1RM) in several exercises to include bench press, power clean, and dead lifts.  Usually weight gain will accompany this cycle and typical results are 10-15 lbs especially if you like to watch football and eat!  The legs will feel good on occasional runs after a few weeks of tapering down to more non-impact cardio.  My newer ebooks on winter lifting phases focus on the power lifts as well as the non impact cardio options.

The NEW Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout however is more powerlifting to simulate boat carries, log PT, fireman carries, rucking.

When you push your fitness to extremes the way I have throughout my teens, 20s, 30s, and now 40s, you need to create a break from all the elements of the above routine.  Periodization is required to achieve that - it is simply model of a program that logically progresses throughout the year.  You can create your own to fit your fitness goals.

When I was in the SEAL teams, we actually did this type of program as winter diving always was tough without extra bulk.  So, we bulked up over the winter in order to handle the colder water temperatures.  So this style of training does perform a very useful purpose tactically as well as physiologically.

Navy SEAL Weight Training Book


The New Navy SEAL Weight Training Book is hot off the press and selling out FAST!  This is the book that answers the question:  How do I add weight training to my Spec Ops Training?  Many people used the Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness to prepare for a variety of Spec Ops Schools with success.  Now, for those who need to prepare more for the log PT, boat carries, and ruck runs - here is the perfect mix combined in an 18 week program! 

Also available on Kindle through

Get signed copy - Christmas Gift Solved!!!

The Combo of the two published books answers the questions:

Related articles:  Spec Ops Prep for the Powerlifting Football Player type

Spec Ops Prep for the Endurance Athlete type


Former Navy SEAL and fitness author Stew Smith has created the Navy SEAL Exercise APP. The iTunes Store APP complete with over 115+ videos of exercises from swimming the combat swimmer stroke to drownproofing to using the TRX and weights and calisthenics.  All exercises are used by future Navy SEALs, BUD/S Students, and Active / Former Navy SEALs to get and stay in top physical condition.

Only $1.99 for the
iTunes APP Store

Android APP Store



Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at


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Published Books / DVDs


The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
NEW - Circuit Training 101 ebook
NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook


The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout
The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The NEW Army PRT and Combat Readiness Test Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout

Why a 52 Week Workout Cycle?

Become a TRX Trainer   

 TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format