Preparing Americans to Serve in the Military,
Special Ops, Police, & Fire Fighting

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Mission:  We prepare men and women for any tactical profession requiring a fitness test and advanced training. 
Your fitness level may one day be the difference between life and death.  It pays to fit fitness into your schedule.
We at StewSmith Fitness help you do that.

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12 weeks to BUDS


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Navy SEAL Info  |   Army & SF Info  |   USMC Info |   Special Ops Info FBI Training Info

Non-Impact Options or Replacement  for Swimming

  Every week, several people email me about cardiovascular options other than running.  Running is a great cardio option however, if your knees are injured, you are overweight, or just need a break from running for a while, here are some non-impact cardio options that I prefer to do:

(scan below if you need non impact options when you cannot swim)

Swimming Options

 Water is a domain that very forgiving to the joints of the body.  If you are able to swim and not fearful of the water the workouts below are a great way to build up your heart and lungs as well as burn calories.  There are quick and easy workouts as well as very advanced workouts that I do not recommend doing alone or without a lifeguard.  If you are a beginner, do what you can and it maybe necessary to learn a few techniques to swim more efficiently.  I learned by watching swims teams practice, but there are many videos and swim instructors out there to help you.

Quick Swim workouts:

300m timed swim
plus 5 x 100m sprint

200m warmup
10 x 50m sprints (rest 30-45 sec)
500m cooldown

Repeat 5 times
Sprint 100m-200m
tread water 1 min
(no hands) 







Medium Swim workout   

20 x 25m sprints    
rest 10-15 seconds           
10 x 50msprints
rest 20-30 seconds      

FAST Workout - may need to alter times…

100m Pyramid
Swim 100m keep pace between 1:20-1:40 for all
Rest 30 secs
Swim 100m
Rest 30 secs
Swim 100m
Rest  30 secs
Swim 100m
Rest 30 secs
Swim 100m

Rest 40 secs
Sprint 100m - ______?

repeat in reverse order but rest with 50m slow swim / breastroke / back stroke etc…

Longer Swim workout

500m warmup 

5 x 100m sprints           

5 x 50m kickboard

5 x 50m arm pull only     

 Swim 500-2000m with fins or without fins non-stop


Prep for BUDS

1 mile swim with fins


2 mile swim with fins


Getting Harder hypoxic

Swim 100m 4 strokes / breath
Swim 200m  - 6 stroke / breath
Swim 300m - 8 stroke / breath
Do PT for 5 minutes (pushups / abs)
Swim 4 x 100m at 8-10 strokes/breath
rest 30 seconds each 100m

Do PT for 5 minutes (pushups / abs)

Standard Hypoxic pyramid
100m at 4 strokes per breath
100m at 6 strokes per breath
100m at 8 strokes per breath
100m at 10 strokes per breath

keep going if you wish then repeat in reverse order

 (rest optional - 20-30 secs in between)

 you should strive for around 1000m

Hypoxic workout

Swim 300-500m
- 4 stroke per breath

- 6 stroke per breath

- 8 strokes per breath

 total distance 900-1500m

One of my favorite bike workouts is the stationary bike pyramid.  You can actually do this on an elliptical machine as well. 

I call this workout the Bike Pyramid: (also done with Elliptical)

Start - Level 1 on manual mode for 1 minute and keep the RPMs at 80-100.  Each minute that passes, increase the resistance by 1 level.  Continue this process until you are having difficulty breathing and/or peddling.  When you get really good at this you can take the bike to level 20.  THEN, repeat the cycle in reverse order.  So you have a warmup - max out - cool down all rolled into one nice package.  This workout will take 39-40 minutes if you are that advanced.  But, if you can only get up to level 10 and back to level 1, your time investment is only 19 minutes.  I do the same on an elliptical machine but find that increasing by 2 or 3 levels each minute makes it more challenging.

Of course, getting outside on a real bike can be another way to get cardiovascular workouts.  Make sure you have a safe place to ride like bike trails versus sharing the road with vehicles.  Save that for the more advanced riders.

Bike / Elliptical Tabata Intervals (Also done with rower)

This workout is done in 5 minute sets where you rotate between fast / slow periods for the entire 5 minutes.  You will do 20 seconds full speed followed by 10 seconds easy.  Repeat 10 times for a total of 5 minutes.  This is a great quick 5 min cardio "rest" exercise placed in between circuit exercises in many of our workouts. 
The 2nd version is to go for extended periods of time doing the 20 seconds / 10 second protocol.  Typically, if we are doing this for 30 minutes, we will go for 5 minutes - take 2 min easy and then repeat the 5 minute fast / slow cycle.  Get as many 5 min fast / slow cycles as you can in 30 minutes.


  If you have never ridden a rowing machine - also known as an ergometer, let me tell you - it is tough and a great full body workout.  I always wondered why so many guys who rowed for their sport went onto SEAL training and did very well.  It is one tough cardio-vascular exercise.  My swim buddy Alden Mills was team captain of the Navy Heavyweight Crew Team and at 230 lbs could crank out 30 pullups.  That is what rowing can do for you.  But if you are seeking just a great non-impact cardio exercise, rowing maybe right for you. The good thing is that the machines like Concept 2 or Vasatrainer have programs on the machine that challenge you and keep your interest.  Try the 2000m test.  If you can get it in about the same as your mile time - not bad!
100 Calorie Burnout

100 calorie burnout - pick any machine (bike, elliptical, rower, treadmill) and input your weight and age.  Then see how fast you can burn 100 calories.  Usually take 5-8 minutes and should feel like you just sprinted a mile.

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, just e-mail him 

Complete List of Books, eBooks, DVDs

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Published Books / DVDs / APPs

NEW - Tactical Fitness - Featuring the Dirty Dozen    |  More Info   |  Book only
The Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout   |  More info   |  Book only
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness
     |    More Info     | 
Book / DVD
Maximum Fitness - CrossTraining     |    More Info     |  Book only
The Special Operations Workout     |   More Info     |     Book only
The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT      |  More Info    |  Book only
The Combat Swimmer Stroke Video     |  More Info   |  Download MP4
The Pre-Habit Workout     |  More Info  |  DVD only

New Fitness APPs Navy SEAL, FBI, Pushup. Pullups   |  More Info    |  APPS

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks / Books:


Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness    |  More Info  |  eBook, Book

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program     |  More Info   eBook only

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach     |  More Info   eBook only

The Diabetic Prevention Workout   |  More Info   |   eBook only 

The Busy Executive Workout Routine    |  eBook only

Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program   |  More Info   |  eBook only

The TRX Workout eBook     |  More Info   eBook only

  - Circuit Training 101 eBook      |  More Info   eBook only

 Obstacle Course Race eBook      |  More Info   eBook only

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts


Combat Conditioning Workout       |  More Info  |  eBook, Book

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1:  Beginner       |  More Info  |    eBook, Book

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3:  Intermediate     |  More Info   eBook, Book


Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT      |  More Info   eBook, Book

Navy SWCC Workout       |  More Info    |    eBook, Book


Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout  | More Info SF /  Ranger  eBook, Book


USMC RECON Workout       |  More Info  |  eBook, Book


Air Force PJ / CCT Workout      |  More Info  |  eBook, Book


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Workout      |  More Info   eBook, Book


The Army Air Assault School Workout     More Info   eBook only


The Army Airborne Workout     More Info   eBook only


NEW - Upper Body Round Robin (UBRR)    More Info   eBook only


The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

The USMC IST and PFT Workout      More Info   eBook only


USMC OCS / TBS Workout       |  More Info   eBook, Book


The Service Academy Workout     More Info   eBook, Book


Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout   More Info   eBook, Book


The Army OCS and PFT Workout    More Info   eBook, Book


NEW Army PRT and Combat Readiness Test Workout    More Info   eBook only


The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT    |  More Info   eBook, Book


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts


The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout (Vol 1 and 2)      |  More Info   eBook, Book


The DEA Prep Workout      More Info   eBook only


The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB      More Info   eBook, Book


The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT      |  More Info   eBook, Book


The Fire Fighter Workout       |  More Info   eBook, Book





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