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                          Too Hot to Run?  Or Do You Need a Non-impact Aerobic Alternative

Is it hazy, hot and humid in your area this summer? During the hottest months of the year, it is difficult to find the time to run or walk outside unless you exercise as the sun rises or sets. Even then, the humidity still soaks you like you were in a sauna and in most urban areas the air quality can be actually harmful to your lungs. Here is my answer to this week's cardio fitness question:

It is so hot here in Texas - when I try to run outside it about kills me. Do you have other options besides the standard run on a treadmill in the AC?

You took away my number one answer but not MY number one choice for getting cardiovascular exercise during the dog-days of summer. Summer time is a great time for water - not only to drink it but to get in it and swim. Here are several workouts that I love to do to stay cool and workout during the day either in an indoor/outdoor pool or beach:

My number one favorite cardio exercise that I do year round is the Hypoxic Swim Pyramid. Hypoxic means "low oxygen." The goal of this workout is you decrease your breaths per stroke as you increase the distance causing the heart to race into the anaerobic zone. This gives you a great cardio workout that will drop your resting heart rate close to that of Lance Armstrong (32 beats per minute!). Now that is in shape! Here is how the Hypoxic Pyramid works:

Warm up: Swim 50-100m freestyle breathing every 2 strokes. A stroke is each arm pull, so two strokes is a left and a right arm pull and you take a breath after every 2 strokes. Stretch your arms and legs for a few seconds and begin the workout.

Swim 50-100m freestyle breathing every 4 strokes and build up to 10-12 strokes per breath for 50-100m each and work your way back down the pyramid. This workout, if you go from 2 - 12 - 2 using the even numbers as your step will only take about 20-30 minutes but will challenge your lungs to the maximum. It is not recommended to try this workout alone or without a life guard for obvious reasons, though I have never heard of anyone holding their breath while surface swimming and passing out. One workout I would never recommend to try is underwater swimming due to "Shallow Water Blackout." Many great swimmers have drowned due to "pushing the envelope" of how far they can swim underwater. Stay safe! Never swim alone!

Another great swim and PT mix is what I call the Swim/PT Workout::

Swim any stroke you wish for 100m, get out of the pool and do 10-20 pushups and 20 abs of choice. Get back in the water and repeat above ten times. This totals 1000m of swimming 100-200 pushups and 200 abs of choice. This is one great workout for the arms and lungs. For more fun, make the swim a hypoxic pyramid adding the PT at every 100m. WHEW!!!

The final favorite water sport I love to do if at the beach is the RUN - SWIM - RUN: Usually at the beach you have a nice breeze, cooler air, and of course, cool water. Mix it all in and create your own mini-adventure race of sorts:

Beach PT - Run down the beach about mile -- stop -- and turn towards the water and start swimming just past the breakers which is usually about 100m, then turn back to where you entered the water and swim back to shore. Once you have reached the shore, continue the run for another mile and repeat the swim. You can do this as many times as you can making a great 30-40 minute workout that will smoke you if trying to run and swim fast for these short distances. In the SEAL Teams we did these and called the workout a RUN-SWIM-RUN-SWIM-RUN-SWIM-RUN and made it a race around buoys in the water and mile markers on the beach.

I hope that helps you with some ideas of how to stay cool and really keep working out hard this summer. Looks like August is going to be another hot month so enjoy the water.
Also read ideal ways to recovery from hot sweaty workout days as well:

ABDs of Nutrition


These workouts are used in the eBooks sold on the eBook Fitness Store especially in the Special Forces workouts that require swim tests like the Navy SEALs, Recon Marines, and Air Force PJs

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

Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
Maximum Fitness

The Special Operations Workout

The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD

The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
Clinic DVD for Navy SEAL PST
The FBI Special Agent Test Clinic DVD

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

Air Force PJ / CCT Workout

The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer 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?

  Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral

Become a TRX Trainer   

 TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format


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