If you’re conducting great PT at your unit, 5 days per week is enough to get in great shape. Unfortunately, PT often sucks. If that’s the case, or you're just ready to do a bit more to reach higher levels of fitness, we’re going to outline how you can think about doing this. And if you’re a leader who plans PT and wants to make it more effective, check out our free guide on running an effective program.
When you want to add workouts to your current weekly routine, you need to consider progressive overload. It’s one of the most important methods you can use to ensure you’re getting the most from your training. To make each workout week harder than the previous (which progressive overload suggests you do because it makes an enormous difference in ensuring continual progress in your training), you cannot start a workout program that is already extremely intensive.
As an example, if we’ve been consistently doing PT for a while, that’s about 5 workouts per week. If you wanted to start increasing what you do, it wouldn’t be smart to jump to 10 workouts per week. This is the case for 3 reasons.
- Adding that much that quick can increase the chances of injuries.
- If you’re at 5 workouts per week, you don’t need to double that to help make your best progress. Just adding 1-2 workouts initially can get you there.
- If you double your weekly workouts to 10, what are you going to do that next week? Progressive overload suggests you need to increase intensity in some manner. Sometimes it’s more workouts, and sometimes it’s increasing the intensity of the actual workouts (running at a faster pace during your long runs, or doing your lifts with a bit more weight, being two examples). A jump from 5 to 10 workouts is already a lot. And now you’re going to need to increase that intensity again to make the next week harder. That’s an unsustainable program. Instead, start slowly. Whether you’re adding workouts, or making workouts a touch harder, it doesn’t all have to happen at once. And it doesn’t need to be dramatic.
The time to start considering two a days is when you’ll be completing more than 6 workouts per week. If you’re already working out 5 days per week at PT, you can do a couple weeks of adding that sixth workout on Saturday. When you want to add another beyond that is when you will move to some two a days. The reason for this is that a full rest day is always recommended. With PT 5 days a week, you can get that full rest day on Saturday or Sunday. That day off helps clear some fatigue and make the next week successful. It’s also a nice mental break to have one day fully off.
With you crossing the threshold into 2 a days, you’ll be smart to sketch out a plan. If you’re putting in all this effort into your training, you certainly want to ensure you’re getting the most out of it.
As a very broad overview, good program design will allow you to consider if you’re hitting all the areas you need every week. When we say areas you need, those are whatever fitness areas you want to work on. As an example:
- My goal is to get bigger and stronger.
- At PT, we are always running, doing bodweight exercises, and rucking
- During my 2 extra sessions I add per week, I will focus on lifting. This is because lifting is the best way for me to get bigger and stronger, and I’m not doing any lifting in my PT sessions.
Figuring out what you’ll do in advance ensures you don’t miss what’s important to you.
Good program design also allows you to consider how you’ll take advantage of progressive overload each week. As an example for lifting, you can ensure you’re either adding a set or 2, you’re adding some weight, or maybe even adding an extra lift day. Progressive overload is really about the overall trend of increasing intensity. Increasing intensity can take many forms, but they don’t all have to happen each week.
When should you complete these extra workouts specifically?
The best time to complete extra workouts is likely sometime after work, or even during lunch. Just don’t do them directly before or after PT. How likely are you to complete your best workouts if you try to work out for 2.5 hours straight? You’re more likely to give a better effort, and thus get better results, if you can focus on them separately.
And although it sounds really cool to be say you worked out before PT, it may be really hard to sustain that. Waking up early sucks! And if you’re cutting into your sleep and not getting enough (typically less than 7 hours), it really isn’t worth it. For all these reasons, treat the directly before PT extra workout as your last option.
But what days? The first thing you need to do is get your weekly PT schedule. If it’s not available, your leadership is failing you. Randomly doing workouts each morning is a great way to not get the most from your efforts. If you can’t get it, do your best to guess.
Knowing this, use the following considerations before the start of each week to select the specific day to add your workouts.
- If you’re trying to add running to your weekly routine - make sure you are not running / doing a lower body intensive workout the next day at PT.
- If you’re trying to add some circuits to your weekly routine - you can generally do a circuit workout any day you’d like. An ideal time might be the night before a lower intensity PT session because circuits are often very intensive.
- If you’re trying to add lifting to your weekly routine - ensure you’re not doing these exercises the night before a PT session filled with movements that stress those same muscles (we realize this can be hard). Because of this, Saturday presents a great opportunity to lift, knowing you’ll have Sunday off.
We’ve gone through these considerations because working out stresses your body in a productive way. This stress is most productive when you give your body a chance to recover from it. While stimulating the same muscles two days in a row won’t ruin your progress, it is not ideal, and the soreness (if you have some) won’t feel too good. Do your best to carefully select when you’ll do the 4 workouts so you can optimize your recovery and physical progress. If you can’t always time it perfectly, don’t sweat it.
If you’re interested in what we’re talking about here, and ready to add some workouts to your weekly routine, check out our +3, Size and +4, Tactical Weapon guides. These guides give you much more information on the topic, and a full workout program to put this information into practice so you can train most effectively. Whatever you do, make a plan so you get the most from your efforts.
Blue / Green Training designs comprehensive fitness guides for military athletes. Our goal is to enable success and capture potential. Our guides include carefully designed fitness programming and explanations to help our athletes understand the concepts behind it all - something we haven't seen anywhere else. We inspire confidence in our athletes by teaching them effective physical training so they can continue their personal progressions after our programming ends. We guarantee you'll get value from our material.