How to stay in shape all year round


Many people have developed a seasonal approach to fitness, adding or subtracting exercises over the course of a year.

Someone just starting out can add fitness to their schedule during the New Year’s resolution period, while others can wait until the weather picks up in the spring when it becomes practical to wear clothes. less restrictive.

They can repeat this cycle with several months of inactivity between these “fitness seasons”. An athlete has a similar approach with pre-season training, in-season maintenance and post-season training, rebuilding and recovery.

Others have found what works for them and have developed strong, consistent physical training habits. The hardest part of this year-round journey is finding enjoyable activities that don’t bore you when progress stalls.

Ultimately, a lifetime fitness goal must evolve as you get older if, as Abraham Lincoln said, you truly want to “not just add years to your life, but life to your years.”

This article was inspired by a retired Army Command Sergeant Major (CSM) who lives in my area. When I moved to my current location about 25 years ago, I saw a man biking, running and swimming frequently at age 60. He was still competing in triathlons, lifting weights, doing yoga, and was an inspirational image to many of us much younger than him.

Fast forward 25 years and I still see him biking, swimming, lifting, walking and doing yoga in the mid 80’s. He found a way that works perfectly for him, and it continues to inspire many of you. us who still share today his path of cycling, running and walking. This CSM has found exercises he enjoys and has made them a habit and a lifestyle.

A similar inspiration comes from the bearded Marine over 70 I see in the weight room. He warms up his lifting routine by juggling 4-5 balls in the air and stretching before lifting heavy weights. He looks like Papa Smurf who has excellent hand-eye coordination to go along with surprising flexibility and mobility.

I often see him rucking for his cardio on leg days, a practice that has given me many ideas on how to incorporate rucking and swimming with scuba fins on leg days for people seeking military service or special operations. This sailor has found something he loves and is therefore compatible with maintaining his fitness habit for life.

Personally, I also have a seasonal approach to fitness, but not in the way you might think. Each season focuses on a different area of ​​fitness. Activity is year round, but seasonal changes add variety and allow me to maintain all of the fitness elements that are important to both members of the tactical professions and the civilian who wants to remain an asset against to a potential natural or man-made hazard to life.

I’ve made my Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization training pattern a habit since I turned 30 over 23 years ago.


Focus on transitioning out of the winter lifting cycle by adding calisthenics and more cardio activity to your daily workouts. This means increased running mileage, swimming time, or other cardio activities. You should also increase the volume of calisthenics in regular increments.

Make your lifts lighter and switch to calisthenics with weight vest, sandbags and suspension training (TRX). All seasons are about flexibility and mobility recovery.


The next season is a continued progression of the spring calisthenics and cardio cycle designed to peak during the longer days of summer. Depending on your goals and cardio desires, you may want to start using a triathlete’s non-impact approach to running and cardio. Do two-thirds of your cardio activity non-impact and one-third of your cardio a mix of running or running/walking to limit the impact forces that plague many runners year-round.

This phase is all about achieving maximum rep volume and a variety of cardio miles to focus on muscle endurance, cardio endurance. Mixing in a few maintenance lifts every few weeks can be a great way to offload high-volume, high-mileage cardio.

To fall

The next two cycles begin to reduce miles and repeat to get you to the maintenance point instead of a targeted upgrade. The lifting weight increases, the reps decrease, and the miles get shorter (but faster).

Increasing weight will reduce the total volume of workouts as the focus is on a combination of strength, power, speed and agility


The heavier lifting begins, but we still warm up with enough calisthenics to maintain our PT test scores and do just enough running cardio to maintain a good pace on the timed runs. Running drops significantly to around 20% of summer totals, but replaces cardio with more swimming and cycling for non-impact joint care.

Depending on your goals, you can try heavy lifting for strength and add power moves with speed and jumps as the main focus or limit heavy lifting to bodyweight lifts, do weight vest pull-ups and maintain your timed running pace. if you’re looking to maintain tactical fitness test results while getting stronger.

These seasonal changes provide plenty of options for anyone trying to be consistent with training without burning out pursuing the same goals, exercises, or activities month after month.

A diversity of workouts will allow you to develop many fitness skills that will help you stay healthy for annual physicals, perform standard yard and household tasks, and remain an asset in tough situations. survival.

If you want to make fitness a habit, you need to find a physical activity that you enjoy doing as much as you enjoy doing nothing. It can be a tough search, but start each day by walking, breathing, and stretching and take it one step at a time.

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]

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