Muscular Endurance and Strength - Timed sets

Timed sets refers to a method of physical training in which as many repetitions as possible of a given exercise are performed in a specified period of time. After an appropriate period of rest, a second, third, and so on, set of that exercise is done in an equal or lesser time period. The exercise period, recovery period, and the number of sets done should be selected to make sure that an overload of the involved muscle groups occurs.
The use of timed sets, unlike exercises performed in cadence or for a specific number of repetitions, helps to ensure that each soldier does as many repetitions of an exercise as possible within a period of time. It does not hold back the more capable performer by restricting the number
of repetitions he may do. Instead, soldiers at all levels of fitness can individually do the number of repetitions they are capable of and thereby be sure they obtain an adequate training stimulus.
In this FM, timed sets will be applied to improving soldier’s sit-up and push-up performance. Many different but equally valid approaches can be taken when using timed sets to improve push-up and sit-up performance. Below, several of these will be given.
It should first be stated that improving sit-up and push-up performance, although important for the APFT, should not be the main goal of an Army physical training program. It must be to develop an optimal level of physical fitness which will help soldiers carry out their mission during combat. Thus, when a soldier performs a workout geared to develop muscle endurance and strength, the goal should be to develop sufficient strength and/or muscle endurance in all the muscle groups he will be called upon to use as he performs his mission. To meet this goal, and to be assured that all emergencies can be met, a
training regimen which exercises all the body’s major muscle groups must be developed and followed. Thus, as a general rule, a muscle endurance or
strength training workout should not be designed to work exclusively, or give priority to, those muscle groups worked by the sit-up or push-up event.
For this reason, the best procedure to follow when doing a resistance exercise is as follows. First, perform a workout to strengthen all of the body’s
major muscles. Then, do timed sets to improve push-up and sit-up performance. Following this sequence ensures that all major muscles are worked. At
the same time, it reduces the amount of time and work that must be devoted to push-ups and sit-ups. This is because the muscles worked by those two exercises will already be pre-exhausted.
The manner in which timed sets for push-ups and sit-ups are conducted should occasionally be varied. This ensures continued gains and minimizes boredom. This having been said, here is a very time-efficient way of conducting push-up/sit-up improvement. Alternate timed sets of push-ups and
timed sets of sit-ups with little or no time between sets allowed for recovery. In this way, the muscle groups used by the push-up can recover while the muscles used in the sit-up are exercised, and vice versa. The following is an example of this type of approach:

If all soldiers exercise at the same time, the above activity can be finished in about 3.5 minutes. As the soldiers’ levels of fitness improve, the difficulty of the activity can be increased. This is done by lengthening the time period of any or all timed sets, by decreasing any rest period between timed sets, by
increasing the number of timed sets performed, or by any combination of these.
To add variety and increase the overall effectiveness of the activity, different types of push-ups (regular, feet-elevated, wide-hand, close-hand,
and so forth) and sit-ups (regular, abdominal twists, abdominal curls, and so forth) can be done. When performing this type of workout, pay attention to how the soldiers are responding, and make adjustments accordingly. For example, the times listed in the chart above may prove to be too long or too
short for some soldiers. In the same way, because of the nature of the situp, it may become apparent that some soldiers can benefit by taking slightly more time for timed sets of sit-ups than for push-ups.
When using timed sets for push-up and sit-up improvement, soldiers can also perform all sets of one exercise before doing the other. For example,
several timed sets of push-ups can be done followed by several sets of situps, or vice versa. With this approach, rest intervals must be placed between
timed sets. The following example can be done after the regular strength workout and is reasonable starting routine for most soldiers.
During a timed set of push-ups, a soldier may reach temporary muscle failure at any time before the set is over. If this happens, he should immediately drop to his knees and continue doing modified push-ups on his knees.
Finally, as in any endeavor, soldiers must set goals for themselves. This applies when doing each timed set and when planning for their next and future APFTs.