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The Filthy 50: Get down, dirty and fit

Jan. 14, 2013 - 07:24AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2013 - 07:24AM  |  
PT365: Colton Smith's Filthy Fifty Workout
PT365: Colton Smith's Filthy Fifty Workout: SSG Colton Smith, Chief Combatives Instructor for III Corps at Fort Hood and recent winner of The Ultimate Fighter, describes the Filthy Fifty, a Crossfit-inspired workout he credits with his success on TUF.
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Army Staff Sgt. Colton Smith, recent winner of Ultimate Fighter, demonstrates part of his Filthy 50 workout at Fort Hood, Texas. (Mike Morones / Staff)
Smith was the first active-duty service member to win "The Ultimate Fighter." (Mike Morones / Staff)


If you’re ready to mix it up, Smith likes to throw in a big tractor tire, literally. Find one about 5 feet tall and 250 pounds and then swap out any three stations with these:
• Sledgehammer slam: Just slam the tire 50 times with a 35-pound sledge. Easy.
• 50-meter flips: Yep, just keep flipping that tire over until you’re there.
• Tire hop: Starting on the outside and keeping your feet together, bunny hop up onto the side of the tire, then hop again into the middle. Then reverse, hopping backward onto the tire, then once more back down to where you started. That’s one rep. Do 50.

Ask Army Staff Sgt. Colton Smith if a single exercise or workout gave him the edge on the blood-and-guts reality show "The Ultimate Fighter," where he beat out 15 other top mixed martial artists and claimed the title in the latest season, and the answer comes quickly.

"The Filthy 50," he says. "It's terrible."

Terrible as in terribly demanding. CrossFit fans will recognize variations of the Filthy 50 from some of the more dreaded Workouts of the Day.

But Smith's version is on a level of filthiness only a fearless few will be fit to face.

And as if each of his 50-rep or 50-meter monsters isn't formidable enough, he turns the whole thing into a race.

"It sucks. Every time I see that on my workout schedule, I'm like, ‘Oh, mother of God.' That's why I make sure there are other people there to suffer with me," Smith says. "Because it's eight stations, I usually do it with eight other guys, one at each station, and we turn it into a competition. The time starts with the first rep."

That means that if you're doing it right, there's no rest between stations. "Your rest is moving to the next station," Smith says with an almost sadistic laugh.

Usually, his Filthy 50 partners-in-pain are fellow cadre members at the Army's Combatives center at Fort Hood, Texas, where he's an instructor.

"You do each station as fast as you can, but everything has to be with good form," he says. "Good form is key."

Smith holds the record at the center at eight minutes, 30 seconds. Most can feel proud if they finish in less than 15 minutes.

"That is probably some of the hardest PT you'll ever do in under 15 minutes, but it's definitely effective for both anaerobic and aerobic growth both explosive strength and long-term strength," he says.

If you're ready to get dirty and give it a try, here's how it breaks down.

Station 1: 50 handstand pushups

Start upside down with your feet up against a wall and your arms locked out. Lower yourself until your head almost touches the floor and then push back up again for single rep.

"If you can, knock them all out at once; otherwise, come down off the wall, take a quick break and then keep going," Smith says. "Just remember: If you take breaks, you're losing time."

Station 2: 50 push presses

Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly, back straight, with a 45-pound weightlifting bar held at your chest. Using an overhand grip with hands at about shoulder width, push the bar straight above your head and then back down to your chest for one rep. For more challenge, if you can handle it, put a pair of 25- or 45-pound plates on the bar.

Station 3: 50 bench presses

Start lying on a bench holding a 45-pound bar with hands shoulder-width apart. "When pushing the bar up, you're exhaling and locking your arms out and then bringing it all the way back down to your chest," Smith says. "Just touch the chest, no bouncing it, no resting it." Again, use a pair of plates for an added challenge.

Station 4: 50 bent-over rows

Holding a 75-pound bar just below your chest, start standing with knees slightly bent while bending over at the waist but not bowing your back. Keeping your spine straight, lower the bar until your elbows are fully extended, then pull the bar back up to right below your chest.

Station 5: 50 box jumps

In front of a 3-foot box, start in a squatting position, then jump onto the box. "Once you're up, stand straight up, locking your legs all the way out." Jump back down. Repeat.

Station 6: 50 wall ball squats

Stand facing a wall with a 15-pound medicine ball in both hands. Drop into a 90-degree squat, then explode up, throwing the ball 15 to 20 feet up against the wall. As the ball comes back down, catch it while returning back down into the squatting position. Marking a line or taping an X on the wall provides a good aiming point and keeps you honest on your throws.

Station 7: 50-meter burpee long jumps

From a standing position, drop into pushup position and do a single pushup. As you return to a standing position, instead of jumping straight up as you would for a normal burpee do a feet-together long jump. As you land, go back down into your next burpee. Keep going until you've gone 50 meters.

Station 8: 50 overhead medicine ball slams

Hold an 18- to 20-pound medicine ball over your head with your arms locked out. Throw the ball straight down into the ground, bending over to catch it as it bounces up slightly. Return to the starting position and repeat.

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