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Fun Workout Ideas for

Stew smith

All-Time Favorite Navy SEAL Workouts
That Are Also Great for the 
SEALKIDS Challenge!

Check out and Help This Great Organization 

When students are going through SEAL Training, they are exposed to exercises that anyone can do.  From calisthenics, to running, swimming, and obstacle courses, Navy SEAL students master the basics first.  The difference between a beginner to these exercises and a graduate of Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL Training is volume.  SEALs take these basic exercises and build a foundation over time to arrive in the SEAL Teams in peak condition.  Sure, there is need for weight training and load bearing activities along this fitness journey, but every SEAL Training graduate was a beginner at some point and started doing calisthenics to build the foundation first.

If you are a pre-teen and early teenager, start out with a foundation of calisthenics, running and swimming (or biking if no pool). If you want to get results with using primarily calisthenics to exercise, then you need to realize these fundamental rules.

  • Rule #1: Master the Basics

You can get a wide range of workouts from beginner to advanced level with three basic exercises: The Pullup, Pushup, and the Squat.  These three exercises work all the major muscle groups in the body and produce amazing results. That is why the Memorial Day Murph is so popular with intermediate and advance exercises all over the country. But you can also get beginner level workouts created with the same exercises using easier (scaled down) versions by adding band assist pullups, knee pushups, or half squats at first.  Or cut the total reps in half if needed. 


  • Rule #2: You Can Build Muscle with Calisthenics 

Think of the first pullup you ever do as a strength exercise. Then as you progress, the tenth or twentieth pullup has now evolved into a strength – endurance exercise (aka muscle stamina). This is the evolution you will go through if you do a cycle of calisthenics. You can build muscle, get into better cardio conditioning. Now, you can also gain weight, if you want to build muscle and get bigger – you need to eat bigger to get bigger, but the resistance training will be what makes the new muscle. If you are advanced and pullups and pushups are easy, you can also add weight with a weight vest to make them more difficult.

Working out with 800 High School Naval Academy Candidates at
USNA Summer Seminar

  • Rule #3: Don’t Forget the Core

Yes, calisthenics are resistance training exercises that build muscle. But you cannot only work the arms and chest with pullups and pushups only. You have to engage the core muscular system that stretches from the hips to the neck and everything in between. The core is not just abdominal exercises.  These muscles need to be developed and in balance. Exercises like hanging knee ups where you hang on a pullup bar and bring your knees up to your chest (or as high as you can) will not only work the stomach and hip muscles but develop your grip as well. This combination is helpful in just about any sport or athletic activity.

The PT Reset Circuit: Here is a full core circuit that helps balance out many sets of push-ups and sit-ups by working the upper backside of the torso and the lower back muscles. The exercises stretch the front side of the torso by flexing the back side of the torso. Also using isometric flexes of the lower back, these exercises are relatively safe for most people (active or inactive).  

Reverse Pushups 10-20 
Birds 10-20 
Arm haulers 10-20 
Swimmers 1 min 
Side plank 1 min (right)
Plank 1 min
Side plank 1 min (left)
Dirty Dogs – 10 / leg 

*Click links for video movements of these exercises 

  • Rule #4: Little to NO Equipment Needed

    This means you can get started immediately and if you have a few items, you can add new dimensions to your training. For most calisthenics all you need is space on the floor. By adding a few dumbbells, rubber bands, or sandbags. You can replace or supplement some of the exercises to make them either easier or more difficult – depends on your equipment and abilities. A place to do pullups is an easy find as you can find a playground with monkey bars, buy a power tower (pullup / dip bars), or build your own pullup bars using ideas on DIY Youtube pages.

Rule #5:  Mix in cardio activity with short bursts of calisthenics and you have a great high calorie burning circuit workout if short on time.

Mix in biking, running, or even swimming at various speeds and distances in between sets of calisthenics to make a high calorie burning full body workout like this:

Repeat 4-5 times
Run or bike 3 minutes fast
Pullups max
Pushups 10-20
Core Activity of choice 20 (mix it up each set)
Dips 10 (or do bench dips)
Squats 10-20
Lunges 10/leg
Core activity of choice 20 (PT Reset list above)

This helps you when you do not have a lot of time to train and need to get it done in 20-30 minutes. These types of workouts are highly effective to burning calories quickly but also providing a full body workout that will pump you up like weight training will. Seriously! 

You will notice how Calisthenics and Cardio can build your endurance and overall work capacity to go longer in sports, martial arts, or other fun activities. This is a huge benefit because you will start to notice that you do not get winded as much anymore. We call this work capacity in the tactical fitness world and it matters when the days are long and the work is very physically demanding. Once you build this foundation, you can advance into more weight training with your team athletic program.  

The All-Time Classic PT Pyramid 

Here is my all-time favorite classic Navy SEAL Workouts that we learned as we prepared for BUD/S. The PT Pyramid – Check it out as it is easily modified and will be a workout that you can do for decades with changes as you grow in this fitness journey.

The Classic 1-10-1 Pyramid of working your way up to level 10 and back down to one with the exercises of Pullups x 1, Pushups x 2, and Situps x 3 in 19 sets.  You can replace situps with squats if you want to take 19 sets to accumulate the Murph Workout!  

You may not make it up to level 10 on your first attempt.  No worries.  Use the pyramid as a regular workout to asses your growth and each week you try it you may find you get another notch higher.  Here is how it works. 

Set 1: Pullup 1, Pushups 2, Situps 3
Set 2: Pullup 2, Pushups 4, Situps 6
Set 3: Pullups 3, Pushups 6, Situps 9...Keep going up to set 10:

Set 10: Pullups 10, Pushups, 20, Situps 30...Then repeat in reverse order and this will give you 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 situps.  That is a lot of volume and consider advanced levels.  Start off maybe only going up to level 5 or until you fail to get the reps each set.  Make your point of failure up the pyramid, be the place where you start back down the pyramid. 

(PS - you can use assisted pullups, knee pushups, or crunches with PT RESET exercises if needed to finish the workout.  Eventually, you will not need those easier version and one day complete the workout and beyond level 10!)

However, if you want a more advanced week of Navy SEAL fitness test preparation, check out the free program and video discussion.

Thanks for trying the  
SEALKIDS Challenge!

Check out and Help This Great Organization 

If you have any questions  you can email me at

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