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Resistance Training Creativity (Some Thinking Required)

Stew Smith

During times of gym closures, deployments, and other situations when have to either replace all your training with calisthenics and cardio or start thinking to get in some weighted resistance training done. If you use some good old fashioned ingenuity, you can create some heavier training options to replace all the classic lifts.  Here are some specifics to help you along the journey to thinking out of the box or just lifting it...

Some Easy Options

I call this the Trinity of the Home Gym:  TRX, Weight Vest, and Dumbbells.

With these three items, you can mix in a wide variety to not only replace some of the movements of the big three (bench, dead lift, squats), but also many other movements.

TRX - If you are not familiar with the TRX, or suspension training, check out the TRX website or just go to YouTube and search "TRX exercises".  There you will find countless ideas of how to use the TRX for beginners to advanced level exercises. 


Dumbbells or Kettlebells - There are countless movements you can use with these devices that you cannot do with a barbell, but you can use these pieces of equipment to replace some of the movements done on the barbell.  Maybe you just have to add some repetitions to get the same amount of work with the lighter loads, but you can do just about everything with these.  Don't have a bench?  Do bench press on the floor or on an aerobics step, or balance ball even for a great challenge.  Try goblet squats or deficit squats to get deep into the squat position. Learn how to use these effectively and you may not go back to barbells for a while. 

A weight vest is a tool that is great for adding more strength training to your calisthenics.  Your repetitions will be reduced but your effort level increased by adding weight especially to the "heavyweights of calisthenics" - pullups and dips!
You cannot go wrong with the classic calisthenics either. But, you can even make them harder by adding a weight vest even though you reduce your reps per set.  Get a weight vest with sturdy D Rings and you have a great tow harness too.  Check out Calisthenics and Cardio - No Equipment Needed Guide For Body Weight Exercisers and maybe a good option for people of all fitness levels to stay home or get outside and train.

(Raptor Weight Vest)

Add dumbbells or other weight to your squats, lunges, and dead lift movements to round out a great leg day. 

Don't Forget Sandbags

These are a classic weight replacement and can be found just about anywhere.  You can make your own from a 50lb bag of play sand and duct tape.  We call these Sand Babies as you have to be gentle with them.  But for a reasonable investment, you can get hardcore bags built to throw, drag, drop.  Brute Force Sandbags are great and the brand in my home gym. 

Don't Forget Hills, Soft Sand, or Stairs

Adding these common areas to your training will enhance any leg day whether you do it with weight vest, hand carry dumbbells (farmer walk), or just your own body weight.  Work the legs extra by adding hills, soft sand walks / runs, bleachers / stairs.  If you can swim (open water) add fins and just flutterkick in the water to top off any leg day. 


Some Variety of Training Options

These other programs also offer minimal equipment (calisthenics) though some will have swimming that needs to be replaced. 



Also consider the Warrior Workout Options:

Warrior Workout Volume 1This book contains 100 workouts written by Stew Smith over the years in an ala-carte format. This is great for those of you who like to pick and choose workouts to add to your week. You can use it as a supplement to current workouts or arrange the workouts in your week to create challenges with over 100 different options. 

These are Tactical Fitness type workouts that you can arrange in any cycle you are in: some lifting, mostly calisthenics, running, swimming, rucking, speed and agility too.

Many workouts require little to no equipment while some will be diverse and require sandbags, kettlebell, barbells, TRX, and / or weightvests and rucks.

Warrior Workout Volume 2:  100 workouts arranged in a Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall organization that helps with building a complete tactical athlete throughout the year – Tactical Periodization Model.

Warrior Workout Volume 3: Also called Stew Smith's Greatest Hits Album! Like the other two books, this features 100 individual workouts, but these are my favorites from the following books: (plenty of calisthenics / cardio workouts in this one to choose from too.  

Complete Guide to Navy SEAL FItness
Maximum FitnessThe Special Ops WorkoutThe SWAT WorkoutTactical FItnessTactical Strength
Navy SEAL Weight Training
Combat Conditioning  WorkoutStew's Local Heroes of Tomorrow Workouts


Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

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