Monday, May 18, 2009

Stew Smith's Bodyweight Exercise Plan: Part I

CM SEAL Team blogger: Stew Smith

Calisthenics, or bodyweight exercises, originated thousands of years ago in ancient Greece and have been a major component of fitness in athletics, military, law enforcement, and daily fitness for home workouts without equipment. Here is a request from a Perfect Pushup user in our YouTube group seeking to do more exercises without having to go to a gym.

"I need help in making a full body bodyweight routine. Any advice/sample that you can offer? I am seventeen and have been using the Perfect Pushup on and off for a year now. With it, I am able to pump multiple diamond push ups more than I ever have in the past years."

I have been creating calisthenics based workout plans for more than twenty years to build muscle stamina, strength, and flexibility. By adding a form of cardiovascular activity like running, swimming, or biking to complete the workout, you can burn more calories and improve heart and lung circulation. I also like to supplement calisthenics with some form of simple weight training like dumbbells in full body movements. If you use the Perfect Pushup or the Perfect Pullup with your sets of exercises, you can reduce your repetitions by 50% typically depending on your fitness level.

Here are some sample routines that focus on both upper body, lower body, and core exercises:

Upper body Warm-up
Repeat 5-10 times
jumping jacks - 10
pushups - 10
*add pullups when multiple sets is possible at 5-10 reps per set

Lower body Warm-up
Repeat 5-10 times
jumping jacks - 10
squats - 10

Upper / Lower Body & Cardio Combo - A full body plan like the one below is a fast way to complete a workout with little or no rest by resting your upper body by working your lower body and abdominal exercises:

Repeat 3-4 times
Pullups - max reps
Squats - 20-30
Pushups - 20-30 reps
Lunges - 10-15 / leg
abs of choice - 50 reps
Optional Cardio of choice - 10 minutes

Supplemental Dumbbell Routine - see link for a great way to add to the full body workout.

Lower body / Cardio Workout - Here is a quick and challenging workout to build both leg speed and endurance.

Repeat 4-5 times
Run or bike 3 minutes
squats - 20 reps
lunges - 15/leg reps
heel raises (calves) - 20-30 reps

Tomorrow: Upper / Lower back Balance Cycle, Push / Pull Upper body Cycle, and Abdominal Cycle.

These workouts can be done throughout the week, but as with weights, it is not recommended to do the same major muscle groups on back to back days. So picking a calisthenics day and following it with a cardio workout on the next day is the easiest way to create a fitness routine for yourself. If you are new to exercise, just google some of the exercises in the workouts above or visit for articles, pictures, and books complete with workouts and exercise descriptions.
Stew Smith CSCS, is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author specializing in military, law enforcement fitness for future and active duty members who serve the country in physically challenging and potentially dangerous professions. Contact Stew at for answers to your questions.


Joe G. said...

Stew - I'm doing Operation Sierra Oscar (just for fun), which, as I understand it, calls for 10 consecutive days of a 10-minute pushup/pullup session (pretty painful, but it's only 10 minutes). For this particular diversionary summer-fun-thing-to-do, I can do it 10 days consecutively, right?

Alden says I will look like Arnold Schwarzenegger - GUARANTEED - after just 10 days.

Alden never exaggerates, DOES HE?

Joe G. said...

If you look at Alden's original post, I think Barney Fife commented that it's too "brutal". After three days, I find it challenging, invigorating - it definitely works up a good sweat - but I'm taking it like I man so I can look like Arnold.

See here:

Jim said...

Good idea Joe, I had forgotten about this workout, I'm gonna start it as of today I think. 10 days is not much.

Referring to Stew's blog I must say that occasionally/rarely I use weights just to keep my muscles shocked. Four sets of 8-10 reps for Lat pull down, bench press, shoulder press, upseated row (if I can recall the name correctly), bicep curls, triceps push downs using the rope handle. It takes approximately 40 minutes, then I head home and finish it off with the "puke push" workout. As many pushups you can do in 2 minutes followed by abs again 2 minutes for 3 cycles, and then the same cycle but for 1 minute.

This way all muscles get a good punishment!