The Military Calisthenic Workout

The Military Calisthenic Workout

Welcome ladies and gents I’ve got an absolute shocker for you today and it’s all about training like a soldier and getting them military gains…

Now this type of training is the best way to welcome yourself into calisthenics and even if you’re like me and don’t want to join the military it can be just a great way to challenge yourself.

By the end of this article you’ll know: 

  • How the military perform calisthenic with hardly no equipment (What exercises).
  • Why the military use calisthenics.
  • The perfect military workout plan.
  • A difficult military training challenge.

So let the challenge begin, you fitness warriors!

Why The Military Use Calisthenics

military boxing

In a training world dominated by weight-lifting and zumba it’s hard for calisthenics to get the light it needs, but here’s the reason why the military use it and why so many other people have joined the calisthenic workout trend.

  • Calisthenics is the oldest form of training and is the most primal way to train our bodies.
  • There’s a much less chance of getting an injury performing calisthenics than with weight lifting.
  • You can do it almost anywhere making it the best military choice.
  • It grows muscle, loses weight, helps with balance and builds energy.
  • It achieves amazing results for both men and women.
  • Creates real everyday strength. For example swimming, pull ups, push ups and running are all body movements a solider and many of us may have to do on any given day. Unlike the more unnatural weight machines.
  • It builds a body that’s in proportion.

Just look at some of the people who train calisthenics and the strength and body on them:

If you can look like that whilst feeling much stronger, limiting injuries and without hardly any workout equipment why wouldn’t you do calisthenics?

The Workout Plan

This part is all about mix and match, I’m going to give you a rough idea of what a military workout looks like and them I’m going to show you the different exercises you can use to mix it up.

Normal Circiut Training: 

  1. Push ups
  2. Squats
  3. Pull ups
  4. Lunges
  5. Dips
  6. Abs of choice
  7. Swim for 5 – 10 minutes

Repeat 5 – 7 times.

Start with 4 reps and each round add another 2 reps onto each exercise.

PS: Not many people have access to a Swimming pool and even though I do, I don’t like using it while I do the above as it’s a pool for my house block, so instead replace swimming with a mix of shadow boxing (guide here) and skipping.

Running Military Style:

Before you do this make sure you do a warm up session that includes slow running, leg movements like; high knees for at least 5 – 10 minutes.

  1. Run at a normal pace of around 5 – 7 mph for 5 minutes.
  2. Sprint for 2 minutes.
  3. Run at a normal pace for 5 minutes.
  4. Sprint for 2 minutes.
  5. Run at a normal pace for 5 minutes.
  6. Sprint for 2 minutes.
  7. Run at a normal pace for 5 minutes.
  8. Sprint for 2 minutes.
  9. Run at a normal pace for 5 minutes.

Have a cool down of light movement for 5 minutes.

Failure Training

One of the hardest types of circuits but most rewarding in the long run.

This involves you going to faliure (till you can’t do anymore) on each exercise before you can move onto the next:

You can mix and match 8 exercises from this list of calisthenic movements and add 4 upperbody with 4 abs or 4 lower body with abs or 4 upper body and 4 lowerbody.


  • Normal Push ups
  • Leg Raises
  • Pull ups (close hands)
  • Crunches
  • Chin ups
  • Plank
  • Dimond Pushup

Have a 3 minute break for water and then jog on the spot and repeat a total of three times.

Special Training Types:

Here’s some unique, but useful training drills you can do in order to build military strength:

  • Go on a long hike with a weighted vest (simulates carrying your gear).
  • Do 30 minutes of swimming (build your way up). This is the ultimate form of full body cardio.
  • Do resistance movements like bar holds and push ups where you decline for 10 seconds, pause, then incline for 10 seconds. You can get yourself some resistance bands for extra strength.

The Most Important Exercises In The Military:

There’s quite a few calisthenic exercises and I did an epic article that’ll show you the ones that build strength, so check that out. But below are the most popular military exercises:

  • Swimming
  • Sprinting/Running
  • Boxing: Shadow boxing – drills – movement work – sparing
  • Rope Climes
  • Pull Ups: Close grip – far grip – muscle ups
  • Push Ups: close hands – normal – long hands – diamond – and any of these from this amazing video. 
  • Dips
  • Chin ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Resistance Exercises: Doing all the exercises above but with slower inclines/declines and with holds at the peak of the exercise for up to 10 seconds.

So mix and match any of these exercises, just making sure you’re getting a full body workout and you’ll be fine.

Military 7 Day Fitness Challenge

It’s time to rap this up with something amazing… You ready?

It’s only the most challenging 7 day fitness program I could think of all in military style.


You should be… So what will the 7 days entail?

Day 1: Cardio Day 

  1. Warm up.
  2. Run 3 miles with sprints for 2 minutes every 5 minutes.
  3. Warm down.
  4. Rest a few hours.
  5. Warm up.
  6. 10, 2 minute rounds of skipping with 1 minute in between.
  7. Warm down.

Day 2: Full Body Day

  1. Warm up.
  2. 2 x rounds of MMA boxing workout

Then repeat the below exercises 5 rounds with 1 minutes in between (starting rep count is 4 and you add 2 reps each round).

  • Push ups – Close Grip – Then Far Grip
  • Squats
  • Pull ups (If you don’t have a pull up bar do diamond push ups).
  • Lunges
  • Dips (If you don’t have a dip station, use a chair).
  • Abs of choice

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Legs And Cardio 

  • Warm up
  • Do a run with 2 minute sprints for 3 miles.

Repeat the below circuit 5 times starting at 6 reps and adding 2 each round with 1 minute rest in between.

  • Squats
  • Abs
  • Lunges
  • Abs
  • Squats
  • Abs
  • Lunges

Day 5: Body Failure

  1. Warm up

Repeat the below circuit 3 times with 3 minutes rests and go to failure on each exercise.

  • Normal Push ups
  • Abs
  • Diamond Push ups
  • Abs
  • Pull ups
  • Abs
  • Chin ups (If you don’t have a pull up bar do dips on a chair).

Day 6: Stretch day (Or cardio if you prefer)

  • Do yoga (Beginners workout)
  • Do some deep stretching

Day 7: Rest

This is the ultimate 7 day fitness challenge, it may sound easy but trust me the failure day is one of the hardest fitness challenges I’ve done.

Extra Tips And Tricks For Training With Your Body weight

army fitness workout plan

Mix And Match Weights

I try not to train with any weights a part from kettle bells, weighted vests and occasionally some dumb bells.

But, there’s nothing stopping you mixing this calisthenic fitness with some weight training.

What I’d Recommend: You should try doing calisthenics 3 days per week and then weight training 2 days with 2 days rest in between.

Equipment I Recommend

If you’re training at home then check out my equipment page (Highly recommended).

And in terms of training gear I’d be sure to get a pair of good running shoes, some proper training gloves and a pull up bar that has a dip station (that one is $100 off making it $80 and the highest rated bar online).

Other than that you don’t need any other gear urgently. You could always get some resistance bands and maybe a weighted vest, but at the start all of the above will be fine.

Dieting Is The Key

You have to make sure you’re drinking 3 liters of water per day, getting your daily protein, carbs and healthy fat intake and are meeting your calories.

I did an amazing article on how to have a healthy brain and body while building muscle/losing weight and keeping your energy levels really high.

This is the diet plan I’m on and I truly recommend you check it out.

Information And Resources I Used:

I used a few resources to create this from forums, to articles and even YouTube videos, it would be to messy to leave it all, so I decided to leave the most helpful articles I read on military fitness so you can soak up some more information on the topic.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this, I really enjoyed making it. If you’d like any advice or help please leave a comment down below or send me a message. I hope you have a wonderful day. Oli.