Ask Stew: Mid-life Exercising Routine

Running Silhouette

Hi Stew, I will be turning 50 this week. I am 5’8 and weigh 202 lbs. I have been on BP and cholesterol meds for almost 3 decades. I am looking to make some lifestyle changes and wondering what you recommended for getting fit.

I have a printed copy of your Navy SEAL bodyweight circuit from Men’s fitness, I believe, from many years ago. I’m looking for a full body circuit that I can do at home, a few times a week. I have some dumbbells, and a treadmill. Would you recommend that SEAL workout or something else? Also, with whatever workout that I do, how long would I do it for, before changing it, to avoid plateau? Thanks in advance.  Max

Max - I have some great ideas for you to do at home with little to no equipment It might be helpful to add in a pullup bar and dip bar to multiply the exercises you can do as you progress into tougher calisthenics. However, if you need to treat yourself like a beginner, consider this workout – 45 Day Plan.

I am not a fan of doing the same workout several times a week with no variety. In fact, most of my workouts use the same exercises listed below with a different choreography every day. Maybe one day is a pyramid type workout, the next being a super set, and another being a max repetition set workout.  Some days are simple circuits, but yes, my answer would be to change it up each week.

Here is something I like to do when limited to treadmills and dumbbells (and a place to do pullups):

Warmup with Pushup / Squat / Jog Warmup Pyramid
Jog/walk 25m (across yard, driveway, local field, park, basketball court)
1 pushup / 1 half squat
Jog 25m - 2 pushups, 2 half squats
Jog 25m - 3 pushups, 3 half squats...go up to 10/10
It is fine to also add in dynamic stretches into the 25m sections in place of 25m jogs too. 

Check out this excellent dynamic stretch ideas 

Here is a full body option workout. If you prefer to do upper body one day and the following day just do the leg exercises that is fine to break it up into a split routine.

If you are going to do a full body workout, consider working all the joints that day. One way we do that is by using the Push, Pull, Full, Leg, Core, and Cardio method. These circuits have all of these elements into them:

Repeat 3 times
5 minutes jog or walk (or combination)
Pullups 5 (or 2 flexed arm hangs) or replace with DB rows or bicep curls 10
Pushups 10-20 – use knees on ground if needed.
Plank pose 1 minute – use knees on ground if needed.
Half squats 10  (depending on your knees, you can go down half way or hold onto something so your knees take less strain from your full bodyweight)
Dips 10 – do on chair if no parallel bars.

Repeat 3 times
Walk up/down flight of stairs 5 times – if knees do not hurt doing so. If so – just walk or bike.
Crunches 20
Reverse Crunches 20
Lunges 10/leg
MJDB#2 - 10

Repeat 3 times
DB rows 10/arm
DB military press 10
DB bicep curls 10
DB tricep ext 10

Lightweight Shoulder Workout - Keep the shoulders strong but durable using this workout and the following stretching routine in the link. There are some helpful tips to avoid serious shoulder injury too. 

However, these are my favorite calisthenics type workouts. Five Part Series (PT Pyramid, Super Set, others)

If you need to look up these exercises see the on my Youtube Channel Fitness Library Page

Additional Links to Try (Some are advanced but can be easily scaled back)

Weekly Version of a PT Program

Recovery Day

Tactical Fitness Over 40 is a pretty tough intermediate to advanced level of workout program that mixes calisthenics, dumbbells, and cardio options mixed with recovery programming for the athlete over 40 years old.

Good luck
Stew Smith


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Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness