Beginner and Intermediate No-Gym Workouts of the Week

Triceps dips for beginning and intermediate exercisers.
Soldiers of the 89th Sustainment Brigade perform triceps dips during physical training July 23, 2014, in Belton, Missouri. (Sgt. Hector Corea, 366 MPAD/U.S. Army photo)

Here is a moderately challenging workout for those who dabble in exercise at a beginner or intermediate level. Make adjustments when needed; any generic workout is not a personally designed program for you. When in doubt, find an easier option to a listed exercise.

Warmup walk, jog (mix) or bike 10 minutes plus light stretching.

Lightweight shoulder -- using 3- to 5-pound dumbbells: This is a classic shoulder workout using a six-exercise series that can be done with no weight, 3- to 5-pound dumbbells or rubber bands. Repeat this one later in the workout for an extra safe and effective shoulder pump.

The jumping jack squat and push-up repeats are a good way to get the blood flowing, no matter what level of athlete you are. If you prefer, you can replace the jumping jacks with 50- to 100-meter runs mixed with some dynamic stretches to add some cardio movements to your warmup.

Repeat 5 times

Jumping jacks: 10 (short jogs)

Squats: 5-10

Push-ups: 5-10

PT pyramid option: This is a separate workout option if you have no equipment.

You can make a challenging workout solely with the above exercises by using the pyramid method mixed with the short run suggestion. Try this if you have no equipment and only a place to run:

1 push-up, 1 squat, run 50-100 meters

2 push-ups, 2 squats, run 50-100 meters

3 push-ups, 3 squats, run 50-100 meters ...

Keep going up the pyramid until you fail at one of the exercises (most likely will be push-ups), then repeat in reverse order. This way you have a complete full body workout that warms you up, maxes you out and then cools you down. It’s the perfect workout.

We like to do this one on a football field where one end zone is the push-ups section and the other end zone is the squat section. Accumulate reps the same way as above.

This next section is a push/pull/leg/core circuit with options. If you have some equipment (dumbbells or barbell, for example), consider adding the following short circuits if you went with the easier option above:

Repeat 2-3 times

Bench press: 5-10. If you do not have a bench, try them on the floor or do a military press.

Dumbbell military press: 10

DB rows: 10 per arm

Lunges: 5-10 per leg (or do 10 squats)

Abs of choice: 25

This circuit mixes in some calisthenics with cardio options. This circuit is a cardio, push, pull, leg and core circuit if you have anything left in the tank:

Repeat 2-3 times

Bike or jog: 5 minutes

Dips or triceps extensions: 10 (You can do bench dips as an easier option.)

Pull-ups: max or biceps curls: 10

Walk up and down flight of stairs: 2 times (add weight if you prefer)

Plank pose: 1 minute

Cooldown cardio of your choice: easy jog, bike or swim for 10 minutes

Stretch cooldown

Do what you can, especially if you are a beginner to exercise routines. This really would be considered more of an intermediate-level workout, but you can make this scalable for any level of fitness with some slight changes in repetitions and sets as well as choosing an easier option of the exercise. When in doubt, make it easier by doing knee push-ups and knee planks, using no weight in place of dumbbells and doing half-squats if needed. Just keep moving.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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