Stew’s Favorites: Calisthenics and Weight Training

An Army dive team performs burpees.
The Army dive team works on completing 250 burpees during the Diver 250 Challenge at Kuwait Naval Base, July 14, 2012. (Sgt. Peter Berardi/316th Sustainment Command, Expeditionary)

Here is a different type of 50--50 split workout we like to do in October as we slowly transition from higher-rep calisthenics and move into more weight training programs to build strength and power. The term 50--50 refers to the workout being about 50% calisthenics and 50% weight training. This is one of our new workouts we created this fall.

Related articles are periodization, Preparing for the Tactical Fitness Test

Weight room

Burpee/run pyramid:

  • One burpee, run 30 meters
  • Two burpees, run 30 meters
  • Three burpees, run 30 meters
  • Four burpees, run 30 meters
  • Five burpees = burpee 1--5
  • Max pull-ups
  • Max dips
  • Stair crawls down/​up

Burpee pyramid 6--10 (same as above)

  • But fireman carry or farmer walk between burpees
  • Max pull-ups
  • Max dips
  • Stair crawls down/​up

Burpee pyramid 10--6 (same as above -- in reverse)

  • But fireman carry or farmer walk between burpees
  • Max pull-ups
  • Max dips
  • Stair crawls down/​up

Burpee pyramid 5--1

  • Max pull-ups
  • Max dips
  • Stair crawls down/​up

Repeat four times.

  • (Two push/two pull/two full-body exercise/cardio circuit)
  • Tabata interval five minutes
  • (20-second sprint/​10 seconds slow) -- bike/​elliptical
  • Pull-ups max
  • Pulldowns 10, 10 (wide, regular grips)
  • Bench press 10-15
  • Military press 10-15
  • Hang clean 5-10
  • MJDB#2 10-15

This is a good mix of full body, pushing and core calisthenics, with short cardio events, followed by similar events in the weight room.

*If you do not have a flight of steps to stair crawl up/down, then bear crawl for the distance between the burpee pyramids. (The typical distance is a basketball court.) By the end of this 75- to 90-minute workout, you will have worked your entire body.

Now go for a swim or a ruck.

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

Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, has you covered. Subscribe to to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Story Continues