Military Calisthenics Workout: Reach Warrior Fitness

Military Calisthenics Workout

Military Calisthenics are a little secret the US Armed Forces have been hiding for a couple of years now. They’ve been using Calisthenics to train their men and women to be fighters with great results. The reason is simple: Calisthenics does what the military seeks in a soldier when it comes to physical fitness and mental fortitude. Whether you’re prepping for bootcamp or you just like the aesthetics of that military physique, calisthenics can help you achieve your goals. All branches of the military require daily calisthenic exercises from their recruits and for good reason: it builds speed, stamina and strength. Exactly the kind of things military leaders seek from their warriors. With the following Military Calisthenics exercises you too can reach that ideal.

Train like a real warrior? Start with the VAHVA Fitness Warrior program!

Why the Military chose Calisthenics

Calisthenics as we know it, isn’t very old but the military jumped on it because of its effectiveness. Military calisthenics emphasizes building strength but moreover repetition. You need to be able to lift your gear and weapon easily but also, many times repeatedly to be an effective fighter. Army bootcamp is 13 weeks so this home Military calisthenics program will take that amount of time as well. We advise that you don’t do this program and the bootcamp back-to-back. Get one or two weeks of rest in between to allow your body to heal properly.

The thing is, this type of bodily exercise to prepare yourself for war is nothing new. Military Calisthenics in its most fundamental for isn’t new either. Ancient Greek warriors like the famous hoplites trained very similarly to what we would call Military Calisthenics today. So similar in fact, we’d be challenged to name any differences (right down to the diet!). Roman legionaries also had their own version of Military Calisthenics and were among the first to adopt the principle of “you train like you fight; you fight like you trained”. That meant ditching the weights and picking up a shield and wearing armor all day long. 

When modern reenactors tried fighting in a medieval “melee”, that is to say two groups wearing full head-to-toe steel armor and going at it, they found no one could keep up fighting for more than 15 minutes. It was that exhausting. Not only did these reenactments change our historical perception about how battles were fought — Hollywood got it wrong again — it also made modern military thinkers realize one core thing. A soldier’s physical fitness on the battlefield is determined by how often he can repeat a stressful task and in a short amount of time before he or she can’t anymore. Of all fitness branches, Calisthenics fits this description perfectly.

Military Calisthenics thus has a long history of being at the core of victorious professional armies and being adopted by that era’s dominant cultural power; be it Sparta, Athens, Rome, France or America. Whether they were fighting face to face in massed formations or running and shooting, the individual warrior had one thing in common: Military Calisthenics.

The Military Calisthenics Workout

Just like Army Basic Training, our Military Calisthenics Workout is a 13-week routine. If you’re doing this workout in preparation of bootcamp, we advise you to start 15 or 16 weeks in advance. That way, you have a 2-week resting period between completing our Military Calisthenics workout and starting doing Calisthenics again in the actual military. Our workout plan is optimized to build both strength and stamina at the same time. It is not geared towards building muscle bulk, rather to provide you with strong lean muscle mass which can take a burden time and time again.

The Military Calisthenics Workout routine is divided into four phases, each phase being 4 weeks long with a final “Hell Week” phase being 1 week long. Each week within a phase is about the same difficulty level as the other weeks, with a mild progression. Each consecutive phase is harder than the previous phase. This combines both a gradual with an incremental difficulty scale, the best way to see results fast.

Week 1 to 4 Military Calisthenics

Warm-up week, this week is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Do you really allow yourself to lose?

Military Calisthenics Week 1Exercises
 Repeat each set 3 times. Take 2 minutes rest between sets.
Day 1Jumping rope 30 sec.Pull-ups 8-12 repsCrunches 15-20 repsSquats 20 squatsPush-ups 10-15 repsPlank 30 sec.Inverted rows small grip 10-15 repsSprint 20 sec.
Day 2Run 3mi within 35 minutes
Day 3Jumping jacks 60 sec.Walking lunges 10 reps (each side)Pike push-up 10-12 repsDips 15 repsChin-ups 8-10 repsSide crunches 10 (each side)Side planking 30 sec. (each side)Shadow boxing 30 sec.
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 3mi within 35 minutes
Day 6Jumping rope 45 sec.Box jumps 10 repsPlank 45 sec.Pull-ups 8-12 repsDaimond Push-ups 10-12 repsSquats 20 repsKnee raises 15 repsDips 15 reps
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 2Exercises
 HITT: Every exercise is executed for 1 minute followed by a 20-second rest. After completing a round take 3 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 3 times.
Day 1SprintingSkater lungesInverted RowsPush-up Wide GripCrunchesJumping jacksSquats
Day 2Run 4mi within 35 minutes
Day 3Pull-upsPlankPush-upsWalking lungesKnee raisesJumping ropeDaimond push-upsInverted rows
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 4mi within 35 minutes
Day 6SquatsShadow boxingSide crunches (switch for both sides)Monkey barPike push-upDipsChin-upsPlankJumping jacksSprintingBox jumps
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 3Exercises
 Same as week 1 but slightly harder.
Day 1Jumping jacks 50 repsPull-ups 10-15 repsCrunches 20-25 repsSquats 25 squatsPush-ups 15-20 repsPlank 60 sec.Inverted rows small grip 15-17 repsBox jumps 12 reps
Day 2Sprint 30 sec.Jumping rope 60 sec1 minute restRepeat 10 times
Day 3Jumping jacks 50 repsWalking lunges 12 reps (each side)Pike push-up 12-15 repsDips 18-20 repsChin-ups 8-10 repsSide crunches 12 (each side)Side planking 30 sec. (each side)Shadow boxing 50 sec.
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 4mi within 35 minutes
Day 6Burpees 5 repsSquats 20 repsPull-ups 8-12 reps Plank 45 sec.Frog jumps 10 repsDaimond Push-ups 15-17 repsKnee raises 18 repsDips 18-20 reps
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 4Exercises
 Same as week 2 but slightly harder.
Day 1Sprinting(wall) handstandSkater lungesInverted rowsPush-up wide gripCrunchesJumping jacksSquats
Day 2Sprint 40 sec.Jumping rope 80 sec. 1 minute restRepeat 10 times
Day 3Pull-upsPlankPush-upsWalking lungesKnee raisesJumping ropeDaimond push-upsInverted rows
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 4mi within 35 minutes
Day 6Monkey barSquatsSide crunchesBurpeesPike push-upsPlankDipsChin-upsBox jumpsJumping jacks
Day 7Rest

Week 5 to 8 Military Calisthenics

After the first four weeks, you’ll start noticing a change in your body, mentality and physiology. You no longer crave sugar, instead meat and fibrous vegetables become irresistible and you’ll find an almost insatiable hunger for them. This is a good sign; it shows that your body is growing stronger. The Military Calisthenics is having its effect. Eat more and eat health and don’t worry, your body will be putting it all to good use. If you think you might not make it, fight harder!

Military Calisthenics Week 5Exercises
 Pyramid week: start with 2 reps of each exercise, after completing all exercises, start over with 4 reps for each exercise. Repeat the list, adding 2 reps with every revolution until failure. At failure, take a 20-minute rest and repeat from the start once more.
Day 1Push-ups diamond gripInverted pull-ups wide gripSquatsLeg raisesPull-ups small gripCrunchesPush-up hold plank (in sec.)Walking lunges (reps per side)Pike push-up
Day 2Run 2mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 25 minutesJump rope 200 reps in totalSide planking 1 minute per side
Day 3Push-ups wide gripInverted pull-ups small gripWalking lungesKnee raisesPull-ups wide gripSide CrunchesDipsSide lungesPike push-up
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 2mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 20 minutesJump rope 200 reps in totalSide planking 1 minute per side
Day 6Push-upsPull-ups SquatsLeg raisesChin-upsSide lungesDipsPike push-up
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 6Exercises
 Speed: do 6 reps of each exercise, take a 5 second rest and go to the next exercise on the list. Repeat this cycle 5 times. In between cycles, take a 1-minute rest.
Day 1Push-ups diamond gripInverted pull-ups wide gripSquatsLeg raisesPull-ups small gripCrunchesPush-up hold plank (in sec.)Walking lunges (reps per side)Pike push-up
Day 2Run 2mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 25 minutesJump rope 200 reps in totalSide planking 1 minute per side
Day 3Push-ups wide gripInverted pull-ups small gripWalking lungesKnee raisesPull-ups wide gripSide CrunchesDipsSide lungesPike push-up
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 2mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 20 minutesJump rope 200 reps in totalSide planking 1 minute per side
Day 6Push-upsPull-ups SquatsLeg raisesChin-upsSide lungesDipsPike push-up
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 7Exercises
 HITT: Every exercise is executed for 1 minute followed by a 15-second rest. After completing a round take 3 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 4 times.
Day 1Push-upsSquatsPull-upsCrunchesSide plank (each side)Frog jumpsJumping ropeShadow boxing
Day 2Run 3mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 35 minutes
Day 3Walking lungesDipsBox jumpsInverted rowsJumping jacksSkater lungePike push-upSprintShadow boxing
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 3mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 35 minutes
Day 6SprintingPlankJumping lungesSide plank each sidePush-up holdKnee raisesMonkey bar1-leg high jump(wall) Handstand Shadow boxing
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 8Exercises
 Speed: take only a 5 second rest and go to the next exercise on the list. Repeat this cycle 5 times. In between cycles, take a 1-minute rest.
Day 1Jumping jacks 100 reps1-leg squat max reps per sidePike push-ups 18-20 repsLeg raises 5-10 repsInverted pull-ups max repsPlank 60-80 sec.Push-ups ide grip max repsWalking lunges 17 per sideSprinting 35 sec.Side crunches 18-22 per side
Day 2Intermittent running with a 5kg weighted vest: 1 minute sprint, 90 sec. Walk repeat 12 times
Day 3Squats 50 repsPull-ups max reps1-leg high jump 15 reps per sideCrunches 18-22 per sideDips max repsHandstand max holdBurpees 10-12 repsJumping rope 60 sec.Skater lunge 10 reps per sideBox jumps 15 reps
Day 4Rest
Day 5Intermittent running with a 5kg weighted vest: 1 minute sprint, 90 sec. Walk repeat 12 times
Day 6Jumping jacks 100 repsBox jumps 12-15 repsSide crunches 22-25 repsChin-up max repsPike push-ups max repsLeg raises 8-10 reps1-leg squat max reps per sideBurpees 10-12 repsPlank 60-80 sec.Walking lunges 18 per sidePush-up small grip max reps
Day 7Rest

Week 9 to 12 Military Calisthenics

In Ancient Rome, you first had to serve in the army before you could run for elections. Seeing as their training was about the same as our Military Calisthenics, what does that say about their politicians? Or rather, what does it say about ours? Are you ready to take your responsibility and serve your country? If you give up now, you’re not failing your country, you’re failing yourself.

Military Calisthenics Week 9Exercises
 HITT: Every exercise is executed for 70 seconds followed by a 15-second rest. After completing a round take 3 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 4 times.
Day 1Frog jumps1-leg squatArcher pull-upsChin-upsShadow boxingRope jumpingArcher push-upsLeg raisesSide knee raises
Day 2Intermittent running with a 5kg weighted vest: 1 minute sprint, 1 minute walk. Repeat 10 times.
Day 3Train with a weighted vest max 2-5 kg Monkey barSide pank (both sides)Pull-up wide gripSide lungesPush-up small gripSquatsPike-push upSprinting
Day 4Rest
Day 5Intermittent running with a 5kg weighted vest: 1 minute sprint, 1 minute walk. Repeat 10 times.
Day 6Box jumpsJumping jacksBurpeesPlankLeg raisesArcher pull-upsArcher push-ups1-leg squatSide crunchesDips
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 10Exercises
 Pyramid week: start with 2 reps of each exercise, after completing all exercises, start over with 4 reps for each exercise. Repeat the list, adding 2 reps with every revolution until failure. At failure, take a 20-minute rest and repeat from the start once more.
Day 1Push-upsInverted pull-ups SquatsLeg raisesPull-ups small gripSide crunches (per side)DipsWalking lunges (reps per side)Pike push-up
Day 2Run 6mi as fast as you canJumping rope 200 repsPlanking 3x 90 sec.
Day 3Push-ups wide gripInverted pull-ups small gripWalking lungesKnee raisesPull-ups wide grip CrunchesDipsSide lungesPike push-up
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 6mi as fast as you canJumping rope 200 repsPlanking 3x 90 sec.
Day 6Pull-upClapping push-up1-leg squatLeg raisesChin-upsPush-up small gripSide lungesCrunchesPike push-up
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 11Exercises
 Speed: take only a 5 second rest and go to the next exercise on the list. Repeat this cycle 5 times. In between cycles, take a 1-minute rest.
Day 1Walking lunges with weighted vest 5 reps per sideBurpees 10 repsArcher pull-up 3-5 repsLeg raises max repsArcher push-ups 3-5 reps1-leg squat 8-10 reps per sideShadow boxing 60 sec.Box jumps max reps
Day 2Run 4mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 45 minutes
Day 3Train with a weighted vest max 5 kg Inverted row 20 repsJumping jacks 75 repsSquats 20-30 repsPush-up 10-15 reps1-leg high jump max reps per sidePull-up 8-12 repsDip 10-15 repsPike push-up max reps
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 4mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 45 minutes
Day 6Archer pull-ups 3-8 reps per sideArcher push-ups 3-8 reps per side1-leg squat 10 reps per side1-leg high jump 15 per sideWindshield wipers (side raises when not possible) max reps per sideCrunches max repsBurpees 10-15 repsMonkey bar 5 repsAdvanced pike push-up 5-10 repsJumping rope 100 reps
Day 7Rest
Military Calisthenics Week 12Exercises
 HITT: Every exercise is executed for 90 seconds followed by a 20-second rest. After completing a round take 5 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 3 times.
Day 1Train with a weighted vest 5-10 kg Box jumpsJumping jacksArcher pull-upsJumping ropeBurpeesDipsWalking lungesLeg raisesFrog jumps
Day 2Run 6mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 60 minutes
Day 3Train with a weighted vest 5-10 kg Inverted row 20 repsJumping jacks 75 repsSquats 20-30 repsPush-up 10-15 reps1-leg high jump max reps per sidePull-up 8-12 repsDip 10-15 repsPike push-up max reps
Day 4Rest
Day 5Run 6mi with a weighted vest (max 5 kg) within 55 minutes
Day 6Jumping lungesArcher push-upsSide planking (per side)Archer pull-upsBox jumpsLeg raisesFrog jumpsBurpeesJumping ropeSprint
Day 7Rest

Hell Week

You’ve made it, this is the final stretch. This week will require everything from you, mentally and physically. But rise to the moment and you can prevail!

Hell WeekExercises
 Hell Week is Hell.
Day 1Pyramid day: start with 2 reps of each exercise, after completing all exercises, start over with 4 reps for each exercise. Repeat the list, adding 2 reps with every revolution until failure. At failure, take a 5-minute rest and repeat from the start once more. Train with a weighted vest 2-5 kg Push-upsPull-upsDipsLeg raises1-leg squat1-leg high jumpWindshield wipers/side leg raisesChin-upsBox jumps
Day 2HITT: Every exercise is executed for 60 seconds followed by a 10-second rest. After completing a round take 2 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 3 times.Jumping jacksJumping ropeShadow boxingSprint Afternoon,Run 6mi with a weighted vest of 5kg
Day 3HITT: Every exercise is executed for 60 seconds followed by a 10-second rest. After completing a round take 2 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 3 times. CrunchesSide CrunchesLeg raisesBurpeesPlankingV-raisesSide plankingSupermanL-sit
Day 4Rest
Day 5Intermittent running: run 3mi as fast as you can. Walk 3mi. Repeat cycle once more.Intermittent rope jumps: jump rope 100 reps, sprint for 30 seconds. Repeat cycle 10 times.
Day 6Speed HITT: Every exercise is executed for 60 seconds followed by a 1-minute rest. After completing a round take 2 minutes rest. Repeat rounds 5 times. Train with a weighted vest 5 kg 1-arm pull-up/archer pull-up max repsLeg raises max reps1-arm push-up/archer push-ups max reps1-leg squat max repsBox jumps max repsChin-ups max repsDips max repsJumping lunges max repsHandstand push-ups max repsWindshield wipers max reps1-leg high jump max reps
Day 7Rest & rejoice. You made it.

You Are a Warrior(?)

Congratulations if you made it through our Military Calisthenics workout. It was a true test of mental and physical fortitude but like with all delayed gratification, the rewards are well worth the effort. Your body will be better able to cope with the stress of whatever the army throws at you and you will heal faster. You’ll reach that desired level quicker and not suffer the same pain as your past self would have.

Will you make it through boot camp easily now? No, not easily but much easier for sure. Instructors are trained professionals in Military Calisthenics themselves and they will know soon enough what your limits are. They’ll see your warrior physique and notice how much easier you have it than the rest. It is their job to push you to your limit, whatever that limit may be. If you can do five sets, they’ll demand you do seven. It will seem unfair and you need to learn to not give a damn about that unfairness right away. Only a can-do attitude which doesn’t care about fair and unfair treatment will survive.

Train like a real warrior? Start with the VAHVA Fitness Warrior program!

One tip: Don’t brag or make it all seem too easy. We’re not saying you should try to fool your instructors, but there’s no reason to attract their attention either. Shower time is naked and public anyway. So, you can’t hide it. Just don’t flaunt it either.

Useful Equipment for Military Calisthenics

In the military, you won’t have the luxury of ergonomically fitted Calisthenics equipment. Whichever way we prepare you, there will be some difference between training by yourself and having a Sergeant yelling in your face, telling you get your face in the mud and do push-ups. Parody aside, using a Weighted Vest will mimic the extra gear you’ll be carrying as a soldier. In particular during combat situations, the Weighted Vest will be very reminiscent in fit, size and weight of your body armor.

Frequently Asked Questions about Military Calisthenics

Here are a few questions we see about Military Calisthenics and why the Military uses Calisthenics.

Does the military use calisthenics?

The military uses Calisthenics as its integral physical exercise routine to train all their personnel. It doesn’t matter what branch of the military you apply for or whether you’re becoming a private, an NCO or an officer; everyone has to do basic training. This basic training makes heavy use of Military Calisthenics.

Why does the military use calisthenics?

Military Calisthenics is the most effective and efficient in sculpting men and women in the warriors. Of all fitness branches, Calisthenics is best geared towards a military use because of its combination of strength, stamina and repeated exercises. Military Calisthenics has been in use to train soldiers since ancient times in some form or other.

Do Navy SEALs do calisthenics?

The Navy SEALs make heavy use of Military Calisthenics and adaptations of Calisthenics for both their core training and upkeep training. If you’re going to be a Navy SEAL, expect to do a lot of Military Calisthenics along with swimming and diving.

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