A lot of guys assume that calisthenics are a poor substitute for traditional weights when the goal is increased strength and muscle definition. One look at the Navy SEALs explodes this myth. The SEALs are famously lean, strong and ripped-and they owe virtually none of it to pumping iron.
No, sir. You’ll never catch a SEAL candidate in the act of hamstring curling, upright rowing, bench pressing or, heck, even military pressing. Throughout their training, SEALs do not so much as touch a barbell, dumbbell or pulley bar. Sure, during training they may lift heavy logs as part of a team, but they toughen their muscles for combat by doing calisthenics. Lots and lots of calisthenics.
Chances are you have little reason to become as tough as a Navy SEAL. However, you probably wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to have a SEAL’s body: lean, peeled and capable of just about anything. The good news is that the fastest and most efficient way to build this kind of physique requires nothing more than a couple of chairs and a challenging total-body calisthenics workout modeled after the Navy’s notorious “physical training” regimen.
The workout was developed by former SEAL Stew Smith, a fitness coach and the author of Maximum Fitness: The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Cross Training. “The purpose of the workout is general conditioning,” says Smith. “It involves lots of dynamic movements that work several muscles together, and there’s very little rest, so it builds endurance and develops muscle that not only looks good but is useful, too.” Other key advantages of the workout: It burns serious amounts of fat, it takes only about 25 minutes to complete, and you can do it almost anywhere-at home or on the road.
The “full-body PT circuit workout,” as Smith calls it, contains 14 sets and 11 individual exercises and is meant to be performed twice with no rest between sets or circuits. However, if you’re a fat blob or a puny wimp (pardon our indulgence in boot-camp-style browbeating), feel free to do the circuit just once, with 30-second rests between exercises. Then, as you get tougher, you can up the intensity. The rep numbers given below are for intermediate-level tough guys. Adjust them downward or upward as appropriate. This workout is nothing if not customizable. “I give this routine to everyone from collegiate football players to middle-aged moms,” says