Workout of the Week: Creative Edition

Trail running is a good idea for training while being socially distant.
Georgia National Guardsman Sgt. Brandon M. Chase, representing 78th Aviation Troop Command, Marietta, Ga., runs the 2-mile trail event during the Georgia Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition. (Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom Jr./Georgia National Guard)

Whether you are avoiding the COVID-19 virus by staying indoors or are away from the gym with the military in the field, on a ship, submarine or on deployment, you have to get creative with your training -- period. You may not be able to lift heavy weights for a while or go running and swimming in the community or base facilities.

No worries. Just as workouts always have been written for the men and women on deployment, here are some things we are doing in our household during this time.

Fortunately, we can run the neighborhood and wooden trails in the area, so that helps with variety and fresh air. If you can do that, I highly recommend getting some fresh air and sunlight, even if only going out for a walk with the puppies.

Here are some confined quarters and indoor workouts to try out this week:

1. A deck of cards. You can assign exercises to certain numbers, face cards, colors and suits. For instance, we did a whole deck of cards of push-ups and abs of choice or plank pose, alternating each flip of the card:

Numbers 1-10 were simply reps of either push-ups or abs of choice, depending on the flip number. Odd numbers were push-ups, and even numbers were abs or plank poses.

Face cards were either 20 push-ups or 30-second plank poses, depending on the flip number.

Aces were 25 push-ups, 25 abs of choice or 1-minute plank pose

Jokers were 50 push-ups, 50 abs of choice or two-minute plank pose

This one took awhile to complete, and there was a puddle of sweat in my garage mat after I finished. We used to do this one when onboard ship or submarine all the time. One day was a series of upper-body exercises, and the following day was a series of lower-body exercises (squats, lunges, tuck jumps and jumping jacks).

Another fun option is to get the FitDeck, created by former Navy SEAL Phil Black. He took all the thinking out of which exercises to do for each flip of the card. Just shuffle the deck, and you get a new workout.

2. Go to YouTube or stream exercise videos. You can access countless yoga, pilates, Body Pump and even boot camp-style workouts that you follow in your TV room. Most require minimal equipment or none at all. There is even a Navy SEAL grinder PT workout.

3. With the change of seasons, I am getting back into the spring calisthenics and cardio cycle. The loss of facilities is actually not a disruptor if you understand seasonal periodization.

Our workouts this week focus on progressing back into calisthenics, PT pyramids and running. For instance, we did pull-ups, push-ups, abs of choice and dips or bench dips before running.

The workout looked like this:

Pyramid each set. Pull-ups x 1, push-ups x 2, abs of choice x 3, dips x 2 (use a variety of grips for pull-ups, hand stances for push-ups, and core exercises for abs of choice each set, such as wide grip, narrow grip, flutter kicks, leg tucks, knee ups, sit-ups, crunches, bench dips, or military press for dips, etc.).

Set 1: 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups, 3 abs, 2 dips -- short run of 100 meters or 15 seconds of jumping jacks or jump rope

Set 2: 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, 6 abs, 4 dips -- short run of 100 meters or 15 seconds of jumping jacks or jump rope

Set 3: 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 abs, 6 dips -- short run of 100 meters or 15 seconds of jumping jacks or jump rope

Set 4: 4 pull-ups, 8 push-ups, 12 abs, 8 dips -- short run of 100 meters or 15 seconds of jumping jacks or jump rope

Every 5th set, make a small change to run distance:

Set 5: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 abs, 10 dips -- run 1 mile or do eight minutes on bike or cardio machine

Keep increasing up the pyramid until you fail to get the reps even if assisted pull-ups/negatives, then repeat in reverse order. Keep in mind, every fifth set is a long cardio option.

Get creative to add or replace exercises and watch your PT numbers soar.

Related articles:

Workouts On Ship -- Training for BUD/S

Workouts on Deployment

Swimming Replacement

Workouts During Social Distanci

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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