Best Workouts For Military-Like Fitness

Yesterday, we took a look at 10 tips on getting a military level fitness. Today, I am going to give you the low-down on some of the best workouts for military-like fitness.

Here, you will be getting specific and executable workouts that will get you lean and fit like a military elite. And while following these workouts, you can use the tips we discussed yesterday to maximize gains and minimize losses.

Military-Like Fitness


One point I would like to mention is that there are several hundred workout routines to get military-like fitness. Most of these are available online for free if you do a little digging.

This article, however, will only be looking at my choice workout for military-level fitness.

I choose this one because our armed forces use it, it’s easily scalable, and it’s a Monday-to-Friday workout.

That being said, if you follow this workout strategy properly, there is no reason for you not to make progress.

And with enough hard work and determination, the progress will result in you being as fit as the military elites.

My Recommendation For You To Get Military-Like Fitness:

If you want to get as fit as a soldier, train like one!!!

This is why I found myself gravitating towards The U.S. Army Physical Fitness Program. This fitness routine is simple, effective, and proven to work.

It focuses on three aspects of fitness: push-ups, sit-ups and running.

I know that the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) assesses the fitness of the servicemen and servicewomen using these aspects.

Military-Like Fitness With Army Physical Fitness Test

So, why should you follow this workout routine?

Well, it will help improve your strength, muscle volume, endurance, stamina, and endurance. Exercising on a daily basis will also strengthen your willpower, mental capability, focus, determination, and drive.

This fitness routine has two components, cardiovascular and resistance training.

Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular training with this routine is straightforward but challenging at the same time.

That’s because here, you have to run. However, you will be instructed to run between 2 and 8 miles on a daily basis.

Military-Like Fitness With Cardiovascular Training

Within cardio, you will be asked to switch between steady state cardio and interval training regularly.

  • Steady State Cardio is when you run or jog at a steady pace for your whole run.
  • Interval Cardio Training with cardio is when you vary your pace and incline every set period.
The benefit of this simple exercise is that you can improve the difficulty as you develop your fitness. The goal should always be to push your body and mind to the limit.

So, if running for 2 miles doesn’t even break a sweat, you are not pushing yourself hard enough. Going at it easy is actually why most people make slow progress at the gym.

Resistance Training

You may have heard of resistance training being also known as strength training. These workouts can be done with bodyweight or by using gym weights.

Resistance training allows your body to increase muscle strength and volume while eliminating stored fat.

Military-Like Fitness With Resistance Training

The critical aspect of this training is to go at it with 120% of your energy and willpower. This is also the reason drill sergeants are always pacing back and forwards to make sure no one falls behind.

The best way you can maximize this workout routine is to push yourself to the brink and reach ‘muscle failure.’

This is when you give your all and completely exhaust that muscle.

You want to achieve this for every workout and training session you do. This is because it’s the only indication that you have pushed your body to its limit for maximum strength gain. 

And when you reach failure, your body will get stronger after recovery, increasing that limit even further.

This training will help you quickly become stronger than the guys who aren’t sweating as they exit the gym.

Overview Of Your Workout Schedule For Military-Like Fitness:

If you want to get military-like fitness, it isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

So, be mentally and physically prepared.

Every day, the scheduled exercises will differ, but the general structure will remain the same:

  • Warm-Up: Stretching and/or calisthenics for 5-15 minutes
  • Exercises: Cardio, resistance training, or both for 30-50 minutes
  • Cool-Down: Stretching for 5-10 minutes

As for the week’s training, I have found five workout routines that you do for one hour for five days.

My decision to pick a Monday to Friday workout routine was simple:

  • Most of us already have a weekday schedule due to work; this will make training easier to integrate.
  • No matter how dedicated you are, you’ll be happy to know that you have two free days on the weekend.
  • Saturday and Sunday are designated as rest days to recuperate the mind and muscles stressed all week.
Now, on to the actual workout schedule:
  • Monday: Cardio (Interval Cardio)
  • Tuesday: Resistance Training (Upper Body)
  • Wednesday: Cardio (Steady State Cardio)
  • Thursday: Resistance Training (Lower Body)/ Cardio (Steady State Cardio)
  • Friday: Cardio (Interval Cardio)

You should also not just stick to this routine for too long. Swap out the cardio with an outdoor sport of your choice when you desire.

Military-Like Fitness Stretching Routines

Before and after every workout session, you need to do your stretches.

Before your training, they help to relax and loosen your muscles with improved oxygenated blood flow. They help you avoid muscle cramps, delay lactic acid buildup, and improve performance.

After your training, stretching helps relax tense muscles while cooling your body down. This prevents post-workout soreness from occurring.

Either way, you save yourself a lot of head (and muscle) ache by adequately stretching.

Here are some stretches you should be doing:

Shoulder Shrugs

Keep your arms relaxed at your side while rotating your shoulders up and down. Make sure you move them slowly and in small circular rotations.

Military Like Fitness With Shoulder Shrugs

Chest Stretch

Find and hold onto a vertical object with one hand. Now, stretch your body away from said arm. You should feel your chest muscles stretching. Do the same with the other arm now.

Military Like Fitness With Chest Stretch

Forearm Stretch

Keep your left arm straight with your palm pointed upwards. Now use your right hand to pull your left palm backward to stretch your forearm. Repeat the same with your other arm.

Military Like Fitness With Forearm Stretch

Arm/Shoulder Stretch

First, put your left arm across your chest horizontally. Now gently pull the left elbow with your right hand across your chest. Repeat the same with your other arm.

Military Like Fitness With Arm Shoulder Stretch

Triceps Stretch

Move both your arms over and behind your head. Now, take your right elbow with your left hand and pull towards your left shoulder. Repeat the same with your other arm.

Military Like Fitness With Triceps Stretch

Stomach Stretch

Start by lying on your stomach and pushing up with your palms. Now lift your head and shoulder to look up at the ceiling.

Military Like Fitness With Stomach Stretch

Calf Stretch

Perform the calf stretch by placing one foot in front of the other with 2-3 feet in between. Make sure your toes are pointing in the same direction. Now put your body weight on your rear leg while slightly bending the same leg.

Military Like Fitness With Calf Stretch

ITB Stretch

The Iliotibial Band Stretch has you sitting on a flat surface with your legs crossed in front. Now bend the top leg towards your chest while keeping the foot on the outside of your other thigh. Repeat the same with your other leg.

Military Like Fitness With ITB Stretch

Thigh Stretch

You can stand or lie on your side for this one. If standing, bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Now pull the heel towards your butt while pushing the hips forward. Repeat the same with your other leg.

Military Like Fitness With Thigh Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

To stretch out your hamstrings, bend forward and touch your toes while standing. Make sure that your knees have a slight bend, but the back is straight.

Military Like Fitness With Hamstring Stretch

For the stretches mentioned above, do two sets of each for every stretching session. Try to hold each position for 10-15 seconds to get the most benefit.

It’s worth mentioning again that you should do these stretches before and after your training. You should also do them on a daily basis, even on rest days.

Monday Training: Cardio (Interval Cardio)

For a great start to your week, I recommend cardio to get the blood pumping and muscles breathing.

Start with 5-15 minutes of stretches and some like calisthenics. These include jumping rope, jumping jacks and jogging on the spot.

Now for the training session:

Here, you will be jogging on a treadmill or outdoors. Since its interval cardio, you should vary your pace or speed.

If you are using a treadmill, it lets you keep track of the exercise time. And if you are running outdoors, a digital wristwatch with a built-in stopwatch is an excellent choice.

Military-Like Fitness With Interval Cardio

This session should take 33 minutes to complete.

Just alternate between the two pace speeds:

  • Jogging for 5 minutes at a moderate pace
  • Running for 2 minutes at a fast pace

Do this four times finishing with a 5-minute moderately paced jog.

After this, spend 5-10 minutes slowly walking to cool down followed by full body stretching.

Tuesday Training: Resistance Training (Upper Body)

Tuesday, we will be doing resistance training aimed at the upper body.

First and foremost, stretching.

Next, we get to the core workout session:

Standard Push-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

First, lie down on the ground and set your palms on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift your body up while keeping it straight. Move all the way up while still keeping your head facing downwards. Now move back down slowly without bending your back or legs until your chest touches the floor.

Military Like Fitness With Standard Push-Ups

That’s one rep done. Now, perform this exercise until your body says ‘screw you.’

Jumping Jacks (50 Reps)

Stand up straight with your feet together and arms to the side. Now hop with your feet apart while waving your arms up above your head. After you finish one hop, do the same in reverse where you end up with how you started.

Military Like Fitness With Jumping Jacks

That’s one Jumping Jack done. Repeat this 49 more times.

Bent-Knee Crunches (25 Reps)

Crunches are designed to work your abdominal muscles for a stronger core. Bent-knee crunches start with you lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Now, place your hands behind your head and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Get as far as you can and then return to the ground.

Military Like Fitness With Bent-Knee Crunches

Do this, and you will have done one repetition of the bent-knee crunches. I recommend doing 25 in one set.

Diamond Push-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

The Diamond Push-Up is the big brother of the standard push-up. It’s a more advanced version that increases the load on your triceps and shoulders. Just get into the same position as the standard pushup but move your hand position directly beneath your chest. Make sure that the index fingers and thumbs of both hands are touching to form a diamond shape.

Military Like Fitness With Diamond Push-Ups

Now, follow the same up and down motion as with the standard pushup. Do this until failure.

Jumping Jacks (50 Reps)

Now, we do the same Jumping Jacks as earlier. However, this time, we get 50 reps done.

Military-Like Fitness By Doing Jumping Jacks

Reverse Crunches (25 Reps)

As I have mentioned earlier, all crunches work your abs. And reverse crunches are no different. For this, you want to lie down with your legs bent and in the air. Now, clench your core muscles and lift your legs up in the air. After reaching the top, come back down slowly.

Military Like Fitness With Reverse Crunches

Congrats, you just completed one rep of Reverse Crunches. Now you only have 24 left.

Wide-Arm Push-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

Standard and diamond push-ups aim for your chest, shoulders, and triceps. But if you do a wide-arm push-up, you are working more of your chest then the other muscles.

Military Like Fitness With Wide-Arm Push-Ups

And like the other push-ups, this routine requires you to go full throttle until you run out of gas.

Jumping Jacks (50 Reps)

Jumping jacks are included in this workout because they help relax your body. They also help stretch out your muscles that have tensed up during your to-failure push-ups.

Military-Like Fitness With 50 Jumping Jacks

Do another 50 rep set of Jumping Jacks this time.

Bruce Lee Sit-Ups (25 Reps)

Also known as the Dragon Flag sit-up, this was Bruce Lee’s signature move. To do this, you are going to need a flat surface to lie down on. To start, elevate your legs, hips, and torso straight up. And I mean straight like a pencil. Then, you are going to lower your body until you almost touch the ground slowly. Just as you are about to touch the ground, stop and come back up.

Military-Like Fitness With Bruce Lee Sit-Ups

If you managed to do this, you just did one Bruce Lee Sit-Up. Good luck to you and your 25 rep set.

When you complete one circuit of this workout, take two minutes to stretch out your muscles.

After stretching, repeat this workout twice more with a 2-minute stretch in between.

That’s it. You just completed the exercise part of your Tuesday workout. Follow this with a good 5-10 minutes stretching and light calisthenics for cooling down.

NOTE: Remember that you should never hurry through any exercise. Ensure that you are maintaining the right form for all exercises to prevent injury and maximize gains.  

Wednesday Training: Cardio (Steady State Cardio)

Like before, we start this day with a 10-minute session of warm-ups and calisthenics.

On Wednesday, we will be performing steady state cardio.

Military-Like Fitness With Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio is a cardiovascular exercise that requires a steady and continuous effort to complete. This is usually done for an extended time and is the most commonly used cardio pattern.

This exercise helps burn fat, improve endurance and improve insulin sensitivity. There are different types including using the treadmill, elliptical, bike, and stair climber. You can do these outdoors as well and can be a little more refreshing, in my opinion.

We will be jogging for our steady state cardio exercise for 45 minutes.

You should start by aiming for a heart rate of less than 55% of your max heart rate. After a few weeks, increase this to 65-90% of max heart rate. Also, know that you are doing the workout too lightly if you easily talk to someone when jogging.

Of course, following your jogging session, take 10 minutes to walk slowly and cool down.

Thursday Training: Resistance Training (Lower Body)  & Cardio (SSC)

For our Thursday workout, we will be working our lower body with some resistance training and steady state cardio.

Before this, however, is the obligatory 10-15 minute warm-up with stretching and calisthenics.

The resistance training should take about 30 minutes depending on your pace.

The exercises don’t have rep counts because you should be doing them for 2 minutes or failure, whichever comes first.

If you do hit failure, don’t stop moving. Just drop to your knees and keep at it until the 2 minutes are up. For this, I recommend getting help from a training partner or using a stopwatch to keep track.

Standard Push-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

This is the same push-up we did on Monday.

Military-Like Fitness With The Standard Push-Ups

Regular Sit-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

Regular Sit-Ups are similar to the Bent-knee crunches we did on Monday. However, the difference is that regular sit-ups require us to move our whole torso up to touch your knees. So, to do this, start with lying down on your back with your knees bent. Now tilt your upper body up like you are sitting up but without moving your lower body.

Military Like Fitness With Regular Sit-Ups

One cycle is one rep. Do this for two minutes and move on.

Elevated Push-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

This is the same as a Standard Pushup, just with your feet on an elevated platform. Use a bench, chair or anything that works to support your toes as you keep your hands on the ground.

Military Like Fitness With Elevated Push Ups

Same as before, work it for 2 minutes or until failure.

Torso Twisting Sit-Ups (2 Minutes Or To Failure)

Next, we have the Torso Twisting Sit-Ups. Here, we start with the position of the regular sit-up. Then, as we start lifting the upper body off the floor, we twist our torso. The hands should be behind the head, and our left elbow should touch our right knee.

Military-Like Fitness With Torso Twisting Sit-Ups

Alternate between left and right for two minutes to finish the resistance training section of today’s workout.

Rejoice, you only have to do one set of this grueling workout. However, next, you get to enjoy a one-mile jog at a moderate pace.

After you have achieved this, you can cool down with some slow walking and stretches.

Friday Training: Cardio (Interval Cardio)

It’s Friday and the final day of our first week of workouts for military-like fitness.

If you aren’t exhausted and struggling to keep up, either you are already military fit or aren’t working hard enough.

Now, let’s get with it.

Start with your warm-up using calisthenics and stretches.

After warming up, we will be doing interval cardio training as we did on Monday.

Military-Like Fitness With Interval Cardio Training

Here, I want you to use a stopwatch to keep track as you do the following:
  • Jog for 5 minutes (moderate pace)
  • Run for 3 minutes (fast pace)
  • Jog for 5 minutes (moderate pace)
  • Run for 3 minutes (fast pace)
  • Jog for 5 minutes (moderate pace)
  • Run for 3 minutes (fast pace)
  • Jog for 5 minutes (moderate pace)
  • Run for 3 minutes (fast pace)
  • Jog for 5 minutes (moderate pace)
  • Walk for 3 minutes (slow pace)

The final slow walk works as a cool down for your cardio. Furthermore, you should also do some stretching to relax and loosen up those muscles.

Congratulations, you have completed one whole week of workouts that will get you military-like fitness in no time.

Performing this workout routine will start showing results in a matter of days/weeks, as long as you stick to it.

Precautions To Take Before Trying To Get Military-Like Fitness

Before you get your running shoes and start this workout routine, there are a few precautions you should note:

Prior Fitness Level

Similar to most military fitness programs, this routine is not for the faint-hearted. It is grueling, challenging and very strenuous on the body.

If you don’t have a certain level of fitness beforehand, you may be in for some pain and even injury. You should always be aware of your limits and work on improving these.

Military-Like Fitness And Prior Fitness Level

The reason most people quit such intensive workout programs is that they overestimate their physical capabilities.

You can do these workouts regardless of your fitness level. However, a superior fitness level will make it slightly easier.

But if you are just a beginner who wants to get military-like fitness, don’t despair. You too can do this training for your desired results. All you have to do is start small and increase difficulty incrementally.

That means that starting your workouts with 50% difficult of the drills mentioned above.

After a few weeks, your body will adapt to 50% difficulty.

At this point, you can raise the difficult incrementally to 70, 80, 90, and 100% at the end.

Risk Of Injuries

When working out, there is always a risk of injury. However, doing military-like fitness drills are more strenuous on the body, increasing the chance of injury.

This is something you are going to keep in mind before and while working out.

Properly stretching and warming up your muscles will go a long way to avoid injury.

Another easy way to reduce the chance of injury is to perform the exercises with the right form. The incorrect form is the biggest reason people get hurt during workouts.

Military-Like Fitness And Risk Of Injuries

Dehydration is a big problem as well. People underestimate the importance of water and staying hydrated. Severe dehydration is very bad for your body and can damage your organs and muscles.

The importance of staying hydrated is drilled into cadets during military training. But since you are going to do these workouts by yourself, you should watch out for the signs of dehydration.

Bottom line: Drink plenty of water, stay hydrated, and get military-like fitness.

Workout Aids

Military personnel don’t get to the fitness level they are expected to have just by eating army rations. I found out that many soldiers also take nutrient and mineral supplements.

These supplements often work to help these guys keep up with training and excel ahead of their peers.

I have talked to my friends in the military, and they have said that they use products designed by soldiers. There are a few products I was pointed to, but one that caught my eye was Battle Ready Fuel.

Military-Like Fitness With Battle Ready Fuel

Ex-SAS operative Ollie Ollerton is the one responsible for bringing us Battle Ready Fuel. According to their official page, they have 13 supplements on offer. These include bodybuilding, fitness, and health supplements.

I have also reviewed Battle Ready Fuel and found its supplements to be very compatible with our military-like fitness workout.

That said, there are several other workout performance boosters you can take to improve your results.

However, one thing you shouldn’t do is take anabolic steroids to improve performance.

These are bad for your health and will give you some long-term side effects which you are better off avoiding.

User Reviews On Getting Military-Like Fitness:

I know most of you are unsure if you can get through this difficult fitness workout routine.

This is why I found a few people who have done similar workouts for their personal experiences:

Margret From Texas

The reason I wanted to get fit was that I had gained a few pounds. Furthermore, my husband was just about to come back to the States after finishing his tour in the Gulf.

I took a look at the local gyms and fitness centers but they didn’t have any fast-acting weight loss programs. So, after checking online, I came across this article on military-like fitness.

Doing this workout for the first three weeks was very painful for me. I wasn’t able to recover my strength and stamina before the next workout day would begin.

To combat this problem, I started taking some pre-workout and post-workout supplements I bought online. These helped improve my recovery and allowed me to get more reps through.

Trying this workout for 6 weeks, I was left with little body fat and a visible increase in muscle mass. When my husband came home, he was surprised with my toned physique.

Overall, for this workout routine, I will give it a good 8.5/10. The reason I can’t give a 10 is that it is truly difficult to achieve right off the bat. To achieve max reps, you need to have a fit body in the first place.

Either way, if you are interested in weight loss, lean muscle, and muscle strength, this is a great workout routine.

Emanuel From Arizona

To start off, I was actually not a fan of this workout when I initially read about it. However, I decided to try it out because my brother wanted to.

  1. The first day was doable because both of us play soccer, so could manage the interval cardio.
  2. The second day was bad. We both barely finished any of the sets. It also didn’t take long for us to reach failure.
  3. Our third day was the breather we needed. We were still tired but it wasn’t as bad as the strength training from before.
  4. The fourth day brought with it the pain and suffering we expected from this military-like fitness training.
  5. The final day was a lot easier then we thought it would be. Even so, we were sweating like nobody’s business.

After the first week, we talked about whether we wanted to continue with this or try some other workout. At the end, we decided to give this a go for the whole month and reassess.

Now, after doing these workouts for military-like fitness, I can say with 100% certainty that they work. Both I and my brother are noticeably bigger, especially in our chest, biceps, and thighs.

That being said, I feel that anyone who starts this program should be mentally prepared to successfully get through it.

So, Do You Have What It Takes To Get Military-Like Fitness?

If you have managed to read through this whole article, congrats, you are serious about getting military-like fitness.

One thing I would like to reiterate is that getting a military-like fitness score isn’t going to be easy. But it is possible to achieve.

Military-Like Fitness Is Possible To Achieve

Just work hard, push yourself, take care to avoid injuries, and follow the routines set here.

If you do this, you should see yourself get stronger, leaner, and more muscular within weeks.

The best part is that you can increase the workout intensity of the workout to suit your progress.

To conclude, if you set your mind to it, getting a military-like fitness is predestined.
Mikael Gomez
About Mikael Gomez 78 Articles
Mikael is a health nutrition expert and loves mountain biking. Mikael started his health product research journey about 6 years ago and still loves doing it. Apart from spending time on his study, research & literature, he plays basketball regularly and is a fitness freak. Follow me on Linkedin

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