Favorite Workout of the Week

A Marine recruit performs side planks.
A recruit with Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, performs a side plank during a physical training session at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Jan. 23, 2018. (Lance Cpl. Jose Gonzalez/Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego)

This week, our favorite upper-body workout was centered by a workout called Death by Push-ups. The way it works is, you start with the group in the push-up position and you stay in the push-up position or plank pose for the time you progress up a pyramid each minute.

So the first minute, you only do one push-up. You do two push-ups the second minute and three push-ups the third. You keep going up as a group. Our stopping point was 20 minutes, which equals 210 push-ups, but it also equals about 20 minutes of plank pose variety (side planks, etc.).

The rules are that you cannot stand up or touch your knees to the floor. After the push-ups "warmup," we did the remaining routine below and focused on pulling and shoulder balance.

Warmup -- 10-minute bike or run Death by push-ups -- 20 minutes

Stay in the push-up position the entire time. Each minute add a push-up: one push-up the first minute, two push-ups the second minute, etc., up to 20 push-ups/20 minutes. Your knees should not touch the ground.

Lightweight shoulder

Repeat 4 times

  • Run 5 minutes
  • Pull-ups max
  • Pull-downs 10
  • Rows 10 per arm
  • Bench press 10
  • Military press 10

*If you prefer to run 20 minutes, you can save the 20 minutes of accumulated running until after the above circuit.

Swim 500-meter warmup

Repeat 5 times

  • 50 meters free at 6-8 strokes per breath
  • 100 meters CSS at goal pace or ruck 45 minutes
  • Stretch


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 stew@stewsmith.com.

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