Workout of the Week #16

hotshirtstew

It is testing focus month for us in August /​ September (1st week) so we tend to mix in fitness testing elements with workouts.  Here is one we did to help with PT and running:

PT Test:

Pullups max
Pushups 2 min
Situps 2 min
2 mile timed run

Repeat 5 times
hill runs or 1/​4 mile sprints
rest 100m walk

Run 2 miles of intervals: 
– easy half mile
– timed half mile
– easy half mile
– timed half mile

PT Test:
pullups max
pushups 2 min
situps 2 min

Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-​​related.  From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible.  I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction!  Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours.  If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-​​ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf?  My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year. 

Top Reasons Why People Fail Special Ops

specopsBUDS4

I love getting email questions that require me to think and recall over the years some of my experiences to share.  These questions are from a future SOF candidate, who asks a simple question, “Why is the attrition rate so high?”  Here is his specifics:

I was curious Stew, why are the attrition rates for SOF so high? It seems that to get into any SOF training program you have to pass a physical examination to show you can handle training, academic tests, and reach a pretty high level of fitness. Therefore; all those who start should technically be able to complete the course? But of course most end up quitting. Through what means do trainees feel that the course isn’t for them? Or is it that people believe the workload isn’t worth the reward? Is it naive to think that because you only meet the minimums that you cannot succeed in the course? Is it more of a solid success-​​driven mentality requirement?

In my personal experience and after talking with recent graduates as well as failures from various SOF training programs that include:  BUD/​S, EOD, Ranger, Army SF, RECON, AFPJ, and various SWAT training programs, I have developed the following list of reasons why people do not make it through SOF training.  Let’s call this the Top Ten Reasons Why People Fail in Special Ops:

There are many ways to fail out or quit any of the Special Ops programs utilized by our military as well as city, state, and federal police departments.  But typically the biggest reason someone fails is the candidate is not prepared in some way.  Here is a list of reasons why most people do not make it through the various Special Ops training programs available:

Physical /​ Mental Toughness Failure: I have discussed this term “mental toughness” and tried to define it many ways, but it is critical in your success in any of these programs.  You have to understand that the physical challenge gets so overwhelming that you have to dig deep into your “how much you want it” pocket to find the fuel when the tank is empty.  It does not matter how great a runner, swimmer, lifter, shooter, etc…if you are not tough mentally — you will likely not make it through training. See related articles:  Top Ten List of Mental Toughness /​ Science of Mental Toughness.

Physical Reasons People Fail:

Running – Face it – it is a running man’s game out there.  You have to be a good runner with a solid foundation of long distance /​ fast paced running no matter what your size.  I have seen 220+ lbs men run 18 minute 3 mile runs and sub-​​200lb men fail.  If you cannot run well, you will be the first to leave typically – either by failing to keep up or by over-​​use injury caused by not being physically prepared to run.  I list this one near the top, because almost every graduate I talk to comes back and says, “I wish I had run more – it is a running man’s game.”

Swimming – You do not have to be a world class swimmer to ace even the toughest Spec Ops swimming programs including BUD/​S and AFPJs, but you have to be in good swimming condition, have solid technique, and be comfortable in the water.  Failing to swim well typically keeps you from getting INTO Spec Ops training, but one of the less likely events to fail during training.  Now the swimming skills – that is a different story.  See water confidence below.

size0Rucking – If you are training for the Army and Marines, you will be rucking.  The Special Ops world is the same.  Even at BUD/​S that used to start rucking once doing land warfare (3rd phase) are now rucking in every phase to prepare their graduates for future rucks in mountain /​ sandy regions of the world.  So start rucking if you have not started yet.  Finding how to wear your ruck, how to pace yourself for longer distances is as critical as conditioning yourself for endless rucking days.  Most people who fail rucks did not practice rucking, had weak legs and core strength to carry the ruck at a passing pace.  See - What is a Ruck article.

Lack of muscle stamina /​ endurance – It is great to be strong, but having the ability to move your body weight countless times up and down, over and under objects comes with specific training.  High repetition calisthenics is needed more than heavy weight training.  I am not saying you should not lift, in fact you should do both, but with a focus of muscle stamina not 1 rep max lifts.

Injury – Injuries happen sometimes due to lack of preparation for runs, rucks, swim, carrying boats /​ logs, sometimes it is an accident that could happen to anyone.  Sometimes it was not meant to be.  It is true but injuries happen to the best candidates.  If you have performed well to the point of your injury, you will likely be rolled and allowed to heal and join the next class.  However, if you are borderline failure or failed a few events (eventually passing) over the course of training and you get injured, you will likely be kicked out of training due to failure /​ performance combination.

Ocean /​ Land Navigation /​ Tactical Skills (physical /​ academic tests) – Some find it difficult to do proper ocean, land navigation or underwater navigation for that matter and fail tactical training tests.  There are several academic tests one must take when navigating land, ocean, sub-​​surface (SCUBA) as well as combat medical courses, dive physics, weapons system nomenclature and more.  All of which are stressful and many are oral /​ performance tests under duress.  The academic tests can also be tough to someone who is a poor student and the tactical tests can be stressful when placed under the clock and you have to perform to a certain standard.

Mental reasons why people fail:

11surfWater confidence – Like I said earlier, you do not have to be an All-​​American swimmer, but you have to not be scared of water and be able to move comfortably in any situation.  Drown-​​proofing, life-​​saving, underwater knot tying, SCUBA, underwater swimming are just a few of the skills a maritime Special Ops candidate will have to endure.  These claim many Special Ops candidates statistically and probably one of the biggest deterrents why some people choose not to attempt Special Ops programs that involve underwater operations.

training for military fitness 6Fear (water, darkness, claustrophobic, underwater at night, heights) – If you are a student at a Special Operations school, you will be introduced to many of your fears and forced to deal with them.  Many people fear cold, wet, and dark water forcing you to either successfully navigate through the fear and conquer it or the fear will conquer you.  I remember our first night swim (boogie man swim they called it), we had quitters that night and they were not even wet yet.  I personally never liked jumping out of airplanes, was near ill every jump. Many others and I shared the same feeling and somehow dealt with it until it became more natural to us and actually felt weird landing in an airplane.  What is your fear?

Instructor /​ Event Intimidation (aka mind-​​game) – Usually the instructors will make every pass/​fail event one of the toughest events ever that no one ever passes.  Having an instructor critique you constantly and making you pay physically for any errors or indiscretions is stressful and can get under your skin if you cannot handle negative feedback.  You will be told you are the worst student ever and it is up to you how to process that and come back stronger.

General Physical Discomfort (Cold, Hunger, Exhausted, Sleepy, Wet, Sandy) – This last one is borderline mental and physical.  Sometimes the thought of being cold or wet or both can cause people to quit while still dry.  Sometimes you just cannot handle being cold, wet, sandy, and being tired anymore and just want to call it quits.  This one is part mind-​​game and part physical pain /​ discomfort.  Spending days uncomfortable and tired will either make you stronger and appreciate those nice warm nights under a blanket, or completely break you mentally so you lose focus and cannot continue.

As you can see, there are many reason why people do not graduate Special Ops programs.  In fact, there are many more than these I just listed like not being a team player or mature enough to handle high levels of stress.  Though pre-​​screening of Special Ops candidates has advanced over the last few decades, the REAL TEST is the actual training course.  Testing to get TO the training will never insure someone gets THROUGH the training.   Though all Special Ops recruiters are getting better at picking those that have the highest potential for success, there is no test to date that can measure a candidate’s heart and will.  It is the Special Ops training course that does that.

Crushing Cortisol

smile

Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family.  We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split!  It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful.  I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished.  When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy.  It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.  

NikkiFitness “Back To Shape” Fall Fitness Faves Product Review

Athleta Fast Track Jacket

Fall is around the corner, and while kids are going back to school, our barely-​​clothed beach jogging turns to bundled up runs, indoor gym classes and DVDs indoors again. My newest NikkiFItness Faves include tech gear that bends like a yogi, fitness clothes that look as good as they work, healthy fruit to keep summer sunshine in your veins, and tools to help everything from cracked, calloused feet to sore muscles.

Workout of the Week #15

photo (6)

Here is a favorite combination workout we like to do once a week during late Summer /​ early Fall.  It is a combination workout of weight training, running, calisthenics, and swimming and/​or rucking.  Fullbody workout in it’s truest form:

Weight Room
Repeat 4 times
Weighted Pullups max
Dead lift 5 or tire flips
Hang clean 5
Flutterkicks 50
Fire man carry 25m or farmer walk 50m

Repeat 4 times
Run 1 mile timed
Max pushups 1 min
Max situps 1 min

Swim Workout
Swim 500m warmup — any stroke

Repeat 10 times
100m swim sprint
50m easy (CSS)
(no rest)

and /​ or ruck 30 minutes in place of swimming

What Does It Matter?

STARS_NASA-IMAGE_605

I am an unabashed space nerd — galaxies, black holes, matter and anti-​​matter — you name it, I’m in especially when it coms to science fiction.  From reruns of Star Trek to my ongoing obsession with the Star Wars super saga, the whole idea of “Space, the final frontier…to boldly go where no man has gone before” blows my mind.  Whether you love to geek out over sci-​​fi, or not, isn’t it fascinating to imagine space travel?  If we could get to the moon and back on the equivalent computing power of a tiny little hand-​​held calculator, imagine what we are capable of when we tap into the “strange new world(s)” between our ears!  

Advice on Over-​​Training

overheadsquat

For years, I have written about and discussed the fine line between training for Special Ops type programs and over-​​training.  But until recently, I realized I forgot one very important piece of information:

TELL OTHERS AROUND YOU THE SYMPTOMS OF OVER-​​TRAINING.

Because, you will not notice it until it is too late (typically).  Even though, over-​​training is actually hard to do by just training — it is easy to see symptoms pop up occasionally when your recovery balance is off:  Not enough sleep, not eating or hydrating well, and too many crazy workouts in a week are just the things to push any training program into the over-​​reaching /​ over-​​training zone if not attended to.

Workout of the Week #14

situpup

Workout of the Week #14:

This is a way to mix in running mile pace runs with PT Pyramid training:

Pt Pyramid /​ Mile Goal Paced Runs

Run 1 mile timed  

Do 10 sets of

Pullups x 1

Pushups x2

Abs x 3

(do ten sets of the pyramid of the three exercises in circuit fashion selecting your abdominal exercise of your choice — for example situps, crunches, flutterkicks, plank pose (per second) Sample Set 1:  pullups 1, pushups, 2, situps 3  each set progresses until set 10 = 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 30 situps.…

How to Workout the Most Neglected Muscle Group

Come on, you know where the back machines are in your gym right? Well if you don’t, it’s the group of machines that rarely have anyone on them. That’s because people like to work muscle groups that get attention, like biceps and abs.  However, those with strong backs will be the first to tell you it is one of the most important muscle groups on your body, not only for posture, but for any type of athletic movements.

Training You Shouldn’t Neglect

fitkit

We all enjoy different types of fitness, be it throwing heavy weight around in a gym, running, swimming, CrossFit and the millions of other things we do to stay in shape. Too often though, we neglect certain types of training until it is too late.  It becomes “too late” when we injure ourselves due to an imbalanced training regime. Lets face it, we all do it, and lots of people do it often.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about warming up correctly, going after certain support muscles (not just the ones we want to look better), stretching, flexibility, and correctly cooling down.  All of these things are key to maintaining a training balance. I’m going to explain each of them briefly, so you know what you shouldn’t be forgetting.

Warm up:

Dynamic warm ups are similar and follow those same principles you most likely did in high school sports. This is moving while you stretch and focusing on muscles you will use during your workout.  Dynamic warm ups have been proven by a number of studies to actually increase your performance and power (one study pubmed​.gov).  In addition to that, by properly warming up your muscles, you are greatly decreasing your chance of injury.  Some of my favorite exercises for dynamic warm ups are lunges with a twist, knees to chest, high kicks, jump squats and lateral shuffles.

Muscles you might be forgetting:

It’s very common to see many military members and athletes with shoulder instability problems that snowball into major shoulder injuries. This is simply due to not developing shoulder muscles correctly and compounding the problem with overuse.  Yes, you might be able to press 100lb dumbbells over your head, but can you do 10 reps of 25lbs of an external shoulder rotation? The same issue can be found elsewhere in the body. Focus on those supplemental exercises and avoid seeing the doc!  Lightweight Shoulder Workout

Flexibility and Cool Downs:

Can’t get down into that perfect squat position, touch your toes, or itch your back? You probably need to work on your flexibility. Look no further than martial arts or gymnastics for instruction here; a quick Google search will get you started!  The foam roller and a common lacrosse ball are also your friends here. Using these for myofascial release will increase your mobility, decrease soreness and give you a cheap massage all at the same time.  Foam Roller Article /​ Video

 Kit Dumph is the Founder of Force Fitness Kits. He spent 7 years in Special Operations with deployments around the globe. The Force Fitness Kit team believes that fitness should be easy, accessible and go where you go.  ForceFitnessKits​.com sells a complete workout kit that is designed to allow the user to stay in shape wherever life may lead them.  Mail Questions & Comments

Focus In

cameralens

I’m a bit of a photography buff and often find myself framing out pictures in my mind when I pass by a perfect sunset or a flower in bloom.  A few years ago, my family gave me a really cool camera with a 64X zoom lens.  That kind of focus gives me all kinds of creative freedom to capture images that I may otherwise miss.  The key to a perfect shot is a steady hand and a lack of distraction.   The same is true when it comes to our mental focus and sharpness.  As we continue to delve into a healthy brain, optimizing your focus and concentration can lead to a very pretty picture indeed.

Workout of the Week #13

pullupup

This week is a combination workout that combines moderately heavy weights, cardio intervals, mixed with calisthenics.  Following the non-​​impact/​lift, you mix in a run /​ pt followed by a swim (or ruck for Army guys).

Also see links to previous 12 weeks of workouts of the week at the bottom of the page:

High School and High Cholesterol

bloodtest

It seems this is the time of year when high school students and graduates get physical screening tests for their sports, future military service, or college health screenings.  As the American population increases in girth, it is not surprising to see many younger adults /​ adolescents exhibit typical problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-​​diabetes in some cases.

Recently a young man (age 16) who plays football and runs track for his High School teams, but also serving in the Civil Air Patrol and does very well on his PT tests emailed us with a concern about the results of his pre-​​sports physical. He states, “I went for my annual check-​​up and found out I am close to High Cholesterol.”  Receiving the information I thought it was a joke (I weigh 141, BMI under 20, 5 feet 8 inches tall) I am very athletic and in great shape physically. Now my diet is all red meat, ice-​​cream, vegetables, lots of 2% milk, rice, ground beef. As you can see my diet is pretty bad but I eat a normal amount of junk food compared to my peers. Any tips?”

Forget Something?

Brain

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re about to walk up to a friend you’ve known for a long time and suddenly your mind goes blank.  You’ve forgotten his or her name — I’m talking deer-​​in-​​headlights blank.  While at first you are mortified and embarrassed that you’ve suffered what feels like a complete brain dump, you then begin to wonder what exactly is wrong with you.  No matter your age or health, everyone experiences a mental gap once in a while for numerous reasons.  This week I met with CogSports Group who specialize in cognitive testing for Navy SEALs, corporate leaders and sports teams.  Their focus on mental toughness got me thinking (yes, I said that) about how to keep our brains as healthy as we keep our bodies.  Over the next few weeks we’ll explore tips and tools for the proper care and feeding of your gray matter.

Favorite Workout Week #12

photo (6)

This workout has turned out to be another all-​​time favorite mix of swimming, running, sprinting, crawling, carrying, and calisthenics.  See if you like this 90–120 minute workout mix:

Swim PT  (see video link)

Repeat 5 times 200m swim for time
Burpees for same time it takes to swim 200m

500m Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS video DESCRIPTION)

Part 2 of the workout:

Run /​ Pt Workout *(best done on a football field /​ track)

Jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
bear crawl 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
walking lunges 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
fireman carry 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
burpee jump 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Check out more of our favorite workouts of the week on the Military​.com Fitness Blog.  Sign up for the newsletters for great up to date information on military news, events, and of course — cool workouts.

Favorite Workout Week #11: Last Week

zpp2

When the Spartan 300 Workout came out after a very popular movie with nothing but ripped up actors playing the Spartan Warriors, many people started doing this type of 300 total rep workout spread over six exercises of 50 reps each.  Here is just a sample of many combinations that are fun to add running to the max repetition circuit OR complete the 50 reps THEN rotate to the next exercise.

Spartan 300 Run /​ PT

1/​4 mile run at goal timed run pace (all runs)
Push press 50 (barbell 50% bodyweight)
1/​4 mile run
Kb swings 50
1/​4 mile run
Pullups 50
1/​4 mile run
Overhead weighted walking lunges 50/​leg (hold 25–40#DB)
1/​4 mile run
TRX Atomic Pushups 50 or weight vest pushups /​ bench press 135#
plank pose 2 min

 

You can either keep completing the reps for each exercise until you get 50 total then run.  OR if you want to run MORE, you can max rep set /​ run 1/​4 mile keep that exercise /​ run combo until you get 50 reps. Good Full Body Workout… Optional:  Cool down cardio 30 minutes of swim, bike, elliptical, easy.

Joining the Military — Talk With Parents

recruiter

Every now and then this email is received from a young man or woman seeking some advice on preparing for service in the military.  This one is a little different as this young high school graduate needs some information on preparing his parents on his desire to serve.  Since many of our readers are future service members and we have many veterans and active duty members who read these blogs, I thought maybe this article can be used to share some ideas on how you broke the news with your parents when you decided to serve.  Not every one has supportive parents period, much less supportive of serving in the military during times of conflict.  Here is the email that prompted this blog post and request to the readers to share their stories:     

Stew — I have been a multi-​​sport athlete my whole life and I am ready to serve my country.  However, my family has been really against enlisting and going to the military as an alternative to college, BUT I am 100% positive that’s what I want to do.  Both my sister and brother are in college sports and they expect me to do the same. What kind of tips can you give me to tell them.     Thanks for reading and I hope you can reply.    Sincerely,  JM

A Berry Good Summer

berries

I’ve been in a really good mood lately.  It may be the long summer days, the post-​​vacation relaxation or just the fact that it feels good to feel good, right?  Even in the midst of a hectic work schedule, I still feel pretty darn good.  A little bonus that put an even bigger smile on my face was when I saw the sign at my local farm stand shouting “You Pick Raspberries!”  Now that’s what I call a great summer message.  It got me thinking about how fun super foods can be to add to your day.  Here are three simple ones that will have you kicking up your heels and whistling a happy tune.  

Favorite Workout# 10: Last Week

pullupupOk — this workout is no joke and not for beginners.  This is one of our favorite combo circuits where we focus on the following type of exercise groups:  Upper body PUSH, Upper body PULL, Legs, Abs, and Full body Movements.  This one is a mix of a circuit and a max rep set of the pull, push, leg and the full body and abs are done to your wishes.

Pull, Push, Legs, Abs, Fullbody Max Reps Sets exercise circuit:

Max Reps sets of first 3 (Murph Workout*) — then “rest” with abs /​ full body each set:
Pull = pullups 100 reps
Push = pushups 200 rep
Legs = air squats 300 reps
Abs of choice 50
Fullbody exercise of choice:  options dead lift, hang clean, power clean, push press, KB swings, etc…Heavy or light moderate reps sets.  5–10 reps of these fullbody exercises.