Family Fitness Fun with Workout Bingo
No need for word apps! Create your own witha fun game of Bingo!
One of the most common problems that people who make the commitment to begin exercising regularly have is how monotonous and boring workouts can become, especially if you’re working out at home, or alone. When most people start out with their workout routines for the first time, they’re excited and perform the exercises with ease, but over time, workouts can get repetitive and boring. At the same time, families are engaged in their own screens — TV, iPad, iPhone, laptops, and don’t spend as much time interacting with each other, or moving and playing, as they used to. I propose to get together and get fit as a family with a good old-fashion twist!
After this article, a friend of mine asked about what I thought the Top Ten List of traits for mental toughness would be. After some thought and discussions with some successful, mentally tough people, we came up with this.
Mental Toughness – How do we obtain it? Make it stronger? Many young people ask these questions of me each day and I wish it was a simple answer. I wish you could be mentally tough by figuring out a magic solution of phrases or training programs. But it is not that simple. Being mentally tough requires you to keep competing when your mind wants you to quit. Humans have a “safety switch” in our brain that tells us to stop in order to prevent us from hurting ourselves. We are natural born survivors built to conserve our energy, store food, and just simply live to survive another day. There are times you can actually shut that part of your brain off. When you do this, you realize your body is ten times stronger than your brain will let it be. Training programs in the Special Operations world helps you tap into this mindset, but often your life experiences and habits can build a mental toughness and resilience that no one can beat.
This article is part THREE of the three part series on Twenty Pull-ups for Women:
3) Getting the USMC maximum on the Pull-up Test (20 reps) – this article.
Hitting 20+ Pull-ups
When you are able to reach the “double digit” zone of the pull-up repetition count, you can now start adding in more creative workouts that will change your strength foundation into a muscle stamina / endurance peak. This transition from strength to muscle stamina is usually a sticking point with many Marines and other Special Ops candidates trying to ace a fitness test with 20–30 pull-ups.
This article is part two of the three part series on Twenty Pull-ups for Women:
2) Getting the USMC women’s maximum (8 reps; this article)
3) Getting the USMC male maximum (20 reps).
Adding Pull-up Repetitions — Turning Pull-ups into an Endurance Exercise (AKA: adding repetitions)
After you have reached the first and toughest hurdle of this journey—the first pull-up–this step is easy comparatively. The basic training principles for how to succeed at pull-ups are the same as in the How to Get Your First Pull-up article—practice pull-ups often—but now we add another step to the equation to help you build up your endurance (muscle stamina).
Did I ever tell you about my dog, Loki? Actually, I’m pretty sure I have but since the tales of my wonder-pup grow more profound with each passing year, she’s definitely worth mentioning again. Loki was a fiercely loyal Siberian Husky and although small for her breed, she packed a wicked temper and a penchant for chasing all perceived foes off of our property including unsuspecting postal workers. Much like her Norse god namesake, she was as mischievous as my siblings and I were growing up. Our adventurous and fearless nature made us all quite a handful. When I finally watched The Avengers movie, I was shocked to find my super dog was perhaps named for a super villain! Whether friend or foe, superhero or super-villain, we all tend to be more powerful when we’re part of a team. The same is true when it comes to pairing up super nutrients to keep you in S.H.I.E.L.D. shape.
I received one of the best email responses in over a decade of writing articles on tactical fitness and fitness testing this week. In fact, it was such a good introduction to Major Posey (USMC) that I wanted to share the story of this Marine going from zero pull-ups to 20 pull-ups!
Major Posey writes: I read your article where you spoke about young girls not being educated physically like they should and about how this is a societal issue. I couldn’t agree more. I stumbled across the same information in my research for my pull-up paper (Duped by The Frailty Myth). So, I definitely agree it is a socialization and educational issue.
After I wrote a basic news / opinion piece on the USMC delaying the pull-up portion of the PFT for women, I realized I needed to focus more on education and TEACH methods to improve on pull-ups not just argue that women can do pull-ups if they just do them. With the assistance of Major Misty Posey, we are creating a three part series on
1) HOW to get your first pull-up, (this article)
2) Getting the USMC women’s maximum pull-up (8 reps), (coming soon)
I’ve been busy — putting together lots of free and quick (and fun) workout videos for you and your whole family. Click on these free, super-quick workout videos I did for KnowMore.TV for the best exercises to work your triceps, biceps, shoulders, upper back, lower back, pecs, glutes, thighs, low abs, obliques, quads and calves and stretch it all out. Some you can even do at your desk with exercise bands or tubing!
I consider my sister-in-law, Dana, a real sister to me. She is kind, compassionate, fun, wonderfully opinionated and loves me unconditionally. I always welcome her advice and recommendations and she has never steered me wrongly. Last summer she said I must watch The Avengers movie. What a fun ride! It was cool to see so many of my favorite characters like Thor, Ironman, and the Hulk joining forces to fight evil. The only challenge was that I knew nothing about Captain America. Friday night, I finally watched the first Captain America movie and can’t wait to see the sequel that apparently was a blockbuster at this past weekend’s opener. What caught my attention was the desire this scrawny little guy had to serve his country and sacrifice for the greater good of mankind. Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far to find those willing to raise their shields to protect our country. From our incredible service men and women to every day difference-makers, we all have a little bit of Captain America in us.
Plyometrics became popular for Olympic-bound athletes. And many professional and elite athletes are familiar with workouts that include vertical jump training to improve their performance on the track or on the court. But you’re a soldier. Is it possible that plyometric training can provide some value for the military?
The short answer is yes. Let’s talk about what plyometrics is, and isn’t, and how you can use it to improve your performance on the battle field.
They key to the best workout plan is balance. You need just the right amount of push and pull and you need to protect your back. Avoiding back pain while working out is all about balancing the muscle groups your strengthening and stretching, and how often you are rotating those exercises.
The goal is to keep the muscles that support your back strong and flexible. And while most of us work our core, we either do too many of one type of exercise and not enough of the other (causing an imbalance that leads to back pain), or we think we are working one muscle group when we are actually working another and thus NOT getting the results we really want.
There is more to bodybuilding than just pumping iron. True, resistance training will result in crucial muscle tears that are required to build muscle; however without providing your muscles a strong foundation at the most basic level you won’t get the results you desire.
Think about building anything — like a skyscaper. Wouldn’t you agree that it’s important to build that physical structure, with quality building materials all laid out on a strong foundation?. Your body requires the same kind of thought and planning. Just like a building that is intended to be around for year, it requires the best quality and best mix of nutrients. This helps to sustain your gains for the long haul and allows you to build muscle to last.
Bottom line: Nutrition is crucial for muscle growth and retention.
I seem to be on a superhero kick lately, if you haven’t noticed already! It’s hard to talk about Mighty Mouse one week without paying homage to Superman — a favorite of my family, by the way, as the image of this classic cartoon was born the same year as my dad. On Krypton, Superman would have been just another kid growing up on a planet with a red sun. According to his fictitious history, Superman’s kryptonian cells absorbed and metabolized the energy from our yellow sun giving him superpowers like leaping tall buildings, running faster than speeding bullet, and having more power than a locomotive. Beyond that, he even possessed a super-human ability to heal, to repel earthly diseases with super-duper immunity, super intelligence and that cool x-ray vision thing. Would it surprise you to know that you may be more super than you ever imagined?
Here is a an interesting question concerning people who like to ruck for exercise as well as to keep them in tactical fighting shape. Whether the enemy is a terrorist in the mountains or a wild fire on a high desert plain, some people ruck for a living. I have always wondered this question as well, especially when rucking is compared to normal walking or running for calorie burning numbers. Here is the email question:
Stew, As a former 82nd Airborne Division officer/paratrooper and current firefighter/paramedic, I love your workouts — thanks for all you do! I have an app (cardio trainer) that I use to keep track of my mileage when I run or ruck. It also keeps track of calories burned but obviously it is not the primary reason for my workouts. It is a fun motivator though. My question is, do you know of any sort of calorie conversion for ruck marching? The app tells me how many I burned for walking 5 miles (and I realize that is just an estimate, but I assume I burn a lot more calories carrying a 40 pound ruck the same distance. It would just be fun to know how many?
I’ve never been a big TV watcher, but admit that it has become a habit over the years to turn on a television when I enter a room. Frankly, I have no idea why I even bothered with the barrage of talking heads and screaming infomercials. As technology has advanced, my entertainment preferences have kept pace. With our AppleTV box and Netflix account, Mark and I shun conventional television programing for a huge variety of commercial-free options. It made me realize how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Back in the early 1940’s when film & television were still in their infancy, going to the movies was one of the few entertainment options for most Americans. Enter Mighty Mouse. Originally created as a parody to Superman, Mighty Mouse quickly achieved iconic status as an intrepid hero of the common man. When evil advanced, Mighty Mouse was quick to answer the call, “Here I come to save the day!” Could there be a mighty hero to help your weight loss efforts as well?
Coast Guard divers have been performing hundreds of diving missions each year for decades around the world in support of the multiple maritime missions of the Coast Guard. Now, starting this year (2014), the Coast Guard created the Diver (DV) rating for qualified enlisted members. Until now, divers in the Coast Guard had different rating professions and diving was a collateral duty.
Many people confuse the training programs groups like active duty Special Ops perform to maintain their fitness levels for the demands of the profession with how they prepare for challenging schools like BUD/S, SFAS / SFQC, and PJ training to name a few.
Here is a question to better describe a very common issue with candidate training program selection:
Stew, I have been watching some Youtube videos showing active duty special ops guys working out like SEALs, Rangers, SF, and others. They are huge and lifting very heavy weights so I have been lifting more and doing less cardio. Is this OK? I am preparing for BUD/S for the next year and trying to gain some muscle mass.
Given my Italian and Lebanese ancestry, I’m convinced I have bread and pasta flowing through by veins. From fresh breadsticks and pizza crusts to large flat breads, there was always a wholesome, delicious wheat treat available no matter which grandparents’ home we visited. In fact, I never even knew white bread existed until I sat in a lunchroom at school and saw my Midwestern classmates role their doughy, lilly-white slices into chewy, starchy morsels. It was no surprise that on every grocery store trip, my mom had four children pining for a loaf of Wonder Bread so we could be just like all the other kids at school. Thankfully, she resisted our pleas. Whatever you experienced growing up, there’s value in delving deeper into the great grain debate.
Stew, I recently heard you talk about adding thinking games into your workouts. What do you mean? How is that helpful to me being a better SWAT operator? John
Being able to think while stressed is a trait all tactical operators (military, special ops, police, fire, EMS) all need to be able to do their jobs. I have been experimenting with workouts over the years and realized that by training the brain to think while physically tired / stressed can help you when life or death situations occur. This can be a simple pyramid workout where you have to do math during your workout or more advanced workouts where you have to get creative and think your way through them. Of course, you also need the required tactical training to help perform your job, but when things are not stressful in “real life” you can simulate it in training and even your workouts.
I have a unique problem in my home office, especially as I write this article. You see, the sun is brilliant today, casting abundant light all over my house and yard. The only challenge is that we are still heavily snow-packed around here so the sun’s intensity is magnified by the white blanket of snow in my backyard. The reflection is so blinding that I’ve reluctantly had to close the shades so I can see the keyboard. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’d rather have the challenge of a sunny day over the dreariness of an overcast sky. It just made me realize how fortunate I am to have clear vision and healthy eyes. Eye health, for many, is often taken for granted until something threatens our vision. Maybe it’s time we put the focus on our eyes so they can return the favor.
Sometimes winter is just too cold to workout outside, so instead of skipping it, sweat in the warmth– inside on the treadmill!
Too boring, you say? I have the antidode: “Improve the Move” with action on the machine. Print out this “running map,” and follow along. The bonus: changing it up makes the time fly and the calories fly away!