Having a good grip comes in handy not just shaking hands, but doing many tasks required of military and special ops personnel. Here is a recent email asking about improving grip for exercises that include rope climbs, pullups, and even dry firing with your non-dominant hand.
Stew, I am actually pretty good at pullups, but have found it tough to do multiple sets of higher reps not because I cannot do any more pullups, but because I cannot hang on the bar any longer. My forearms are on fire! I have the same issues when doing rope climbs and even some tactical skills. How can I get my forearms stronger?
This is an excellent question as there are many things you can do to supplement your workout to get a better grip. Your grip muscles are actually located in your forearm and your hand is mostly tendons attaching them with a few hand muscles involved as well. This is why when doing pullups, rope climbs, farmer walks, and other tasks you feel your hands getting tired as well as your forearms. The good news is that grip and forearm strength / endurance / muscle stamina can be added fairly quickly with a 5–10 minute circuit following normal workouts for upper body. In a few weeks, you will notice a difference if you do the following circuit 2–3 times a week. In a few months, you will have that “old man grip strength” that can hold onto anything for long periods of time too.
Autumn does more than usher in a change in season, for sports enthusiasts it’s the best time of year to catch grid-iron action one day and the crack of the bat the next — all the while the swoosh of the net rivals the slap of the puck for your attention. No matter your sport, staying in optimal condition before, during, and after the game is always a winning formula. Check out what some professional athletes are doing this season to get back in the game.
Have you martial artists and self-defense combatives practitioners, as well as you professional operators, wondered how to blend science and use it to learn to fight better?
PRAMEK is the answer and solution to that question. First, let me tell you about the background of the founder.
This series of articles is a favorite workout of the week for TWENTY weeks. This is WEEK 20. See links below for weeks 1–19 for great ideas to add to your workout routine. These are some of the latest workouts we have been doing with our Spec Ops Heroes of Tomorrow group. If you are ever in the Annapolis MD area and want some of these workouts they are FREE to people seeking military, police, fire fighter professions or those serving / have served.
This is a mix of weights and calisthenics and higher intensity cardio events using the Tabata Interval protocol.
We do 5 minute sets of the Tabata Interval which is a 20 second sprint / 10 second easy pace repeat 10 times (equals 5 minutes). Then you spend roughly 5 minutes in the gym doing a Push, Pull, Full Body, Ab exercise for 1 minute each. Give yourself 15–20 seconds in between each exercise for transition time.
Even though Maine has a short summer, it makes up for it in a spectacular color show when the leaves change. It’s a double edged sword, however, as leaf raking too quickly turns to snow shoveling. Most of us experience the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall (Autumn). Defined seasons aren’t arbitrary either as they are driven by our earth’s rotation. Or so you’d think. Our society has created a slew of other “seasons” like allergy, cold & flu seasons. This fall has ushered in even more buzz words like outbreak, contagion, and virus creating what feels like “fear season.” So, I say it’s time to turn the calendar and crush epidemics with a new weapon that may just surprise you.
Less is more, right? Yes, if you’re talking about miles per hour when you get pulled over for speeding, but not in the realm of eating. Whether you’re a celebrity-diet fan or experienced a night of too much booze and Burger King, chances are you’ve heard of the term fasting. Fasting may seem appealing when you’re in a crunch or trying to undo some serious damage, but think twice before you consider it.
Here’s a fun way to save your body from looking scary this Halloween: before you decorate the jack-o-lanterns with your family and friends, grab a heavy gourd and use to tone your trouble spots! My new video, the Slimnastics Stability Ball Workout (www.nikkifitness.com) was the inspiration for these moves, because you typically use a medicine ball or stability ball to perform them. My 4 year old is the reason we bought the pumpkin in the first place.
Every so often, I get asked how to train for a long run like a half marathon or marathon. Many young men and women prefer the accountability of a race and the thrill of competing in runs while preparing for Special Ops professions. If running is a weakness you must work on in order to succeed in future training programs, preparing for races that are also entertaining can be a great way to turn a weakness into more of a strength. Though a marathon is not necessary, it does make a great gut-check if you can keep from getting injured prior to your training. Here is an email from a young man who is making the transition from a collegiate power athlete and working on his skills to become a better long distance runner:
Stew, I just finished my senior year of college in AZ and have been trying to get better at running as I am preparing for Army Special Forces. As you know, this training requires you to run and ruck many miles each week, but I am having issues with keeping my focus during longer runs. Any suggestions? Should I try running different locations, races, marathons, different cities, elevation, beach/desert, trails? Thanks – Sean.
For over a decade and a half of writing about working out and acing fitness tests primarily, I often get questions that start off with, “Stew — what is the best way to (insert event)? The most common one is “run faster in timed runs”. Or “do more pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups” is often asked. And, of course, there is swimming times related question — “What is the best way to increase my swim speed / decrease swim times per given distance?” Or a very controversial topic — “What is the best way to build muscle?”
The reason why I bring up this topic is after reading an email from a young man trying to ace his situp test, I got distracted. He is seeking a goal to keep a pace of one sit-up per second or scoring 120 situps in 2 minute period. This is a great goal! It is not uncommon in the Spec Ops candidate world to see 120+ on 2 minute sit-up tests and there is a way to build up to get there. Is MY way the BEST way? I do not know — depends on how you define BEST. Here is the question:
Every once in a while, I feel the urge to unplug from the news, social media and technology. Recently, after a two year hiatus from the news, I decided that enough time had passed to re-engage. I’ll admit that the timing couldn’t have been worse. It’s getting really scary out there, isn’t it? From rampant viruses to political turmoil, the news isn’t very encouraging. Fortunately, we, as a country, can still cling to some simple yet powerful truths — we have a strong military to protect us, the most advanced scientific achievements to make our lives better, and the resilience and fortitude that makes us all Americans. As Americans, we also have the freedom to take care of ourselves and there may be no better time than now to do that in a big way.
If you have ever stepped into a gym, most like you’ve used the old school method of 3 sets with 10 reps to try and build muscle. Then, 90% of you won’t return after a month because you don’t see any gains. Of course not! Think about what you’re doing. In order for a muscle to increase in size you have to first break it down. You’re not going to accomplish that will 3 measly sets of a weight you can lift 10 times.
Here is a different type of 50–50 split workout we like to do in October as we slowly transition from higher rep calisthenics and move into more weight training programs to build strength and power. The term 50–50 refers to the workout being about 50% calisthenics and 50% weight training. This is one of our new workouts we created this Fall.
Burpee / Run Pyramid:
1 burpee — run 30m
2 burpees, run 30m
3 burpees, run 30m
4 burpees, run 30m
5 burpees = burpee 1–5
Stair crawls down/up
We all have had some form of psych test in our lives. Do you remember the Myers-Briggs test you may have seen in high school, college, or in the military as well. I know I have taken it at least three times in my life. A recent question brought back some of those memories and prompted a little thought on the topic of personality types. Here is the question:
What are some of the personality types that make it through Special Ops training programs and go onto to serve in various Special Ops programs for a profession (like SEAL, EOD, Army SF, SWAT Teams, etc)? I saw your article on some of the traits needed for Mental Toughness as well as the many fitness requirements you recommend, but what type of people finish the training?
This weekend I’m pulling some self-imposed overtime. With everything going on in my life at the moment, I have to put in some extra hours to catch up with paperwork and correspondence which I hope will get me ahead for next week, or so I choose to believe at this moment! Does it ever feel like you’ve got too much on your plate? From your service/career demands to family obligations and a lengthy list of must-dos, it may feel like you’ll never get on top of it all. Maybe we can all take a cue from nature as summer is officially over and autumn begins. In the fall, everything seems to take a pause — the grass stops growing, leaves begin to turn, and flowers fade. If your world is spinning, check out these tips to help you take it down a notch or two.
If you have not seen or heard about the TED conferences you should subscribe — especially if you like to hear about new and innovative things occurring in the world with science / technology based research and development.
TED = (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference share the best ideas in the world for FREE by video. Check them out. This one is conducted by former Navy SEAL and current medical doctor — Kirk Parsley.
As many of the readers know, I use a method of periodization that evolves with the seasons. Some have called it the Solstice Running Plan, while I tend to just like changing my workouts every quarter (12–13 weeks) so not to burn out with any one type of exercise. For instance, each change of season brings in something new and gradually fades something out:
Spring (March — May): Progressive running build up as well as shift from winter weights to higher rep calisthenics, taper from longer swimming workouts, with shift in speed / agility training.
Summer (June — September): Peak build up of miles running, high rep calisthenics, high speed on swimming, only bodyweight exercise to include fireman carries, crawls, log PT, etc…(Almost no weights — focus is PFT testing scores)
Fall (September — November): Drop high rep calisthenics, introduce weight training, increase swimming distance / rucking, reduce running mileage over 12 weeks and focus on faster paced shorter runs.
It’s not hard to find hundreds of search results for workout tips when searching the internet. That’s why I was on a mission to find quick and easy workout tips that actually work, proven by scientific studies. Below are my findings:
Teenage high blood pressure occurs with some frequency and is often caught when high school student-athletes get physicals prior to joining a JV / Varsity athletic team. Here is an email from a young man who wants to one day serve in the military but tried out for football this past summer. He states:
“Stew, I took your advice and joined some team sports while is high school in order to prepare for being a part of a team when I join the Marines one day. But, I was borderline high blood pressure and not sure why — during my annual physical for sport. Is this something I can reduce with more exercise, diet, or do I need to see a doctor and get medicine?”
It is never a bad idea to do more than occasional blood pressure checks over the next several months. I would get your blood pressure checked at least every month to establish if borderline high blood pressure increases or decreases due to many causes. If you see any more high blood pressure scores, then yes, I would go to a doctor, BUT there are many causes for TEMPORARY high blood pressure. In fact, only about 1–3% of teenagers actually have high blood pressure, so it can be something you have to deal with but chances are low.
Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”? Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.” For those of you in combat situations or as first-responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”. The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.” Merriam-Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.” It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations. You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.
Here is a swim workout that requires a video to best explain. The focus is on three events:
Life Saving Buddy Tow — 25m
Combat Swimmer Stroke 50m
Freestyle 100m (6–10 strokes per breath)
The goal is to push yourself on the buddy tow — recover with the 50m CSS — then push your heart / lungs with 100m freestyle hypoxic type swim set.