Archive for the ‘Physical Fitness Testing’ Category

Pull-​​ups: Three Part Series — From Zero to Twenty Reps

Why Bodyweight Exercises Rule!

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)

3) Getting the USMC maximum pull-​​ups (20 reps). (coming soon)

Focus on the Specific Movement:  Specificity

So, we agreed to keep it simple, because the plan has to work for Marines ANYWHERE and ANYTIME.  In fact, all you need is a pull-​​up bar for the first phase of your pull-​​up journey.  We have a three-​​part plan that will focus on the specific movement of the pull-​​up exercise first.  There is NO NEED to touch a dumbbell or isolation exercise at this point.  Later in our progressions, we will add in weights, TRX options, and others when we turn the pull-​​up exercise from a strength exercise to an endurance exercise adding multiple repetitions to your first few pull-​​ups. Major Posey comments about her personal journey, “The reason I succeeded in learning the first elusive pull-​​up was because after months of struggling, I received a bit of pull-​​up training advice that worked:  Get off the assisted pull-​​up machine and onto a pull-​​up bar!”

Here is Major Posey’s personal pull-​​up development story:

When I first joined the Marine Corps, I used to stand on the backs of male Marines to get “lifted” into the start position for the flexed arm-​​hang (FAH).  I did not want to waste precious energy before the clock started for the FAH; lifting my own body weight was not a requirement, nor did I think I was capable of doing so.  A lot has changed since then.  I no longer stand on the backs of my buddies because I can now perform 20 dead-​​hang pull-​​ups (and I am not alone), yet, I do not have a “significant” physical advantage over other female Marines with respect to pull-​​up capability.  I did not play sports in high-​​school or college.  I was never a gymnast.  I only began lifting weights after I could do 20 pull-​​ups.  I am very close to the maximum weight for my height and my body fat is average.  In other words: If I can do it, any female Marine can do it.

Back to the Societal Problem:  Many women do not think they can learn to do one pull-​​up, let alone twenty.  This is because the 40-​​year old requirement for female Marines to perform the FAH created a false perception of their physical potential.  The belief that women could not perform pull-​​ups, in turn, discouraged them from even trying.  Women not trying to learn pull-​​ups subsequently made the behavior true, which reinforced the initial erroneous assumption that weakness was their natural and irreversible condition.

What makes the women who can do pull-​​ups different from those who cannot?  Most Marines don’t ask this question and dismiss these women as hard-​​charging “anomalies.”  These women are not anomalies, however.  They are simply closer to their athletic potential than other female Marines.  Although a woman performing pull-ups—let alone many repetitions—is unusual, this does not mean that a woman who is able to perform pull-​​ups is “uniquely” gifted.

 The Pull-​​Up Training Conundrum

Frequent practice is paramount and specificity is essential.  It is crucial to practice pull-​​ups to learn how to perform pull-​​ups — thus the confusion.  How can a person practice pull-​​ups when s/​he cannot perform the exercise?  The answer is to perform pull-​​up progressions on a pull-​​up bar, using the following exercises:

The Progression of Exercises to Get to Pull-​​up #1:  (see video description)

In order of Easiest to Hardest Options: Try to do a pull-​​up – when you fail, resort to the next level of the progression that challenges you the most.

Start in this order:

Pullup – try to get one /​ do a negative while on the bar.  Follow pullup non-​​rep with:

Dead hangs – Hang with shoulders flexed for as long as you can.

Negatives – Lower yourself off the bar slowly counting 4–5 seconds
(also demonstrated – L sit negatives, and weighted negatives)

Pausing Negatives – Stop your downward movement for 4–5 seconds half way down

Jumping Pull-​​ups – Drop off the bar and try to get back to the up position by jumping /​ pulling yourself.

Partial ROM pull-​​ups – Try half pullups.  Half way down /​ back up.  All the way down /​ half way up.

Partner /​ Equipment Assist – Have spotter push you when needed and lower yourself without a spotter helping the downward motion.  If using a char or bench, step up to the UP position and bend your knees and control your descent for 4–5 seconds.

Dead hangs:  The dead hang is a simple exercise that involves hanging from a bar and is a great way to develop grip strength, which is fundamental to pull-​​ups.

How to do it:  Grip an overhead bar (or rings) and hang with feet suspended from the floor with arms straight at the elbows.  Keep the shoulder blades flexed down and back and chest ‘up’ to fully engage the back muscles and to keep your arms from feeling like they are being pulled from their sockets.  Sustain the dead hang for as long as possible without losing form.  Rest and repeat. A good start-​​point is to aim for a minimum of ten-​​second holds and build up to a minute.

Negatives:  One of the best pull-​​up progression exercises is the negative.  It is a highly effective technique to train your central nervous system to learn the mechanics of a pull-​​up movement while simultaneously building strength for pull-​​ups.

How to do it:   Get yourself to the UP position using a chair, step, or partner lift and fight gravity on the way down as long as you can.  Try to count to 5–10 on the descent. Once you cannot control your descent, you are finished with the negative exercise for that set.  When you are in the “bottom” position with arms fully extended (dead hang), dismount the bar and repeat.  The idea of a negative is to make your muscles work harder by deliberately resisting gravity on the way down.

Pausing Negatives:  One variation of the negative is to pause during the decent. Pausing for a few seconds while your chin is below the bar is especially helpful in developing strength since the top position of the pull-​​up is relatively easy to hold.

How to do it:  Basically, begin the decent portion of a negative but stop and hold a flexed-​​arm position for as long as you can, then finish with a controlled negative movement.  Stop at 25%, 50%, or 75% of the pull-​​up descent—wherever you are weakest.  Practice pausing at all three positions when you get stronger.

Jumping pull-​​ups:  Jumping pull-​​ups are effective because they strengthen the nerve impulses of the exact muscles of the movement necessary for full body-​​weight pull-​​ups by using explosive pushing, jumping, and pulling strength.  Jumping pull-​​ups provide momentum with the pulling up portion of the exercise by allowing you to use your legs to defeat gravity and help propel your body to the top position.

How to do it:  Start by standing under a bar and be able to reach it by jumping from the ground.  The taller the bar, the harder the jumping pull-​​up will be; the lower the bar, the easier the jumping pull-​​up will be.  If the bar is too tall, you may “shorten” it by using a plyo-​​box or by finding a lower bar.  But in either case, you should have a sturdy platform from which to “jump off” in the execution of a jumping pull-​​up.

Once you determine the height is correct, jump upward, and grab the bar with your desired grip.  Go right into a pull-​​up without pausing, using your momentum to help you get your chin above the bar.  This is one rep.  Now, lower yourself down SLOWLY, dismount the bar, and repeat.  Controlling the descent (resisting gravity) more than normal during the lowering portion of a jumping pull-​​up is known as a “jumping negative.”

Partial Range of Motion (ROM) pull-​​ups:  A partial ROM pull-​​up is when you either do not go all the way down, or do not go all the way up, or both (anywhere from 1/​4 to 3/​4 ROM).  Even though you do not get credit on the PFT for partial ROM pull-​​ups, if you are still too weak or too heavy to perform full ROM unassisted pull-​​ups, partial ROM pull-​​ups will help get you over the hump.

How to do it:  Start by grabbing the bar with your desired grip (palms facing or away from you).  Come to a dead hang, pull yourself half way up (or as far as you can go), lower yourself, and repeat.  To do a partial ROM pull-​​up from the top position, get your chin above the bar and lower yourself half way down (or as low as you can), then pull yourself back up until your chin is above the bar, and repeat.

Partner-​​Assisted pull-​​ups:  A partner helps you with the UP portion of the pull-​​up by “spotting” you on the way up.  By spotting you, your partner allows you to practice the full ROM by reducing some of your body weight.  The concept is similar to using assistance bands or pull-​​up assist machines.  The difference is partner-​​assisted pull-​​ups more closely resemble the mechanics of a full ROM pull-​​up (if done properly).

How to do it:   Begin by pulling yourself up as far as you can go.  Your partner should wait to spot you until you have no more upward momentum.  This will help you get the most out of your workout.  Partners should provide assistance by pressing on your mid/​upper back with their hands rather than “holding your feet.”  Most trainers discourage holding the feet for the same reason they dislike the pull-​​up assist machines—holding a person’s feet provides “too much” assistance which causes you to lose form and allows you to use your legs to assist you too much. Plus, you could face plant if your grip tires and your partner is holding your feet.

Add in the Pull-​​up Progressions below as a supplemental plan to your daily workout routine:

Do pull-​​up progression exercises 4–5 times per week, spread throughout the day, using the following methods before/​after and during workouts.

Days 1 and 3
(Throughout the Day)
Day 2 and 4
(During Workouts)
Day 5 optional 
Partial ROM pull-​​ups:  1–3 reps, if possible.  Skip if unable to do and resort to the next exercise on the progression list:Partner /​ equipment assisted pull-​​ups (ie; chair): As many as you can.

Pausing Negatives:  1–3 reps.

Do this every time you walk past a pull-​​up bar, multiple times during the day.

Workout of the day should have other muscle groups like legs, pushing exercises, core, and cardio in addition to this pull-​​up progression program.

Jumping pull-​​ups /​ Jumping negatives:  As many as you can.Negatives:  1–3 reps

Dead hangs: as long as you can hold.

Perform above as the PULLING exercise during your normal weight room or PT workout.

Follow with cardio of your choice.

USMC PFT:  2 min max crunches.Pull-​​ups:  Try pull-​​up – if you fail — resort to:

Partial ROM pull-​​ups: max

Partner /​ equipment assisted pull-​​ups — 1–2 reps

3 mile timed run

Throughout the rest of the day

*Pausing Negatives:  1–2 reps — for as long as you can.

Do this every time you walk past a pull-​​up bar, multiple times during the day.

  • Do this pull-​​up progression program 4–5 days a week until you get your first pull-​​up.  Rest 2 days per week of your choice.
  • Loss of body fat (if you have body fat to lose) will also assist in your pull-​​up abilities – consider diet, full-​​body exercise, and cardio (anaerobic is especially helpful) to further aid in the attainment of your first pull-​​up.

Are You a Captain America?

Captain America1

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 and Vertical Jumps

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.

Making it TO and THROUGH Training

logstew

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.

The short answer to your question is YES.  This is fine.   But you want to arrange the workouts where you decrease your cardio /​ increase your weight training so you cycle through this type of training for 6–8 weeks — maybe 12 weeks if you have a year to train.  Where some special ops candidates make mistakes is they fail to drop the heavy weights and switch to higher repetition calisthenics to help with muscle stamina, and they fail to get good and running, rucking, and swimming at fast /​ high miles per week.  Many people have said, including myself, that they never once wished they had lifted more weights at BUDS — they wished they had run more or had swum more with fins.

For the past 15 years, I have been teaching /​ performing personally a winter weight lifting cycle that reduces repetitions and running distances to give the joints a recovery period from high reps and impact miles.  However, for BUD/​S candidates I recommend this is a great time to add in a progressive swimming with fins cycle for extra cardio work.  Add rucking in as well if your branch of service training specifically tests that skill too.   See related article about how to incorporate periodization though the year.

Making it TO training programs requires you to specifically train for a fitness test.  This has been where I have been specializing for over 15 years now.  Preparing people for tactical professions:

1runptPRE Training — Acing the fitness test /​ building a foundation of fitness so your body can handle the actual training (BUD/​S, SF, PJ, Fire, Police academies is the specific focus on training you must have.  This process can take 1–2 years depending on your starting fitness level or as little as 4–6 months depending on your athletic history.  Regardless, you do not want to go to ANY training program without having reaching near the maximum standards of the fitness requirements.  Otherwise, the likelihood of injury, failure, other delays are certain.  You have to “train for the training”.

 

Tactical Fitness and Special Ops Training

Prepare for the Duration - Specificity is ALSO required to get THROUGH the training after you have focused much of your exercise on making it TO the training.  If your training program requires graded 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile ocean swims, long runs and rucks, hundreds of reps of calisthenics (pushups, pullups, dips, squats, flutterkicks) several times a week, you need to practice those events and get your run /​ swim /​ ruck mile pace down to an acceptable level to insure success.

 

UTMlPics-190POST Training —  After the shock of Special Ops Selections, Training, other bootcamps, and acadmies, you have to now focus on the demands of the profession — both tactically and physically.  This is where the Teams, Ranger Battalions, and SF groups have advanced their programming by hiring actual strength /​ conditioning scientists /​ coaches to create functional programs /​ testing criteria to help make a better operator.  There are many elements to consider to creating, building, and maintaining a Special Operator foundation of tactical fitness:

- The constant needs of high repetition calisthenics, long miles of run, ruck, or swimming (or all the above) are decreased — now focus on speed, agility, balance, flexibility, strength, power, endurance, muscle stamina.

- This requires a series of training cycles to progress in each of these elements of the tactical athlete. Periodization is critical to the health and longevity of any athlete as the sports athlete has the luxury of pre-​​season, in-​​season maintenance, post-​​season recovery programming.  There is no off-​​season for the tactical athlete.

- TACTICAL athletes have to get more creative to adjust the workouts so they can actively pursue recovery even during times of interrupted sleeping patterns, fast /​ ineffective nutrition options.

- Recovery from stress is the key.   There has to be down times in your training cycles even if that recovery period is just moments of deep breathing /​ relaxing prior to sleep or cat-​​naps.  Learn how to adjust workouts to fit your seasonal demands of the profession creating programs so peaking and recovering are logical progressions for you.

Training hard for these programs is how to prepare obviously, but understanding the differences of the training required to ace the “entrance exam” or PFT /​ PST /​ PRTs depending on your branch of service to get TO the training is critical to your success.  The training required and fitness foundation needed to make it THROUGH the training will build off of the PFT scores and should advance with the specifics of the training required (PT, run, ruck, swim, logs, boats, etc).  Finally, the training you will need to perform the actual job of the tactical operator will differ tremendously and it should take you back to the days of sports training where you focused on speed, agility, balance, flexibility, strength, power, endurance, muscle stamina that helps you perform a specific skill at your optimal level.

PS:  Here is a related audio interview I did recently much about this subject:  AUDIO File

 

Mix TRX with PT, Weights, Kettlebells

ATRXleft

Every now and then, I get motivated by a workout week that I created.  This week I created a program that is centered around suspension training, but each day has a combination specialty that challenges you in a variety of ways.  You need variety to your workouts, but make sure the workouts you select are still specifically developed so you will still reach your goals.  Whether the goals are weight loss, military service, special ops preparation, or law enforcement, adding suspension training can enhance your overall workout experience.  Below are some fun and challenging sample workouts recently tested by our group:

2014-​​The Year of Fitness on the Go

pushxpro

Everyone’s busy nowadays; we’re lucky if we can find time to cook a healthy dinner for ourselves. Having an alternate plan for getting a great workout is vitally important to staying in great shape.  Our busy lives sometimes pull us away from the important things in life like healthy food and time in the gym.

I have assembled the top 5 portable fitness equipment to keep you healthy in 2014 (and beyond):

Tactical Fitness: The Dirty Dozen Test

military training and ptsd - 5

I was recently asked by an Army veteran if there were other fitness tests out there to challenge/​ test people who want to be “Tactically Fit”. This particular veteran likes to stay as fit as he was while serving more than 10 years ago and still manages an above average Army PFT for age groups 20 years younger.   These are great health and fitness goals to ace a basic PFT, but is it really a Tactical Fitness Test?  No — See the multiple dimensions required in creating a foundation to be “tactically fit” in order to have the ability to perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the world — defending /​ protecting our country and communities.

Tactical Fitness is the new fitness genre and I personally define it as:  The ability to perform military, police, and fire fighter job related skills such as running, rucking, swimming, buddy rescue, equipment carry, requiring upper body and lower body strength and muscle endurance.  I have been wanting to make an all inclusive tactical fitness test for a while now.  The test below has no scientific study behind it, these are simply my opinions what tactical athletes should be able to do.  However, all these events are commonly used testing events used by many military, special ops teams, SWAT Teams, police and fire fighters.

These are the twelve events I call the Tactical Fitness Dirty Dozen that I pulled from various military, police, and fire fighting fitness tests to create an all inclusive fitness challenge for those of you who want to be ready for anything.  There is a grading system that is quite generous in basic pass /​ fail standards as well as a max point system of 100 points.

The events justification:

25# Pullup — Weighted pullups are required as most gear a tactical operator wears will weigh anywhere from 15-​​25lbs minus the back pack.  Minimum is 2 reps /​ maxing is 10 reps.  1 point for each rep for a total of 10 points and minimum of 2 reps.

Body Weight bench press — Upper body strength with combination of moving your body weight for multiple repetitions to test pushing power of the tactical athlete.  Minimum points for 5 reps (2 pts) and maximum (10) points for 15 reps.

Dead Lift (1.5x BW) — Can you lift more than your own body weight.  Practicing this event alone will help a tactical athlete learn proper lifting techniques and build a stronger foundation to move heavy weight when required.  1 rep P/​F but 2 points per rep until 5 reps for more points. Minimum points for 2 reps (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 5 reps.

Fireman carry — Can you rescue your buddy and carry for 100yds?  Pass /​ Fail criteria (5 pts pass)

400m sprint - Can you run fast (no gear)?  60 seconds max points /​ 80 seconds minimum standard.  Sometimes speed is essential.
Minimum points for 80 seconds (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 60 seconds.

300yd shuttle run - Can you run back and forth quickly (6 x 50m shuttle)?  60 seconds max /​ 80 seconds minimum standard.
Minimum points for 80 seconds (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 60 seconds.

agilitytest

Illinois Agility Test — You will have to zig and zag while running at full speed, changing direction often.  Max points of (5) if completed under 15 seconds.  Deduct a point for every second slower than 15 seconds until 19 seconds(1 pt).  Slower than 19 seconds = fail.

Plank pose - Can you hold the plank pose for 1 minute minimum.  Get extra points for every minute after that and max out at 5 minutes.  1 point 1 minute. Add a points for each minute up to 5 minutes.  Max points 5 points.

3 mile timed run — The three mile timed run.  Can you run 3 miles without stopping?  Then you pass.  If you get 18 minutes you max the test and can pick up a few more points if you can keep it under 23 minutes.  10 points for 18 min /​ 1 point less for each 30 seconds until max point time of 23 minutes.

50 lbs ruck in under 1 hour (4 miles) - This is the minimum standard for Army rucking times.  Can you pace yourself at a perfect 15 min mile with 50lb back pack or weight vest.  No need to go too fast on this event.  It is about finishing on a steady pace.  No extra points for getting under 1 hour.  10 points pass or fail.

Swim - Can you swim?  -  If you cannot swim you are ineffective on 75 % of this planet.   Be an asset not a liability to your team, yourself, and your family.  This is a basic survival skill we all should know how to do.  5 Points for just knowing how to swim.

500m swim — Any stroke.  Swim 500m non-​​stop and you pass.  Get 500m in 6 min or less and max out the swim test.  You can get extra points until the 11th minute.  5 points for maxing the swim /​ 1 point less for every minutes until the 10th minute.

25m Life saving buddy tow  - Can you dive to the bottom of a pool (8-​​9ft) grab a unconscious buddy and tow him 25m to the other end of the pool?  Pass or fail — 5 points.

Here is a chart to make it easier to understand:

Exercise Pass /​ Fail Criteria
4 mile ruck (50lbs) 1 hour maximum time
25# Pullups max reps 2 – 10 reps
Bench press (bodyweight) Pass or fail 1 rep:  5 reps — 15 reps for extra points
Dead Lift (1.5x bodyweight) Pass or fail — 1 rep
(2–5 reps for extra pts)
Fireman Carry (P/​F) 100yds of equal bodyweight
400m sprint 60–80 seconds
Shuttle run 300yds 60–80 seconds
Plank pose (P/​F) 1 minute minimum /​ 5 min max
3 mile run (P/​F) 18 minutes to 23 minutes for extra points
IL Agility Test <15 secs to >19 sec
Swim – can you swim?
(P/​F)
Yes /​ no
Swim 500m timed 6 minutes – 11 minutes
Swim – Buddy Tow Pass/​fail – 25m rescue swim

Max points is 100 points if you ace everything.  You can still pass with as little as 40 points.  You must pass all events to pass the test. Give it a try and see where you stand.  Practice and your weaknesses and think your way through this test as you can arrange to best fit your optimal scoring potential.  The interesting thing about this test is you can arrange the events in any order you wish.  Get creative and develop your own strategy for better performance.  The test can be broken up into two sessions or challenge yourself and go for all events in one long testing session.

“The Dirty Dozen”  Tactical Fitness Test eBook is here.

 

Boot Camp Workouts — Misunderstood Term

nutrition for runners

An interesting reply to a recent article on PFT Failures in the military, particularly the women and pullups story about the USMC standards, provoked some thought and a realization that maybe the term BOOT CAMP has been redefined over the years.  Here is a great question that discusses preparation prior to basic military training:

My nephew has recently joined the USMC and I saw that even before he went to boot camp, his recruiter worked with the kids regularly to physically prepare/​condition them even before actual boot camp.  My question is, are these women being tested before or right at basic training, or are they failing even after some sort of pre-​​conditioning +/​or remedial boot camp program?  Was my nephew’s recruiter unique in his pre-​​conditioning program? 

Nothing unique, as far as my experience shows, with recruiters (especially USMC recruiters) pre-​​training their candidates prior to basic training /​ boot camp.  The USMC is pretty good at it comparatively.  But it is a mix of society — mostly out of shape people in our society join each year. The military gets its share of these unfit recruits who attend Boot Camp like it is going to get them in shape /​ normal weight again.  Typically for men as well — you will have only 40–45% you are really exceeding the standards before training. Others are just meeting the minimums or below the standard.  Usually by the end of training, you will have 90 percent or more who are meeting the standards physically.  The problem is many of them are borderline pass /​ fail graduates which can be (and often is) a problem for that recruit /​ military member for the rest of their career.

I see the statistics that 40–45% of the women are passing or exceeding the standards with regard to pullups,  not that over half failed the standards at the END of basic.  Granted, that number should be higher in the passing zone and if given more time prior to Boot Camp they could have exceeded those minimum standards.  Women can do pullups — they just have to practice them.  Same for men.  I have seen many recruits (men) start off not being able to perform pullups too.  It is a time and practice issue more than anything.

I think the big problem with most people (men and women) who go to basic training think it will get them in shape. The term “boot camp” itself has become misinterpreted in society as a fitness class you take at a gym in order to get into shape.  In military training you need to be in shape PRIOR to going or you really do not stand much of a chance of completing near the preferred standards OR you risk getting injured.  Arriving in shape to military training (already meeting the standards) will allow you to use the workouts as a stress reliever.  This will enable you to learn your new job better too (shooting, moving, teamwork, sparring and other war fighting skills).

If you are thinking about serving this country. Do yourself a favor and show up having taken several fitness tests.  Prove to yourself that you can ace the standards in front of you.  You will be glad you did.

 

What Did You Do Today? January 2014

SS_0711613_0563_EDIT

Each month (or more often if this series is popular enough), I am going to post some fun workouts that I would recommend you trying if you are in the intermediate /​ advanced level fitness zone.  Here, we mix weights and calisthenics with some unconventional exercise options.  One of the new favorite unconventional exercises is the stair crawl — which is just an advanced version of the bear crawl where you crawl down head first a flight of steps and then change directions and crawl back up FEET first (this is the hard part).

So check out this fullbody workout circuit:

Repeat 3 times
Pushups 1 min
Pullups 1 min
Situps or abs of choice 1 min
Walking lunges 25 yards
Stair crawl UP /​ DOWN a flight of steps — NOTE:  If there are no steps to do this or your gym will not let you — simply bear crawl 25m or farmer walk carrying a 25–50 lb. weight.

Tactical Fitness Training /​ Testing Ideas

Respiratory_muscle_training

Training large groups with varied fitness levels is one of the most challenging things to accomplish with success.  Success will be defined by the group’s increased fitness levels as well as not injuring people who maybe ill-​​prepared for new and challenging exercises.  Here is a great question from a new PT coordinator concerned with adding new ways to test the group in exercises /​events not common to the Air Force PFT.

My unit has placed me in charge of the PT program which is a combination of remedial PT failures as well as the top fitness levels on our base.  We are – for the most part – a competitive group and though we do focus on the PFT exercises so we stay on top of the test, I would like to change it up and add new fitness testing exercises to challenge our team. I recall you writing that there were about 10 to 12 exercises that have been deemed as acceptable (validated) for most military and police fitness tests. However, there will certainly be some naysayers who will be less than enthusiastic about fitness programming and evaluation on a department-​​wide basis – even if it is for fun.  I know you have a lot of experience in this area, so I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the best exercises /​ tasks for testing purposes.

Keep it Running: Nutrition Tips for Endurance

nutrition for runners

What Do Runner’s Eat? Whether you’re new to running or a competitive marathon athlete; endurance –based exercises like running require you to pay attention to your extra nutritional needs. If you don’t, you’ll notice changes in your body structure that may not be what you hoped for (like getting way too thin) or even worse, you’ll experience a lack of energy after your workout.

Although running may not seem as physically intense as weightlifting or martial arts; runners of all levels need to be pay close attention to vitamins and minerals as well as caloric intake. Your quality of nutrition will ensure optimal performance and help you avoid over training.

Army Bootcamp: Training before the Training

military training

Training for Army Bootcamp requires mental preparation and physical preparation.

Even though most people don’t think about physical exercise providing any mental benefits…it does. Why? Because exercise allows you be physically prepared for your Army Bootcamp training. And, the more physically prepared you feel, the less mental stress you will experience. The less mental stress, the better you will be able to engage and focus in the “classroom” style learning as well as the “field” adaptations and problem solving you will encounter physically and mentally.

Hell Week Training: 3 Things to Remember!

military nutrition

What’s Hell Week Training?

Five days and nights in maximum overdrive. It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s tough. And for most it’s their first real test of endurance. And, most don’t think they are ready. Or they do, until the boots hit the mud and a part of them just wants to cry to mama. Can you survive? Can you adapt? Can you reach the peak and push back against your minds natural resistance? Will you become a Marine?

The body has a way of adapting to physical stress but only when you give it what it requires to deal with that stress in the most healthy and positive way. You need the right food combinations and nutritional fortification. And that fortification of your body’s vital systems needs to begin long before Hell week. Long before the buzz cut. And long before your first inspection. That fortification, that Hell Week Training Diet needs to start the moment to get the urge to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.

USMC Pullups and Women

womenpullup

Removing the Flexed Arm Hang and adding Pullups to the women’s fitness standards in the Marine Corps was an upgrade that was carefully considered, studied and implemented with support throughout the chain of command for the past couple of years.  However, recent events have forced the USMC to reconsider the start date of the new change.  When 55% of the female graduating class at boot camp failed the three pullup minimum, the January 1, 2014 implementation date has been postponed.

Why is this an issue?

Insanity Workout Plan: Worth It? Or Just Insane?

Dietary supplements

The makers of the Insanity workout plan claim that it’s the wildest and most intense workout that anyone ever saw. Coming hot on the heels of the P90X program, it ushers in a new era of workouts. Men and women who previously thought they could only get the ripped abs and great arms they wanted in a gym can now tone up at home. Beachbody states that anyone can get in shape using the workout plan, but not everyone has the same experience.

The Insanity workout comes with ten discs. One of those discs is a fitness test that users take before using any of the workout plans. According to the manufacturer, this test lets users see how strong they are in different areas, and they can compare their strength and fitness to how they feel after using the program. Even those who do well on the fitness test might still have problems with the workout plans.

Back to the Drawing Board — Help!

injuredman

Often injuries or illnesses occur and derail our fitness and progress made over many months and years of effort.  This can be extremely frustrating to any hard charging military or fitness buff. Getting back into it after several weeks or months of recovery time can be a shock to the system and a bruise to the ego if efforts and expectations are too high.  Here is an email from a British Army soldier needing help after an illness sidelined him for several months:

Stew - Well my fitness has gone completely!  I am serving in the British army, unfortunately just over five months ago I was struck with kidney stones.  The doctors immediately stopped me from doing all physical exercise until this week when they have finally given me the all clear to start again!  I was feeling completely wasted after a ten minute jog and struggled to complete a measly 10 mins on the static bike!  Could you please advise me as to whether any of your other programmes would help me in starting to get back to fitness, any help would be more than gratefully received!

Cut: Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine Workout

hugh jackman workout

Want to know how Hugh Jackman got so ripped for his movie Wolverine? Well, you can hire his extremely expensive fitness trainer Mike Ryan or you can build your own workout program based on advice from Mr. Ryan. If you don’t have Ryan on speed dial then read on.

Hugh Jackman really got cut for this movie. The keyword here is cut.

To look really great with your shirt off, adding muscle mass is only half the battle, in fact, less than half if you ask the ladies. An impressive looking body starts with well– defined muscles, so follow this Hugh Jackman workout program to get some impressive muscle definition.

What Are You Doing This Year? 2014

What Are You Doing This Year? 2014

Every year — it never fails — many engage to correct all of their wrong-​​doings, unhealthful habits, and other self-​​helping notions in the form of New Year RESOLUTIONS.  “Resolution” is one of the most over-​​used words during the end of December and January each year, but by February it is gone usually along with our energy to better ourselves. So, I recommend instead of making a resolution, set four quarterly goals to help you reach where you want to be next year at this time.  Take a look back at 365 days ago.  Seems like yesterday right?  Why not create a logical goal setting formula that will work for you with a little bit of effort and some good habit building skills?  Where people fail with their resolutions is that they try to fix too much at one time.  Stopping smoking, starting an exercise program, eating healthy foods in an effort to lose weight can be too much to take on all at once.  Try another approach to success.

Mental Toughness — Art or Science?

Mental Toughness - Art or Science?

Mental Toughness has been a topic of discussion and debate for generations as we humans try to define our lives.  What makes some people tougher than others?  More successful? More motivated? Calm in stressful situations?  What are the common traits of ordinary people doing extraordinary things?  Can mental toughness be measured?  Scientifically tested?

These are the questions I have been seeking answers to and the type of questions I get each day from young men and women preparing for challenging programs in the military, law enforcement, and fire-​​fighting professions.

There are some scientific studies performed trying to measure how people handle stress and why they graduate Special Operations programs like Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs.  Some of the most interesting and pertinent to this discussion were the ones done by Dr. Andy Morgan of Yale Medical School.  

How a Light Switch, and other Household Items, Can Help You Lose Weight

light-switch-de

When I was 19, I could eat whatever I wanted and not worry about the intake of calories. Fast-​​forward a couple decades and those “glory days” are long over.  However, losing weight isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Even common household items you have in your house right now can help you burn calories and lose weight without ever hearing the dreaded word “diet”. Below are a few of my favorite household items that can help you consume less calories.