Archive for the ‘Running & Cardio’ Category

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.

Ask the MD — Becoming a Stronger Runner

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Military​.com Fitness is starting a new section where we reach out to various medical and science professionals to get advice on fitness, injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, nutrition, and many other topics that will help our readers. Many emails ask our writing team about running faster, running injuries, and how to prevent them.  I am pleased to introduce Dr. Michael Cassatt who is a former Navy corpsman and now a doctor of Sports Medicine .  Dr Cassatt answers our “How to prevent running injuries” question with the following explanation: Injuries in runners are common.  Injuries from the waist down can range from 1 in 4 runners, to 2 in 3 runners depending on training volume. Most of these injuries are preventable given a good training plan, quality running form, and a few specific exercises to help supporting muscle groups. There are a number of injuries that can occur from running including:

  •  Hip– Hip flexor tendinopathy, impingement, and bursitis.
  • Knee– IT band syndrome, runners knee (Patellar tendinopathy), and meniscal tears.
  • Tibia– Shin splints, compartment syndrome, and stress fractures.
  • Foot and ankle– Achilles tendinopathy, peroneal tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis.

Favorite Workout #9: Last Week

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Name:  Five Minutes ON — Five Minutes OFF

This workout will have you doing a hard 5 minute cardio followed by a hard 5 minute circuit usually of 4–5 exercises with minimal rest in between.  The 5 minutes of cardio are often Tabata Intervals or increasing resistance each minute sets where you make each minute harder than the previous minute for a total of 5 minutes.  Repeat this 5 times for a 50–60 minute cardio /​ resistance combo workout.

For instance, the workout we created is explained below, but it is one of those that you can create your own using the following protocol:

Pick exercises from the following categories:   Push /​ Pull /​ Full /​ Legs /​ Abs

Repeat 5 times
5 Minutes ON Cardio:  *5 minutes of Tabata Intervals (bike, elliptical, or row machines)

5 Minutes OFF Cardio:  Full Body Circuit (no rest in between)

PUSH — Bench press 135# — max reps for 1 minute

PULL — Pullups (weighted or not) — max reps for 1 minute — change grips, shake it out, keep pulling for 1 minute

FULL — Hang Cleans /​ Push Press complex — do hang cleans into push press for 1 minute (light weight).  Some opted for KbdnKettlebell swings /​ snatches as well.

LEGS — Squats (weighted or non-​​weighted) /​ Box Jumps /​ Step Ups for 1 minute

ABS — Situps 1 minute or your choice of flutterkicks, TRX rollouts, etc…

TRXrollout2

*Tabata interval is a challenging cardio interval where you do 20 seconds fast as you can followed by 10 seconds easy /​ slow to try to catch your breath.  It is a nice thought but you really don’t catch your breath.

Favorite Workout of the Week # 1–8 for previous weeks.

United We Stand

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I come from a family of patriots.  We all support our Veterans, our military service men and women and our country regardless of the date on the calendar or the status of world events. My grandfather is part of the Greatest Generation as a WWII Veteran. My uncles are Veterans of the Vietnam War.  I am a the spouse of a GWOT Veteran who served our country valiantly during a career that saw both peace and conflict. So, during a time when we celebrate our Nation’s birth, it seems fitting to also thank those who graciously and unselfishly support our troops, respect our flag, and serve our Veterans.  This week, while we’re spending time with family and friends,  I want to introduce you to a couple of patriots & patriotic organizations that have inspired me. 

Favorite Workout #8: Last Week

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Spec Ops Triathlon Build Up with Leg PT

As we prepare for an upcoming Special Ops Triathlon - Night Mission (Swim, Run, Ruck), we are adding in a few combo workouts mixed with leg PT to prepare for the extra mileage and weight of the event.  This favorite workout of the week is called:

Run /​ Ruck /​ Swim and Leg PT — We will be adding mileage to this workout every week as we progress to the 5 mile run /​ 4 mile ruck /​ 1 mile swim of the Spec Ops Triathlon Workout:

Run 2 miles -  stop every 1/​2 mile and do 20 lunges

Ruck 2 miles — stop every half mile and do squats (ruck with 30–40#)

Swim /​ LEG PT:  Swim with fins 1000m

Buddy tow and Lunges on pool deck — see video link

Repeat 5 times
Buddy tow 25m
Walking lunges 25m

*if no buddy to tow — swim with sweat shirt in each hand

Lose Weight /​ Get Fit to Serve

2012 Obesity

As the Military Gets Pickier With Recruiting, showing up to see your local recruiter out of shape, overweight, and/​or with less than average ASVAB scores will quickly crush your dreams of serving.  During the past 15 years of writing about military fitness, this is not a new problem (overweight /​ out of shape recruits), however in a period of downsizing, the military has the ability to select only those who are ready to go and fully qualified.  Here is a very common email from a young man seeking to serve his country but knows he has a journey to get there:

I want to lose weight to join the Navy however, I barely workout now, and I’m over 300 pounds. Any advice? — Rob

Favorite Workout #7: Last Week (Spec Ops Tri)

Operation Craving Competition

The Special Ops Triathlon — Run — Swim — Ruck

This fine tuning of the challenging cardio events of the triathlon is now an all-​​time favorite workout.  We even made it a quarterly competition with our Heroes of Tomorrow and Special Ops Team here in Maryland.

You can arrange the run, swim, ruck of the Special Ops Triathlon in any order, but we often like to make it like a simulated mission where you have the following phases:

Service Academy Summer Seminar — USNA

SS-USNA

Each year during the summer, the Service Academies offer a week long “summer camp” to incoming high school seniors interested in becoming Midshipmen or Cadets at the Naval Academy, West Point (Army) or Air Force Academy.  I have had the honor of being a guest PT instructor at the USNA Summer Seminar on one of the 0600 am workouts for the past 16 years.

With over 800 students of varying fitness levels, the PT becomes part education and part workout — teaching and practicing time tested skills to the candidates that will help them score better on fitness tests.  We also push those who came physically prepared with a challenging workout while at the same time give sensible options to those who are not physically prepared to train at a basic fitness level yet.  For instance, some will resort to knee pushups when they fail at regular pushups or do crunches when they cannot do situps fully.

Favorite Workout #5: Last Week

usmcpull-up

Here is the fifth week of the Favorite Workout of the Week series.  We did this workout with more than 30 delayed entry program SpecWar candidates, ROTC, and OCS students.  This is one of those classic workouts that you can do once a week and know you are getting a tough workout in as well as mark your progress because everyone fails at this one at some point.  This one is also a great way to simulate obstacle courses if you do not have one to train on.  The running to/​from the pullup bar, doing burpees or pushing exercises, add in some crawling and you have a simulated obstacle course workout.

Favorite Workout #4: Last Week

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This week, we did an all-​​time favorite workout that we have been doing for decades.  It truly is a classic workout and if you are ever in the area where we train, you can join us.  Especially now, as we are cycling out of the weight /​ strength cycle and merging into the running, swimming, higher rep PT cycle to prepare for crushing any fitness test.

Fitness is Relative /​ Energy Systems Are Not…

Why Bodyweight Exercises Rule!

After a challenging workout on Memorial Day this year, I posted it in the Weekly Favorite Series and received a few comments from, “this is a crazy workout and too hard to think about doing,”  to “it was not that bad if you paced yourself.”  This led me to think about how fitness is ALL RELATIVE, meaning, depending on your fitness level, workouts can easily be accomplished or not.

Favorite Workout #3: Last Week

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This Memorial Day Workout — will easily be the favorite workout of the week for many weeks to come.  In the past few years, the CrossFit world has been naming workouts after American Heroes (Hero WOD).  This particular workout is called the Memorial Day Murph and was one of SDV Team 1 SEAL, LT Michael Murphy’s (CMH recipient) workouts he did prior to SEAL training.  It just so happens to be one of my long time favorites done with situps vs squats to help prepare for the PST exercises (pullup, pushups, situps)

What is a Ruck? Great Question

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For many, the term “ruck” is a new word.  Defining RUCK is difficult to someone who has never moved out with 50+ lbs in a backpack for many, many miles.  The definition can be as simple as walking around with a backpack on a hike or as difficult as moving fast with all your military gear, loaded for bear, over rugged terrain, infiltrating to your objective.  But the terms, ruck, hump, or forced march, all really mean getting your gear from A to B in a backpack.  Here is a question, that prompted this discussion:

Stew, I am adding backpacking to my workouts — usually 20-​​25lbs.  My buddy told me I was “rucking.”  After a google search, I see that is what I am doing, but I really have no idea what kind of pace is a ruck.  Is it a fast walk, slow jog, nice and easy walk so you can go all day?  How should I incorporate it into my workouts?

Favorite Workout #1 — Last Week

trxsqtrowUp

“Stew — What was your best workout you did last week?” asks an Army ROTC cadet.  “Anything new? Something classic?  I would love to hear what you come up with in your Spec Ops Team sessions.”

Many readers have been asking to post some of my favorite workouts we come up with each week with my pre-​​Military /​ Spec Ops PT groups.  Sounds like a plan.  I will post my favorite workouts of the previous week here on Monday’s each week.

This workout will vary each week as I tend to pick favorites that are a combination of upper body /​ lower body weights /​ calisthenics, or swim or run PT mix, or mix it all together for a challenging full-​​body /​ cardio burnout day. So without over-​​talking it — here it is:   “The Modified Murph with TRX and Kettlebells”

If you are into these type of workouts, you may have heard of the “Murph”?  It is a workout in honor of Navy SEAL officer Michael Murphy (MOH recipient) used often as a “Memorial Day Murph” workout in the CrossFit world.  It is actually a classic workout done my future Special Ops guys for decades.

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), 

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

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.

Pre-​​Training Meals: Make it Count!

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.

Rucking — Calories Burned?

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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?  

Tactical Fitness: The Dirty Dozen Test

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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:

ExercisePass /​ Fail Criteria
4 mile ruck (50lbs)1 hour maximum time
25# Pullups max reps2 – 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 sprint60–80 seconds
Shuttle run 300yds60–80 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 timed6 minutes – 11 minutes
Swim – Buddy TowPass/​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.