3 training basics every soldier needs to remember - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Here’s a fact: Training prepares you for the demands you’ll face in the field.

Sure, it might feel good to bend your knees an inch or two and call it a squat and curl for days on end, but what benefit are you gaining?


You need your workouts to provide results.

If you train with your ego, you’re probably wondering why you aren’t getting the results you require.

Here are a few things to remember that will keep your ego in check and the results rolling in so that your body is ready when you actually need it to perform in a life-or-death scenario.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Half and quarter reps have there place in a very specific type of training plan. Message me if you want to know what that plan is. For the other 99% of us they are just a waste of time.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

1. Use a full range of motion

Imagine you walk over to the squat rack, load the bar up with two, maybe 300 pounds, and step under it only to find that it’s way too heavy for a full rep.

Instead of lightening the load to match your ability, you bend your knees ever so slightly, give a grunt and look around to see if anyone saw that sorry excuse for a squat.

Now, if this describes your typical leg day or any other workout for that matter, stop.

Honestly, if you’re grabbing weights that are too heavy to perform a full rep, you’re not only kidding yourself but also wasting your time. While doing heavy partial reps might massage your ego, you probably won’t find any measurable benefit, and you’ll for sure increase your chances of injury.

Using a full range of motion means that you’re activating all of the muscle fibers within a particular muscle group to perform the exercise. As a result, those muscle fibers and connected nerves are receiving the signal to grow bigger and stronger.

For most of you, resistance training isn’t just to look great. In the field, you need to perform under any circumstance, so your training needs to prep you to deal with the unknown.

What if you really need to be able to carry your 230-pound brother but can’t since you trained with two-inch squats? Will that sad example of a squat make you feel better then?

To fully benefit from each rep and training session, use the amount of weight that allows for a full range of motion. Eventually, your strength will improve enough to perform that 300-pound squat with a full range of motion, and you’ll be so much stronger as a result.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

The bench press, when performed correctly works way more than just your chest. Triceps, core, glutes, back, and sometimes even your face.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

2. Prioritize important exercises

To get straight to the point, which of the following exercises is more likely to benefit you in the field:

Bicep curls or a barbell squat?

I know, biceps are the most important muscle group to many of you, but in reality, training them every day probably won’t provide much of a performance benefit. In fact, they may hamper your performance.

The barbell squat not only allows you to use more resistance, but it’s also a full-body challenge. Despite being a leg-dominant exercise that works quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, it also demands that you have a strong upper and lower back and overall core strength.

Not to mention, using higher rep ranges also allows you to challenge your anaerobic capacity. Bicep curls, on the other hand, train your biceps and forearms and not much else.

Of course, it’s not a big deal if you train your biceps, and doing so will be somewhat beneficial. Just remember that you’re training to be a badass that can handle anything.

If you need to improve performance in the field, you should prioritize compound movements that are most likely to improve that performance. If you have extra energy and time, then focus on the less-important exercises.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Use your rest periods to perform a corrective, work an antagonist muscle group or rest. Leave the IG feed for 3AM when you’re supposed to be sleeping instead.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

3. Put the phone down

If you head to the gym and spend half of the time scrolling through a feed, you’re wasting your time and probably ruining someone else’s workout if you’re doing it on a popular piece of equipment.

It’s clear that most of us feel the pull of social media, even at the worst times.

But the time you spend in the gym is meant to be for work. If you’re distracted by your phone and resting for longer than intended, you could be losing out on training improvements.

You should be using your rest periods to your advantage anyway…

If you find yourself distracted in the gym, make a conscious decision to hold off until the workout is done, and then get your fix. I promise, your workout will be far more productive.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

​Squatting heavy isn’t for everyone, but it is a metaphor for handling the important stuff first that I think everyone can understand.

U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik

BONUS: The bigger picture…

I’ve been recording my dreams lately and weird things have been happening as a result. Long story short, I received some great advice from my late grandfather in a recent dream. The gist of our dialogue was this:

“Everything you do in life is either making you a better version of yourself or a worse version.”

Obviously this advice can apply to all areas of life but when specifically looking at physical training it can be quite directive. We all have a mission we’re working towards accomplishing. Every training session, every exercise, every set, and every rep should be bringing us closer to mission accomplishment. If it’s not, fix it.

The Commander’s Intent of training, especially for those on Active Duty is: “…in order to become more capable at inflicting positive change on the world.” Be that becoming more deadly in combat, or simply having greater work capacity to keep moving forward when others would quit.

It’s your choice.

MIGHTY FIT

Do your knees hurt when you squat?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least 10 times the back squat is the one exercise you should be doing to get stronger, bigger, faster, live longer, and look sexier. It’s that simple.

But sometimes our damn knees don’t seem to agree. Luckily there’s a lot you can do to make your knees a happy member of your lower body family.

First, let’s go over how to make some on the spot corrections and then talk about what you can do to make your knees strong and resilient.


Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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You’ve got lazy glutes and your knees are paying the price.

The valgus knee collapse, yes, you read that correctly. It’s that brutal-looking event that happens when your glute medius doesn’t know how to pull its weight.

If your knees are caving in when you squat, fix it by focusing on twisting your knees out and engaging the upper outside corner of your glutes AKA your glute medius. For some of you that simple correction will be enough to relieve your knees and clear up any pain.

Here’s another way to wake your glutes up as well.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Give your glutes a reminder.

In between sets of squatting perform 12-15 reps of the glute bridge. Really focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement and keeping your knees pointed out while bridging. This will cue your glutes to stay on when you get back to your sets of squatting.

Don’t forget about the hip thrust either!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Give your hips a reminder.

It’s not always the glutes’ fault; sometimes the hip flexors are just as guilty. The majority of us spend all day sitting down with our psoas muscles and the rest of the hips flexors gang shortened and disengaged. It’s not totally their fault for not taking part in the squat.

By engaging your hip flexors, you’ll find it easier to sit back and down rather than crumbling forward into your knees like you may be doing currently.

Give your hip flexors some resistance between sets with your hands and force them to actively close your hip angle.

If that simple cue doesn’t work for you, use a resistance band to give you some errr…. resistance. Hang it up high and hold onto it with both hands. Then actively pull yourself down into the squat position by engaging your hip flexors.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Maybe, you’ve got bad form.

Patterning issues aren’t uncommon in the squat. It’s a complicated exercise. That’s why if you haven’t yet committed it to memory you need to reread the 5 Steps to Back Squat Perfection.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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You aren’t sitting back.

Squat TO A box. Don’t box squat.

The box isn’t there to make your life easier. It’s there to help you make the squat as efficient and gainful as possible. Put that box behind you and stick your ass out and back to the box. Just touch it with your butt and stand back up. Don’t linger down there relaxing.

Here are some other squat variants to spice up your training.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Your depth is not deep enough.

The funny thing about squat depth is it helps you actually engage the muscles you want to. If you’re only doing half or quarter squats your hamstrings are getting left out.

When your quads are completely dominating the squat, they are also putting a lot of anterior stress on the knee. The hamstrings job is to be engaged and supply an equally opposing force on the knee.

If you aren’t getting your hamstrings involved your quad is crushing your knee. It’s as simple as that.

Make sure you’re deadlifting enough to keep those hammies strong as well!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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You need more ankle mobility.

Simply stand with your heels on a 1-inch board. Boom! More ankle mobility and less forward knee travel in the squat.

Now that’s a life hack! Silicon Valley biohackers ain’t got nothin’ on my Back Squat Hacks!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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The stronger and happier knees prescription.

Foam roll your thighs. Hit them from every angle after you finish squatting or on your off days.

Take 3-5 minutes per leg. Any more than that is just masturbation.

If you’re interested, here’s a deep dive on recovery.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Lying Side Clams

Get your Fit-Chick-Gym-Shark pants on and practice opening and closing your legs. Seriously, don’t wear short shorts when doing these.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps at the end of your leg workout.

Add them to the end of The Mighty Fit Plan as well!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Hip Thrust

Thrust it out!

These will wake the sleeping giant that is your ass. After 4 weeks of hip thrusts you’ll find yourself walking different in a more efficient and stable kind of way.

Hip thrust once a week, program in the same reps and sets scheme as your deadlift and back squat. Consider them your 3rd major lower body movement.

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Hit your Core

Hit your obliques and rectus abdominis. Chops and ab wheel roll-out will do the trick here. Throw them at the end of any workout and go for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. They will make your core so stable that your knees won’t ever feel the secondary effects of a weak spine ever again.

Unlike these, the above core exercises actually do something!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Consider your Squat frequency

Only squat once per week. Unless you love squatting or are competing you don’t need to do it more than 1 time a week. You have 3 major lower body movements; the squat, the deadlift, and the hip thrust. There’s no need to squat, especially if your knees bother you.

Even if the Back squat is King!

Do your knees hurt when squatting?

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Do your knees hurt when squatting?

That’s it yo! If you haven’t yet watched the video that I made to go along with this article, you’re missing out. That’s where the nitty-gritty details are.

If you diligently apply these fixes to your back squat, you will very quickly find that your knees are no longer bothersome.

By combining these fixes with the programming of the Mighty Fit Plan, you’ll be unstoppable.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
MIGHTY FIT

7 best NBA servicemen of all time

The NBA playoffs are heating up, and you know what that means…

Every on-base basketball court in the country now has some dude who: screams for the ball, dives at your knees, and calls a foul whenever anyone gets near him. He wears brand new Jordans, knee-high socks, and probably has some (also new) sweatbands on. He constantly wipes the bottom of his shoes with his hands. His only passes are conveniently missed shots. He calls you “chief.”

These dudes are not that guy.

They served their country—and they balled out at the highest level.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Mike Silliman

Mike Silliman was a beast for West Pointe. He took them to the NIT semifinals in 1954, 1955, and 1956. That was the equivalent of taking a team to the “Final Four” three consecutive times. He then won a gold medal with the USA Olympic basketball team in 1968. He also, perhaps, more importantly, became a captain while serving with the adjutant general corps in Korea.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Bernard James

The most intriguing player on our list, Bernard James, didn’t play professional OR collegiate basketball until after serving in the military. In fact, James didn’t even play high school ball.

James dropped out of high school, earned his GED, and then enlisted in the Air Force at 17. He served six years in the Air Force as a security forces specialist, and became a Staff Sergeant. He was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom to Iraq, Qatar, and Afghanistan.

It wasn’t until he played on his intramural Air Force team (and had a surprise 5-inch growth spurt—seriously) that he realized he had a knack on the hardwood. He then played in community college before transferring to FSU, where he was eventually drafted by the Dallas Mavericks where he would spend most of his 3 year NBA career.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Tim James

Tim James is a Miami hero. He played at Northwestern High School in Miami, then “the U” (The University of Miami), and was later drafted by the Miami Heat in the first round of the 1999 NBA draft. He played for 3 years in the league, and then joined the military after 9/11.

After enlistment, he served in Iraq and, according to an article by Dan Le Batard, even decided not to tell any of his fellow soldiers about his time in the NBA. Like Shakespeare said, “discretion is the greater part of valor.”

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Bill Bradley

To say Bill Bradley was a renaissance man is an understatement. Bill Bradley’s achievements included: attending Princeton, attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, winning an Olympic gold medal in basketball, playing for the New York Knicks, winning two NBA championships, serving in the United States Air Force Reserve, becoming an NBA Hall of Famer, becoming a senator, and running for president… I pray he doesn’t DM my girl.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

George Yardley

Don’t let the milkman look fool you– George Yardley is an NBA Hall of Famer and two-time All-American. After being drafted (to the NBA, that is) in 1950, he served in the Korean War for two years. When he got back, he played for the Fort Wayne Pistons and became the first player to score 2,000 points in a season.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Elgin Baylor

Rightfully credited as one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, Elgin Baylor turned around a struggling Minnesota Lakers franchise (and set the pace for what would become one of the winningest franchises in all of sports) by leading them to the NBA finals his rookie season. During his fourth year in the purple and gold, he served as a U.S. Army Reservist, living at Fort Lewis. His duties as an army reservist prevented him from practicing or participating in weekday games—and he still posted up 38 points per game.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

David Robinson

David “The Admiral” Robinson never achieved the rank of Admiral—but he was a Lieutenant for the Navy. His time in the Navy almost never happened as he was almost not accepted on account of “being too tall” (the Navy limit at the time, 6’8″, was two inches shorter than Robinson). In spite of this, he was accepted and balled out at the Naval Academy where he won the coveted Naismith and Wooden awards. He was a 10 time all star, 2 time NBA champion, a member of the legendary 1992 Olympic gold medal “Dream Team,” and had perhaps the most defined shoulder muscles of the 1990’s.

MIGHTY FIT

Engineers develop new strength-based physical readiness program

Company D, 31st Engineer Battalion, at Fort Leonard Wood is one of a small handful of training units piloting a new concept in physical readiness mirrored on characteristics of the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

The Strength Training Program was developed by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine’s Training and Education Development Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, who looked at an assessment of Soldier physical fitness in relation to the Army Physical Fitness Test.

“The APFT does not adequately assess the domains of muscular strength, explosive power, speed, agility, flexibility and balance,” said Capt. Jeffry O’Loughlin, Company D commander. “This new physical training program was developed to better prepare a Soldier’s readiness for the demands of the modern battlefield by focusing on all aspects of combat fitness — similar to the aim of the ACFT.”


According to Maj. Donny Bigham, head strength coach for the Tactical Athlete Performance Center at Fort Benning and developer of the program, the pilot’s purpose is two-fold.

“First, it will increase lethality and survivability through physical dominance,” he said. “Second, it will increase readiness by reducing musculoskeletal injuries in order to improve a unit’s mission capability in the operational force.”

According to O’Loughlin, the program has a balanced design to attain the new physical readiness training goals to develop strength, endurance and mobility. The current fitness model has 47 aerobic sessions, 18 anaerobic sessions, zero strength sessions and zero mobility sessions.

“The Strength Training Program Delta Company implemented consists of 16 aerobic sessions, 16 anaerobic sessions, 19 strength sessions and 19 mobility sessions,” he said. “It deliberately integrates more strength and mobility workouts into the schedule to increase physical readiness in all aspects. The current model only builds muscular endurance — we instead instruct proper form while lifting heavier weight. Correspondingly, trainees are better prepared to complete warrior tasks and battle drills, such as casualty extraction.”

The program allows for strength and endurance development into the performance of basic military skills such as marching, speed running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling and combatives.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Staff Sgt. Daniel Yeates, a drill sergeant with Company D, 31st Engineer Battalion, demonstrates to trainees the proper technique for a kettlebell bent-over row. The company is piloting a new concept in physical readiness called the Strength Training Program, which is designed to reduce injuries throughout Basic Combat Training.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jeffry OLoughlin)

“The ACFT will utilize six assessments at a minimum to capture all of the essential attributes of a Soldier to ensure nothing is overlooked in training the Soldier as a tactical athlete,” Bigham said. “The combination of fitness components, along with the performance fitness skills provide a better picture of the true functional competence required to physically dominate any mission related tasks. This program ensures exercise order, variation and the specificity necessary to be successful on today’s battlefield.”

As part of the new program, an assessment divides trainees into three ability groups — advanced, trained and untrained — and the results seen so far in Company D over 18 months show an overall increase in APFT scores and decrease in injuries. From 2018 through the most recent training cycle to be completed, Company D went from 26 injuries to 11, eight, seven, and finally just four. At the same time, O’Loughlin saw average physical training scores jump from 212 to 227 (237 to 248 in advanced individual training).

O’Loughlin said he feels much of that success can be equated to this new way of thinking in Army physical training.

“This program is not just about lifting kettlebells,” he said. “We also consider active recovery with mobility sessions with rollers and balls to break up adhesions and scar tissue to speed up the healing process and help prevent over-training.”

According to Bigham, seven training units have completed the program so far, and currently all trainees assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning are piloting the program as of Oct. 1 of this year. Across the board, he’s seeing injury numbers halve, while APFT failure rates are about a third of what they were previously

“Physical training should be the number one aspect when it comes to improving lethality on the battlefield,” he said. “It must be mandatory to ensure Soldiers have the tools in their kit bag to win the last 100 yards. This strength-based program will be a force multiplier that will increase lethality, combat effectiveness, moral and ethical decision making, overall readiness and survivability on any battlefield that enemies pose a threat to our nation.”

This article originally appeared on Army.mil. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Setting expectations: what your home workout can and cannot do for you

If you typically workout at a gym, the mandatory closing of most establishments around the world has seriously changed your fitness routine. As a result, there’s a good chance you’ve at least thought about working out at home.

But before you continue your standard training plan, you have to be realistic about what you can achieve. Unless you have equipment that matches the options of your gym, there will be some compromise.


Understanding the limitations of your bodyweight or minimal-equipment workout plan is crucial. At least, if you hope to progress and maintain during this age of quarantine.

With this understanding, you can set realistic goals and train in ways that will help you achieve them.

Here are some factors to remember as you jump into the world of training at home with no equipment.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Impossible doesn’t mean impossible… think about it. What’s impossible for most may not apply to you.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Esgar Rojas

Muscle Building Expectations

If you have no equipment at home, the harsh reality is that building muscle with only your bodyweight will be challenging. Unfortunately, it’s even worse if you’re experienced with lifting weights.

Building muscle depends on progressive overload. In a nutshell, the body responds to resistance training by getting bigger and stronger, depending on how hard you train. But once your body responds, you have to throw more at it if you want to continue improving.

If you have experience with weight training, your muscles have grown to deal with these increased demands of weight, reps, and sets.

Now, you have only your bodyweight as resistance, which is a much lower stimulus than you usually achieve at the gym.

For instance, imagine the number of bodyweight squats you’d have to perform to match the stress and intensity of a 10-rep squat set with 315 pounds. And that’s just one set!

Importantly, if you have five or more years of consistent training under your belt, things will be challenging. Realistically, building additional size with only your body will be very difficult.

For you, you’ll need to train harder than you ever imagined if you have no resistance and want to build additional muscle.

If you have almost no experience with lifting weights, (which is unlikely) and want to begin working out, muscle growth will still be challenging, but possible. At least, as long as you make sure to practice progressive overload by adding exercises, sets, and reps.

If you’re lucky enough to have some equipment, like dumbbells, kettlebells, and a pull-up bar, building or maintaining muscle will be easier. However, don’t expect the same results as you would with a full gym at your disposal.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Strength with a capital “S” is that which must me trained at your limit. It’s hard to find your limit at home unless you decide to lift your car.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan Lucas

Strength Building Expectations

If you’re experienced and strong, building and maintaining strength with only your bodyweight will be even more challenging than building muscle size.

Strength and muscle size are connected. However, strength depends more on how your nervous system reacts to heavy resistance. Without that resistance, strength gain is challenging.

Have you ever seen someone with incredible strength, despite being small? That’s because muscle size isn’t the only factor for strength.

Think of it this way: your muscle tissue is your hardware, and your strength ability is your software. Bigger muscles have the capacity to produce more strength, but you have to train correctly to use that potential.

Essentially, the physical act of trying to move heavy resistance is what teaches your body to get stronger. Without that heavy resistance, there’s nothing to tell your body to maintain or build strength.

Fortunately, performing explosive movements like high and long jumps will help your muscles maintain the ability to produce force rapidly. But, understand that explosive bodyweight jumps will never match the stimulus of a heavy and explosive squat or deadlift.

Here’s the takeaway: if you want to maintain your strength without equipment, try to incorporate explosive movements. These include things like:

  • Sprinting
  • High and long jumps
  • Contracting your muscles as forcefully as possible during exercises. (Including an explosive set or two in some of your workouts can do the trick here.)
3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

M240B is 27.5 lbs that’s a nice bit of extra resistance that would be frowned upon at your local Planet Fitness. Make the most with what you have.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Esgar Rojas

Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity

Luckily, it’s not all bad news.

If your cardio is lacking, you have an awesome opportunity to improve. That’s because aerobic and anaerobic capacities don’t rely on resistance.

Mostly, you can challenge and improve your cardio with little or no equipment, by just going for a run.

As another example, try performing 100 bodyweight squats with as little rest as possible. Then the next time, try 150. Challenges like this will stress both your aerobic and anaerobic systems and help you maintain and improve.

Best of all, even though your cardio still depends on progressive overload, you can practice this overload easily with no resistance. For example:

  • You can run longer
  • You can run faster and longer
  • You can take shorter rest periods between exercises
  • You can add more exercises
  • You can sprint uphill or downhill
  • You can add more squats per set

This list goes on.

The takeaway here is that building and maintaining muscle and strength with only your bodyweight will be challenging. Your cardio, however, doesn’t rely on external resistance. This factor makes cardio improvement a bit easier to achieve, especially if you have no equipment available.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Hold yourself accountable to training 6 times a week for two months then worry about results. You can only control your actions not the outcomes of them.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Timothy Shoemaker

Bubble burst?

Maybe, maybe not, maybe go fix yourself.

The fact of the matter is 90% of you fine readers should have just shrugged by the end of this article after realizing not much is changing since you don’t work out consistently or intensely enough. The other 10% are probably weight and power lifters. Chances are you lifting cults…errr, clubs never closed anyway.

Now, if your goal is to put on muscle while training at home you can still do it. Just get creative by finding “weights” around the house or check out one of the countless calisthenics strength training YouTube channels. With the internet at your fingertips you have no choice to feign ignorance. Start with AthleanX or my bodyweight program Back in Fighting Shape here if you’re absolutely experiencing paralysis by analysis.
MIGHTY FIT

6 of the most embarrassing exercises performed at the gym – but they work

The gym is a high-intensity environment where you lift heavy weights, get an epic pump, and parade around to show off your muscle gain. It’s no secret that gym-goers admire others’ physiques — both men and women alike.

People commonly hit the chest press to get their blood pumping, swing up the EZ-curl bar while working their biceps, and others grunt loudly as they rep out those last few squats — these are all good looking gym classics. There are plenty of exercises we do to impress our fellow man, but there are a few that some people swear off because they are far too embarrassing to do in public.

The following motions may look awkward as hell, but there’s no denying that they’re great for building strength.


Also Read: 5 ways you’re ‘creeping’ way too hard while at the gym

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Monkey f*ckers

This is probably the worst-sounding name in exercise history. No, it doesn’t involve having relations with a monkey.

Just hearing the name will make you crack a smile — until it’s time for you to do it 12 to 15 times. That’s when sh*t can get real embarrassing.

The motion may be aerobic, but it looks utterly ridiculous — and everyone around is bound to crack up and laugh at you. Sure, the exercise improves balance and stimulates your core, but is it really worth it?

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Prone hamstring curls

In order to beef up your legs, you must work them out. Our hamstrings are a massive part of the lower body and, when exercised, release natural human growth hormones. Despite its effectiveness, a lot of men will avoid this exercise when the gym is crowded due to how awkward the position is.

“Face down, ass up!” — Ludacris

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Glute bridges

This is another productive lower-body movement that focuses on your core and glutes. This is a fairly common exercise in the gym — but most people will try and hide to the side of the room to get it done. Let’s face it, the hip-thrusting motions make it look like you’re humping thin air.

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“Good mornings”

If you’re trying to strengthen your core and lower back, “good mornings” are the perfect exercise to add to your routine. However, like many of the other motions we’ve mentioned, some men and women may feel a little vulnerable while conducting this motion in the middle of the gym.

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Hip abductors

The hip abductor machine is the perfect piece of gym equipment for working on your core strength and tightening your obliques. Unfortunately, in order to use it properly, you have to spread your legs wide open — which can be a little awkward for some people.

Looking at a complete stranger while doing this exercise can send them the wrong message… It happens more than you think.

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Cable pull throughs

This muscle-building movement requires you to use the cable machine and an extension rope. With your back against the machine, you have to tug the rope through your legs, which closely resembles whipping out your… you get it.

It might be an effective exercise, but many many gym-goers find it to be a little too weird to do in a crowded gym.

MIGHTY FIT

6 things you should keep in your gym bag to save money

When we first enter the gym, we’re usually greeted by a vast inventory of supplies and supplements, all up for sale. After all, gyms are businesses, and if they want to keep their doors open, they need to find many sources of revenue.

Sure, every once in a while, you might find yourself in a bind and have to buy a product or two from their shelves, like a pre-game drink or some amino acids, but these products can be fairly expensive and it’s a known fact that enlisted troops don’t make a whole lot of cash. Pinching pennies where you can will improve your financial situation in the long haul.

If you’re looking to save more than just a few pennies, make sure to keep the following list of things in your gym bag so you’re not forced to overpay for them later.


Also Read: 6 pieces of equipment you need for your home gym

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Protein powder

Gyms make some money on your membership, but they also earn cash by selling you pre-made protein drinks. These tasty, high-protein drinks can cost you anywhere between to — which might not seem too costly at the time, but here’s some quick math for you:

You typically enjoy a drink after every workout. If you hit the gym at least four times a week, that tallies around to per month. Now, if you were to buy a 74-serving jug of protein for , that’s only 81 cents per scoop. At one scoop per drink, for the same number of drinks, you’re looking at .96 — just sayin’.

Weight belt

Weight belts support your back, protecting your spine as you lift. It’s a gym-bag essential because once you slip a disc in your vertebrae, the doctor bills will skyrocket as you embark on your road to recovery.

Invest in a weight belt now and save thousands in potential medical expenses later.

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An extension rope

Most gyms do their best to keep clean. Unfortunately, despite all the hard work the cleaning staff puts into maintaining a sanitary gym, they rarely clean the fibers of the extension ropes attached to cable machines. This means that by using a cable, you’re coming in contact with nasty bacteria, which could lead to contracting an infection.

To make matters worse, gym-goers often use their hands to wipe the sweat from their faces. If you’ve been touching a germ-infested rope and then smear your hands across your face, you run the risk of catching a bad cold. Buying an extension rope and storing it in your gym bag will help you limit your exposure to germs, keeping you healthier and saving you money on visits to the doctor.

Energy bars

Walk into any gym and you’ll probably find an assortment of energy bars for sale. While the price of the individual bars will vary based on their nutritional values, you’ll always save money if you purchase them in bulk. Buy some at a health food store and pack one in your gym bag. Just as with protein powder, the savings add up over time.

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A dip belt

What’s the difference between a weight belt and a dip belt?

That’s simple. A weight belt is used to protect the lower back from an injury while this specialized belt is worn to add weight to your workout at the dip or pull-up station.

Some gyms provide this easy-to-use piece of equipment, but, like anything, the chains and buckles can break over time. If you’re using a gym-owned dip belt and it finally reaches its breaking point, you’ll end up paying the full retail price to replace the item. It’s cheaper if you bring your own.

Like they say, “you break it, you buy it.”

An extra pair of clean gym pants or shorts

You’re probably wondering, “how the hell does bringing an extra pair of pants save me money?” Well, the ugly truth of the matter is that when we lift heavy weights, we put a lot of strain on our lower bowels. In fact, the added pressure is usually more powerful than the strain you put on yourself while using the bathroom.

Experiencing a suddenly bowel movement while lifting happens more often than you’d think. Keeping an extra pair of shorts or pants in your gym bag will save you some money — otherwise, you’ll need to purchase one at the gym at a premium price.

MIGHTY FIT

5 workout machines you should skip while at the gym

Service members have crazy schedules, which makes it hard to find time enough to work on your physique. Most of us have only about an hour to spend each time we hit the gym. Typically, the routines we do in that brief period consist of using free weights and a few workout machines.

Many people who step foot in the gym are there to lose weight. They’ll use the various isolation (or single-joint) machines believing that if they use every machine the gym has to offer, they’ll start to lean out. The unfortunately fact of the matter is that not all the machines in the weight room burn a lot of calories when you hop on and start repping.

To burn the most calories in the shortest time, most gym professionals recommend focusing on compound movements — exercises that require more than one muscle group to move a weight, like pull-ups or dumbbell presses.

So, which machines should you avoid if you want to burn fat?


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Leg extension machine

Leg extensions help bulk up your quadriceps. Most of these machines require you to sit down and enjoy yourself as you rep out the sets. This is a very isolated movement — and that’s not the best way to challenge your body and burn fat. Instead of sitting on the machine to work on your legs, consider standing up and doing some non-weighed squats.

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Calf raise machine

Yes, the calf-raise machine will bulk up your calves up — but it won’t burn off those unwanted calories and lean you out. There are plenty of other options when it comes to working out your calves. The video below will show you a few techniques that introduce compound movements to a calf workout.

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Bicep curl machine

On this machine, a patron sits down and works their biceps against resistance while in a static position. Even if you’re trying to work on your arms, the process of selecting, moving, and returning free weights will help you burn a little extra fat.

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Seated tricep extension

If your goal is to build massive triceps, then you’ll want to add a few tricep-related exercises to your routine. However, if you’re also looking to burn some extra fat in the process, you might want to conduct your training in a stress-loaded, standing position.

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Seated abs crunch machine

There many ways to get a solid ab workout — but you’ll find that very few fitness trainers recommend that people take a seat in ab crunch machines. Those machines are fine for beginners or people with medical conditions, but everyone else should strike this machine from of their minds and replace it with these:

Articles

How to handle sleep deprivation, according to a Navy SEAL

Everybody always says the same thing when you announce you’re expecting: “Better catch up on your rest!” Or, “Sleep in while you still can!” Or even worse, “I’m your carefree single friend who stays out until two AM and then goes to brunch!” All of them also think they’re sharing a secret, as if they’re frontline soldiers watching new recruits get rotated to the front. These people are incredibly annoying. Or maybe they’re not. Who knows, you’re in a groggy, sleep-deprived haze.


Related: What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

How you deal with sleep deprivation defines your first years as a parent. If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about propping up sagging eyelids, it’s John McGuire. A Former Navy SEAL, he not only survived Hell Week — that notorious 5-day suffer-fest in where aspiring SEALs are permitted a total of only four hours of sleep — but also the years of sleep deprivation that come with being a father of five. McGuire, who’s also an in-demand motivational speaker and founder of the SEAL Team Physical Training program, offered some battle-tested strategies on how to make it through the ultimate Hell Week. Or as you call it, “having a newborn.”

Get Your Head Right

It doesn’t matter if it’s a live SEAL team operation or an average day with a baby, the most powerful tactic is keeping your wits about you. “You can’t lose your focus or discipline,” McGuire says. In other words, the first step is to simply believe you have what it takes best the challenge ahead. “Self-doubt destroys more dreams than failure ever has.” This applies to CEOs, heads of households, and operatives who don’t exist undertaking missions that never happened taking out targets whose the Pentagon will not confirm.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
U.S. Navy photo

Teamwork Makes The Lack Of Sleep Work

“In the field, lack of communication can get someone killed,” says McGuire. And while you might not be facing the same stress during a midnight diaper blowout as you would canvassing for an IED, the same rules apply: remain calm and work as a team. Tempers will flare, but the last thing that you want, per McGuire, is for negativity to seep through.

One way to prevent this? Remind yourself: I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I love my family, so I’m going to really watch what I say. At least that’s what McGuire says. And when communicating, be mindful of your current sleep-deprived state: “If you are, you’ll be more likely say something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling myself because I didn’t get enough sleep,'” he says.

Put The Oxygen Mask On Yourself First

The more you can schedule your life – and, in particular, exercise – the better, says McGuire. And this is certainly a tactic that’s important with a newborn in the house. “It’s like on an airplane: You need to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can put one on your kid.” Exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and get the endorphins pumping. “You can hold your baby and do squats if you want,” he says. “It’s not as much about the squats as making sure you exercise and clear the mind.” Did your hear that, maggot!?

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
U.S. Navy SEAL candidates from class 284 participate in Hell Week at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. U.S. Navy photo

Don’t Try To Be A No-Sleep Hero

McGuire has heard people say that taking naps longer than 20 minutes will make you more tired than before you nap. Tell that to a SEAL (or a new dad). McGuire has seen guys sleep on wood pallets on an airplane flying through lightning and turbulence. He once saw a guy fall asleep standing up. The point is, sleep when you can, wherever you can, for as long you can. “Sleep is like water: you need it when you need it.”

Know Your Limits

Lack of proper sleep effects leads to more than under-eye bags: your patience plummets, you’re more likely to gorge on unhealthy foods, and, well, you’re kind of a dummy. So pay attention to what you shouldn’t do as much as what you should. “A good leader makes decisions to improve things, not make them worse,” says McGuire. “If you’re in bad shape, you could fall asleep at the wheel, you can harm your child. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Students in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 279 participate in a surf passage exercise during the first phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf passage is one of many physically strenuous exercises that BUD/S class 279 will take part in during the seven weeks of first phase. The Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. U.S. Navy photo by Kyle Gahlau

Embrace The Insanity

It would be cute if this next sentiment came from training, but it’s probably more a function of McGuire the Dad than McGuire the SEAL: Embrace the challenge because it won’t last long. Even McGuire’s brood of five, which at some point may have seemed they may never grow up, have. “You learn a lot about people and yourself through your children,” he says. “Have lots of adventures. Take lots of pictures and give lots of hugs,” he says. It won’t last forever — and you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when it’s over.

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s who will face the new Marine Corps PFT rules first

Marines will soon get the option to swap crunches on their physical fitness test with a plank. Officer candidates reporting to training in January 2020 will be the first to see the change.

The Marine Corps updated its graduation requirements Nov. 8, 2019, for candidates reporting to Officer Candidates School in 2020. Members of Officer Candidate Course No. 233 will be the first to have the option to perform a plank on their PFT.

Candidates will have to hold a plank for at least a minute and three seconds to get the minimum score required on that portion of the PFT to be admitted to and graduate from OCS.


The requirement is the same for men and women, regardless of age. Marine recruits who ship to boot camp after Jan. 1, 2020, will also have the options of doing a plank in place of crunches.

Marine officials announced in June 2019 that a plank would be allowed on the abdominal strength section of the PFT. The exercise must be held for four minutes and 20 seconds to receive the full 100 points.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)

In September 2019, the Force Fitness Division and Force Fitness Readiness Center put out a video detailing the proper form. Marines must be in a push-up position with feet hip-width apart, with arms bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow so the forearms rest flat on the ground. The Marine’s hips must be raised off the floor, and hands must touch the ground either lying flat or in fists.

Officer candidates can opt for the plank in place of completing 70 crunches within two minutes.

All candidates need at least a 220 on their PFT to be accepted into OCS and then a 235 or higher to graduate.

The new rules will apply not only to candidates reporting to OCS in January 2020, but all future classes, according to a Marine Corps administrative message announcing the new requirements.

Sailors will replace sit-ups with a plank on the Navy Readiness Test sometime this year. That service is currently gathering data from about 600 sailors before setting new scoring requirements.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Why you should be training, not exercising

Though the distinction between training and exercising might seem unimportant — it isn’t. How you label your physical activity says more about you, your mindset, and your probable rate of success than any PFT score ever could.

I first saw this difference at The Basic School in Quantico. Some of my peers were former college athletes, and a few were training in our off-time for an upcoming marathon. These peers had goals and a plan to achieve them. The rest of us were just doing what I now call “exercising,” random workouts on random days, inconsistently.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

I’m on the far left, standing and squinting.

(Photo by Michael Gregory)

The Marines who were actually training were the only ones I knew who could keep a solid schedule and maintain their fitness levels during The Basic School. The rest of us got by on an ever-dwindling fitness reservoir that was nearly empty by the time I finally finished the school.

I finally started applying this training mentality to fitness during the Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor Course. The course itself was a constant physical beat-down, but in the few classroom lectures, we were taught how to set up a MCMAP and combat conditioning plan for our units. It was then that I realized I could design a plan to become progressively more difficult as fitness levels increase, the same way a pre-deployment workup gets more complicated as the deployment date nears.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

A classic case of the slay fest.

(Photo by Cpl. Brooke C. Woods USMC Recruit Depot San Diego)

How I loathed unit PT…

I used to think I hated PT just because I disliked being told what to do.

I have come to realize I actually hated unit PT because it is exercise and not training.

Most units plan solid workups to prepare each member of the unit to the max extent possible with all the skills and proficiencies needed for when they are actually ‘in country.’ This is training, a clear plan that progressively increases in difficulty and complexity with an end state in mind.

I have rarely seen physical fitness approached in the same logical way in unit PT.

Most units approach PT in one of two ways: as a slay fest or a joke.

  1. A Slay Fest: (n) from the ancient Greek Slayus Festivus, meaning make as many people puke or stroke out as possible in an effort to assert physical dominance and make less-fit service members feel inadequate.
  2. A Joke: just going through the motions and checking the quarterly unit PT requirement box.

Neither one of these has the intention of making better the members of the unit. In fact, slay fests often lead to injuries which have the opposite effect on unit readiness, while potentially initiating a hazing investigation because a junior NCO decided to play drill instructor.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Is this a training session or exercise? …Seriously though, what is this?

(Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash)

The difference between training and exercising

In the Marine Corps, I saw what could be accomplished when a proper training plan is followed to the most minute detail. I also saw what type of chaos or indifference towards fitness can result from no plan and/or unchecked egos.

This is why you should be training. The most successful athletes are those that have a plan in place that works them towards a goal. I’m a firm believer that everyone is an athlete no matter what your job or current station in life.

Marines are constantly reminded that it doesn’t matter what your MOS is, you could find yourself in combat and you better be prepared for it. Even though some roll their eyes at the idea of a finance technician lobbing grenades in a firefight, they still have an underlying feeling of pride that this is a potentiality.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Promotion on Iwo Jima. I swore to not waste anyone’s time with exercise on that day.

(Photo by Jeremy Graves)

I carry that with me to this day. Constantly thinking about what I would do if a fight breaks out — or if ‘patient zero’ of the zombie apocalypse strolls into my part of town — doesn’t keep me awake at night in dread. It keeps me awake at night in giddy anticipation because I’m training for that sh*t every. Damn. Day.

Of course, your reason for training doesn’t need to be so heavy, violent, or world-altering. Simply wanting to be able to throw a perfect spiral with your future son is a perfect reason to be training. If you need a more immediate time frame, choose a challenge: sign up for an adventure race, a marathon, an adult sports league, or a powerlifting meet (I just took second in my first meet and got a free t-shirt #winning #tigerblood). Train for the on-season or the event day.

As a member of the military community, it’s in your blood to conduct work-ups. Now it’s your turn to determine where and when that “deployment” is and how you train for it. Exercise is a word for people who throw out their back trying to get the gallon of Arizona Iced Tea off the bottom shelf and into their grocery cart. They need exercise; you need to be training.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
MIGHTY CULTURE

How one former Green Beret is changing everything about NFL recruiting

Making it through selection to serve in one of America’s elite special operations units marks an unusual milestone in a service member’s career. Making the cut serves as the culmination of a lifetime of preparation and hard work, while simultaneously ushering in a new era full of brutal challenges, higher stakes, and even longer days ahead. Becoming a Green Beret is a lot like earning a spot on a professional football team: when everyone is elite, it takes something special to stand out.

Former Green Beret and current Director of Player Development for the Indianapolis Colts Brian Decker knows that, and he’s managed to quantify that something special into a model that improved candidate selection rates by thirty percent in his last Special Forces unit. Now, he’s brought that same model to the NFL.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Brian Decker

(Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts)

“What Brian did was change the paradigm,” said Col. Glenn Thomas, Decker’s former boss at Fort Bragg. “People get accustomed to looking at things the same way and applying the same solutions to the same problems. Brian challenged our assumptions. He took things that had generally been intangibles and turned them into tangibles.”

Football is, in many ways, analogous for war, with a combination of strategy and brute force playing out in a melee of individual skirmishes with the singular goal of advancing deep into enemy territory. The stakes in a football game are lower than in war, of course, but in the minds and hearts of those playing, themes like sacrifice and commitment are just prevalent between the hash marks as they are on the battlefield.

The thing is, despite the hard metrics both NFL teams and military units have been measuring for decades (using tests to assess things like speed and strength), many would contend that once a person has proven their physical ability to perform at that level, the real elements that dictate success or failure tend to be less tangible. A timed run can’t measure a soldier’s ability to dig deep in a firefight, nor can a series of drills determine if a rookie could handle the incredible pressure of playing at the professional level.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Decker believes there are some things that set elite operators apart in all fields, whether we’re talking combat operations or professional football.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Steven Lewis)

“One of the things about professional sports, rock climbing, parachuting, jumping from 123,000 feet in space to Earth, they’re all really hard things to do,” Decker explains.

“I think if you remove the sport, specific skills and domain from it, you find that (elite performers) are a lot alike. I think the demands placed upon greatness look a lot alike, regardless of field.”

Roughly half of all first-round draft picks in the NFL wash out of the league, and with so much money riding on these decisions, NFL teams have spent years trying to devise ways to predict a player’s success before they sign the contract. From Decker’s perspective, however, they simply haven’t been measuring the right things.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Teams are taking big financial risks with their draft picks. The entire franchise could be effected by these decisions for years to come.

(Swimfinfan on Flickr)

So Decker set out to quantify the unquantifiable–to find a way to use numerical measurements for seemingly intangible elements of a player’s personality like their drive or desire to succeed, their responses to stress, and their emotional intelligence. If all other things are equal, Decker’s approach states, it’s those qualifiers that will indicate the likelihood of a player’s (or Special Forces candidate’s) success.

The hard part is assigning hard numbers to such things in a uniform way, and while Decker won’t reveal the exact metrics he uses for his assessments, the success his program has been enjoying in the Colts’ locker room seems to speak for itself.

“Every team in the league is doing a lot of work in terms of psychological evaluations, and has been doing it forever and ever,” says Joe Banner, the former Browns CEO who gave Decker his first job in the league in 2014.

“But his approach, and the types of questions he asks, and his ability to synthesize information and get to the right conclusions, that part of it is absolutely groundbreaking. There is nobody in the league doing what he’s doing as effectively.”

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Last season the Colts went 10-6, marking a turnaround for the franchise.

(Indianapolis Colts)

Once Decker has met with a prospective player and made his assessments, he always follows the math up with five specific questions meant to steer his line of thinking:

Does this player have a favorable development profile?

Does he have a profile that supports handling pressure and adversity?

Does he have a good learning and support system?

Is he a character risk, and if so, how do we understand that risk and help this player?

Is he a good fit?

But it takes a lot more than assigning some figures and asking lofty questions. Prior to this season’s draft, Decker interviewed and assessed over 160 players. Next year, he plans to top 300.

“This is a commitment industry,” Decker, who served in the military for 22 years, explains. “That’s another thing I like about football. You can’t just be here for the T-shirt. You gotta give a pound of flesh to do this.”

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Top military doc is open to changing obesity standards

The Army is likely catching a lot of grief lately, after a news story reported that Pentagon data showed Joes are fatter than their brethren in other services.


But are they really?

According to the head of the new Defense Health Agency, the way the military measures obesity using the so-called Body Mass Index might be a bit behind the times.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Senna, assigned to Joint Multinational Training Command, performs push-ups during the Army Physical Fitness Test at U.S. Army Europe’s Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany, July 30, 2012. (Photo from U.S. Army)

“I know that Navy has looked at this in terms of modifying what they say is a healthy weight and a healthy body mass and I think that’s appropriate,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency told WATM during a breakfast meeting with reporters Oct. 20.

“Do I have any indication that [obesity] is hurting readiness? No,” Bono added. “But I would actually say that is one of the hallmarks of being in the military is that we’re always ready.”

According to the services, a Body Mass Index of 25 or over is considered unsat (the BMI is determined by a simple calculation of height and weight). The National Institutes of Health define obesity as a BMI of 30 or over.

A 44 year-old male who weights 215 pounds and is 74-inches tall has a BMI of 27.6, for example. That’d be considered “clinically obese” to the DoD.

Some in the services argue measuring weight standards using the BMI is a blunt instrument, putting perfectly fit and healthy servicemembers on notice for not being up to snuff.

And while she’s all in favor of modifying how the level of fitness to serve is calculated, Bono is concerned about the overall trend on obesity, with the Pentagon reporting nearly 10 percent of its troops are overweight. And Bono recommended healthier choices in chow halls, regular exercise (not just for the PFT), and stopping smoking.

“My job is to make sure I’m enabling the department to have the healthiest troops possible,” Bono said. “I struggle with encouraging troops to make healthier choices — even when we activate servicemembers with health data or scary pictures of what smoking can do to you they still persist in those behaviors. I don’t know what the right answer is.”

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