As part of the crazy world of the military, our schedules are freakin’ hectic. We have a boatload of responsibilities to complete daily and, after everything’s done, we have to try and carve out time to get a solid workout in. That sh*t isn’t easy, but some types of exercise are easier to fit into a busy schedule than others.
So, to complement troops’ sh*tty schedules, some masterminds developed a workout technique called high-intensity interval training that will quickly get your heart pumping. The concept is simple, but effective: you perform short bursts of strenuous activity and sneak in even shorter periods of rest between.
Using this technique, trainers have come up with a 7-minute exercise routine that can be done virtually anywhere using just your body weight, a wall, and a standing platform. You’ll do 12 different exercises for 30 seconds each and reward yourself with 10 seconds of rest between each set. Although you don’t have to do the following motions in any particular order, we recommend that you start from the top with side straddle hops to get your blood pumping.
Let’s go over the routine:
First exercise: side straddle hops for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Wall sit for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Next exercise: push ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Pretty sure you did this exercise in high school. Sit-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Platform (or chair) step-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Side planks for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Air squats for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Triceps dips for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Planking for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Running in place for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Lunges for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Last exercise. Push up with side plank for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
After you complete the first round, if you’ve got more time and energy in the tank, then do another.
If you can’t find time to do at least one round of this exercise routine, you might want to rethink your lifestyle…
If you’ve dieted before and lost weight, how did it go? What were your thoughts when the three months were up, or the 6-week challenge was finished? If you were like most people, you probably had some thoughts like these:
That was good but I’m glad it’s over.
I got what I wanted (lost weight), so now I can bring back some of the things I used to eat.
All those urges sucked, I’m not doing that again.
I learned some good stuff, but that diet didn’t really fit my lifestyle.
The hidden idea behind these thoughts is that the diet was temporary. The thing is, when you start a diet, you want to end with the result being a new weight, and you want to KEEP your new weight, right? Why doesn’t this happen?
Losing weight AND keeping the weight off requires that you learn to manage your mind.
If you’re overweight, then it’s because you’re overeating. It’s as simple as that… but it’s also not so simple.
Food doesn’t get eaten just because it’s there, sitting in front of you – whether it’s chicken and broccoli or two Pop-Tarts. Just like you don’t go to the gym just because it exists – it’s just a building with heavy stuff in it. So why do you eat the food you put in your mouth, and why do you lift the weights when you’re at the gym?
The reason you do anything in life is because of how you think it’s going to make you feel when you get it or when you do it.
Our feelings are the most powerful experiences in our body because they compel us to act. Feelings are what drive our actions. They are the fuel to our actions. Think about it… we don’t do anything unless we feel like it.
We eat the salad because we think we’ll feel lighter, healthier, and happier. We go to the gym because we think we’ll feel strong, skinny, and sexy. We show up early for watch because we think we’ll feel liked and benevolent by our peers. We complain about our job or our supervisors because we think we’ll feel justified and correct.
Think about it… why do you follow orders so well?
“We follow orders because it was “drilled” into us…. On your first day of basic training (when you’re sweating, confused and scared), and the drill instructor was yelling and spitting in your face telling you to follow his or her orders or else your shipmate on your first deployment could die… the feeling of horrendous guilt, fear, and shame inundated you. You may not remember this day or how it went down exactly but you’ll never forget the feeling. You immediately envision that terrible possibility of you being ignorant and not following orders and someone you know dying or getting maimed because of your inaction. The guilt and fear of that thought is so compelling, that your brain learns immediately that following orders is non-negotiable. Your brain shifts that thought into your subconscious so that it doesn’t even have to think twice about following orders. That’s why following orders sometimes feels necessary for your survival. That’s how powerful our thoughts and emotions are.”
All feelings come from our thoughts. We have a thought that begins in our brain. Our thoughts are triggered by what we see, hear, smell, feel, and taste around us. Each thought travels down our body, and we experience it in our body as a feeling, as an emotion. It’s known that we have tens of thousands of thoughts a day, which is why it’s so hard at the beginning to develop the skill of managing your mind by finding the thoughts that are creating certain emotions for you.
We have a thought in our brain, and the neural connections that are made cascade their way down our body signaling a feeling that corresponds best. You’ve seen this happen in your own life. When you think about how sharp and proud you’ll feel by wearing a clean, ironed uniform and the great first impression you’ll make at the pinning ceremony in front of your new Commanding Officer, what do you do in that moment? You’ll most likely wash and iron your uniform and lay everything out so that you don’t forget a single uniform item, including your underwear.
Your brain, which is the most powerful tool on the planet, was designed to operate this way and understanding how it works will help you begin to manage your thoughts so that you can start losing weight without having the weight come back on.
The more you think about the result you desire, the more your brain will learn to pay attention to it because it feels better than anything else.
Remember, we only do things because of how we think we’ll feel when we do them or when we get them.
This is how you begin developing the skill of managing your mind.
The answer is, you learn to eat the way that you see yourself eating for the rest of your life that creates the body and the results you want for yourself.
It’s important to know that you can take action from any feeling, positive or negative. You can follow a diet feeling deprived. Or, you can follow a diet feeling fulfilled. But one route guarantees a more enjoyable experience, one that you will want to continue to experience. Ultimately, one way ensures a more enjoyable existence. Therefore, how willing and committed are you to creating the results you want for yourself?
You must decide. Then let your feelings drive or inspire your actions, and over time, you will have your results.
Current times can’t quarantine the hustle of one Long Island-native who continues to embolden thousands of Peloton enthusiasts up the leaderboard.
Senior instructor Alex Toussaint is known for motivating riders with his no-excuses brand born from years of training at a military school. The child of a sailor and nephew of an airman, he exudes the discipline needed to formulate a workout that can help someone PR while entertaining them with a Biggie-versus-Tupac track battle. He tailors each class to be its own individual vibe, whether it’s a HIIT ride, intervals & arms, or pays homage to a specific decade — and crafting that experience requires precision when sculpting message, music and song placement.
“Depending on what class it is, the prep can take anywhere from an hour to the entire day, honestly. … I always start with the playlist and that may require me to sit down and be like, how many hills do I want to have in this playlist? How many flat roads; how many recoveries? And that will determine the style and the music that I go for. Once I lock the playlist in, then I have to figure out the transitions and how everything flows because I’m very, very critical of, you can have a 10-song playlist but if song 2 and song 8 are in the wrong placement, the playlist can sound terrible.”
Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.
Toussaint’s meticulous nature was instilled in him at military school in Missouri. His parents enrolled him for grades 6 to 11 in response to behavioral issues he experienced as a kid. He said his dad thought the discipline and structure would be helpful, and in fact, he has leaned on the principles ever since.
After graduation he pursued audio and video production — skills that also proved useful as he climbed the ranks of the fitness industry.
“I was that kid that graduated high school and went to college just to buy time and to please my parents, knowing that wasn’t really the general direction I wanted to go. But then again, I had no direction — I had no idea of what I wanted to do. While I was up in school, my car was stolen and I kind of went through this weird, dark depression stage that eventually had me come back to East Hampton,” he said.
He was introduced to the bike when he started working as a maintenance worker at an indoor cycling studio. Toussaint says he approached the owner about an opportunity to audition.
“I would listen to the instructors teaching through the door and literally get inspiration based off their playlist and based off what they were saying. At the time, I was never even on a cycling bike. So, I walked into work and asked the owner, who is now my life mentor, I asked him, ‘hey, can I be an instructor?'” Toussaint said.
Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.
The combination of training from military school and years in the marching band made him proficient at formulating a script for classes, attributes he said would tie all of his capabilities into one useful package.
“I literally went from one week mopping floors to the next week teaching a class,” he added.
That was in 2013 and he has since taught around the U.S. and opened a studio in Dubai before landing at Peloton. And now he finds himself among an elite group of instructors pushing onlookers through the current COVID-19 pandemic. As people were forced into isolation, Peloton became a gathering place for novice and advanced riders to bond over a common need for connection. The company also offers yoga, meditation, and boot camp, among other classes.
“Honestly, it’s that discipline over distraction mindset. It’s that military mindset which has honestly pushed me through this. It’s essentially the people who are on the frontlines — medical workers, police officers, things like that who are on the frontline right now — I kind of view what we’re doing as a service to the people. Because everybody’s at home, I feel like I’m obligated as an instructor and as a person in a position that can provide light to others, that I must,” he said.
Though Peloton is structured as an in-home program, instructors logistically perform workouts from studios in New York and the United Kingdom. That is until the coronavirus impacted operations and its team had to get creative on how to deliver its live programming. Toussaint and his fellow instructors are now offering classes live from their own homes, or through a pivot he would describe as adapting and overcoming.
“Throughout these tough days there’s absolutely light at the end of the tunnel. We’re going to get through this together. We just have to stick together as a family, as a unit, and I think that right now, more than ever, you just have to really have hope. The support from one another will be a strong enough foundation to make sure we get through this. We will come out stronger on the opposite side,” Toussaint said.
Ready to lock and load? Follow Alex Toussaint on Instagram for messages of motivation and check out Peloton’s range of classes including the 90-day free trial for new users who sign up by April 30.
Think your physical fitness is top-notch enough to become a SEAL? If you’re even loosely considering taking the Special Warfare Physical Screening Test there are definitely some things you need to know. Watch this video for the top tips and a blueprint on making your way through the hardest workout PT test for US Navy special forces. It’s not just physical fitness that’s required to crush this test – it’s mental toughness, too.
The PST is a hardcore workout with strict time limits that challenges your physical fitness. First, there’s a rigorous 500-yard swim in under 12.5 minutes. You get 10 minutes to rest before starting the next part of the workout where you race to achieve a max number of pushups in two minutes. Two minutes to breathe and then you try to max out on sit-ups. Another 2-minute break before maxing out on your pull-ups. Then, you have a ten-minute break before the brutal 1.5-mile run – that has to be completed in under 12.5 minutes.
Oh, and if you really want to be considered, you exceed these standards – not just meet them.
How to cut down on the minutes it takes you to complete the test
To really do well on this, you need to identify your weaknesses and then crush them.
Train like you’re testing. Keep the same time limits for your own breaks. That way when you get to test day, it won’t seem completely impossible to regain your breath.
Focus on progression. Get repetitions in throughout the day. For the exercises like sit-ups, break them up into sets. For example, if your max is 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes until failure. Break that up into 25 sit-ups several times a day to work on max progressive overload.
Pacing is key for each test. Swimming 500 years in 12.5 minutes will wipe you out unless you pace your swim, using underwater recovery techniques including breaststroke, sidestroke and combat swim stroke to utilize your swim as a warm-up that gets you ready for the next part of the workout.
The Navy Seal training pipeline includes six-month basic training on underwater demolition and airborne operations as well as three months of tactical training. Maintaining a top level of physical fitness and regular workouts is a necessity for a SEAL.
Throughout all the years of our military service, many of us spent a good amount of time exercising- getting into and staying in top physical condition, which enabled us to better perform our jobs. From all those long miles we ran in formation to all the push-ups we counted during our assessment tests — our bodies were highly activated.
Then, something incredible happened. We received our DD-214s and got the hell out of dodge. Now, the fact that the CDC recommends that adults undertake moderately intense aerobic activity at least twice a week takes a backseat to the fact that we don’t have to do it anymore.
Unfortunately, due to a sudden change of priorities, many of our workout routines quickly dwindle away — and the change is felt immediately. After just seven days of inactivity, our bodies start to feel less fit, our muscles don’t feel as large, and it’s estimated we’ve lost approximately 5 percent of our VO2 max.
VO2 max measures the maximum amount of oxygen you utilize during an intense workout. This measurement is considered one of the best indicators of an athlete’s cardiovascular strength and endurance. A decrease here means less oxygen is available for generating energy.
Within the next few weeks, your VO2 max will have dropped more than 10 percent and you’ll begin to notice a loss in physical strength. Your myocytes (muscle cells) will start to shrink and your count of lipocytes (fat cells) will increase.
That’s not a good thing.
After two-months of no aerobic activity, your VO2 max has dwindled a full 15 percent and, of course, you’re still losing myocytes and gaining lipocytes — which causes you to bloat.
Maintaining this low level of activity puts you at a greater risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and various cardiovascular diseases. It’s also a contributing factor to why veterans end up suffering from certain types of depression.
So, to all of our brothers and sisters in the veteran community: Try and stay active — not only will it keep you looking good, it’ll help you transition back into civilian life.
Will Fuller V, WR, Texans- Well, if you started Will Fuller week 5, congratulations— you won your week. His insane total of 53.7 is 9th highest ever by a wide receiver in fantasy. He has always had boom or bust potential, but at this point it’s starting to seem a whole lot more boom than bust.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers- Ladies and gentlemen, the new king of fantasy football. Praises be to the gentlemen with the #3 overall pick, who more than likely nabbed Run CMC. There is no argument— he is the best non-QB player in fantasy football. He’s +30 points in 4/5 games this year, and shows no signs of slowing down without Cam. Yeesh.
DJ Chark, WR, Jaguars- Five TDs in five games. #2 in receiving TDs. #5 in receiving yards. DJ Chark is the #5 overall WR in fantasy football. He’s a 6’4″ speedster with amazing hands and body control. Should be starting on any roster going into week 6.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders- Oakland finally fed the rock to their rookie phenom. He’s averaging an insane 5 yards per carry on 60+ carries. He can catch out of the backfield—and he had a monster game against the supposed revival of the “monsters of the midway.” He’s an RB1 and the front runner for offensive rookie of the year.
“Mike Evans are you gonna get me any fantasy points?”
Mike Evans, WR, Bucs- Well, if you started Mike Evans week 5, then you probably lost your week. Mike Evans posted up a big fat goose egg after having a crazy productive week 4. There’s just no predicting Tampa Bay. One week they are a drunk ex, screaming at you on FaceTime from the back seat of an Uber, the next week they’re bringing you eggs in bed and crooning Minnie Riperton in your ear. There’s no in-between.
Anybody playing for Chicago not named Allen Robinson, Bears- Allen Robinson is the only thing in Chicago worth rostering. None of their running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, or (excuses for) quarterbacks are worth having. Their stagnant offense was just stamped out by a wishy-washy and injured, Oakland defense. Move on.
Deandre Hopkins, WR, Texans- The Texans are spreading the ball around more, and it’s paying dividends for them. While Hopkins is undoubtedly a top tier talent, this could drop his fantasy usefulness a tad behind the other WRs in his tier. It was his 4th straight week with fewer than 10 targets, something that hasn’t happened since 2014. It’s worth considering moving forward.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals- Another victim of a poor offense, Eifert has averaged 4.38 fantasy points his last NINE games. Unless you’re in a deep 2TE league, he should be dropped no matter what. There are simply too many better options.
Kyler Murray scrambles to the house on 4th 2
Mohammed Sanu, WR, Falcons- Well look who has his 4th 10+ point fantasy performance in 5 games. Sanu is crazy efficient for how many looks he gets— he caught all of his five targets for 42 yards and a touchdown on Sunday and is a valuable streaming option moving forward, especially against teams that have a weak 2nd cornerback.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos- Sutton, much like Sanu, has four 10+ fantasy showings in his last five games. The upside to Sutton is that he is his team’s go-to target. The downside? He has Flacco throwing him the ball instead of Matt Ryan. That doesn’t stop him from being valuable thus far. He was only started in 57% of leagues this last week, and could be a great trade target.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons- Matty Ice is back baby. He had 330 yards, and three touchdowns in a Falcons loss. It’s good (for fantasy owners) that the Falcons have been so spotty defensively. Playing from behind causes them to air it out far more often, making Matt Ryan a lethal fantasy play.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals- After a shaky start, Kyler Murray may be a real fantasy player this year. One of the biggest reasons— his legs. Murray ran for 93 yards and a touchdown, padding his already decent 253 passing yards. Murray could also continue to flourish more and more as he gels with Kingsbury’s system as the year progresses.
Roughing the passer was called on this play…. I’m serious.pic.twitter.com/9evvrICuQd
This insane explosion of violence was so blatant that the referees had no choice but to throw a flag for roughing the passer. Gary strikes Dak Prescott so hard, it’s difficult to believe that Dak could continue running, let alone play the game of football. I’m so glad we have referees who are willing to throw flags for 15-yard penalties in the name of safety. Calls like these do not completely mess up the tempo of games and infringe on the spirit of the rule. What a hit.
Cyrus Habibi-Likio stepped in and tackled a fan after the fan dodged security and cops during a TV timeout
We veterans suck at sleeping and relaxing. We got used to going 1000 miles an hour for an indefinite period of time until we were told by our OIC to take some leave and get our shit together before we burnout.
As civilians, that time may never come. For better or worse, you probably don’t have anyone that remotely resembles an OIC in your life anymore.
If we are looking at each day as a mini-deployment cycle, that means after work we should be taking leave, getting psychologically evaluated, spending time with family, and caring for ourselves.
I don’t mean this as a joke either. If we are constantly managing the damage each day inflicts on us, we are more likely to thrive in our post-military lives.
You can talk about computers, chalkboards, sunglasses or life.
Connect with others. The purpose of the work day, like deployment, is mission accomplishment, not necessarily forming bonds and finding common ground with others. We do need real connections with other people though. The recent bestseller Lost Connectionsbeautifully lays out how a lack of meaningful connection in our lives is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety.
Bond with your kids, join a book club, talk to your high school best friend, volunteer at the soup kitchen. It doesn’t much matter, as long as the conversations you’re having get past talking about work and the weather. Enter the conversation with the intention of learning something new about your fellow human.
Who am I?… Typical Derek Zoolander reflection questions.
Wind down your body. Maybe you haven’t had the chance to train yet today, if so… get your ass training. If you have already, it’s time to cool down physically, as this will help you to cool down mentally as well. I prefer a static stretch while I watch old episodes of the Office or YouTube videos on the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It doesn’t have to be something complicated.
Whatever you decide should include the intention of releasing stress and tension from your body. Dedicated breathing, a bubble bath, or a glass of whiskey while staring at the stars can all work if the intention is correct.
Wind down your mind. Sometimes this happens in tandem with cooling down the body, sometimes we need more. Yeah, meditating is f*cking great for this, but it isn’t a requirement.
Just like above, choose an activity that you intend to serve the purpose of letting go of the day’s stresses. Reading, listening to Miles Davis, or calmly venting to your spouse can all serve this purpose.
A full day for you to rest and repair so you can tear shit up again next week.
Having a daily rest and relaxation plan is the first line of defense, but sometimes life gets messy. It’s rare that the work day actually ends at 1700 or that you don’t have other obligations in the evenings. This is precisely why the Sabbath was created–even God needs to rest.
Taking a rest day doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion if you don’t want it to. What it is, is a day where you schedule things that are restorative and relaxing.
Physically your body needs time to recover. When stress hormones are high, your immune system and internal recovery procedures are compromised. Any type of stress can and will impede your ability to recover, even if it’s the kind of stress you may enjoy.
When we weight train we are literally causing damage to our muscles. They can only fully be repaired with proper nutrition and dedicated rest.
I dare you to sit on the beach and do nothing except watch the waves. It’s harder than you think.
Many veterans are some degree of a type-A person. If you:
Have little patience
Are a workaholic
You probably fall into this category.
Type-A people like to do things that get them going and dislike the idea of unwinding. They like to work out at super-high intensities. If they aren’t sweating gallons, they feel like they haven’t done anything.
Telling one of you guys to chill and unplug for a day probably feels like I want you to take a vow of silence and live in a monastery. Take heed, the research shows that you are not necessarily anymore immune to stress than the rest of us without mitigating practices like above. In fact, as a type-A personality, you may even be more at risk for health issues or low performance than others.
The total was $183.27. I happily submitted my credit card information and clicked “Submit.” As I anxiously awaited for my magical supplements to arrive I looked over the complex regimen. I could carry this printout around with me everywhere I went.
Thinking back to that moment in 2004, I realize now how uneducated I was about the supplement industry. Why did I buy all of that? Because the website I visited offered a free nutrition plan which conveniently included their supplements to help me achieve my goals. Now, a little over a decade later, with a medical degree under my belt, twenty fitness competitions, and countless nutrition clients I can tell you – supplements can be quite simple.
Below is a simple breakdown to follow based on your budget. Pick the category that fits you and then select the supplements that fit your goal.
(Note: I was not compensated in any way by the manufacturers of any products listed.)
Level 1 – THE BASICS
Multivitamin: Multivitamins might be obvious, but it’s a commonly missed basic. You should take a multi-vitamin to replace critical elements missing in your food. Some of the critical things I look for: one pill a day vs. two pills, Calcium at least 50 percent of the daily value, Vitamin D at least 800IU. I know the gummy version is very popular now and I don’t recommend these because of the added sugars and the cost per serving is much higher. I have also found they are lower in vitamin concentration. The brand isn’t too important. Average cost: $15 for 90 days
L-Glutamine: Glutamine is an alpha amino acid that’s essential for so many daily body processes such as protein synthesis (building muscle, muscle recovery) and getting rid of toxins via the kidney. I recommended 15 grams per day taken 3 different times during the day. If that’s too complicated for your schedule, then just take 5 grams when you wake up and 5 grams after your workout. L-glutamine is found naturally in dairy products and many proteins like beef, pork, chicken, fish, but not enough. Average cost: $20 for 30 days
Level 2 – COMMITTED WITH LIMITATIONS
Includes Level 1 supplements.
Whey Protein Powder: Whey protein is used to build muscle, help prevent muscle breakdown, and helps with recovery. Protein powder is not better than whole food protein but it is a good alternative for convenience. Whey is the best-studied protein powder. There are mixes of different kinds of proteins, but these aren’t well studied. It’s hard for me to believe they are better. (I like evidence.) I also do not use powder with claims supplements are added. It’s easy for supplements to be missing or cut short, but you will easily pay more than basic whey protein powder. My favorite brands are Optimum Nutrition, Metabolic Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, and BSN to name a few. Average cost: $35 for 45 days
Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is a beta amino acid that helps with blood vessel dilatation, building muscle, muscle recovery, and increased performance. Studies have shown greater results when combined with creatine, but also by itself. There is not a problem with water retention. Most people will get results with 4-5 grams per day. I recommend splitting it so you take 2-2.5 grams 20 minutes before your workout and 2-2.5 grams immediately after your workout. If you notice a tingling feeling on your skin after taking it, but that is normal. You can take it with food or decrease how much you take so that sensation is tolerable or gone. Average cost: $30 for 60 days
Level 3 – NO BUDGET OPTION (Includes Level 1 and 2 supplements)
Creatine: Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. It increases the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body which then can help in building muscle size by improving the body’s response to resistance exercise and increasing the maximal force from muscles. There are some people that report water retention but many people don’t experience this. Studies show about 20 grams per day is sufficient for benefits. I do not recommend the “loading phase” as the scientific findings on this are not convincing and you will run out of product faster. Results are even greater if taking beta-alanine. Average cost: $10 for 30 days
ATP Extreme: This product is actual ATP which is easily depleted during workouts. ATP supplementation will allow for increased endurance, stronger workouts, and as an effect better performance. Studies show an increase in muscle mass and strength. This supplement comes in the capsule form and everyone is a little different in how they should take it. I take 4 capsules 30 minutes before my workout – weight lifting or cardiovascular exercise. Cost: $49.95 for 30 day
Provide Gold Liquid Protein: This product is my favorite! This product is the only supplement I know of that medical professionals will actually use for their patients. Liquid protein is exactly what it sounds like. Liquid protein works to impact depleted protein stores . One “shot” is jam packed with amino acids and only 100 calories. There is a sugar-free version, as well. I split my shot and have half right before my workout and another half afterward. Cost: $46 for 60 days
Simone is an Air Force Academy graduate, doctor, and fitness model. You can contact/follow her here: email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram: @simonemaybin, Snapchat: @simoneyroney, Facebook: Simone Maybin, or Twitter: @simonemaybin.
Freakin’ Russia, man! That country is everywhere in the news these days. Whether it be unexplained deaths of Putin’s opposition, election meddling, weird political memes, or @lookatthisRussian they seem to be everywhere.
Because of this borderline second Cold War, the U.S. military has taken a renewed interest in cold-weather training. Russia is a cold place, and a foreseen conflict will probably occur, at least partially in the Arctic Circle. Not because it’s a “Cold” war, read a textbook!
With the potential that you may end up in some type of cold weather environment either in training or on an Op, it’s a good idea to take a look at what that exposure to the frigid cold may have on your body and mind.
You may have heard of cold shock proteins, you may have even dabbled with a cold shower or some Wim Hof breathing. Let me spare you the Ice Man’s Polish accent and just get to the good things that cold exposure is doing to your body.
Sgt. Bruce Allen, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, proceeds to the rally point after completing an airborne training jump at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska, in January 2018.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Public Affairs)
Strengthens the immune system
Cold exposure three times a week for six weeks actually increases the number of immune cells that you have. Of course, that’s not the only magic combination of exposure that you have to do, it’s just what’s been tested.
Winter swimmers have some insane immune systems. It used to be just them bragging, but some real research has backed them up. It appears the cold water is making these people superhuman.
A Soldier prepares to climb out of a hole cut into an ice-covered Big Sandy Lake after jumping in the water as part of cold-water immersion training for Class 19-01 of the Cold-Weather Operations Course on Dec. 13, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wis.
(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis)
Depressed? Angry? Outlook grim? Hop in an icy lake; it may be just the thing you need to shake your funk.
When you expose yourself to the cold, your body releases this hormone called norepinephrine (AKA noradrenaline) to constrict your blood vessels. This decreases the amount of heat you lose from your blood by decreasing the surface area of the blood.
There are a few side benefits to norepinephrine, one of which being that it also functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps increase vigilance, attention, and mood.
Cold Weather Leaders Course 19-004 students fire from the standing supported position at the Northern Warfare Training Center’s Black Rapids Training Site during the 10-kilometer biathlon March 12, 2019.
(Army photo/John Pennell)
Fixes your brain
Cold shock proteins are these things that form when you experience extreme amounts of cold exposure. They tend to be rather awesome for you. This is where some of the real hype about cold exposure comes from.
Scientists have even found that in mice, cold exposure results in this cold shock protein called RBM3.
RBM3 appears to fix lost connections in the brain!
If you at all worry about dementia or just losing your mental edge, cold exposure should be on your to-do list.
In addition to cold-water immersion training, students were trained on a variety of cold-weather subjects, including skiing and snowshoe training as well as how to use ahkio sleds and other gear.
(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)
Inflammation is the key driver in the aging process, meaning the more you can manage unnecessary inflammation, the more likely you are to slow the aging process.
The aging process includes a lot more than just developing wrinkles. Things like joint degeneration, memory loss, slower recovery times, digestive efficiency are all included in the aging process. Basically, anytime something stops working the way you want it to, that’s the aging process.
Inflammation occurs when we hurt ourselves like a swollen joint. Inflammation also occurs from stress. If you’re always stressed, you’re always experiencing increased amounts of inflammation. Remember, more inflammation means more aging.
To help the physical symptoms of inflammation, try some cold exposure like cold water immersion or cryotherapy.
The best for last. It appears that cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat we have. Brown fat is fat that is much more active than other fat tissue. The browner, fat tissue is, the more active it is because of the increased number of mitochondria that it has.
More active fat cells help us warm our bodies in cold environments through what’s called non-shivering thermogenesis. Basically, your body heats up without shivering. The amount of heat that you produce from this effect requires energy to conduct, AKA calories.
Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!
I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.
Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!
I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.
Deadlifts are a power movement. This simple yet satisfying act involves loading a bar with heavy plates, chalking up your palms, and pulling it off the ground from a dead stop. It’s the essence of strength: you pick it up and then put it down. No fancy footwork or complex movements required — just a strong back and calloused hands.
The deadlift is an effective way to strengthen the entire posterior chain, and it offers benefits to anyone and everyone, regardless of athletic ability. But many people fear it for a variety of reasons.
In the 1960s, half the population had a physically demanding job. In 2011, that number shrank to just 20 percent. Technology has made our work less labor intensive, causing a decline in our overall health. We sit more than we stand, and we type more than we lift.
There are fewer labor-intensive jobs in the 21st century — and that’s not necessarily good for our health.
(Photo from the University of Northern Iowa’s Fortepan Iowa Archive)
Today, low back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions and is typically reported as one of the top three workplace injuries. That shouldn’t deter you from practicing deadlifts though — it should encourage you.
A study conducted in 2015 monitored patients using deadlifts as a part of the treatment plan for back pain. Seventy-two percent of participants reported a decrease in pain and an increase in overall quality of life.
Whether you’re picking up a laundry basket, a child, or a package in the mail — everyone deadlifts. The act of picking something up is a daily occurrence. The more we train our bodies with lifts that mimic life or our job, the more they will resist injury in our life. And if you’re in the U.S. Army, you don’t have a choice: the deadlift is slated to become a mandatory event in the new Army Combat Fitness Test in 2020.
1st Lt. Jake Matty, a Soldier from 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Gimlets) begins the 3-repetition strength deadlift during a field-testing of the Army Combat Fitness Test.
(Photo by SPC Geoff Cooper/U.S. Army)
However, people are intimidated because the lift can cause major problems when performed incorrectly. The most common mistakes associated with the deadlift are easily correctable:
Rounding the back: When you lose a neutral spine position, the risk of disc herniation is increased. To combat this is, ensure you have tension applied prior to lifting the weight. Activate the latissimus dorsi muscles (lats) by imagining you have an orange in your armpit that you need to squeeze.
Neck misalignment: Ensure your neck is in line with your back. As you lift the bar, your neck should rise at the same rate as your back.
Improper setup: The bar should rest no more than 1 to 2 inches in front of your shins, and your knees should remain vertical to the ankles. If the knees are pushed forward, the barbell is forced to move around them, putting stress on the low back.
The anatomy of a deadlift.
(Photo courtesy of Calispine)
If you’re ready to get started, head down to your local gym — you’ll need a barbell and plates for weight. I recommend trying these three deadlift variations, which offer simplicity and massive benefits. And don’t be afraid to ask a trainer or experienced lifter to take a look at your form!
1. Landmine Deadlift
The term “landmine” indicates that the barbell is anchored into a holder or a corner to angle it. This lift is generally safe because the body remains mostly upright and encourages a flat back.
The trap bar deadlift engages the same muscle groups as a traditional deadlift but puts additional stress on the quadriceps, glute muscles, and hamstrings. The trap bar was designed for the lifter to grip the bar at the sides rather than in front and, in turn, puts less stress on the back.
This variation is beneficial for lifters who want to increase the positional strength of the lower back, hips, and hamstrings. It also serves as an accessory movement to increase traditional deadlifting numbers. The weight you’re able to lift will be less during this variation but will increase when you convert to a traditional style.
As with anything in life, when something is done incorrectly, there is a chance of negative consequences — in this case, possible injury. But with proper execution, the benefits of the deadlift can be lifelong.
Jocko Willink retired from 20 years serving as a US Navy SEAL in 2010, but his morning routine is as intense as ever.
As he said in a recent Facebook Live Q&A at Business Insider’s New York headquarters, “It’s not fun to get out of bed early in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t sing you a song, it hits you in the head with a baseball bat. So how do you respond to that? Do you crawl underneath your covers and hide? Or do you get up, get aggressive, and attack the day?”
Willink is the former commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which became the most decorated special-operations unit in the Iraq War. In his book, “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” cowritten with his former platoon commander and current business partner Leif Babin, Willink writes that one of his guiding principles is “Discipline equals freedom,” and that discipline begins every morning when his alarm goes off, well before the sun rises.
Business Insider asked Willink to break down his mornings for us. Here’s how a typical day begins:
Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Three alarms are set — one electric, one battery-powered, and one windup — but he almost always only needs one. The two others are safeguards.
After a quick cleanup in the bathroom, take a photo of wristwatch to show his Twitter followers what time he’s beginning the day. It’s become both a way to hold himself accountable as well as inspire others to stick to their goals.
Grab his workout clothes, laid out the night before, and head to the gym in his garage for one of the following strength workouts, which lasts around an hour.The exercises can either be lower weight with high reps and little rest or heavy weight with low reps and lots of rest.
Day 4: Overhead squats, front squats, regular squats.
Spend anywhere from a few minutes (intense bursts) to a half hour (steady) for cardiovascular training. This could include sprints or a jog.
Finish workout around 6:00 a.m. Depending on the day, go out to hit the beach near his home near San Diego, California, to spend time swimming or surfing. If the weather is nice, he may also do his cardio on the beach.
Shower and start working for his leadership consulting firm, Echelon Front, or for his popular podcast, any time after 6:00 a.m. He doesn’t get hungry until around noon, and only has a snack, like a few handfuls of nuts, in the morning.
After work, Willink gets in two hours of jujitsu training and heads to bed around 11:00 pm.
Willink said that he recognizes that everyone is different, and that not everyone would benefit from getting up at 4:00 a.m. for an intense workout. The key is that “you get up and move,” whether that’s jogging, weight lifting, or yoga.
The discipline comes in in setting a schedule and sticking to it so that your day begins with an energizing accomplishment, not a demoralizing stretch of time where you lie in bed and hit snooze on your alarm a few times. Every morning should start off with a predictable routine.
“And that’s the way that you own it,” he said. “Because once the day starts, well, then other people get to have a vote in what you’re doing.”
It’s no secret that service members don’t make a whole lot of money compared to the intense workload they face every single day. Since this lack of funds can limit things we like to do during our days off, we have to find little ways to compensate our cash to make sure we pay our bills.
Every few weeks, veterans should sit down and create a budget plan and adequately manage their incoming cash flow. These charges typically account for rent, groceries, and entertainment. The costs add up quickly, and it doesn’t feel like there’s much left over to put in savings.
But what if we told you that you can save some real coin if you just decided to it start hitting the gym on a daily basis?
Working out regularly has been proven to amplify your immune system — which means you won’t get as sick throughout the year. This also means you’ll save money from going to the doctor and paying that crappy co-pay. According to Tech Insider, people who exercise at least 30 minutes a day five days a week save an average of $2,500 a year.
That’s a sh*t load!
Researchers tracked heart health and annual medical expenses of 26,239 men and women for two whole years. Those who had all around poor health shelled out the cash for all those doctor visits. However, those who stuck to an exercise regiment saved $3,000 more a year than those in poor health.
Keep in mind this study includes hospitalization, prescription medication, emergency room visits, and outpatient visits. All because they spent time doing some sort of aerobic activity. Being able to save $3,000 a year may not seem like a whole lot, but divide that by 12, and you’re looking around keeping an extra $250 in your pocket a month.
Now, this study only focused on those with heart problems, but daily exercise can reduce the can of developing cancer, losing bone density, and type 2 diabetes. Acquiring these ailments isn’t as fun as looking jacked down at the beach.
Check out the Tech Insider video below if you want all this information repeated all over again.
You do not have to be a world-class athlete to join the military. Even within the ranks of Special Ops, you will not be required to be a master of any element of fitness — above average maybe, but not world class.
My observations from training many military members over the past two decades has shown me that we all come from different foundations of fitness. We all excel in different events, and suffer weaknesses in others. It takes a mature and ego-free team player to realize that your preparation to be 100 percent ready for your job may be lacking. When you make the decision to go Special Ops, you must be prepared to research your future profession and acknowledge there are elements of fitness you will have to attempt that you may have never been exposed to.
Your best bet is to be competent in as many of the following elements of fitness as possible.
Strength: Being strong and having a foundation of strength is critical to ALL of your other abilities. This does not mean that you have to bench press a truck. It means that having strong muscles, bones, and connective tissues will assist in your ability to make power when you need it. The most basic way to measure strength is to record the amount of weight lifted in one repetition. Don’t skip leg day!
Power: You cannot have power without strength and speed. The faster you move an object or yourself through space is power. Power usually requires a full body movement generated from your feet and legs and transferred across the body to its end point. For instance, a powerful knockout punch starts from the feet as the fighter steps into a punch, shifts the hips, torques the torso, and extends the arm until the moment of impact with her or his fist. That is power. In physics, power is defined as power equals force times velocity or work divided by time. It is a combination of technique, speed, and strength.
Endurance: Cardiovascular endurance is necessary for nearly any activity, including running, rucking, and swimming. Technique helps with the amount of energy you use, but being able to move and move fast is one element that has to be continually practiced. If you do not lift for a week, you will typically come back stronger. If you do not run for a week, it feels like you are starting over when you run again. Whether you like fast interval cardio or long, slow distance cardio — just get it done. You need both depending upon your job. How fast you can run, ruck or swim longer distances will be the typical measure for your endurance ability.
Muscle Stamina: Combine high repetition muscle stamina with endurance and you are building a PT test-taking machine. A two minute calisthenics fitness test is one way to test your muscle stamina, but another marker is putting in a full day of hard physical work. Having the ability to continuously move your body weight and more over longer periods of time is required in the typical selection programs. Strength is handy. You need it. But being able to work all day is a physical skill and mindset that needs to be fostered daily.
Speed: Testing speed with short runs can save your life when having to quickly run for cover. Speed can be enhanced by adding in faster and shorter runs to your running days.
Agility: Accompanied with speed and balance, agility is how quickly you can move from side to side and change direction quickly. Both speed and agility can be practiced with cone drills arranged in less than 10 second drills, where full speed and changes of direction are measured.
Mobility / Flexibility: Do not forget to warmup and stretch for flexibility, but also to move your joints through a full range of motion for mobility. Like many elements of fitness, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So make stretching and moving in a full range of motion part of your day.
Hand / Eye Coordination: Whether it is shooting, driving, flying, throwing, or lifting objects to be placed a certain way, having a background with hand eye coordination is helpful to any tactical athlete. Sports can be a great for building this skill, but obtaining good hand / eye coordination requires practice.
Running / Rucking: Being prepared to run and ruck takes time. Time spent logically progressing your weekly mileage in running and building time under the weight with rucking has to be a foundation of your training if attempting most military and any Special Ops training program. Lack of preparation will mean injury and possibly failing to meet the standard within a few months of training. If you don’t practice several days a week to build your endurance, you will lose it.
Swimming / Water Confidence Skills: Not having a pool to train in or not being comfortable in the water is not only a physical fitness issue, but a huge mental block for many. Technique is critical to your success in the water. Watch videos and practice, practice, practice if you need to get better in the water for your swimming, drown-proofing, and treading tests. Several days a week of technique training is required, along with building your cardiovascular endurance to maintain any speed.
Specializing in too few of these elements above can lead to neglecting others. World class athletes specialize in only a few of the above for their athletic events. For instance, take the competitive Olympic swimmer or power lifter. Both are incredible to watch, but both would fail miserably at each other’s events on an Olympic stage.
The reason I am focusing on comparing world class athletes to those in the military is that far too many regular Joe’s attempt workouts and training programs designed for world class athletes. There is no need to try an Olympic swim or running plan used by your favorite Gold Medalist to help you pass a fitness test of a 500m swim or a 1.5 mile timed run — even if you are trying to be a Special Ops team member. Trying to deadlift 600+ pounds, which is a massive amount but still nowhere near world class, may cause injury or interfere with your ability to run, ruck, or swim with fins for long distances. You need to ask yourself what you have to give up to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, do a body building competition, or power lifting meet. If your answer involves too many other elements of fitness, you may want to reconsider whether this is a necessary step toward a tactical profession.
There is a quote often used in Tactical Fitness Training: A world-class athlete needs to be an A+ in his/her activity, which may only focus on 1-2 elements of fitness. A tactical athlete needs to be a B in ALL the elements of fitness to best do his/her job. Make your annual training plan so that you can arrange the elements of fitness into your year accordingly. Learn about periodization and do it logically, with smart progressions so that you do not start off with too much, too soon, too far, or too fast, and end up hurting yourself with challenging programs designed for something not related to the Tactical profession.