Heading out to the beach or chilling out by the pool are some of the best ways to spend a warm, summer day. Unfortunately, countless people feel insecure about getting into swimwear because they don’t like the way their body looks. Whether you’re doing it for your health or just to feel more comfortable in your skin, you can tone up that tummy with a few exercises that take just 10 to 15 minutes out of your day.
Do the following and get out there and soak up the sun’s rays.
And, of course, don’t forget proper sun protection.
Start by getting into a laying position. Now, place your hands under your lower back, extend your legs out, and hold them up, slightly bent. Begin the rep by raising your legs upward toward the sky and then slowly lowering them back down, but do not touch the ground with your feet. It’s a solid exercise for our lower abdominal muscles. Make sure you engage that core throughout.
Now repeat this 10-15 times and do at least two or three more sets.
Lay flat on your tummy and — just like how Superman flies — hold your arms and legs straight out, lifting them slightly. This action creates controlled stress on your lower back, which you should hold for two to three seconds before releasing.
Got it? Sweet!
Now repeat this 10-15 times and do at least two more sets.
This excellent exercise can be done anywhere that you have enough space to lay on your back. Once you’re in position, bring your knees, one at a time, toward your face, tightening your abdomen in the process. Then, simply pedal your feet as if you’re riding a bike.
It’s easy and your abs will thank you in a few weeks.
“I don’t have time” is the number one phrase that I hear from people when we discuss their health lifestyle. One thing I’ve never had was a bunch of extra time on my hands. Most of my extreme time management started at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where wasted moments can result in some bad situations. During medical school, and currently, as I resident, I continually find ways to get more done in a limited amount of time. Most of this I attribute to desire and discipline, but the other piece is planning.
I’ve summarized 5 things I’ve incorporated into my busy schedule that I think have contributed a huge amount to my health and fitness goals.
1. Keep water easily accessible
You can store water bottles in the trunk of your car for quick, easy access. You can also carry a plastic or glass water bottle. Carrying a large amount of water at one time not only limits the number of times you have to grab another bottle or refill, but it’s also psychological and continually reminds you to drink up. I’ve used a one liter Nalgene bottle since college. It’s not too small but also professional enough to carry around to meetings and around patients, if need be. It’s my habit to refill it 3 times in a day – that way I drink about 1 gallon a day without overthinking it.
2. Keep convenient protein sources on hand
The hardest macronutrient to access quickly is usually protein. It’s quite easy to grab carbohydrate and fat sources, but protein can be difficult to find and pricey. One way to avoid this issue is to keep high protein sources at work or in your car. Some sources I recommend are protein powder (keep it in the huge container and keep a protein shaker nearby it), protein bars (by the box), or tuna in the pre-drained packs (by the box). I’m up walking around a lot so I stuff one of these in my white coat so I’m never without food when things get hectic.
3. If traveling, plan to stay near a gym
If going out of town on business, and you have the opportunity to choose where you’ll be staying, scout out the gym options beforehand. If you are going to stay in a hotel, find out if the hotel has a gym that’s adequate for your workouts. If not, then do a quick internet search on gyms nearby and find out if you can do a day pass. For military members, with ID card, they will typically cut you a break on paying a fee. If there are no gyms nearby, don’t give up. Opt for the bodyweight exercises right there in your room.
4. Incorporate active breaks into your routine
If working at a desk, get up and move as often as possible. If the building has an elevator, choose the stairs most of the time. If staying in a hotel, choose a room on an upper floor and use the stairs. You can also use small weights and bands at work when taking breaks. My co-workers and I use a push-up count system for various events that occur at work, so it’s a fun way of incorporating fitness into our daily workload.
5. Prep meals ahead of time
This one takes a little more time but is the major key to success if you can make it happen. Choose one or two days out of the week to cook all your food for the week. The best day might be when you go to the grocery store. Right after your grocery run, start up your stove. The key is to be creative with the way you cook different items so many things can cook at the same time (i.e. what can go in the oven while the stove top is busy?). If your budget allows, buy certain things pre-cooked. If you like certain vegetables, then stick with those. Once all the foods are cooked up, separate them into separate meal containers and store in the fridge. As each day comes grab what you need and stick it in a ready-to-go meal container (like the ones from Isolator Fitness).
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.
Two-time Olympian runner Nick Symmonds, now the CEO of his own company, Run Gum, and the host of a popular YouTube channel, recently took on a new challenge: The Army Physical Fitness Test.
In a video posted Aug. 1, Symmonds attempted the test without any special training or practice, and bagged a respectable score, albeit with some not-quite-authorized modifications. Here’s what you need to know about Symmonds’ APFT challenge — and how you can take your own test to see how you would compare.
The Army Physical Fitness Test currently involves three elements: maximum push-ups in two minutes, maximum sit-ups in two minutes, and a two-mile run for time.
Let’s start with the run. It’s been three years since Symmonds officially retired as a professional athlete, but he’s still in great shape and impressively fast. He completed two miles on the track in 11 minutes, 54 seconds — just under his personal goal of 12 minutes. Symmonds is 36, so he could have bagged a perfect score with a run time of 13 minutes, 18 seconds, or 6 minutes, 39 seconds per mile. No problem.
One the push-ups, Symmonds unfortunately would have been disqualified partway through (more on that below). But if all his reps had counted, he would have gotten 55 in two minutes. That’s good for a score of 79 out of 100. He would have had to get 75 push-ups to max out the APFT with a perfect 100 score.
For the sit-ups, the middle event on the APFT, Symmonds barely beat his push-up reps count, with 56 sit-ups. Here too, he would have been disqualified mid-event if the test had been administered by the Army. But if his full score counted, he would have gotten a 76 out of 100. To max out in his age ground, he would have needed 76 reps.
Bending the Rules
Here’s the thing: It’s not enough to do the reps on push-ups and sit-ups; you have to do them exactly as prescribed by the Army, and you can’t take unauthorized breaks.
On push-ups, Symmonds repeatedly sat up on his knees to shake out his arms, which would have meant instant disqualification on the real APFT. According to the official Army Physical Fitness Test administration rules, the only rest permitted mid-test is an “altered front leaning rest position,” meaning that soldiers may flex their back up or sag in the middle.
According to 550cord.com, “if you rest on the ground or raise either hand or foot from the ground, your performance will be terminated.”
Otherwise, Symmonds’ push-up form was strong. The Army regulations require the upper arms to be at least parallel to the ground on each repetition; Symmonds went deep enough to touch the ground on each rep.
The sit-ups also would have resulted in disqualification, according to Army rules. For proper sit-up position, a soldier must interlock fingers behind his or her head and come up to a vertical position where “the base of your neck is above the base of your spine.” The feet must be held by another soldier. Reps don’t count “if you fail to reach the vertical position, fail to keep your fingers interlocked behind your head, arch or bow your back and raise your buttocks off the ground to raise your upper body, or let your knees exceed a 90-degree angle.”
In addition, there’s only one authorized rest position: vertical. A soldier cannot rest in the “down” position.
Symmonds completed his reps with his arms crossed over his chest (although occasionally they flailed), used a soccer goal to secure his feet and rested repeatedly in the down position. The test was still tough and no doubt a good workout, but it would have landed Symmonds in trouble with Army supervisors for multiple rules infractions.
New Test Coming
Symmonds says he plans to retake the test as some point in the future and try again for a perfect score. But by the time he gets around to that, soldiers may be taking a different test with new rules and events. The Army is in the process of introducing the five-event Army Combat Fitness Test, which will be the test of record beginning Oct. 1.
The ACFT is considered more difficult to ace than the current APFT, and requires more equipment, too. The events on the new test include a maximum deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release push-up; sprint, drag and carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.
Also new on the ACFT: all scores are age- and gender-neutral, which means there’s just one score chart for all soldiers. There are different minimum requirements based on job category, however; soldiers with jobs that are highly physically demanding, such as infantry, have to achieve higher scores than those with less physical jobs.
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I’m about to tell you how to manage your hunger pangs. These tactics are useless unless you understand one fact about life and your body.
A hunger pang will not kill you and isn’t actually negative at all.
By chiseling this fact on your stomach you can start to reframe the feeling of being hungry. Historically, hunger signals have been a sign to start looking for food or starvation was coming.
Today we have the opposite problem of our prehistoric ancestors. There is too much food! ⅓ of all food is actually lost or wasted!
This is why it’s so easy to get fat! This being the case, we need to reorient our relationship with hunger cues by recognizing that they are leftover from a time when food was scarce.
Chances are higher that you die from eating too much rather than too little.
That being the case let’s get into 3 things that can help you control your relationship with hunger. After all, if we just give in to every urge, our bodies have we are no better than those sex-crazed bonobos.
Nothing wrong with meat. It’s the sauces and glazes that cause people to overeat.
These are foods that actually make you feel full. A great rule of thumb is to stick to foods on the outside edge of the grocery store like veggies, fruits, meat, and less processed dairy products. The closer you get to the middle of the store, the more processed things tend to get.
The more processed something is the less it tends to make us feel full. You can think of processing as the same as pre-digesting in many cases. These foods are designed to make you want to keep eating more of them by not spending a lot of time in your digestive tract.
High-satiety foods like potatoes, lean meats, and whole fruits and veggies tend to make themselves at home in your tummy for much longer. This means that 250 calories of steak or baked potato feel like more food to your body than 250 calories of a hostess product or chips shaped like triangles.
Rule of thumb: Eat mostly high-protein (lean meat) and high-fiber (whole fruits and veggies) foods. Limit intake of high-sugar, fat, salt (the stuff in packages in the middle of the store).
Only buy single serving sizes and keep them out of the house.
You can’t control the world around you, but you can control your space. In order to make full use of this keep foods that trigger you to eat a lot out of the house plain and simple. Don’t buy them with the intention of bringing them home.
Many people get the munchies late at night when most stores are closed, or they are already in their pajamas. Chances of you going out at this time for some shitty junk food is slim. You’ll have to make do with what’s in the house.
This means you can binge on healthy high-satiety foods, like mentioned above. Or you can forego the binge all together.
A tall glass of water is actually all it usually takes to quell the hunger rumbles sometimes. Next time you think you’re hungry simply have some water and wait 20 minutes. If you’re still hungry go for the food. If not, go on with your life and stop thinking about food.
Best practices: Make your living space one that cultivates good habits, only keep foods, snacks, and drinks that reflect the person you want to be.
Our brains play a very active role in how we perceive hunger. You might not be hungry at all but all of a sudden you walk by that great smelling burger joint or see that add for a fresh donut. Boom! Your mouth is watering, and your stomach feels like it’s trying to crawl out of your body like that scene in Alien.
Simple solution: Change your route so that you don’t pass that establishment or ad. There’s always another way home even if it’s further, do what you need to in order to win.
You can control the plane but not the weather. Accept it and move on.
There are a lot of reasons for back pain. Many of them are real, and nearly all of them are 100% treatable without a doctor.
What I’m giving you here is the exact protocol you need to be doing in order to relieve your low back pain once and for all.
Whether it’s your disc, your muscles, your tendons, your actual spine, or some combination of them all, there is still plenty you can do to treat your pain yourself.
This is about taking control and responsibility of your body. You’re a Grown Ass Human who shouldn’t be dependent on someone else to treat your issues.
I’m gonna give you exactly what you need in 5 simple steps that you can do every morning with nothing but your body weight and those little eye crusties still hanging out on the corner of your ocular cavity.
“Low Back” Pain Morning Routine | 30 DAYS TO PAIN FREE
When you walk around, you have a tendency to ‘hang out’ in one of these positions.
If you’re overly anteriorly tilted, your pelvis is “facing forward.” This usually means you have weak glutes, weak abs, and tight hip flexors.
If you’re posteriorly tilted, your pelvis is “facing backward” or level (slight forward/anterior tilt is considered normal). This can mean that you have tight glutes, tight abs, kyphotic posture (a rounded upper back), or all three. I’ll get into kyphosis in another article. For now, this article on posture should satisfy your kyphotic curiosity.
BUT, for most people, these words mean nothing. Maybe you’re one of those people. That’s what this first ‘exercise’ is all about: building awareness between your mind and your hips.
It’s especially easy because you can just crawl out of your bed on your hands and knees and never have to actually stand up. This is a great bonus for those of you who are especially lazy in the morning.
A cat/cow sequence is how we are going to achieve that awareness. Check out the video for exactly how to flow through cat/cow.
Perform the sequence for 1-2 minutes or until you feel aware, and your hips are “awake” daily.
JC is a savior for many of us in the fitness industry. I’m talking about Jeff Cavalier over at Athlean X, of course. He has consistently put out amazing high-quality fitness information for years now. He is one of the few Fitness Youtubers that is truly above reproach. I aspire to be like him.
Down to low back pain business…
JC has provided us with an exercise that is going to provide you with some immediate relief. By starting each morning with the JC Low Back Relief Sequence (JCLBRS for you military nerds that love acronyms), you’re going to get pain free and gain more awareness.
Specifically awareness of how to use your glute medius, which is the weak glute causing your low back to take the brunt of your weight and in turn, causing pain.
Time to take that newfound glute, hip, and low back awareness and apply it to some movement.
Elevated bridges are the perfect way to do just that. You’re going to be teaching your glute medius how to operate under a horizontal load (like what happens when you walk, run, or hike). You’re also going to learn to properly concentrically contract your spinal erectors, without hyper extending them. Lastly, you’re going to train how to posteriorly tilt your pelvis to get a maximum contraction in your posterior chain.
Flutter Kicks rely heavily on engagement from the hip flexors. AVOID them and other exercises like crunches and sit-ups if you have tight hip flexors and/or low back pain.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)
Step 4; Core strength: Side plank
Time to work your abs. Why? Because that’s how you attract a mate. Everyone knows that core definition is the singular way that most people choose a life partner, so of course, we need to do them every morning.
The real trick here is to choose an exercise that’s great for your core stability and building a shredded six-pack without working your already overactive hip flexors and potentially neutralizing the effect of the previous three steps. So don’t do the crunches from your PT test.
You’re going to do that with the side plank. But a real side plank, not that shit I see checked-out field grade officers doing during PT (looks like they’re just hanging out waiting for retirement.)
Watch the video for exact form cues. You’re going to:
keep your hips stacked,
keep your abs actively flexed by shortening the distance between your lowest rib and the top of your hips, this will also keep your spine in a neutral position
Keep your hips neutral/slightly posteriorly tilted by keeping your glutes engaged.
BONUS: abduct your top leg AKA lift your leg for additional core stress and some more glute medius work.
Perform 1-2 sets of 75% effort on both sides each morning. This is about training proper movement and muscular engagement, by staying at the 75% effort threshold you won’t push so hard that your form breaks down and potentially makes your low back issues worse.)
(Courtesy photo by the Indian Army)
Step 5: Spinal decompression: Hanging out
Time for some relief. Hang from your pull up bar or a door frame and decompress your spine.
This is something you should do whenever you have a chance. We spend all day with gravity compressing our spine together. Your low back ends up taking most of that pressure. By decompressing at the end, you are taking an opportunity to “reset” your spine each day into the proper posture and form that you just spent the last 5 minutes training.
Perform this for 1-2 sets of a max hold. (You’ll get some bonus grip strength work here as well.)
You need to train in what you want to be good at… that includes not being in pain.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nathaniel Stout)
When the results roll in.
You’ll start to feel relief almost immediately, but it’s going to take some time for all your pain to dissipate. That’s why this routine should be part of your life for the rest of your life. Consistency is key here.
We use our bodies every day, so we also need to treat/correct our bodies every day. That’s all this is.
If you want to feel something you’ve never felt before (like pain relief), you need to do something you’ve never done before.
Send me a message anytime to let me know how this morning routine is working to help relieve your low back pain at email@example.com.
Don’t forget to join the Mighty Fit FB Group to surround yourself around like-minded people who also want to get strong, lean, and pain-free.
I’m on a foot fetish these days. Don’t tell my family.
Today’s foot based installment is about perception vs. reality. It’s about how your mind is constantly playing tricks on you even when you’re doing your best to be truthful. It’s about how your brain is letting your feet lie to you, and your boots are in on the whole conspiracy.
I have a pretty astounding study that I want to talk about.
“The increased injury incidence with modern running shoes can be attributed to greater impact when runners use footwear more of the current design when compared with footwear in use a decade earlier. Furthermore, when runners unaccustomed to barefoot running run barefoot, mean impact is no higher than when shod and in some cases is lower.”
In normal people terms:
Comfy shoes = foot problems.
No shoes = Highly profitable career as a rickshaw driver.
These feet look all too familiar.
Padding makes you treat your feet like sh!t
Comfy shoe padding makes us blissfully unaware of the damage we are causing. Kind of like how we thought trans fats were a great idea. It turns out they are causally linked to heart disease.
We aren’t always right. Our prior assumptions need to be evaluated, not blindly accepted for millennia.
Robbins and Gouw, those two guys from the above quote, came to the conclusion that: “…a perceptual illusion is created whereby perceived impact is lower than actual impact, which results in inadequate impact moderating behavior and consequent injury.”
Let’s get into a pretty eye-opening study they did that proves the above point.
When was the last time you made a comfort-based decision? Hit that snooze button this morning? Had a hot shower? Chose to drive to work rather than walk/run/bike?
Those are some decisions you can control. What about this trippy one you aren’t even aware of?
Robbins and Gouw took some force plates and had well-trained gymnasts jump onto them from a platform about 2 feet off the ground.
The plates measured the impact force of the athletes landing.
The gymnasts, who are great at sticking landings, were told to just land however they would naturally land after a jump from that height.
There were two surfaces they jumped onto for the force plates to measure; a hard surface, and a comfy padded surface.
In ALL 15 athletes, the landing force on the padded surface was higher than the landing force on the hard surface. The athletes clearly choose a safer and more appropriate landing strategy for the hard surface than the padded surface.
The real kicker is that that they all assumed that they were landing with more force on the hard surface than the padded surface.
Yep…the padding of the padded surface completely tricked all the athletes into being more careless with their bodies.
The perception of comfort and its damaging effects were studied using experienced athletes and force plate technology.
The difference in impacts was upwards of 25%. That the difference between you jumping by yourself and then jumping with your overweight nephew strapped to your chest in a papoose. Go ahead and give that experiment a try to see the real difference between the two.
Even a 5% increase in weight makes some people crumble, 25% is nothing to shrug at.
We are able to handle nearly twice our body weight in running impact. That seems like a lot. So we should have zero problem running right?
When we run with standard running shoes or boots on, impacts of well past eight times our body weight have been measured. Combine this high level of impact with the design of the modern combat boot like we talked about here, and you get a whole host of foot and other structural issues that are commonly seen in service members, veterans, and high mileage athletes. I’m talking about hip, knee, ankle, and back issues, not to even mention that fact that your feet are taking the brunt of the abuse.
Is this the future military boot or should we just go barefoot?
Take ’em off and walk around
Lucky for Marines, it seems that the Generals in charge are making strides (pun intended) to remedy this issue to save the Marine Corps money and you a life of constant chronic pain.
The solution seems to be minimalist footwear. The less padding your footwear has, the easier it will be for you to regulate the impact you are causing on your feet.
Over time, your issues should disappear just like the rickshaw driver disappeared into antiquity after Henry Ford created the modern assembly-line built automobile to subvert his father-in-law, a world-famous rickshaw driver. (Everyone has family issues)…
Typically, when people start working out, they start to notice the results of their hard work within a few short weeks. Muscle and bone density become more apparent and, as a result, personal morale surges.
Fast forward a few months and you’ll notice a dramatic change in your energy and strength levels. This typically motivates exercisers to push through some grueling reps. After all, like they say, “no pain, no gain.”
Fast forward a few more months and you might stop seeing dramatic gains. Improvements aren’t coming in as fast or as noticeably as they once did. Since humans are amazing at adapting, our bodies become accustomed to the hard work and we hit a wall, experiencing what’s known as a “plateau effect.” It’s during these plateaus that most people quit — without results to motivate, it’s easier to stop.
To combat those sh*tty plateaus, trainers introduce new, varied training methods to keep the body unprepared — unable to acclimate — which causes muscles to grow once again. If you’re looking to change up your routine, consider the following methods.
Most gym goers take a break after completing one set — usually to check their social media. Instead, consider introducing a second exercise that focuses on a different muscle group before resting. For example, if you’re doing 12 reps on an EZ-curl bar, knock out 12 triceps extensions prior to your social-media checkup.
Also known as “high-intensity interval training,” this killer method is a popular way of burning fat and increasing physical endurance. The idea is to maintain a high work-to-rest ratio — between 1:1 and 2:1. For example, to achieve a 1:1 ratio, you’ll exercise hard for a short burst and then rest just as long immediately afterward. A 2:1 ratio means that you’re resting half as long as you’re exercising.
Trainers usually put their clients through dozens of rounds of HIIT training before calling it a day.
Despite the name, this has nothing to do with going to the beach — although you’ll probably want to be seen with your shirt off after a few weeks of this training. Surfing the rack simply means walking up to the free weights and repping with the heaviest load you can manage. Then, after you’ve exhausted yourself, step down in weight and continue to get reps in.
Most trainers recommend you reduce the load by about 20 percent per step.
Most people never want to fail — which is a good thing. However, “going to failure” in the gym is an epic way to tear your muscles in a controlled environment. Be careful, though — going until failure is tough on your body and can make you nauseous from time to time.
When working out, many people select a manageable weight, complete 8-to-12 reps, re-rack the weight, and take a break. This is a solid way to build muscle, sure, but it’ll also set you on your way to that progress plateau we talked about earlier.
In a drop set, a person selects a manageable weight, and does reps until failure. Next, they opt for a lower weight and continue on. It’s very similar to surfing the rack, minus the rack itself.
Now, get out there and keep those muscles guessing.
As I covered in the above video, there’s a lot going on the HRP that cut out much of the nonsense that occurred during the standard push-up test. So yes, they’re harder. Not only physically but also for your coordination. Here’s why:
Long sleeves can definitely help if you like to cheat at the top of the push-up.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Osvaldo Martinez)
NO MORE BOUNCE.
The stretch reflex response in the chest is a powerful force.
In the HRP every rep starts from a dead stop, this means that you can’t load your chest with the stretch reflex response. This levels the playing field a bit for those of you who don’t know how to use the stretch reflex and sucks for anyone who is used to banging out 100+ “bouncing” reps.
This movement is harder and takes longer than you’d think.
(U.S. Army Photo by Cpl. Tomarius Roberts)
The HRP requires you to have your index finger just to the inside of your shoulder. This narrow position is equivalent to a close grip bench press. It’s much more triceps dominant than a standard press. It also almost entirely removes the risk of shoulder impingement.
The TLDR of it is most people are slowly sawing a hole in their shoulder socket when they perform pressing movements. The narrow hand position helps relieve a lot of that stress.
That being said, this means you WILL BE WEAKER performing the hand release narrow stance push-up than you would with the standard variation.
I know they’re Marines…it’s a cool pic.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)
TIME IS YOUR ENEMY.
The 2-minute time limit wasn’t generally a problem for most people with the standard push-up. Most people blow their whole wad well before the time expired.
With the HRP time is a very large factor. You need to conduct one push-up every two seconds in order to fit all the reps in.
Maybe you can do 60 reps, but doing all 60 in 120 seconds is a whole other story. I would venture to guess that I need to be able to do 70 or 80 hand-release push-ups in order to be able to do 60 fast enough to be within the time limit.
I don’t think the mask would make push-ups harder so much as just generally uncomfortable. That’s the military in a nutshell…
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. ShaTyra Reed/ 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
OBVIOUS CORE CONTROL.
An argument I’d be willing to engage in is one that states that the HRP actually requires more core strength that the Leg Tucks….Oh yeah!
The standard push-up allowed for this sneaky thing to happen that was often left uncorrected. The hips were allowed to sag, the core could be weak, for multiple reps before it became so egregious that the grader would mention it.
Because the HRP starts every rep from a dead stop, any core weakness becomes immediately apparent and can be called out on the first rep that the body isn’t perfectly in alignment.
This means your core needs to be strong, or it will give out well before your pressing muscles run out of steam. Unlike the leg tucks, which I talked about here, where for 90% of soldiers, your grip or back strength will give out before your core.
Practice, practice, practice.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull)
How to train for HRP
There are four things you need to focus on in order to be properly prepared for the HRP.
Core Control- You need to plank, a lot. Practice the RKC plank 2-3 times a week. The RKC plank is where you contract every muscle of your body while holding the plank.
Press from a dead stop- Train using paused reps and presses from the rack. You need to learn how to start every rep from a dead stop. Standard pressing movements that use the stretch reflex response of the chest are going to set you up for disappointment come test day.
Practice high reps with long periods of time under tension- 120 seconds of work is about 4-5 times as long as a standard set of any exercise. You need to prepare your body for that task in muscular endurance. Practice slow sets with 45+ seconds of time under tension and/or sets of 15-20 reps on the bench press and 20-40 reps of push-ups to build your muscular endurance.
Practice the full movement- It’s harder than it looks to get your hands back to the exact perfect pushing position for every rep. You need to practice it and build the mind-muscle connection so that you can focus on putting out come test day and not have to worry about hand placement.
That’s it folks. If you want a plan to help train for the HRP, check this out. It trains all the aspects of pressing that I just covered. In order to prepare for the ACFT, you need more than just exercises. You need to be particular about how you’re training. That’s what this plan does, and all my plans for that matter.
Well, it’s about that time again. The Army has plans for another physical fitness test with events other than push-ups, sit-ups, and a two mile run. This time around, the review process seems to have lasted longer than a few weeks so it mightpossibly, maybe, actually happen.
The new Army Combat Readiness Test will more than likely become a thing. There will now be six events instead of the previous three. The idea behind it is that it reflects the real-world obstacles of combat.
All muscle groups will be worked out, as opposed to just the upper-body, core and cardio endurance. Equipment will now be used. Possibly gender neutral but MOS-specific scoring. And some officer who was REALLY into Crossfit is happy.
Event 1: Leg Tuck
Testing your shoulders, core, and leg endurance, the objective is to raise your knees to your elbow as many times as you can until you reach muscle failure. It simulates climbing tasks.
This event isn’t too demanding or challenging in theory. The concern is trying to keep your endurance up to the point where you can complete as many as you can without reaching complete muscle failure — you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot for the remaining five events.
Event 2: Power Throw
Testing your upper and lower body power, the objective is to toss a 10lb medicine ball behind you as far as you can twice (with both attempts added to the closest centimeter). It simulates lifting, progressive levels of force, and uh, tossing?
Holy crap, dude. If you can’t get someone to help watch where you’re blindly throwing a 10lb ball, just do squats with the ball instead. Shy of the combat application of the ACRT, the second goal is to minimize injuries. Don’t make this event more dangerous than doing a sit-up.
Event 3: Trap Bar Dead-lift
Testing your lower and back strength, the objective is to dead-lift the trap bar three times with a weight you determine. It simulates a soldier’s ability to lift and carry someone on a litter or move equipment.
Remember that “minimize injury” thing from the last event? Learn how to do a proper dead-lift. No way around that. This is supposed to be less dangerous than a push-up. Even if your form is good, it would be beneficial to know your maximum dead-lift weight you can actually perform — three times — so you aren’t wasting your time (and effort) doing two, then have to bump down in weights and try three again. Work smarter not harder.
Event 4: T Push-up
Testing your upper body endurance, the objective is to successfully complete as many T Push-ups as you can before you reach muscle failure. It simulates pushing an opponent away during man-to-man contact.
It’s just like a push-up. But when you’re down, touch your chest on the ground and spread your arms. Do this until you get tired.
No health risk, but I mean, it would be funny watching someone try to skip steps to be fast and face-plant into the ground. Please take photos to laugh at the poor SOB.
Event 5: Shuttle Sprint-Drag-Carry
Testing your muscular strength, anarobic capacity, and ability to exert effort at high intensity for brief moments, the object is to lay prone. On the command “Go!” sprint 25m down and 25 back. Pick up the straps to a 100lb sled and drag it 25m down and back. Sprint the 25m down and back again. Grab two 40lb kettlebells and run the 25m down and back. Then finish the event sprinting again.
So it’s sprint, sled, sprint, kettlebells, and sprint. No real way to prepare sprinting with 40lb kettlebells without just sprinting with 40lbs kettlebells.
Event 6: 2-Mile Run
Testing your cardio-respiratory endurance, the objective is to run two miles — and just like before, you’re still graded on how fast you finish it. It simulates a soldier’s ability to execute long distance ruck marches and to run two miles?
And the new fitness test still involves the run. Only thing different is the grading. So yeah. Get some.
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.
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.
This was a strange fantasy football week. Consider which of these teams you’d rather have going into week 7: Team A (Matt Ryan, David Johnson, Kerryon Johnson, Will Fuller, Tyler Boyd, and Evan Engram) or Team B (Jacoby Brissett, Chase Edmonds, Latavius Murray, Marvin Jones, Zach Pascal, and Rhett Ellison). Team A, right? Well, that would leave you with a grand total of 16.8 points. Team B? 177.8 points. That’s why Janet from marketing is undefeated in your league right now.
Marvin Jones to the end zone today.pic.twitter.com/zuJb5LmTK0
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts- Jacoby Brissett is 2nd in the NFL in passing touchdowns right now. His 14 passing TDs are only one behind the current #1 holders, and he’s played one less game than them. This is while playing without TY Hilton for an extended period of time, an insanely high red zone efficiency, and continuing to have balls dropped by Eric Ebron (as is tradition). Brissett is available in around half of leagues right now and is immediately worthy of an add.
Darren Waller, TE, Raiders- Darren Waller went into week 7 as the 7th highest scoring tight end In fantasy football (without a single TD, mind you). He finally broke pay dirt in week 7 and is currently the #2 fantasy tight end. Not bad for a player who was on the Ravens practice squad a year ago. He is Carr’s go-to target, and a bright spot in an offense riddled with weak air weapons.
Marvin Jones Jr, WR, Lions- You probably woke up Monday morning with a groan. Maybe you slapped at the snooze button on your iPhone, tricking yourself into eight more minutes of half-assed sleep before you had to drag your lifeless body into the shower and grab a handful of dry Cheerios before your commute to work. Marvin Jones most certainly did not wake up that way Monday morning. The Lions wideout had FOUR touchdowns on Sunday. Hell, he still might be asleep right now. But hey, he earned his rest.
Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys- Lost in the shuffle of up and coming RBs and electric WR performances is fantasy football’s half-decade stalwart, Zeke. He rushed for 111 yards, had 376 receiving yards, and a touchdown. When pressed about Doug Pederson’s over-zealous guarantee of a Philly win in Dallas, Zeke said, “We don’t give a f*ck what Doug Pederson says.”
“how many times did Melvin Gordon get stuffed at the goal line?”pic.twitter.com/Tr4Ye4cgDp
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers- After perhaps the least successful holdout in recent memory, Gordon, with a whole lot of dough on the line, re-entered the Chargers lineup as a shadow of his former self. His snoozefest of a performance on Sunday was capped with a fumble on the 1-yard line with 19 seconds left. The Chargers were only down by 3. Gordon may have lost much more than just the game.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants- Evan Engram was targeted five times on Sunday. He caught one of those for a measly 5 yards. This was against a mediocre Cardinal secondary, and with (an albeit hobbled) Saquon Barkley to draw defensive attention. Daniel Jones did him no favors, however, as he turned the ball over three times, and was sacked eight times. This does not bode well for the talented tight end moving forward. Consider trading him to a tight end streamer in your league if possible.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons- On the list of “dudes-I-wouldn’t-want-to-fight-in-the-NFL” Aaron Donald would be #1 and #2— one for each fist. Devonta Freeman obviously doesn’t agree with this sentiment as he tried to toe-up with the behemoth monster Rams tackle, and was promptly saved by the referees from certain death (by being tossed out of the game). In addition, the Falcons continue to lose and play from behind, making Freeman’s running opportunities thin at best.
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders- Despite the box score, the Raiders played the Packers pretty close for 28 minutes. They were driving to the goal line for a would-be go-ahead score before halftime, when Carr rolled out to the right and dove for the endzone with a grip on a football that was so delicate that a light breeze in Lambeau would’ve been enough to knock it into the endzone for a touchback. It was eerily reminiscent of a 2017 incident of the same caliber. The Raiders lost the rock, and the Packers drove and scored before halftime to make it a 14 point swing. Carr is a mediocre fantasy play, and should be dropped in all but deeper 2QB leagues.
Nobody even laid a hand on Chase Edmonds @ChaseEdmonds22pic.twitter.com/Q9zKjwKkVx
Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals- Edmonds dominated the backfield this Sunday in spite of a (shaky) David Johnson return. He put up an insane 35 fantasy points, and is only owned in 17% of leagues. He should be picked up at all costs, especially considering he’s in an offense that has been putting up really good numbers at the behest of rookie sensation Kyler Murray.
Auden Tate, WR, Bengals- In the past five games, Auden Tate has a least six targets per game, alongside either a 50+ yard performance or a touchdown. That makes for a fairly reliable flex play for someone who could easily be snatched off the waiver wire this week. With Tyler Boyd playing a bit more quietly lately, and AJ Green not expected to return before November, he could be highly useful.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings- Kirk Cousins hears y’all talking sh*t. Over the last three games, he has thrown for ten touchdowns and over 300 yards in every performance. Next week he plays against a Washington Redskins defense that would give up 30 points to Adam Sandler’s team from “The Longest Yard” making him the absolute top quarterback add.
Latavius Murray, RB, Saints- Murray came through for the injured Alvin Kamara in a big way: 119 rushing yards, 2 TDs, and five receptions for 31 yards. The Saints play the Cardinals next week, followed by a bye in week 9, so they will most likely opt to sit Kamara through two weeks to ensure adequate rest for the talented running back—making another full Murray game a more than viable RB option for next week.
#Raiders RB Josh Jacobs lays the truck stick on #Packers S Adrian Amos on his first carry of the game.pic.twitter.com/AyA1oPJCQp
The days of bruising running backs seems to be over. Marshawn Lynch was the last living relic of days when Earl Campbell, John Riggins, Mike Alstott, and Jerome Bettis plagued NFL linebackers. That doesn’t mean that today’s running backs lack some pop every now and then. Take this absolute truck stick from offensive-rookie-of-the-year front runner Josh Jacobs, he takes Adrian Amos to the canvas on his first carry of the day. Pad level, son. Ice up.
For military professionals, lower body strength is a must. For many humans, loss of lower body strength is the cause of the fall in old age that starts the domino effect of poor health ending in death…#Grim.
If you are human, a military professional, both, or soon to be both, having a strong squat will only make your life easier and longer. This is why we squat.
Leg strength is a prerequisite for the job. We hike everywhere.
The purpose of the low-bar back squat is to recruit the most amount of muscle possible in a lift. On average most people need general overall lower body training. The low bar position on the back gets the most muscles involved and is, therefore, a staple exercise in many complete training programs.
Take a deep inhale and brace your abs. The combined muscular flexion from your core and air pressure from your lungs filling will keep your spine stable and strong for the entirety of the movement.
Depth in the squat is when the top of your thigh just below your hips goes below the top of your knee.
In the squat, we are using the stretch reflex of the hamstrings to help “spring” us up from the bottom of the movement, known as the hole. That stretch reflex response is completely negated if you go to a depth where your hamstrings become passive in the movement. They should always be engaged and never lax.
A common mistake for people that take pride in their squat depth is that they get stuck in the hole because they are trying to re-engage their disengaged hamstrings. Under a heavy load, your hamstring cannot contract again without serious risk of pulling or tearing.
Waste no time in the hole. Hit your depth and explode back up.
You should never have enough time in the hole to smile for the camera… This makes me cringe.
Your knees should be tracking over your toes for this entire movement. Don’t let them cave in. Think “twist the ground apart with your feet and knees.” This will engage all of your glutes and prevent the dreaded valgus knee collapse that is all too common.
The bar should be centered over the middle of your foot, just like the deadlift, for this entire movement.
Think about your tailbone moving straight up as if it’s being pulled by a rope from the ceiling directly above it. This is where all of you power comes from.
DON’T think about moving your butt forward. Think vertical- forward motion will push you forward and off-balance. Move directly against gravity.
DON’T think about straightening your knees- this will push you off-balance as well.
DON’T think about your feet. If they are balanced in 3 points, you should pay them no more mind. Those three points are heel, big toe, and little toe- like a balanced triangle.
Finish the rep by squeezing your glutes and extending the hips into what feels like a posterior pelvic tilt
This will make you stand up straight and completely finish the reps.
Inhale and repeat.
When to train
Scheduling at least 72 hours between squat sessions, in the beginning, is important to ensure adequate recovery so that you can get the most weight on the bar and make the most gains. Over time, depending on your goals and recovery, you can safely squat three or even four times a week at sub-maximal intensities.
The Force is constantly out of balance. First Anakin was supposed to bring balance, but he turned into a cyborg sociopath. Then Luke was meant to bring balance; he screwed the pooch as well though. Now here we are hoping Rey is able to put a US Marine in his place and finally balance the damn thing out.
The above is a serious imbalance in a galaxy far far away a long ass time ago. The imbalance I’m about to help you correct is a whole lot simpler and straight forward.
It’s the balance of strength and function between the front and back of your upper body. If you have a serious imbalance, you may be suffering from postural discomfort, pain, or significant stalls in your training. You don’t need a Jedi to solve this, all you need is basic knowledge of the push:pull ratio.
Vertical and horizontal pushes and pulls are what you should be counting when it comes to your upper body ratio.
What the ratio means
You may have noticed some training plans online are broken up into three separate training days: push day, pull day, and legs day. The push and pull days refer to the upper body.
Pulling muscles are those that help you pull. They’re located on the back.
Pushing muscles are the muscles that help you push. They’re located on the front side of the body.
In order to maintain a balanced posture and ability, the front and back of the upper body need to be somewhat even in strength and capability.
Sloped shoulders? You may be doing too many pushes and need to add in more pulls.
When things are stronger one way or another, you see people with posture that just doesn’t look right, not to mention their ability to apply force AKA strength.
All training plans can be broken down in a ratio of push related to pull to see where their focus is. You just count the pressing movements and pulling movement, then reduce the fraction. Don’t freak out, I know fractions are intimidating, it’s typically really small numbers like 4:4 or 8:6. We just reduce those down to 1:1 and 2:1.5 respectively.
For instance, the Mighty Fit plan is a 1-to-1 push-to-pull ratio. That very simply means that for every push exercise that you do, you also do a pull exercise.
Time to add in more pulls. Horizontal 1-arm rows are a great exercise to help balance out an overactive chest.
If your chest and front delts are particularly large and tight, they will pull your shoulders and scapulae forward and give you that rounded upper back look. Strengthening your back muscles like your lower traps, rhomboids, and lats will bring some balance into your posture and relieve you of any discomfort.
Training all chest and sitting at a computer all day is a very common lifestyle for most of us. I’m guilty of it, and just about every peer of mine in the Marine Corps was the same.
The easiest way to correct an upper-body imbalance is to change your push/pull ratio. If you have forward shoulders from sitting at a computer all day, switch to a push/pull of 1:2. Do one push exercise for every two pull exercises.[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BdP21ywHLar/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Michael Gregory on Instagram: “Talking Programming Now . Antagonist pair sets are a great way to program your exercise selection. . Push Pull is a great way to program…”
If your back is overactive and tight, often seen in surfers, your shoulder blades will be pinched together, and chest will be open. This is from a strong back and a weak front. Presses and push-ups will bring balance back into this person.
If your job has you hiking a lot, you may be used to having your shoulders pulled back and together. If your nipples are facing the sky or you can barely get 2-3 fingers between your shoulder blades, this is you.
Changing your push:pull ratio to 2:1 may help your chest take some control in your upper body.
In addition, when you do conduct pull exercises, ensure that you are allowing your shoulder blades to move with the movement. Don’t lock them back and together (like you do in heavy bench presses with your back pinned into a bench).
The biceps are actually a pulling muscle and the triceps are a pushing muscle. Check out the arm primer article for how to train these further.
If you have mild pain, discomfort, or a noticeable strength imbalance your first step to remedy things should be to change your push:pull ratio. It’s a simple solution to a problem that will prevent some “bodywork expert” from getting involved. You have the power, and now, the tool to bring balance to your internal upper body force production.
In the Mighty Fit plan, there is a pressing movement everyday set up as a push/pull set that is paired with a pulling movement. You’ll gain ample size and functionality in your upper body over the duration of the plan. If you are starting from a place of imbalance now you have all the information you need to change the plan to suit your exact needs; add a push or pull!
If you haven’t started the Mighty Fit plan yet…what are you waiting for? Click the link in the left navigation bar of this site page.