The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Look, most of us were trained with videos or guides from the 70s, so I was seriously surprised when I discovered the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test page.

The page is modern, informative, and actually very helpful. Plus, the graphic designer was on point. (Kudos: Army Public Affairs Digital Media Division.)

I’m not in the Army but I find myself wanting to go do some deadlifts.


The Army Combat Fitness Test is comprised of the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and 2-mile run. When designing the test, they looked at the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, the Air Force TAC-P Operators Test, and physical performance assessments from 10-15 other sports programs and military/government tests.

All soldiers must be capable to deploy and fight. From the Army Vision: “The Army Mission – our purpose – remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustain land dominance by Army forces.” To accomplish that mission, the Army will “build readiness for high intensity conflict” with training that “will be tough, realistic, iterative and battled-focused.” The battlefields of today and tomorrow are increasingly complex, fluid, and uncertain; they demand that all Soldiers are physically fit and ready for full-spectrum operations. —U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test website

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

To help prepare soldiers, the Army really went above and beyond with educational materials about the test. From videos of the exercises to training techniques and safety tips to highlighting the muscles engaged, the page is an incredible resource.

If I sound surprised, it’s because I am.

The military does not have a good reputation of taking care of service members’ bodies. There’s an underlying “suck it up” mentality that tends to prevent troops from treating injuries in a timely manner. When they do finally seek medical care, it’s often too late and they’re added to the end of a too-long list of patients needing treatment.

Cue the Motrin memes.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Shameless plug for this T-shirt

U.S. troops deploy to combat zones and respond to missions that require physical strength, flexibility, and capability, so it’s important that they train hard — but it’s also critical that they learn how to prevent and treat injuries efficiently.

A minor training nuisance like a strained muscle or a shin splint can become a career-ending injury when ignored; instead it should be treated like a loose part on a weapon and it prioritized as such.

The effort the Army put into their website might seem like a small thing, but it actually communicates the importance of soldiers’ bodies — training them, honing them, and caring for them.

Sorry-not-sorry to call out the Marines, but their website is much more difficult to navigate and doesn’t really do much to educate anyone, even though they specifically acknowledge that injury prevention is important:

The mission of the Sports Medicine Injury Prevention (SMIP) Program is to reduce attrition and lost work-days associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) in order to increase operational readiness of individual Marine, Sailors, and their units. —U.S. Marine Corps SMIP website

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

I wish I had this kind of stuff when I was active duty.

The Army, on the other hand:

The government knows that injuries are a detriment to the military, but the Army has currently has a lead in educating its troops about how to train. Physical health should be prioritized as part of the military culture, not just physical strength. Troops can’t be strong if they’re not healthy.

Check out the website here — and then get your ass to the gym!

MIGHTY FIT

The Air Force finally ditches the waist measurement test. Why?

In the military, being fit isn’t just for looks. Without meeting certain fitness standards, military personnel may not be able to do their jobs properly, putting themselves and others in danger. What those standards should be, exactly, has been up for debate for decades. Now, the Air Force is rethinking what it means to be fit for duty. In 2021, the universally despised “tape test” will finally be gone. 

Say goodbye to unfair fitness assessments, say hello to a stronger Air Force.

The US Air Force fitness test has historically been composed of three sections measuring cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, and body composition. While the cardio and strength sections are still under review, the body composition portion is getting a makeover. 

In the past, the test has relied on waist or neck measurements to estimate body fat percentages. Unfortunately, it’s not a very accurate assessment. Some airmen with muscular frames had very low body fat, but still failed the waist measurement test. Getting an accurate waist measurement is another challenge; measurements vary depending on the time of day, how much you ate for breakfast, and who is administering the test. 

Because of this, Airmen who didn’t pass were previously forced to reduce their measurements however they could in order to meet the testing standards; even when that meant losing muscle mass in the process. The goal here isn’t to make it easier to get away with lower levels of fitness. On the contrary, the entire point is to give a more accurate assessment of how fit an individual is, regardless of their individual build or body type. 

Upcoming tests, which are expected to resume in January 2021, will still include a 1.5 mile run, and one minute each of pushups and situps. Until new standards are defined, everyone will receive full marks for the waist measurement portion of the test. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., more changes are likely to come soon. 

A new, more holistic approach to fitness testing is on the horizon. 

While the pushups and running are still part of the standards for now, that may not always be the case. Ultimately, department leaders are working to redesign tests with a focus on long term fitness outcomes. Why train with dozens of pushups when planks are less damaging and just as effective? Brown is hoping for fewer overuse injuries, fewer ineffective testing measurements, and better health and fitness for future Airmen.

Articles

Here’s how to get in shape to be an Air Force special operator

The Air Force’s special operations candidates are encouraged to complete a tailored fitness program before they report for selection.


This 26-week guide is designed to get them physically ready for the challenges of the grueling training pipeline that features 1-3 workouts per day split into cardio, physical training, and swim workouts.

Old military favorites like pushups and planks are included along with creative stuff such as dragon flags, sliding leg curls, and handstand pushups.

Dragon flags are basically leg raises, except you keep raising your legs until all your weight is on your shoulder blades:

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
For the uninitiated, these are Dragon Flags. GIF: Youtube/BaristiWorkout

Sliding leg curls hit the glutes, hamstrings, and core:

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
GIF: Youtube/Dan Blewett

Handstand pushups are exactly what they sound like, and they work the shoulders and triceps:

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
GIF: Youtube/practicetroy’s channel

The challenge of the Air Force’s fitness guide is there for a reason. The training pipeline for combat controllers is over a year long and is physically tough.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
GIF: Youtube/United States Air Force

Those interested in trying out the Air Force’s 26-week fitness program can download the guide as a PDF here. But be advised: It starts tough and gets tougher as it goes on.

Unlike the Marine Corps’ fitness app, the Air Force guide does not include instructions for individual exercises. Take some time to research proper form before attempting any unfamiliar exercises. (And WATM’s Max Your Body series can help.)

MIGHTY FIT

Crazy similarity between drunkenness and sleep deprivation

There are a lot of jobs in which some level of sleep deprivation is a requirement, but very few in which getting drunk is authorized– let alone encouraged. The military is one of those careers in which working sleep deprived is just another part of the job. As far as your brain is concerned, being sleep deprived or being drunk are basically the same thing.

You may want to think twice about intentionally skipping an opportunity to catch some z’s after you check out some of these crazy studies that show the similarities between a drunk brain and a tired brain.


The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Gotta get those Zzz’s wherever and whenever.

(Photo by Robert Timmons)

The way the science adds up

Sometimes scientists have all the fun. This first study I want to bring up had two groups; group A got drunk, and group B got sleep deprived.

One of those groups clearly had better luck. Imagine if you volunteered to be a subject in a scientific study and they started pushing drinks on you…That’s way better than getting injected with some mystery substance. Sign me up for that study! On the other hand, being forced to stay up for 20 hours without sleep sounds miserable, especially if you’re just sitting in some lab somewhere.

The study in question compared the drunk people, with a BAC of .08 (the legal driving limit), to the sleepless people who were awake for 19 hours, in a memory test. Both groups performed equally as poorly on the test. End of story. This whole study was put together to prove that being sleep deprived makes you as dumb as getting legally drunk.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Grade “A” napping time…in transit.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

When it comes to driving

In another study, the following four groups were compared in a driving simulator:

  1. 8 hours of sleep
  2. 4 hours of sleep
  3. 8 hours of sleep and legally drunk
  4. 4 hours of sleep and legally drunk

The sober group that got only four hours of sleep did as poorly as the group that was legally drunk but well-rested–which makes sense considering the results of the above study.

The crazy part of this study though is that the group that had only 4 hours of sleep and was legally drunk did way worse than predicted. It was expected that this group would have about 12 times as many driving errors as the well-rested group.

They had almost 30 times as many errors. That’s more than twice as bad as predicted.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

This soldier deserves an award for being able to sleep with an energy drink flowing through his veins.

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Garcia)

Being loaded with alcohol and sleep-deprived is pretty common among both service members and college kids, two groups that I clearly remember being a part of. I had NROTC unit PT on Tuesday mornings at 0630 in my senior year of college, then class pretty much all day until about 1700. I would also try to get in an actual training session, since PT was usually some nonsense. Then from 2200 until at least 0100 would be ‘Dollar Drinks’ at the bar I frequented.

By the end of the night, I would be up for 19 hours with at least 19 bucks worth of dollar drinks in my tummy.

Thankfully, I have grown and haven’t had a day and night like that in a while…

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Leave it to service members to fall asleep anywhere but in their racks at the end of the day.

(Photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

Normal sleep deprivation

But all those nights add up. After just ten days with only seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as if you went 24 hours without sleep.

Crazy.

To think that getting just one hour too few of sleep is going to make you dumber is nuts. But that’s what Dr. Matthew Walker has shown in his book Why We Sleep. So it’s pretty obvious that staying up late one night is going to impact your judgment.

You know how if you ask a drunk person if they are okay to drive, they almost always say yes? It’s not totally their fault–their judgment is impacted by the alcohol. They are literally incapable of accurately measuring how impaired they are, because the part of their brain that measures capability is drunk too. Take their keys.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Shhhh he’s restoring some brain function

(1st Lt. Benjamin Haulenbeek)

It’s the same with sleep-deprived people. If you are chronically sleep deprived, the part of your brain that measures capability is also sleep deprived.

So when you’re asked a question like…”Is this the best you could have done?” or “What in the Sam hell were you thinking!?” you may get indignant that your judgment is being questioned. You shouldn’t though; you are actually a lesser version of yourself, even when you miss only a few hours of sleep a couple of days in a row.

The hard part about this whole scenario is that the only way to truly find out what your 100% operating capacity is, is by getting a full 8 hours for at least a week to see how you feel. This is not nearly as simple as telling someone to go sober up.

For more on this topic check out Why We Sleep.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
MIGHTY FIT

Hump Day: Games I would play in my head while hiking

Humping is a reality for many of us, and I’m not talking about the kind that has a happy ending. In my Marine Corps career, I estimate that I easily hiked 1,000 miles with a full pack — between 50 and 150 lbs. At a minimum speed of 3 miles an hour, that’s over 300 hours of time for the mind to go to dark or funny places.


The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Maybe slip on some ice…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Will Perkins)

Going internal

On a long hump, the mind so often goes dark. I remember envisioning the sweet relief of rolling an ankle so I could ride in the safety vehicle, even picking out the exact rock I was planning to eat shit on.

“That one….seriously, that one. Okay, fine, the next one… Ah, fine, I don’t wanna cause any serious damage. I’ll just take a header into that ditch and cause a concussion instead.”

On my 23rd birthday, I was on an 8-mile movement to a range for a live fire event. It was the second day in a row we were humping, and the entire epidermis of my right foot was already falling off, from the ball of my foot to the start of my heel, from the previous day’s movements. I had spent the previous weekend in Virginia beach drinking homemade Sangria, and the effects were still very much present.

I spent that entire hump in my own head questioning all of my life decisions.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

You know he’s thinking about the next ‘Avengers’ movie.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Careaf L. Henson)

Making it fun

Eventually, I got to the point in my career where I just accepted that I would be walking for the next 8 hours and decided to make it fun. Games I played:

  • Reliving every fight I’ve ever been in and how I would Jason Bourne my way to victory if it happened again.
  • During daylight hikes I would make up fake hand and arm signals and try to confuse people who took things too seriously.
  • I would secretly listen to music on my iPod (I’m old) through a strategically placed earbud. #combathunter
  • My roommate would use hikes as an opportunity to eat as much as he could; it was one of the few times you had enough “free time” to eat a full meal. The trick would be to figure out a way to use the heater packet while hiking. You need to jam it between your pack and back and focus on walking level, so it doesn’t fall out. Beware of the high potential for second-degree burns.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

“Hey! What was the name of the fat guy in The Office?”…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessika Braden)

  • At one point, I wrote a new phonetic alphabet with just profanities. You can imagine what replaced Foxtrot. It was enlightening.
  • “A cougar is following you.” That’s just a game where you pretend a cougar is going to rip out your jugular as soon as you stop. The trick to this one is to think one step ahead of the mountain cat.
  • I would replace famous movie characters with my mom and see how the story would play out. It was never as entertaining, but always much more satisfying. If my mom took the place of Frodo in Lord of The Rings the opening scene would have also been the closing scene.
    • Gandalf shows up at night after dinner. Mom says, “What are you doing here? I’m busy, get out.” He counters “Lisa, you need to take the ring to Mordor to destr–” And, in classic Lisa fashion, she cuts him off mid-sentence with “That’s not my problem, now is it? Take it yourself.”
    • Roll credits.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Humping is a profession nearly as old as prostitution…

(Photo from the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division)

The right answer

Once I matured, I realized the right answer is to become externally motivated. I believe the jobs of the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant are easier than the rifleman, because you are concerned with your Marines, rather than yourself. When your focus is pointed outward, time flies.

This lesson applies to every kind of difficult situation. Caring for others is one of the most selfish and least selfish things you can do. When it comes to hiking, if you focus externally, you get to push your own ailments aside until you are alone in your room, crying like a big dumb baby.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Keep moving forward…

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

In the gym, you are forced to confront your demons directly; there are no troops for you to look out for.

But in actuality, everything you do to make yourself better is also making the lives of those around you better. So, in a way, finishing a workout for your spouse or kids is no different than completing a movement for your unit.

Where are you in your hump day progression? Are you living in a world of regret and grief? Are you writing the next great American novel in your head? Or have you reached the point of hiking enlightenment and started checking on your guys and planning for their success when you reach your objective?

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
MIGHTY FIT

Why it’s so hard to keep the weight off, part 1

Why is it so difficult to keep the weight off?


That’s the real weight problem we presently have in our military and in our country. We can lose weight, but in the world, only less than 1% of those people are able to successfully keep the weight from coming back. It’s a problem because we’re confused as to why everything we have tried in the past and everything that is currently available as tools to help us lose weight isn’t working.

Think about it. No one goes on a diet just so they can gain the weight back. When you start a diet, you imagine how you’ll feel once you reach your goal. But then what? What about life after the diet? That question is what we’ll answer in this two-part article.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

What You Do Know: Fitness & Weight Loss Basics

When embarking on true transformation – not just relying on more motivation or ingesting more information – it’s important to revisit the basics and separate the facts from opinions.

Whether you’re new at working out or dieting or not, there are some fitness basics that are easy to understand and apply. And fortunately for you, if you’re a member of the Armed Forces, then exercise and good nutrition are standard issue. Unfortunately, the standard is growing too large and getting stretched to the point where there are legitimate health concerns, such as high blood pressure, chronic stress, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress even in those who haven’t been in traditional combat.

We’ve seen warning signs for years, and as hard as the military tries to help improve the quality of life and opportunities to increase our chances of living as well-balanced a life as possible as a military member, the results aren’t sticking. In the Army, for example, we see that “[the] bad news is that the typical lifestyle of Soldiers puts them at a higher risk for hypertension and heart disease. Too often, Soldiers cope with the stress of Army life by smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy,” according to an article from Army.mil in 2011. “The good news is though, with lifestyle changes and/or medication, you can reduce your risk.”

Weight Loss is Easy

Weight loss is just being in a caloric deficit for a long enough period of time to change the shape and weight of your body. The reason why losing weight is so desirable for so many is because, honestly, you feel better in addition to looking better. You’re more fit, slimmer, in less joint pain, and have an easier time walking or going up and down the rungs on a shipboard ladder, which is typically only six feet of steps at a time, less than you’d find in a standard house.

The human body is complex but also simple. It likes to be at a normal weight where there is just enough fat, like Goldilocks’s bowl of porridge – the body likes feeling “just right.” If you carry more fat than your body prefers, then it will let you know by sending you signals like joint discomfort, maybe heat rashes, low back pain, tightness in your muscles, etc. Have you noticed how these symptoms either decrease or completely go away when you start losing weight?

You don’t just feel better because of the food or supplements you’re now taking – your body naturally feels better when it doesn’t have to spend so much effort and energy at maintaining as much weight as it was. You got yourself closer to feeling “right.”

Conversely, the human body doesn’t like being too low in weight. It will let you know with fatigue, hormones not performing optimally, and slowing down your physical movements in order to preserve energy.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

The human body was designed to move and to eat, but we are living at the extremes of too much movement or too much food, or not enough movement or not enough food. We’re using as many externals things as we can to help us feel “normal.” But the more we rely on the latest fad diet, the latest supplements, the latest technology (clamping our stomachs down), the less normal and more disconnected we feel from our natural weight and state of being.

Losing weight is easy because there are so many ways to lose weight. Interestingly, all diets share the same secret but in their own different flavors: you lose weight because they put you in a caloric deficit. That’s how weight loss works in any diet.

CALORIC DEFICIT PER DIET

Ketogenic: removed an entire food group (carbs).

Paleo: removed an entire food group (processed food).

Whole30: removed processed foods and more, including grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, and junk food (basically the same as Paleo but a little more restrictive).

Weight Watchers: created smaller portions, which is a caloric deficit.

Mediterranean Diet: low on red meats and processed food (steak and donuts pack more calories per volume than fish and grains do).

Low Carb: lowered processed carbs. You still eat tons of carbs on this diet, but those carbs come in the form of spinach, carrots, apples, etc (all vegetables and fruits are carbs).

The reasons these diets don’t work is because:

1.) You can still gain weight or stall your weight loss if you eat too much of the food within that diet, and,

2.) When the diet is over, if you go back to eating the way you were before, then you start getting back your former body.

Here’s the thing…

It’s not the food or the diet that is the reason for the weight regain. In Part 2, the actual reason will become crystal clear.

MIGHTY FIT

‘Better dad because I let other men beat me up twice a week’

Welcome to “How I Stay Sane,” a weekly column in which real dads talk about the things they do for themselves that help them keep grounded in all the other areas of their lives. It’s easy to feel strung-out as a parent, but the dads we feature all recognize that, unless they regularly take care of themselves, parenting will get a lot harder. The benefits of having that one “thing” are enormous. Just ask Jason Goldstein, who is 34 and lives in Boston. He’s a dad of one and a husband to his wife and has been doing jiu-jitsu on and off for the past ten years. The practice has been enormously beneficial to him.

I got into jiu-jitsu around 2009 when I started watching UFC. I had gotten into it right around the glory days, the Chuck Liddell era and wanted to see if I could do anything like that. I walked by a jiu-jitsu gym called Mass BJJ in Arlington. I just walked in and asked: “How does this work?”


From there, I got kind of obsessed with it, for four or five years, before I had kids. I did it like three or four times a week, at least. It’s pretty intense, so that’s a lot. And then about three years ago, I had my daughter. I was still doing it when she was a newborn but it became really difficult to do when she became 1 or 2. She wanted to see me all the time. So I had to put it down for a little bit, but now I’m back into it again, and trying to balance everything.

I love jiu-jitsu. It’s a great workout. But there’s also a mental health aspect to it. Jiu-jitsu really helps me get a mental distance from my work and from my home-life. When you’re sparring and rolling, you are focused on that. You don’t have to worry about work or anything else. You’re either trying to choke or tap someone out, or you’re trying not to be choked or tapped out. It’s definitely an in-the-moment thing, where you have to focus on something you have fun with, something that keeps you in great shape.

Right now I’m hitting the mat two to three times a week. I’d love to go more, but when you have a three-year-old, it becomes tough to do stuff like that. It’s usually an hour to an hour and a half class. It starts off with aerobics, and stretching, and it goes into technique, where you learn specific moves you can use against your opponents. And after that, it’s usually sparring sessions or rolling.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

(Flickr photo by Sylvain)

I get some of the tougher emotions out when sparring. Emotions that I wouldn’t have gotten out otherwise. I am going against, for the most part, other grown men who don’t necessarily want to hurt me but they want to do their best to impose their will upon me. I don’t want to sound like a misogynist or anything, but when I get to be a man, to follow my instincts, and get those instincts that I have to “fight” out, it’s a really good feeling. There’s a big release of endorphins. There’s also a sense of kinship to the practice. I fight with the guys at my gym often. We’ve become friends. It’s a fun thing to learn together and get better at together.

I am pretty exhausted by the time class finishes up. I get home, and I try to see my daughter before she falls asleep if I can, but even if I miss out on seeing her, it’s a great feeling to feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve done a full day, I’ve gotten a good workout in. You’re doing something you like.

The biggest thing that jiu-jitsu has helped me with is how to deal with those times in life where I’m in a bad position, and I just want to quit. One of the things I learned really on during a match is having to push through that feeling. Like, with my daughter, when she’s crying at 3 a.m. like she was last night for no reason. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I wanted to cry myself! That’s a moment where I realized that I have to take a big breath, and just decompress and compartmentalize and say, “I can do this, we can do this, and I am going to get through this.” That’s all jiu-jitsu.

With jiu-jitsu, when you advance, you get belt buckles. My instructor, Mike Pellegrino, recently brought up the carrot or the stick metaphor to me. It’s a metaphor for what motivates you. It’s a combination. The belt can be the carrot, and the stick is me, forcing myself to go to the gym to get beat up by other grown men. Jiu-jitsu is an escape. My friends are there. It’s my own space, my own thing that I can do by myself. People have asked me to bring my wife in but I feel like it’s my thing. I want to keep it that way, to some degree.

And every time I go to the gym, I always know that I have someone waiting back home who wants to see me. It might seem like a contradiction, but the act of balancing work, my passions, and family life is difficult, and that helps. I need to be present in all the areas in my life. The sense of being present, on that mat, carries over into parenting, to work. It helps me balance and value the time I have when I’m with my daughter more, and it also helps me value my time when I’m at jiu-jitsu, and just value my free time, however limited it might be.

Featured image by Sylvain.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

These sports icons served during the Battle of the Bulge

(Featured image courtesy of War History Online)

Sports, in large part, were halted when the U.S. military became involved in World War II. The Indy 500 was canceled to save gasoline, and the U.S. Open golf tournament was scrapped favoring resources in rubber, which typically made golf equipment. Several professional athletes, managers, owners, and even rules officials across many leagues enlisted, commissioned, or were drafted.



These sports icons sacrificed the prime of their careers for a cause bigger than themselves. On the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, we celebrate the lives of some of sports’ greatest stars who served during this time.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

(Courtesy of World Golf Hall of Fame)

Lloyd Mangrum

“I don’t suppose that any of the pro and amateur golfers who were combat soldiers, Marines, or sailors will soon be able to think of a three-putt green as of the really bad troubles in life,” Mangrum said when he returned from World War II. Mangrum was both a veteran of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Before he left for war to fight with General Patton’s Third Army, he made a pact with his friend, Sergeant Robert Green. Each ripped a id=”listicle-2641582160″ bill in half, vowing to each return it when the war ended. Green was killed in action, thus the pair never rekindled their promise.

Mangrum and his brother spent their childhood in the backyard where his thirst for competition began. “A small creek ran behind our house,” he told the NY Times. “My brother, Ray, and I built a crude green on the opposite bank and had [sic] pitching contests with a rustyblade old mashie somebody had discarded.” Soon he was a caddie learning how to approach the game through judgment. He took first place in the first US Open (1946) golf tournament since its hiatus during World War II. He became known as “Mr. Icicle” for his calmness on the links, which he credits how nothing on the golf course could rattle him like the battlefield.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Ralph Houk

Ralph Houk is not a name that is first mentioned when thinking of a New York Yankee, but he should be. His commanding officer, Caesar Flore, spoke of his battlefield fearlessness when he sent Houk out in a jeep to do reconnaissance on enemy scouting positions. He didn’t return until two nights later, and Flore listed him as ‘missing in action.’ “When he had returned, he had a three day growth of beard and hand grenades hanging all over him,” Flore said. “He was back of the enemy lines the entire time. I know he must’ve enjoyed himself. He had a hole in one side of his helmet, and a hole in the other where the bullet left. When I told him about his helmet he said, ‘I could have [sic] swore I heard a ricochet.'”

Houk rose from Private to Major in four years and earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, and a Purple Heart for when he was wounded in the calf during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he secured the back-up catcher’s position behind Yogi Berra and became a manager where players referred to him as “The Major” for his wartime discipline.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

(Courtesy of the New York Times.)

Gino Marchetti

Gino Marchetti was known primarily for two things: being a Hall of Fame defensive end for the Baltimore Colts and an entrepreneur who co-owned a restaurant called Gino’s with teammate Alan Ameche. Their influence was so great that members of the community, including New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, often muttered their slogan “Gino’s, oh yeah!” while they visited players at their favorite hamburger joint.

What most don’t know is that Gino Marchetti served as a machine gunner with Company I, 273rd Regiment of the 69th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. “You don’t realize that you are going to see some of your friends go down,” Marchetti told ESPN. “You don’t realize any of it. For example, the first time I ever saw snow, I slept in it. It’s hell.” Marchetti credits joining the Army as the greatest thing he had ever done because it gave him the discipline and toughness to compete in the NFL.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Nestor Chylak

Nestor Chylak’s career behind home plate almost never came to be. While serving as a Technical Sergeant in the US Army’s 424 Infantry Regiment, Chylak was severely wounded on January 3, 1945, in the Ardennes Forest. While his battalion braced artillery fire in the blistering cold and blanketed snow, an artillery shell exploded a tree, which sent splinters traveling the speed of bullets into his face. He was blind for ten days, but ultimately regained his eyesight. He was awarded both the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Chylak would go on to become one of the most legendary MLB Umpires in the history of the game. He was never one to cower to a feisty manager’s tirade, nor did he get flustered from loud boos from fans. He umpired baseball’s bizarre promotion games like the infamous “10-Cent Beer Night” promotion in Cleveland and Bob Veeck’s “Disco Demolition Night” in Detroit. Both promotions ended in similar flair — a forfeiture and a flying chair. Chylak, however, umpired for 25 years in five World Series and was respected for his fairness.

At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, a bronze plaque in the Umpire Exhibit says in his jest, “This must be the only job in America that everybody knows how to do better than the guy who’s doing it.”

MIGHTY FIT

Use this Jedi training technique to balance out your force production

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.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Vertical and horizontal pushes and pulls are what you should be counting when it comes to your upper body ratio.

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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.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Sloped shoulders? You may be doing too many pushes and need to add in more pulls.

(Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash)

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.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Time to add in more pulls. Horizontal 1-arm rows are a great exercise to help balance out an overactive chest.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

How/Why to move to a 1:2 Push:Pull ratio

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…”

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How/Why to move to a 2:1

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 crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

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.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

Now apply this ratio to you

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.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
MIGHTY FIT

5 back exercises that can cure ‘ILS’

Go to nearly any gym, and you can spot one or two patrons who are walking around with the terrible physical ailment known as “imaginary lat syndrome.” You know those guys whose arms are fanning out away for the rest of their body because they want you to think that they’re so jacked.

Well, it’s not fooling anybody. In fact, having ILS makes you look like a complete moron while you’re trying to show off something off you don’t have.


Thankfully, there is a proven solution if you’ve tested positive for ILS and it’s composed of targeting the lateral muscles that make up your back.

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Low cable row

First, appropriately adjust the weight, so it’s manageable, but provides a comfortable level of resistance. Using a close-grip bar, sit on the bench, facing the weight, and with a slight bend in your knees pull the resistance backward. Now, keep your straight maintaining a 90-degree angle with your hips and complete it rep when your elbows also bend to a 90-degree angle.

Make sure you squeeze those lateral muscles once you bend your elbows, then slowly release your arms back toward the weight, working on the negative aspect of the set.

Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.

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Straight arm pushdown

In a standing position, slide your feet about shoulder length apart and hold onto the cable rope. Pushdown the individual rope ends until it touches the outside portion of your hips while squeezing those lats before slowly bringing those rope ends back to its original position.

Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.

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Close-grip pull down

In a seated position, grab onto the close-grip bar, pull the bar down toward middle chest while slightly leaning backward, and squeeze those lats before slowly bringing the close-grip bar back up. Remember to keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible.

Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.

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Underhand pulldown

While staying in a seated position, place your hand on the bar, with a reverse grip (palms facing you), and pull the bar toward your middle chest while slightly leaning backward, and squeeze those lats before slowly bringing the bar back up.

Simple, right?

Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.

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Underhand barbell row

With a slight bend in your knees, place your hand on the bar, just outside of your knees and slowly lift up on the manageable weight. Before completing the first rep, make sure your back isn’t arching, and your eyes are looking forward. Now, pull up on the bar toward your navel and slowly bring the bar back toward the starting position.

This exercise can cause lower back pain if your form is off or you’re using to much weight. Make sure you check your ego at the door.

Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.

Articles

These new changes to the USMC physical fitness program are effective immediately

The Marine Corps has announced today that revisions have been made to its physical fitness program, to include the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Combat Fitness Test (CFT), and the Body Composition Program (BCP). Changes to BCP will take effect immediately, while PFT and CFT changes will be implemented starting Jan. 1, 2017.


The PFT changes are among the most profound since 1972 and the changes to the CFT standards are the first since its inception in 2009.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
Revisions have been made to the U.S. Marine Corps physical fitness program, to include the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Combat Fitness Test (CFT) and the Body Composition Program (BCP). All final changes to BCP will take effect as of January 2017.

“Last November we began a comprehensive review of physical fitness and body composition standards,” said Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps. “Subsequent efforts focused on developing a physical fitness program that incentivizes behavior toward an end state of a healthy and fit force able to better answer the call in any clime and place.”

Immediate changes to the BCP include an increase in the height and weight standards for females, better equipment for determining height and weight for all Marines and the BCP waiver authority will be passed from the deputy commandant of Manpower and Reserve Affairs to the first general officer in a Marine’s chain of command.

The Marine Corps has taken physical performance into consideration when considering BCP. Marines scoring 285 and higher on both the PFT and CFT will now be exempt from height and weight standards. Marines who score between 250 and 284 will have their maximum body fat percentage increased by one percent.

So for example if a Marine has a maximum body fat percentage [of] 19 percent, with a score between 250 and 284 on both the PFT and CFT, he or she will be allowed to go up to 20 percent body fat.

Changes to the PFT include a pull-up/push-up hybrid for both males and females. This eliminates the option for the flex arm hang for females starting in January.

Although Marines can earn points by doing either of the exercises, the maximum amount of points a Marine can earn doing push-ups is 70 points versus 100 if they chose to do pull-ups. This means the highest PFT score a Marine can earn if they chose to do push-ups is 270. The primary benefits of incorporating the pull-up/push-up option for all Marines is that it incentivizes Marines to improve their pull-ups while ensuring gains of upper body strength across the force.

Marines will also have to complete more crunches for maximum score on their next PFT, with scoring being age and gender normed. There will be a slight adjustment to the three-mile run for Marines in high age brackets, too. The PFT and CFT age brackets will change from four age groups to eight. The new groups are as follows: 17-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, 41-45, 46-50, and 51+.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
U.S. Marines perform a combat fitness test. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell)

Changes to the CFT will consist of adjusted scoring for all three events to correspond with the eight age brackets. The most drastic change will be with the ammo can lifts (ACL) where male Marines age 31-35 will have to complete 120 ACLs for a perfect score vice 97, and female Marines age 26-30 will have to complete 75 ACLs for a perfect score vice 63.

Another change to the CFT is all Marines will perform five push-ups instead of three push-ups during the maneuver under fire portion of the test.

“The new PFT and CFT standards raise the bar on physical fitness for all Marines,” said Maj. Gen. James W. Lukeman, commanding general, Training and Education Command. “Marines today are stronger, faster, and fitter than ever and these changes reflect that. Bigger and stronger often means heavier, so tying performance on the PFT and CFT to changes to the Body Composition Program are improvements that we think the Marines will appreciate. In the end, it’s all about improving the readiness and combat effectiveness of our Corps and the physical fitness of every Marine contributes to that.”

Related: Marine Corps rolls out biggest fitness standard overhaul in 40 years

TECOM will monitor the effects of these adjustments for two years and then adjust if required to ensure the standards contribute to the effectiveness of the force.

Additional details, including the new PFT/CFT scoring tables, physical fitness training recommendations and BCP adjustments are available at: https://fitness.usmc.mil. Follow-on MARADMINS and instructional products will further address details of the changes and the associated Marine Corps Orders will be updated accordingly.

MIGHTY FIT

The easiest way to fix your crappy ‘I work at a desk all day’ posture

Most of us live a sedentary lifestyle that does not promote good posture.

Right now, I’m in a terrible postural position, typing this very sentence. That’s pretty meta.

The answer we most often hear is that we need to exercise. Great! But telling someone with bad posture to exercise is like telling someone who just had their heart broken to “get over it”… Duh! But how?

How do you get over someone as perfect as Megan? Err… I mean, how will exercise fix your posture?

You need a targeted approach. Specifically, one target. Specifically, one exercise.


The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

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The answer to your postural woes.

I’ve talked about the beautiful balance between push and pull exercises and how you can customize that relationship here to create a more balanced strength training program.

For many people, one training session a week isn’t enough to combat decades of staring at a computer screen like depressed Charlie Brown.

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Welcome to the face pull.

It’s a pull exercise sure, but it has the unique distinction of hitting those smaller back muscles like the rhomboid and rear delts that often get overshadowed by the lats and traps.

The face pull directly targets those muscles that actually help you keep your head and shoulders back.

The great thing about it is it’s self-limiting and generally not fatiguing…So you can do it at the end of almost every workout.

This is one of the exercises that is leading the fight against the effects of sedentarism.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

What weight to use.

Take a squared stance and bend your knees slightly. If the weight is too heavy, this stance will cause you to fall over.

Your goal is for your hands to beat your elbows to your face on every pull as you pull the resistance to the double biceps position. If your hands can’t beat your elbows, or if they can’t even get to your face, the weight is too heavy.

Those two factors will keep the weight light enough so that you don’t load up the exercise to a point where your upper traps and lats take over and completely destroy your ability to work your rhomboids, teres minor, infraspinatus, and less used lower and middle traps.

It’s those small guys that have the greatest impact on your shoulder health and posture.
Stop Doing Face Pulls Like This! (SAVE A FRIEND)

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How to perform it.

Set up a resistance band or cable machine at your face height.

Grab the rope or band with your thumbs facing in towards each other.

Pull the implement to the bridge of your nose until you reach the double biceps position. You should feel like someone who is super serious about hitch-hiking

ENSURE your hands get there first. If your elbows get to the ending position first, you’re wrong.

Just like with most rows and pulls your shoulder blades are leading this exercise. As you pull back, your shoulder blades should be getting closer and closer together. When your arms are fully extended in front of you, your shoulder blades should be completely apart and separated.
My FAVOURITE SHOULDER PREHAB Exercise: The Face Pull

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When to perform it.

Literally all the time. Perform three sets of this guy at the end of every workout until you win a Quasimodo look-alike competition for having back muscles so huge that you resemble the caretaker of the bells of Notre Dame.

If you’re sore, refrain. If you are actually doing this exercise properly, it is hard to work to the point of chronic DOMS in your minor upper back muscles.

Add this to the end of all your Mighty Fit Plan sessions. Consider it a cool down.
The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test
MIGHTY FIT

Team RWB invites you to accept the 1776 Challenge!

Team Red, White & Blue’s 1776 Challenge is an epic physical series of goals that brings Veterans, supporters, and Team RWB partners together to focus on service, personal growth, and the joy that comes from doing something hard with others.

Take the challenge each day from June 17, 2020, to July 4, 2020. Together, we will perform up to 100 daily repetitions of various exercises such as lunges, squats, push ups, or crunches. Alternative exercises will be provided to ensure participants at all ability levels are able to complete the challenge.

New exercises will be shared through the Team RWB App every day, featuring demonstrative videos hosted by Team RWB’s corporate and nonprofit partners. Demonstrations will include modifications for various fitness levels and mobility. Additional adaptive exercises will be demonstrated by retired Army Sergeant First Class and and Paralympian Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck, a recipient of TrueCar’s DrivenToDrive program.


Up for the challenge?

If you’re up for the challenge, join Team RWB as we tackle 1776 reps and break down barriers for Veterans. Click here to sign up for reminders and daily inspiration straight to your inbox. Participants to complete every exercise and check-in through the app will receive a free 1776 Challenge patch.

You must be a member of Team RWB to check in and participate. Membership is free and Veterans get a free Nike shirt!

Learn More!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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