There are tons of fitness brands in the health-and-wellness section of the PX that’ll promise to help you build lean muscle — in exchange for a little cash. These nutrition companies plaster pictures of famous athletes that have next-to-zero body fat in order to promote their products and make wild claims just to capture your attention.
We know from scientific research that drinking protein after a workout spikes insulin production within the body. By drinking protein, we help our bodies make a full recovery and, of course, build muscle. The jugs of protein that are sold in the stores can cost anywhere from ten bucks all the way up to 70 smackaroos.
That’s a lot of cash for a bi-product of milk.
To all you service members living in the barracks, doing your best while “ballin’ on a budget,” don’t worry: There’s one inexpensive post-workout supplement that anyone can afford.
That’s right, chocolate milk. No, we’re not playing a cruel joke on you.
Drinking chocolate milk has been proven by scientists to be the best post-workout drink out there. Broken down, what the body needs to make a full recovery is a combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and electrolytes.
The majority of all sports drinks contain electrolytes, which helps restore energy. Unfortunately, they’re lacking the protein that human tissue needs.
But, guess what?
Low-fat chocolate milk provides everything your body needs to repair itself after a tough, resistance-based workout, including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins A, B12, and D.
Good luck finding all those ingredients from any of those overpriced jugs of protein you’ll find at your local base exchange.
Current times can’t quarantine the hustle of one Long Island-native who continues to embolden thousands of Peloton enthusiasts up the leaderboard.
Senior instructor Alex Toussaint is known for motivating riders with his no-excuses brand born from years of training at a military school. The child of a sailor and nephew of an airman, he exudes the discipline needed to formulate a workout that can help someone PR while entertaining them with a Biggie-versus-Tupac track battle. He tailors each class to be its own individual vibe, whether it’s a HIIT ride, intervals & arms, or pays homage to a specific decade — and crafting that experience requires precision when sculpting message, music and song placement.
“Depending on what class it is, the prep can take anywhere from an hour to the entire day, honestly. … I always start with the playlist and that may require me to sit down and be like, how many hills do I want to have in this playlist? How many flat roads; how many recoveries? And that will determine the style and the music that I go for. Once I lock the playlist in, then I have to figure out the transitions and how everything flows because I’m very, very critical of, you can have a 10-song playlist but if song 2 and song 8 are in the wrong placement, the playlist can sound terrible.”
Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.
Toussaint’s meticulous nature was instilled in him at military school in Missouri. His parents enrolled him for grades 6 to 11 in response to behavioral issues he experienced as a kid. He said his dad thought the discipline and structure would be helpful, and in fact, he has leaned on the principles ever since.
After graduation he pursued audio and video production — skills that also proved useful as he climbed the ranks of the fitness industry.
“I was that kid that graduated high school and went to college just to buy time and to please my parents, knowing that wasn’t really the general direction I wanted to go. But then again, I had no direction — I had no idea of what I wanted to do. While I was up in school, my car was stolen and I kind of went through this weird, dark depression stage that eventually had me come back to East Hampton,” he said.
He was introduced to the bike when he started working as a maintenance worker at an indoor cycling studio. Toussaint says he approached the owner about an opportunity to audition.
“I would listen to the instructors teaching through the door and literally get inspiration based off their playlist and based off what they were saying. At the time, I was never even on a cycling bike. So, I walked into work and asked the owner, who is now my life mentor, I asked him, ‘hey, can I be an instructor?'” Toussaint said.
Photo courtesy of Military Families Magazine.
The combination of training from military school and years in the marching band made him proficient at formulating a script for classes, attributes he said would tie all of his capabilities into one useful package.
“I literally went from one week mopping floors to the next week teaching a class,” he added.
That was in 2013 and he has since taught around the U.S. and opened a studio in Dubai before landing at Peloton. And now he finds himself among an elite group of instructors pushing onlookers through the current COVID-19 pandemic. As people were forced into isolation, Peloton became a gathering place for novice and advanced riders to bond over a common need for connection. The company also offers yoga, meditation, and boot camp, among other classes.
“Honestly, it’s that discipline over distraction mindset. It’s that military mindset which has honestly pushed me through this. It’s essentially the people who are on the frontlines — medical workers, police officers, things like that who are on the frontline right now — I kind of view what we’re doing as a service to the people. Because everybody’s at home, I feel like I’m obligated as an instructor and as a person in a position that can provide light to others, that I must,” he said.
Though Peloton is structured as an in-home program, instructors logistically perform workouts from studios in New York and the United Kingdom. That is until the coronavirus impacted operations and its team had to get creative on how to deliver its live programming. Toussaint and his fellow instructors are now offering classes live from their own homes, or through a pivot he would describe as adapting and overcoming.
“Throughout these tough days there’s absolutely light at the end of the tunnel. We’re going to get through this together. We just have to stick together as a family, as a unit, and I think that right now, more than ever, you just have to really have hope. The support from one another will be a strong enough foundation to make sure we get through this. We will come out stronger on the opposite side,” Toussaint said.
Ready to lock and load? Follow Alex Toussaint on Instagram for messages of motivation and check out Peloton’s range of classes including the 90-day free trial for new users who sign up by April 30.
On Jan. 2, the Army began administering the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or “OPAT,” to all recruits to assess their fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT also will be used to assess some Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.
Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.
Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.
When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the significant category to the heavy category, for example, he or she will need to take the OPAT. However, a Soldier whose new MOS falls within the same or a lower level physical demand category will not need to take the OPAT.
The Soldier’s commander will be responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the battalion-level or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.
When it comes to recruiting, Brian Sutton, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command, said the OPAT is not meant to turn away or weed people out.
“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so,” he said.
OPAT scoring is gender neutral, he added. All Soldiers, male and female, must pass the same physical standards for their desired career field.
The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army: officer, enlisted, active, Reserve and Guard. It will be administered by any command responsible for Soldier acsessions — including Recruiting Command and Army Cadet Command — after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.
OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:
The “standing long jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants stand behind a takeoff line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump as far as possible.
The “seated power throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4-pound (2-kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45-degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
The “strength deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to ensure good technique. They then begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, working up to 220 pounds.
The “interval aerobic run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loudspeaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Participants are scored according to the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.
Here is a quick breakdown of the four physical demand categories incorporated into the OPAT:
“Black” is for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more. To attain black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 5 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw; 160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43 shuttles.
“Gray” is for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds. To attain gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 4 feet, 7 inches in the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.
“Gold” is for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands are occasional. To attain gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 3 feet, 11 inches in the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw; 120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36 shuttles.
“White” is unqualified. A recruit or Soldier who attains white has failed to meet OPAT’s minimum standards.
Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it may be possible to renegotiate the contract to allow the recruit to enter an MOS with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being gold.
“You’re getting the body prepared for a number of motions,” Saladino told Men’s Journal. “These are more expansive than your typical lifting movements.”
He allows for flexibility in his workout routine.
Saladino noted that, while he and Reynolds tried to stick to a weekly strength plan that included two days off, it was constantly adjusted to fit the needs of his body and schedule.
“The biggest mistake that people make when making an exercise plan is not to listen to their body every day,” Saladino told Men’s Journal. “Ryan was a recent father and traveling a lot [when “Deadpool” was being filmed], so if he had been up all night with the baby, or just gotten off a plane from Singapore, you can best believe we were changing up the program.”
He took it upon himself to work out in his downtime.
“Don [Saladino] gave me a plan so I could train whenever I needed to,” Reynolds told Men’s Health in 2016. “It made things more manageable. And if I wanted to spend a little extra time with my daughter in the morning, I could do that.”
Reynolds has said that he has a “functional” approach to training rather than a “fashionable” one, so he usually prefers to work out alone and on his own time.
Saladino admitted that he is never concerned about Reynolds’ commitment to the workout regimen.
“Ryan’s such a hard worker,” Saladino told Men’s Health. “If anything, I had to scale him down. One day he came up to see me having been working out on his own and I was like, ‘Holy sh-t!’ He looked like a different person.”
“I like using these traditional movements with little twists,” Saladino explained. “This move, in particular, is not only maintaining the strength that he built up to play Deadpool but also encourages stabilization and balance. We have done exercises similar to this over the course of the past few years, but sometimes with a kettlebell and without the vest during our warm-ups.”
However, the father of two did admit that he can battle this aversion with outdoor exercises and activities.
“I love being outdoors,” he said. “There are forests all around [where I live] and I get to hike, mountain bike … just move. I’ll even bring the baby with me, put her in a little baby carrier thing and off we go. In a weird way, it’s a great workout because you’re adding 20 pounds to your bodyweight.”
It’s certainly admirable that Reynolds juggles his responsibilities as an action star with his growing family of four— but his DIY style when it comes to fitness can work for just about anyone.
There you are, marching in a perfectly structured formation when you hear the command to halt. Along with the rest of your platoon, you stop on a dime. The whole unit looks well-disciplined as each service member stands up straight, assuming the position of attention.
You stand proudly in front of all your friends and family with your chest out and eyes forward. Then, suddenly, something weird begins to happen. You start to feel weak and your legs give out. You fall directly to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
The next thing you know, your eyes open, you see the medic, and you realize you just passed the f*ck out in front of everyone. How freakin’ embarrassing, right?
Well, you just experienced what medical professionals call “syncope,” which is the loss of consciousness due to decreased blood pressure. During bouts of hypotension (lowered blood pressure), our brains aren’t getting the oxygen or glucose they need, so it shuts down as it tries to recover.
So, why would someone pass out in formation? Well, it could be one of several happenings within the body.
Fainting can be a reaction to intense stress triggers, like seeing something crazy, being exposed to heat, or standing for long periods of time. This is called a vasovagal syncope, and it occurs when the part of your brain that governs heart rate malfunctions in response to an external trigger. So, if you’re standing completely still in the heat for long enough and you start to feel lightheaded, this might be what’s happening behind the scenes.
A sudden change of position may also be to blame. Our blood vessels change width to make sure every part of our body is getting the supply it needs. Sometimes, however, our vessels can’t keep up with the rapid changes to the body’s position. If you’re laying or sitting down, our heart rates are low. If we then quickly stand, our hearts have to speed themselves up in mere moments — sending blood rushing to the brain. This can cause momentary lightheadedness — and, in extreme cases, you might pass out.
Hunger may also be a factor in why your body shuts down. Your brain needs glucose to function — and glucose comes from eating. So, remember to snack before you take on those high-impact activities you like to do on the weekends.
Lastly, not properly hydrating is also to blame. Without enough water, your blood becomes thicker than usual. This causes your heart to work overtime to supply your brain with the oxygen and glucose it continually needs to sustain itself.
In general, some people are prone to passing out due to poor circulation while others may sometimes experience episodes of vasovagal syncopes. Unless injured by the fall, typically, no treatment is required. Most cases of syncope only last a few seconds, but if this event begins to happen more frequently, that person might have a cardiac condition.
In the mountains of Crested Butte Colorado, the Adaptive Sports Center is working to help people with disabilities enjoy physically rigorous activities both in indoor facilities and in the beautiful mountains of the area. They not only welcome disabled veterans and others who live an adaptive lifestyle, but they give lessons to those people and close family and friends to help them enjoy the sports safely. And a new building is helping them do even more.
Crested Butte is an inspiring place for an adaptive sports center as it is home to a lake, a reservoir, plenty of great rock climbing areas, mountain trails, and awesome slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and more.
But of course, many of those activities are challenging for veterans and others who have disabilities. So the ASC has always provided the special equipment necessary to make the slopes, trails, and more accessible. They also have trainers that can help disabled people learn how to use the equipment properly, and the trainers even help friends and family members learn unfamiliar sports and activities so that wounded veterans and others can bond as a group in the outdoors.
And while the ASC supports plenty of individuals and families with no military affiliation, they also make a point of helping veteran and military families like the Dryers, an Air Force family. Mitchell Dryer, a former Air National Guard firefighter, was injured in a fire and his daughter, Emeri, lost control of her legs to an infection as a baby.
Emeri learned to ski at the ASC. A skilled skier took her on the slopes after she had learned to give them the commands for “faster” and “slower.” Now, she carves the slopes with the rest of her family.
There are also participants like Jose, a veteran combat medic who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but uses adaptive cycling and cooking to center and challenge himself.
The facilities and personnel at ASC are essential to making many of these transitions possible, but the folks at the center are celebrating the recent opening of a whole new facility that expands their care possibilities.
The Kelsey Wright Building was built in 2018-2019 and is now open. One of its prime offerings is that it allows participants to ski into and out of the building during winter programs, which is great because it houses lots of support activities for the ASC’s mission.
It has a space where personnel can assess the capabilities of participants, an area to modify, repair, and properly fit equipment, and an industrial kitchen. But it also has a lot of great space that isn’t directly tied to outdoor services. It has a classroom, a library, a housing area, and an adaptive climbing wall.
The ASC does ask participants to pay what they can for all the activities they use at the center, but everything is done at reduced cost, and they offer scholarships for those who need financial assistance. If your family or the family of someone you know would benefit from their services, you can find more information here.
If you’re interested in donating to the non-profit center to help it with its missions, you can do that here. The Adaptive Sports Center is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now, complete two to three more sets of 8-12 reps each.
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.
Veterans tend to fall off the wagon pretty hard when it comes to fitness. That isn’t to say we are universally fat or unfit, it’s actually quite the opposite. Most veterans have a level of fitness and capability from our days of service that doesn’t quickly fade away.
But many veterans do tend to relax from once-stringent standards once we walk away from the uniform. Relaxing on those standards is often a slippery slope that leads us further and further away from our formerly steel-cut, active-duty body and closer to health problems.
If you’re one of the many who have gone from fit to sh*t and you’re looking to rebound quickly, don’t fret! There’s a new kid on the block and he’s showing lots of promise. Below, you’ll find a few of the absolute best reasons you should give the ketogenic diet a try sooner rather than later.
The ketogenic diet, at its core, is a high-fat, low-carb diet. That’s it. The idea is that by restricting the amount of carbohydrates you consume, you force your body to look for other sources of fuel to burn for energy. This scouring results in your body attacking your stored fat, eventually causing you to drop the pounds.
Air Force Master Sgt. Lajuan P. Fuller amidst killing another workout.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Hayward)
4. You’ll get results fast.
Since your body will not have its normal and preferred source of fuel (carbs), you’ll drop a considerable amount of water weight very quickly. It isn’t uncommon for new keto practitioners to drop six to nine pounds in the first week or two.
Even though most of this drop is pure water weight, you can expect to have a generally slimmer look. All the places that hold water will appear less bloated. Now, don’t expect to go from 30 percent body fat to a six pack in a week, but you can definitely expect your clothes to fit better.
Unleash the power within.
3. High-fat diets can actually make you much healthier.
When I was first introduced to the keto diet, my knee-jerk reaction was to question how a high-fat diet could actually lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
A ketogenic diet encourages the consumption of healthy fats, otherwise known as high-density lipoproteins. HDL transports cholesterol around the body while simultaneously collecting unused cholesterol and delivering it to the liver for disposal.
HDL is, essentially, the neighborhood watch of your bloodstream.
2. Fat adaptation.
There are a couple of terms you will hear tossed around in the world of keto. Those terms are ‘ketosis’ and ‘fat-adapted.’
Being “in ketosis” means your body is breaking down fatty acids and producing acetoacetate. When you use one of the many tools available to check and see if you’re in a ketogenic state, it’s looking for acetoacetate in your urine. Your body is looking for alternative fuel sources and, most times, this is when people experience what some call a “ketogenic flu.”
Being fat-adapted, on the other hand, means your body has gone without excess carbohydrates long enough to become an efficient machine at using fat as fuel instead of carbs. This is when you no longer feel the adverse affects of a ketogenic diet and your body is ready to use up this new type of fuel. There may times in which you take in enough carbs to exit ketosis (it happens), but it takes more than a single cheat day to undo being fat-adapted.
It sounds similar and, truthfully, it is. The key difference is the efficiency of fat-adaptation over ketosis.
Never too late to get that military body back.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel)
1. Get your best body — and your life — back.
As a veteran, you’ve been through some sh*t. You’ve seen some things and experienced some things that have made you forever different. For many of us, it just takes the right motivation to get you rolling — and once you’re going, nothing will stop you.
This diet could get you back in the health and fitness game — and that alone makes it worth a look!
Just like anywhere else, there rules in place in the gym to protect both patrons and staff. Some common rules include no dropping weights on the floor, no using chalk while deadlifting, and, most importantly, work hard or go home.
These written rules are set in stone, but there are a few others you won’t find taped to a wall or printed in a manual. These gym rules are best left unwritten, but you’ll quickly pick up on them.
To get all you newcomers up to speed, we’re going to plainly spell out these gym norms. You’re welcome, America!
No using the squat rack to do biceps curls
The squat rack is for working out your lower body — not your arms. Most gyms don’t have many squats rack in the first place, so it can be pretty infuriating to see someone repping their out biceps when all you want to do is get a solid lower-body workout in as your pre-game kicks in.
There is an exception to this unwritten rule: If the person doing bicep curls at the squat rack is expertly curling 135+ pounds, leave them alone.
Re-rack your plates
Most of the time, there are signs posted on the walls reminding you to re-rack your dumbbells. Unfortunately, those signs don’t specifically tell gym-goers that they should also re-rack any plates they’ve used after they’re done. Not only is it kind to set up the area to be used by the next person, it’s also a hidden workout — every calorie burned counts.
It’s a good habit to get into.
Wiping yourself down is good, too, but we meant the cleaning the workout equipment.
Wipe down your workout area
It’s simple: After you finish using a workout area, wipe the station down with a paper towel and some sanitation spray (typically provided by the gym). It’s not difficult and it doesn’t take long, and yet people seem to forget to do it all the freakin’ time.
Nursing a workout machine
Most gym patrons want to get in, get a solid workout, and move on. Nobody likes to wait for equipment to become available, especially when another person is “nursing” the machine and shows no signs of leaving.
That sh*t can get annoying.
Overloading with too much weight
When somebody has an ego or is trying to show off, they tend to put as much weight on the bar as possible, secretly hoping that people are watching. Realistically, unless you’re a professional weightlifter or a fitness celebrity, nobody cares how much you bench.
In fact, when you load up the bar and lift improperly just to push out a bigger rep, you just look dumb.
Wear shin protectors or long socks while deadlifting
There’s nothing more disgusting than seeing spots of blood on the straight bar when you go to do a few deadlifts. This is evidence that the person who spilled blood probably had good form, but it’s still nasty to see… and nastier to touch.
Zero tolerance for body shaming
You have to be an asshole to make fun of someone who isn’t in good shape while you’re in the gym. Giving someone the side-eye for having bad form is one thing, but why snicker at someone trying to improve their lifestyle?
That’s just f*cked up.
There are plenty of beautiful people working out at the gym. There are also a lot of attractive people outside of the gym. Continuously staring at someone as they workout gets kind of creepy after too long.
Try and refrain from staring.
In case you need some more tips, check out the video below.
For years, men and women have stepped into the gym looking to lift to gain some extra muscle — which is awesome. We, the dedicated, alternate between “arm day” and “chest day” in a never-ending quest to keep our bodies guessing, avoiding that awful “plateau effect.”
Despite its importance, however, many of us dread “leg day.” You should never neglect your lower body strength, but it’s harder to find the motivation to work on something that isn’t glamorous. Thankfully, if you want to bulk the entire body up at the same time, there’s one particular exercise that’ll do the trick: the deadlift.
The deadlift gets a bad rap in the gym world. Many amateur lifters perform exercise using lousy form or simply too much damn weight and end up injuring themselves. The fact is, there are many ways to screw this movement up — and only one way to do it right. Use these tips to get the most out of each massive rep.
Proper foot positioning depends on the individual and how much power they can generate. However, in general, most people want to stand with their feet about shoulder-width apart, if not just a tiny bit wider. Keeping your feet too close together lowers your center of gravity and knocks you off balance.
We don’t want that.
A solid footing will better ensure you lift properly.
After putting on a lifting belt, many people wrap their hands around the bar in opposing positions — one palm facing out and one palm facing in. Others take a simpler route and lift with both palms inward. What’s most important here is to maintain a symmetric angle with both arms. Having one arm flared out more than the other can result in an injury — our bodies weren’t meant to carry more weight on one side than the other.
Most people position their hands just outside of their knees to maintain symmetry. However, different types of deadlifts require different hand placements. For starters, keep your hands in the standard position until you get comfortable.
A rounded back will probably result in a sore back.
Your feet are set, your grip is firm, and you’re ready to do the lift. Give the weight an initial tug upward and straighten out your back. As your rise up into the lock-out position, the weighed bar should just about scrape your shins. If the bar is more than an inch or two away from your front leg, it’s not correctly positioned and you’re risking injury. Remember, the closer the better.
Every day, when we hit the gym, we see the same thing: Men and women of various ages doing everything they can to bulk up or lean out. Getting in the gym and doing a solid workout helps relieve all the stress you’ve accumulated over the last few days or hours.
However, there are countless gym patrons who show up and don’t know what they’re doing. They lift heavy weights to impress the cute girl wearing yoga pants or count by threes while doing a set of push-ups.
There’s a long list of mistakes we see happening at the gym, but addressing even half of them would take too damn long. So, here are the top seven.
Locking your joints out
Contrary to popular belief, your joints don’t contain muscles — but they are attached to a few nearby. When unprofessional gym scholars hit the bench and raise their weighted bar, many think that completing a rep means locking our your joints.
The fact is, stopping the rep right before you straighten out that joint is the sweet spot. Fully extending your elbow or knee joints takes physical stress off the muscle group you’re trying to work.
So, please stop.
Swinging the weights
Many people in the gym want to look as strong as possible. There’s an unspoken air of competition that blankets the gym, born of peoples’ egos, which can flourish out of control.
Using bad form to up the weight impresses nobody. In fact, to people who often exercise, you’ll just look stupid.
Taking too long between reps because you’re looking at your phone
Taking a short break allows us to briefly recover between sets. However, don’t keep checking the messages on your phone because you’ll end up losing track of time.
Challenging your muscles means causing them to tear in a controlled manner. It’s harder to get them to tear if you rest for too long between sets.
Not using manageable weight
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Lifting heavy weights to look cool will, ultimately, make you look dumb. It’s easy to laugh at someone in the gym when they’re trying to lift beyond their physical stature, but it’s dangerous for everyone
Not focused on the ‘negative’
Outstanding, you lifted the bar! Now, lower that sucker down even slower than you raised it. Many uneducated people believe that lifting a weight is their only battle — not true. It’s actually only half the fight.
When we say “negative,” we’re talking about the process of lowering the weight back to its original position, not the opposite of the word “positive.”
The negative portion of the rep helps to tear the muscle a lot more in a controlled setting. More controlled tear, the more muscle we will build during the recovery cycle.
Using a gym machine the wrong way
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. No? Okay, well check out the gif below for a better understanding. We’re not sure what this exercise is called.
Stopping the set before hitting failure
If your set requires you to push out 12 reps and you do it without much of challenge, you’re wasting your time. You can only build muscle if you challenge the sh*t out of yourself and push your muscle beyond its limit.
This limit literally means you’ve reached muscle exhaustion. If you’re not using a manageable weight, you might as well just text on your phone because you’re not accomplishing anything.
Your living room makes a convenient gym. There are no membership fees. There’s not a talkative sweaty dude or ripped body-shaming wannabe trainer. There’s just you, maybe the kids, maybe some clutter, and just enough floor space. But is a workout at home one that can get you in ripped-and-ready-for-the-world-without-a-shirt shape? Without question.
Home workouts become real sweat sessions when you turn off the television, crank some motivational tunes, and give it your all. Here are 5 hardcore workouts that require the willpower and fortitude — but no equipment and minimal space.
Workout #1: Simply Squats and Pushups
This workout has two moves, and seems too simple to be sweat-inducing. To that we say, go ahead, give it a whirl.
Here it is: Do 21 squats, then immediately do 21 pushups. Rest and repeat with 15 reps each, then 9 reps each. You get two minutes of rest in between sets. That’s it.
There’s one caveat for this workout: Your pushup and squat form need to be perfect throughout. That means on the squat you stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend knees and sink down and back like you are about to sit in a chair, aiming to get quads parallel to the floor. In the pushup, you keep a perfect plank in-between the pushups and bring your chest smoothly to the floor and back up without breaking the plank. Sound easy? Sure. Good luck.
Workout #2: 4 Moves, All Out
This workout hits it all in an easy-to-remember 4-move sequence where you give each move your all, rest one minute, move on to the next, and then, you’re finished. Make that a laying-on-the-floor-in-fetal-position type of done.
Push-Ups: Maintaining form, do as many as you can, as fast as you can, for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Go again for 20 seconds. Complete 8 sets of 20 seconds hard/10 seconds rest.
Twist Jumps: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and drop into a squat, twisting your torso and arms far to the right as you do. Release arms and torso back to the left as you jump in the air and do a half-rotation to the left. Drop, twist right, jump left again. Do 20 seconds of twist jumping right to left. Rest for 10. Do the next 20 seconds of twist jumps in the opposite direction. Switch sides two more times for 8 sets total.
Reverse Pulses: Start sitting on the floor, legs in front of you, knees bent, feet tucked under a heavy chair for support. Pull your gut toward your belly button and lean back about 45 degrees. Stretching your arms in front of you, begin to pulse up and down as fast as you can, aiming to lean a little further back with each pulse while keeping your abs contracted. Go for 20 seconds. Rest for 10. Do 8 sets.
Mountain Climbers: Get down on the floor in an extended push-ups position, engaging your core and holding your upper body still while you raise one knee to your chest. Then jump it back in place while raising the other. Alternate legs and “jog” your knees to your chest as fast as possible for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Do 8 sets.
Workout #3: Climbing Burpees
Here’s another simple two-move workout that will absolutely crush you. The idea here is to do as many of this combination as you can in five minutes, rest one minute, and repeat.
Here it is: Start in a pushups position. Jump your feet towards your hands, then jump your whole body vertically in the air and back into a crouch. Jump feet back into an extended pushups position.
From this position, hike one knee high toward your chest, keeping your hands planted on the floor. Jump it back to the start position, hiking your other knee up at the same time.
Continue this alternating pattern of moves for five minutes. Rest one. And repeat. Try to do this three times. Then four. When you can do this five times, well, let’s just say you’re in pretty damn good shape.
Workout #4 The Full Living Room Routine
This 11-part routine is for those days when you’ve got some time to spare and want to mix it up. This is all based on time, so maybe have a smart speaker handy. By the time you’re nearing the end, you might not be able to catch your breath enough to tell Alexa set the timer. That’s a sign it’s working.
Lunges: Warm your body up with lunges — front knee over toe, back leg slightly bent without letting your knee touch the floor, then push back up to standing and repeat with opposite leg. Two minutes total.
Squats: Stand, bend knees, drop seat, resume standing. Repeat. Two minutes.
Jumping Jacks: Get that heart rate up. Two minutes.
Triceps Dips: Find a chair or couch and sit, placing your hands on the edge of the seat. Slide your butt forward until it is off the seat, your weight supported by your arms. Bend and straighten elbows. Three sets of 10 dips.
Wall Sit: Place your back flat against a wall, feet about two feet in front of you. Bend your knees until your quads are parallel to the floor. Stay there for 90 seconds.
Side Plank: Lie on your side, propped up on one elbow and push through your feet to raise your hips off the floor, creating a straight line from your shoulder to your feet. Hold 60 seconds. Switch sides.
Mountain Climbers: Get down in the extended push-ups position, bend one knee to your chest, then straighten it back as you hike the other one up. Continue “jogging” in this fashion for one minute. Rest a minute; do one minute more.
Sit-Ups: Quick on the up, then slowly roll back down. Give us what you’ve got for two minutes.
Calf Raises: Sit in the chair, feet flat on the floor. Lean forward and press down on your quads with your hands. As you do this, rise up onto the balls of your feet. Lower back down. One minute.
Side Push-Ups: Straighten one arm out to the side so that your hand just touches the wall. Keeping your body in a straight line, bend your elbow and lean into the wall. Push away and back to standing. Do one minute on this side, then find the wall on the opposite side of the room and repeat on the other.
Modified Burpees: Start in an extended push-ups position, do a super-fast push-up, then jump your feet towards your hands and stand up tall, feet shoulder-width apart. From here, let your arms drift in front of you while you slowly bend into an easy squat. Hold five counts. Lean forward, drop your hands to the floor, and jump your legs back into a push-ups-ready position. Go again. Two minutes.
Workout #5: The Murph
This classic Crossfit workout pushes the boundaries of living room workout (not to mention fitness sanity). It’s more of a challenge than a workout. It forces you to run outside. It requires a pull-up bar. But if you’re looking to take your workouts to the next level — to get serious about your fitness in a way you haven’t done since high school football — this is your way in.
We suggest trying this out at home and timing yourself for the first few times (spaced out by a month or three; yeah, you’ll need that much recovery) and then working your way up to a public display of the challenge, heading to a CrossFit gym on Memorial Day weekend for The Murph Challenge, where a bunch of loons go head-to-head with this challenge in honor of LT. Michael P. Murphy, the workout’s worthy namesake.
Run 1 mile
Do 100 Pull-Ups
Do 200 Push-Ups
Do 300 Air Squats
Run 1 mile
Note: You don’t have to do this in order. In fact, we suggest that, especially for beginners, you divide it into blocks of, say: 5 pullups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. Be sure to keep a tally on a chalkboard or paper. You will lose track.
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
We talk with the Marine and Creator of the MightyFIT Workout plan about Promotions, Happiness and Freedom Hair.
Most Marines can remember their best PFT score. A solid performance can earn you bragging rights, a line on the promotion list or maybe even signifies a personal goal (yeah, I still remember my first twenty straight pull ups, twenty years later). Yet, there is something much deeper in the those numbers…happiness.
You can argue with me all you want, yes Marines can be happy, but that doesn’t mean their life is going to be easy. At some point, Marines are guaranteed to be covered in mud, zombie tired and cleaning a piece of gear for the ten thousandth time. Despite what life may throw their way, either in training or war, Marines are still the most happy when they are fit and ready for a fight. And that means tough training, physical fitness, and confidence.
After my first deployment to Iraq, I was back at 29 Palms getting ready for a second, possibly more dangerous deployment. We trained every day and most weekends in a hot, nasty desert. That spring, I ran the fastest PFT of my life and I’ve never felt happier (17:54…just saying…). Despite the stress of the world around me, being in that kind of shape was one of the happiest points in my life. I was a trained, fit Marine and that feeling has stuck with me to this day.
Now, if you’re reading this, then you at least have some interest in the military and you don’t have to be a Marine to understand that feeling fit and healthy is a good thing. That being said, even those of us who a maxed out a PFT at some point still have trouble finding a workout plan to meet the chaotic, unexpected and sometimes even lonely challenges that come after we take off the uniform.
Ladies and gents, let me introduce to Marine Michael Gregory, the creator of the MightyFIT workout plan and owner of Composure Fitness, whose sales pitch is “wanna make gains and look great naked?”
Michael doesn’t need to sell himself, he resume does it for him. An economist by training who first put his analysis skills to work as a Marine intelligence officer, Michael is one of those guys who could fit right in on wall street but he’s also tough. Like really tough. One of his first assignments in the Marines was with the MACE, Martial Arts Center of Excellence, think Spartan training in modern times. So what does a badass Marine martial arts instructor with a ten pound brain decide to do after he leaves the Marine Corps?
He moves to Bali and begins his next chapter helping Marines and others find their peak physical performance and dare I say it…happiness.
So when it came time to develop a workout plan for We Are The Mighty, we asked Michael to do what he does best and the eight week plan is pretty amazing. I recently had the chance to catch up with Michael and his thoughts on fitness and happiness didn’t disappoint.
(Michael Gregory being promoted on Iwo Jima.)
Michael, it’s great to chat with you. Before we dive in, tell me, what’s the craziest thing that you did in the Marine Corps?
MG: I was promoted on Iwo Jima.
MG: Yeah it was cool. And not planned. My commander was like, “Hey there’s a C- 130 going to Iwo. Get on it, find whoever is the senior officer and have them promote you.”
Ok, that pretty badass, what drove you to the Marine Corps?
MG: Yeah. so I joined out of high school. I knew I wanted to be in the military. It was the height of the wars and everyone was going to the Middle East to fight. I didn’t even know Asia was a thing, but they sent me to Japan. I got to work with almost every Allied country in Asia and it was it was good for me because I was always the kind of Marine that was on my own little plan. I always had long hair.
Dude, your hair is pretty crazy now.
MG: It’s my freedom hair.
Freedom Hair. I love that.
MG: I haven’t had it cut since I got out. That’s my freedom.
What set you on the fitness path to where you are right now?
MG: [Fitness] was always something that I cared about. I studied economics in college and I had to work out to keep my sanity. But when I got in the Marine Corps I was lucky enough in one of the “in-between times” between schools. I got sent to the Martial Arts Instructor Course in Quantico.
The MACE is no joke. What was it like as a brand new a Second Lieutenant?
MG: It was actually like it was cool because it was my first experience working with enlisted Marines. But in the schoolhouse we’re all getting trained to be instructors. We were equals there. So we all got along and I learned a lot and I actually took a lot of that with me when I was with my unit and my first Marines. It was eye opening. And that was some of the best organized training I got.
So where did you get the fitness knowledge to build a plan like the MightyFIT?
MG: In Japan, I had a pretty good fitness routine going on. I was kind of training myself. And studying. I would print out fitness stuff and bring it into the vault because nobody would talk to me there. I read a lot about nutrition, the body and exercise programs.
And when did Bali come into the picture?
MG: After the Marines, I decided to take a break you know and figure out what I want to do with my life. My wife convinced me to move to Bali for six months to just decompress a little bit and figure out a plan. And you know, we’ve been there for two and a half years.
(Because when you’re a fitness guru in Bali, front flips in the rain are just a part of life.)
So you started training Athletes and even other Marines?
MG: It took some time and it was all based on the results. I have a guy that I work with who is a Captain. He was afraid that he couldn’t make gains and still perform on the PFT. We developed a plan for him. Now, he’s squatting and lifting more than he ever had in his life and he’s at a lower body fat percentage while still running a 295 PFT. It’s my clients that have helped me grow. The word of your former clients is the most important thing that I have as a fitness professional.
How is fitness like firing a weapon?
MG. You know when you go to a civilian firing range and see somebody with the nicest weapons but still doesn’t know what there doing. They lack a foundation. They haven’t mastered the basics of marksmanship and they wonder why they can’t hit the target.
I do. It’s scary.
MG: You can see the same exact thing walking into any gym and see people with great physiques but no foundation. Your body is your weapon. Just like a rifle, you need to zero it in with the basics to become efficient and effective for other activities. The fundamentals cross over into all different workouts. You can go on to do Crossfit, run Marathons or whatever you’d like. That’s what the Mighty FIT plan is designed to do. It uses eight weeks to build a fitness foundation. It’s your zero.
Ok, how does this plan work for a guy like me with knees that are beat up and a back reading from a decade of body armor? Won’t I just hurt myself?
MG: The plan is designed so that really anyone can do it. You obviously need to listen to your body but none of these movements are inherently dangerous. I’m not asking anyone to do anything outside of a normal physical range of motion or at an explosive speed. In fact, a lot of people hurt themselves during explosive exercises. They think they’re athletic but lack a solid foundation. And what this plan does is prepare people for anything without being potentially dangerous by using a safe rate of perceived exertion.
A safe rate of what?
MG: Haha, the rate of perceived exertion. It’s simple. 80% effort is the goal and the weight is irrelevant. That’s the base element of the Mighty FIT plan. I’m not dictating weights for anyone right now. I tell people the exercise and the number of sets and reps. And you stick to your own weight. So if you feel like shit one day at 80% and it’s 30Lbs less than it was last week. That’s OK. Just do what your body perceives as 80% exertion even if that means that you’re starting off point is just standing up out of a chair, then just do that. There’s really no barrier to entry as long as you’re willing to adjust and don’t feel like you need to be perfect. Just be happy.
But I want to clarify, is happiness the overall goal here or is it something different?
MG: Happiness is the overall goal in so far as this plan will allow you to do whatever you want to make you happy.
That’s a Bali- Eat, Pray, Love answer.
MG: [He Laughs]. If you want to work out like a maniac then these eight weeks will prepare your body to work out like a maniac. If you just want to play with your kids, this will allow you to pick up your two year old son without feeling like you’re going to split your back.
(Michael Gregory training in Bali.)
So as I was reading the plan I know that there’s going to be soreness. Can you kind of quickly walk me through what DOMS is?
MG: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Which is just a fancy way of saying, you’re going to feel the workout the next day. It’s just what happens when people reach a threshold of physical output that they’re not used to. When we work out, we’re literally tearing our muscles apart so that they can be rebuilt into stronger muscle fibers. The body must then recover from the inflammation so all the good blood cells rush to that part of the body which is where the soreness comes from.
Is there anything I can do to prevent the soreness?
MG: The research shows that if you stick to the 80% threshold that I already talked about there shouldn’t be any issues. You should be able to get up and walk around the day afterwards. Usually when people push past that 80% threshold that’s when you get someone walking around like a zombie for a couple days.
If you feel like one of the sessions is particularly hard especially on the legs, then just hop on a stationary bike for 15 and 20 minutes at the end of the workout. An ice bath is another great alternative. But if you’re going to go for the ice bath, wait one or two hours after the workout because what it does is it kills inflammation altogether and inflammation is actually good when we’re trying to build up some muscle so if you kill it right away it has a tendency to stall the gains.
Before we transition off the plan, is there anything else you think people need to know?
MG: Well you know, just take week one as what it is… week one. Do the whole eight weeks before you cast judgment on whether or not you liked it or if it was effective or not.
What do you think is your biggest enemy to happiness? And do you even think like that?
MG: Yeah, I do. I’m obviously living in Bali. So, I have been doing more meditation and self reflection than I ever thought was possible. And honestly my own worst enemy is myself. And I think that’s true for a lot of people. I easily talk myself out of things that I make a commitment towards or that I know are good for me. So finding consistency with myself is one of the hardest challenges and it was something I didn’t realize in the Marine Corps because you kind of don’t have that option in the military. There are constantly other people that you’re responsible for or that are holding you accountable.
And now you’ve built your business, Composure Fitness obviously you’ve got the launch of the Mighty FIT Plan. What does the rest of 2019 look like for you?
MG: Growth. You can only work with so many people at one time. I’m excited about getting my voice out there with good fitness advice and building something more sustainable that reaches more people at once.
I’m excited about starting the 8 week Mighty FIT Plan.
MG: Have fun with it and Semper Fi.
Oh, I will brother. Semper Fi.
Check out Michael Gregory’s blog @ComposureFitness and download the Mighty FIT plan HERE.