This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

With the heralding in of the new ACFT, it only makes sense that there should be an app to go along with it. Enter Grunt Fit, a subsidiary of the veteran-run apparel company, Grunt Style. It’s not even on the market yet, and already Grunt Fit is making lots of ways. That’s because of two reasons.

First, Grunt Fit was created based on the real-life successes of personal trainers. That means that the eating plans and workout programs are designed by people who know that they’re going to work. There’s no guessing whether or not an eating plan will help you reach your goals or how many reps you should be doing to gain mass. The people behind Grunt Fit have already helped countless people answer those questions and more.

Secondly, the level of customization that’s available on the app is second to none. It’s so much better than other fitness apps on the market because of how personalized you can make your plans. 

Grunt Fit’s mission is to help users achieve their fitness goals by offering customizable fitness and nutrition plans. This free program has a very easy to understand user interface, making it incredibly personalized, and is based on the science of personal trainers.

The app was designed by veterans, but it can be used by people of all fitness levels. After downloading the app, the user is prompted to answer several questions that help determine their current fitness level and long-term goals. Then, the app creates a customized workout and nutrition plan based on those responses.

Did we mention this is a free app? 

Not only does it differ in that regard, but it also separates itself from the herd because it eliminates the guesswork of trying to understand what eating style will help you reach your goals. It tells users precisely what foods to eat, what exercises to include to help achieve optimal performance levels. 

The other central standout of Grunt Fit is that because it’s so direct and easy to follow, there’s less chance that you’re going to make a mistake following one of the plans. In a statement to Military.com, Tiffany Allen-Hampton, Army veteran and Grunt Fit president, said that the app is designed to help people prepare for the rest of their lives. The app was designed with accountability in mind, much like how military units are structured. 

The app will tell a user what they need to do to be successful, but it’s up to the user to make that happen. To encourage participation and follow-through, the app offers users opportunities to earn badges and share success stories on social media. They can even earn discounts on apparel from Grunt Style. 

The Army recently released an app designed to help users personalize workouts and calculate potential scores on the new Army Combat Fitness Test. The Physical Readiness Training app is free, offers a selection of exercises, and creates customized PT programs for users. The app guides users through videos led by drill sergeants and might just cut down on the risk of injuries of users performing new exercises. The app also allows service members to create workouts based on having access to minimal equipment. One neat feature of the Army’s app is that it will enable a user to create workouts based on deficiencies. Since the new ACFT is full of exercises that many soldiers might not perform on a daily basis, this is a great feature. Specific programs are available to help soldiers work toward top scores in each of the ACFT’s events. 

But the Army’s app doesn’t offer any nutritional advice or meal prep options, so it falls short of creating a holistic approach to functional fitness. Of course, the Army’s app doesn’t offer chances to earn badges or get discounts on apparel, but maybe one day. 

Eliminate the guesswork of both your workouts and your fitness when you use Grunt Fitness. Expected to be out sometime this fall, Grunt Fit might just be what helps keep you motivated through the winter to keep on pushing hard through your workouts.

MIGHTY FIT

High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) vs High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

I led multiple combat conditioning programs in the Marine Corps, and I did my Martial Arts Instructor Certification at the MACE in Quantico with the creators of MCMAP. Yet, I had no idea what HITT was. I thought it was just a cheap rip-off of HIIT that the Marine Corps wanted to get their proprietary mitts on.

I was a little salty at certain points in my career.

The short of it is: HIIT is a type of workout and HITT is a comprehensive program that encompasses all aspects of fitness.


A few seconds of this, a few seconds of that…

What HIIT is

High-Intensity interval training (HIIT) really got popular when the Tabata method got some good press. The Tabata method is a type of HIIT workout where you perform a movement for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat this sequence for as many rounds as you are adapted to.

Other styles of HIIT follow the same basic layout. You perform a movement for a certain period of time, and then you rest for about half the time you did the movement for.

If you are really particular, you would measure your heart rate and rest until your heart rate gets to about 60% of your estimated maximum heart rate.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BjzcNion5Qq/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Michael Gregory on Instagram: “Here’s how to do a HIIT workout properly. . A lot of people do “HIIT” but they don’t understand the purpose. It’s to to boost your output…”

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It might sound like math class, and it basically is. There are plenty of apps and timers out there for HIIT workouts, but most people just wing it.

In fact, most people completely miss the point of HIIT.

At its base, HIIT is a fat burning workout that takes advantage of the anaerobic fuel systems of the body. If you don’t allow your heart rate to get down low enough between sets, you are preventing your body from truly resting. Without enough rest, you cannot perform at 90-100%+ effort, and therefore miss out on burning a maximum amount of fat.

I can and will go more in-depth on this topic in the future. Take a look at the above Instagram post for details on how to properly use HIIT to help you lose that adorable baby fat on your tummy.

Run fast and lift heavy. Sounds pretty good to me.

(Photo by Capt. Colleen McFadden)

What HITT is

High-Intensity Tactical Training, on the other hand, is a program designed by the Marine Corps to prepare Marines for combat. You can read the whole methodology behind it here.

It has 3 basic principles:

  1. Prevent potential for injury
  2. Increase performance levels that support combat specific tasks
  3. Build strength, optimize mobility, and increase speed

Subtle how they squeezed five principles into three, but I’ll roll with it.

High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) Promo Video- USMC

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I’d argue that these components should be the base of every single human being’s training plan, not just military personnel. I would just switch the wording around in number two to read “increase performance levels to support career specific tasks” for the normies.

Reading through the methodology, linked above, I could nitpick some of the specifics of the program. Ultimately though, I’m a fan.

Unlike HIIT, HITT has nothing to do with burning fat whatsoever. Actually, it would probably be in a Marine’s favor to keep a modest amount of body fat on their frame in case things go south and they are without food for multiple days.

The next step is to do the workout with a full combat load. That’s HITT.

(Photo by Capt. Colleen McFadden)

Execution is everything

HIIT and HITT couldn’t be more different. HIIT is for people who are primarily concerned with how they look while HITT is for Marines who want to f*ck sh*t up.

Both of these can be very beneficial to you depending on what you are trying to achieve.

Military personnel don’t have the luxury of knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into with a deployment until they get there. A well-rounded plan, like HITT, that increases all aspects of fitness is ideal if you have the time.

Don’t let this image fool you. This man’s primary form of exercise is not HIIT. He lifts.

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

HITT is for someone who is looking for long-term nonspecific training that will focus on all aspects of fitness. It doesn’t need to be just for those getting ready for a deployment.

HIIT is for someone who is looking to burn fat while maintaining lean muscle. That’s it for HIIT. It won’t make you stronger, it probably won’t make you much faster. It is exclusively for people who want to lose fat.

The bottom line of this showdown between fitness modalities is that the Marine Corps needs to get better at naming their programs. Otherwise, most people will just write off their highly researched program as a shameless government knock-off of something that already exists.

MIGHTY FIT

Do this if you only have 10 minutes to train

Shit has hit the fan at work (or maybe literally if you’re home caring for a baby) and there’s no way you’re getting away to the gym for your planned hour-long workout.

So what do you do? Throw in the towel? Hope you have better luck tomorrow? Give up and start buying ponchos as your exclusive item of clothing to hide your body?

No, damnit!

You know that consistency is the most important part of training.

You have to get something in for consistency’s sake.

Break away for 10 minutes and bang this workout out.

If you just want to get to training, scroll down to the bottom of the article, or get the .pdf in my free resources vault here.


Whenever humans are involved ‘The Fog’ is included, whether that be war or the office.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Teagan Fredericks)

Why you shouldn’t throw in the towel

The inclination to throw in the towel for the day is most likely strong. You’re probably still in the thick of whatever disaster has rolled into the office. Getting up and walking out seems like the most irresponsible thing you can do. I know two facts that point to the opposite, though.

It’s hard to see a solution from the thick of a fog:

If things have truly gone crazy, or if they are always going crazy for that matter, you’re missing something. A 10-minute workout is just the thing you need to get some perspective and finally solve your issue.

If no one’s going to die, it’s not that important:

This is a lesson I’m grateful I’ve learned second hand. I had a roommate during one of my many military schools who is a Silver Star recipient from the events that took place near a dam in Iraq in the mid-2000s. He watched a lot of friends die. Since that day, he decided that he would only stress out if someone could potentially die. I lived with him for six months and got stressed out by a lot of things, but he was always in my ear, reminding me that we were training, and no one was going to die.

There are very few things in life that cannot wait 10-15 minutes. If you are a professional at your job, you see everything coming a mile away.

If you even have one iota that the above two things don’t apply to your situation I implore you to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Am I in the fog?
  2. Will someone die?

(If you answer “yes” and “no” to those questions respectively, it’s time to go get this workout in.)

Put 110% into that 10 minutes and it’ll pay off.

(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Phuchung Nguyen)

How can you possibly get a quality workout in 10 minutes?

As with everything, it depends on your goal.

If you’re focused on burning fat, a strong argument can be made that you only need to train for 10 minutes a day… if you do it right.

If you’re focused on getting stronger or gaining muscle, more time would be helpful. But, if you’re 80% compliant with your training plan, a day off here or there won’t affect things much, if at all.

The main reason to get this short session in is to maintain consistency.

You know what happens when you miss one session? Eventually, you miss another. Then you’re only training once a week. Before you know it, it’s been six months since you’ve trained, you feel terrible, and your pants are tight (time to buy that poncho).

This 10-minute session guarantees that doesn’t happen to you.

How to work out in 10 minutes

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The workout

Here it is (click here to get the .pdf in my resources vault):

  1. 6 minutes :20 on/ :10 off exercise of choice
  2. 4-minute burpee burnout
  3. Walk it off

Here are some exercise recommendations based on what your full session was supposed to be

  • Chest and arms: Push-ups
  • Shoulders: Weighted lateral circles
  • Core: Russian twists
  • Full body: RKC plank
  • Back: Pull-ups or Horizontal pulls
  • Squat session: Bodyweight squats
  • Deadlift session: Elevated glute bridges

That’s it.

I’m going to be 100% transparent here. If you’re going from not working out at all to doing this workout 3-4 times a week, you will see some significant changes in your body and energy. A lot of times, people like to make fitness seem super complicated. In general, it isn’t. Especially if you’re just getting started out.

If your goals are more advanced or nuanced, this quick session will obviously not be enough to continue growth. It will be enough to ensure compliance and prevent any loses you’ve already achieved.

Email me, seriously do it.

Send me any questions, comments, or concerns you have about your specific training program at michael@composurefitness.com. If you just want a nicely packaged copy of the 10-minute workout, grab it here!

Don’t forget to drop a comment in the comments section of this article’s Facebook post to let others know what to expect. There’s usually 68 dumb comments by people who didn’t actually read the article. Pipe up and let others know there’s high-quality info in here!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.
MIGHTY FIT

Gain (or regain) warrior-status in just 8 weeks with this fitness plan

One of the most common reasons I’ve found that people don’t stick with a workout plan is that they go too hard too fast.

Imagine trying to qualify with the M4 at 500 yards the first day you put your hands on the weapon. That’s exactly what many people do when it comes to fitness.

We’re going to change that today.


Note: I’m going to recommend that you read through this introduction, but if you want to skip to the action and sign up right now, click here.

You’ll never be proficient at 500 yards if you can’t hit the target at 30 yards.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released)

Before you discharge that weapon at distance, you need to drill how to load it, zero-in the sights, clean it, support it in the different firing positions, use your breath to help your accuracy, and a hundred other things that contribute to solid marksmanship.

Likewise, when it comes to fitness, you need to drill a solid foundation first. You have to learn:

  • What your 1 rep maxes are
  • What muscles respond to high volume vs high intensity training
  • How your endurance is affected by muscle gain
  • Proper form for the various lifts so you can maximize their benefits
  • The best time of the day for you to workout
  • Where the best equipment in your gym is located
  • How fast and efficiently you recover from certain workouts
  • How changes in your diet affect your performance
  • Muscle memory of movements

All of these things are individual to you, and they are constantly changing.

Biceps curls and the treadmill… classic sign of a foundationless approach.

High and Right

When you start hitting high and right on a target at 100 yards, it may only be off by an inch or two. But when you move out to 500 yards it is now off by feet and probably not even hitting the target.

If you try to jump into a hard-core program that has six 2-hour lifting sessions a week without establishing a baseline, your accuracy of the movements, ability to recover, and overall muscle/strength gain are going to be high and right. This potentially means injury, or more commonly translates to a level of muscle soreness that prevents you from making any actual gains.

That soreness, also called DOMS, is often enough to make you say “fugg it! The weight room isn’t for me,” or to decide that you’re meant to be flat-chested and have chicken legs forever.

Don’t let this happen to you in the gym by biting off more than you’re ready for.

I’ve seen the equivalent on civilian ranges countless times. Some ding-dong shows up with a weapon he’s never fired. He starts by trying to hit the target from the furthest distance available, fails to hit the target, gets frustrated, starts firing at a rapid pace (against range rules) like an obese Rambo, and gets kicked off the range for being a jackass.

Don’t be like that in the gym by doing too much too fast and quitting due to excessive soreness and a lack of fundamental understanding of what makes lifting weights a therapeutic art. Both lifting and marksmanship can be forms of meditation if done correctly–which is completely lost on your local bicep-curling gymrat and the average gun enthusiast who knows the nomenclature of every weapon in Call of Duty but consistently loads rounds in the clip backwards.

Let’s get you zeroed-in.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

The Plan

So how do you make sure you aren’t the maniac Rambo-firing at the gym?

The MIGHTY FIT Plan is the first program at We Are The Mighty dedicated to this pursuit.

All too often, people try to make a lifestyle change or get ready for a new military school by firing from the 500 yard line while standing. This is a foundationless approach.

Build your foundation over the next 2 months with The MIGHTY FIT Plan.

This plan is for those who are ready to start taking control of their fitness with a proven method. Just like the rifle range, you need to set an accurate baseline by zeroing in your weapon, doing some dry fire drills, and firing test rounds at a close distance.

Your body is your weapon. This plan will zero in your body to become efficient and effective at all the lifts.

There’s always a way to train once you decide to execute.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jonathan Wright)

This plan is designed to:

  • Introduce you to the main compound movements and their proper forms
  • Establish and progressively increase your ability to recover from workouts
  • Build a base level of muscle that will enable you to thrive in all your other athletic pursuits (including unit PT)
  • Allow you to figure out how to fit lifting sessions into your already busy schedule
  • Learn your body and how it responds to training

So, how do I get The MIGHTY FIT Plan?

Click here to get the MIGHTY FIT Plan + The Fat Shred Plug-in for FREE in the Composure Fit App.

The Exercises

Over the next eight weeks, you’re going to become familiar with the following exercises — save this link so that you can always come back and re-familiarize yourself:

MIGHTY CULTURE

Not training because you think you have nothing to prepare for?

Put the beer down and read.

When we leave active duty, we go through a lot of emotional ups and downs, we have many hurdles to overcome, and most importantly, we have to repurpose ourselves.


That repurposing process is a subconscious one for the overwhelming majority of us. We fall into the civilian world and look for things we couldn’t do or have while we were in the service. You know, like drugs, experiences, traveling opportunities, and sleeping in past 0600 on a weekday. Basically, we’re just adult versions of Amish teens on Rumspringa.

After we get those things out of our system, we find ourselves so far on the other side of society that we realize we need to get back to “normality.” That normality is somewhere between the extreme lifestyle of the military and the post-DD-214 period of blowing off steam, so we think.

Check out the details of my transition struggle here.

This bell curve shows how the population is distributed when it comes to potential for greatness.

(I took the liberty of making this normal bell curve much better.)

The ‘Normal’ Trap.

By definition, we aren’t normal people; we’re 1%-ers. It’s a different and much more dangerous 1%. That being the case, normal for us isn’t the same normal as it is for actual “normal” people.

Falling into how normal people live looks something like this:

  • Wake-up at the last possible minute for a job you hate.
  • Fight through traffic to get to the same place you’ll go for 15-30 years of your life.
  • Expend all of your energy, will power, and decision-making ability by just trying to make it to the end of the workday.
  • Get home exhausted, reach for an alcoholic beverage, sit on an unnecessarily comfortable couch, and watch 4-6 hours of premium content.
  • Eat whatever is around or order something that you don’t know where it came from or why you’re eating it.
  • Lose track of time due to social media and end up going to bed with only 4-5 hours left before you need to wake up for work again.
  • Repeat for years on end.

Can you imagine what happens when you put a 1%-er into the same box as the majority? Have you ever seen what happens to a feral bull after it’s domesticated?

But this is what happens when we allow ourselves to be subconsciously repurposed.

Here’s how you can keep a 1%-er happy in the gym.

Build stuff, kick butt, and charge big bucks for it.

(Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash)

Shadows of normalcy

We should instead be repurposing ourselves to do great things like growing businesses, shaking up industries, raising the status quo. In order for us to do that, we need to not forget the greatness we came from by ending up in a “normal” life.

I’m not just talking about combat veterans or vets with spec ops training here. I’m talking about all of us, all veterans, from the most boot Airman to the grizzliest retired E-9 turned private security contractor that you can think of. If we weren’t better humans, we wouldn’t have even thought the military was an option for us in the first place.

Get out of the shadow of normalcy.

The decision to end up in normal is a mistake for us. Normal kills potential. Normal shits on passion. Normal shames greatness.

We need to stay closer to the fringe than the normals do.

Here’s how to clear your head so that you can actually figure out what empire you want to build.

Blasting normal in the crotch… after living like this there’s no way you’ll be happy being “normal.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

The fringe is where the magic happens

It’s not easy to stay on the fringe though… it’s demanding and exhausting out here, but it feels like home to us. You need to stay fit and capable in order to live outside of normal.

That’s why the military has fitness standards when normal people have 2.6 doctors visits a month. The fringe only seeks medical attention when something is broken from flying too close to the sun.

That’s why you need to be training. You’re training to stay strong, lean, and healthy, but even more importantly, you’re training to stay at the tip of the spear, albeit a different spear than you stood on in the military.

It doesn’t matter if your new spear is higher education, the business world, entrepreneurship, or parenthood. The best in their field are those that know how to leverage their body to produce greatness.

You’ve already been given keys to the castle of greatness through your military indoctrination. The foundation of that castle is training hard to take care of your body and make everything else in life seem easier.

That’s it. Train hard, become the best at what you do, and teach normal people what greatness actually looks like.

Click the image if you want to get in touch with me directly.

Me (the author)

The new Mighty Fit Plan is nearly ready. Become one of the first to hear about it here!

Get over to the Mighty Fit FB Group here and join like-minded 1%-ers that are ready to step out of normalcy and into their next big move.

MIGHTY FIT

5 leg exercises you should never ever skip

In the fitness world, there are too many people who regularly skip one of the most essential workout sessions of the week: leg day. There are plenty of gym patrons that show up to the weight room looking a little too top-heavy.

It might not sound like a big deal at first but, over time, you’ll begin to look quite misshapen.


Training your legs at least once a week burns a ton of calories, increases testosterone levels, and has been known to boost your libido.

So, that’s cool.

Although many of us dread having weakened, sore legs at the end of a brutal lower-limb workout, it’s best to just suck it up for a little bit and do what needs to be done. Before you start any leg workout, properly warm up with at least five to ten minutes of lower-impact cardio to get the blood pumping. Also, always remember to wear a lift-belt to properly protect your lower back when needed.

Let’s get started.

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Stiff-leg deadlift

With a manageable weight loaded on a straight bar, position your feet about shoulder-length apart and lift upward, nearly locking out your knees. Once your body is erected, slowly lower the weight back down towards the floor while keeping your legs straight.

Make sure you squeeze your glutes and leg muscles at the peak of the lift.

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Close stance dumbbell front squat

First, position your legs in a narrow stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Hold a properly weighted dumbbell in your hands at chest level, keeping your elbows to your sides. Then, begin the rep by lowering your hips in a squatting motion.

Once your thighs dip below your knees, slowly rise back up, remembering to squeeze your glutes and leg muscles throughout to achieve maximum burn.

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Front squats

Rest a straight bar atop your chest and keep your feet spread roughly shoulder-width apart. Next, lower your hips in a squatting motion while keeping your back straight. Once your upper leg is parallel with the deck, slowly rise back up to the starting position.

As always, remember to squeeze your glutes and leg muscles when you reach the lowest point of the movement.

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Leg press

After loading a manageable weight, sit into the recommendation position, unlock the machine, and allow the weights to press down toward your body. Once your knees get close to your chest, push the weight back up to its original position by extending your legs.

It’s that easy.

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Seated leg curl

After choosing a manageable weight, sit into the recommendation position, contract your hamstrings, and curl the weight downward. Squeeze your glutes and leg muscles as you successfully curl the weight downward and then return to the original position.

Now, go out and grow those freakin’ legs!

MIGHTY FIT

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

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

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

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


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

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Monkey f*ckers

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

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

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

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Prone hamstring curls

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

“Face down, ass up!” — Ludacris

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Glute bridges

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

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“Good mornings”

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

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Hip abductors

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

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

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Cable pull throughs

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

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

Articles

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

The Marine Corps is most famous for stripping away one’s individuality at boot camp and spitting recruits out 13 weeks later as Marines, formed into bands of brothers (and sisters).


But those bonds were tested when some of its strongest, toughest competitors battled one other in the second-annual High-Intensity Tactical Training Tactical Athlete Championship. When the dust settled after the fourth day of competition, the top male and female Marines were crowned “Ultimate Tactical Athlete.”

Sgt. Calie Jacobsen chewed up the final obstacle course event and took the top prize among 13 women who competed along 19 men to vie for bragging rights in the Aug. 15-18 service-wide competition at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, California.

A Marine performs pushups with a pack during the 2nd Annual Tactical Athlete Championship aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Aug. 17. The competition was a part of the Marine Corps’ High Intensity Tactical Training program and tested the strengths and abilities of Marines from different installations around the Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Liah Kitchen/Released)

Jacobsen, 23, a nondestructive inspection technician at Miramar, spent eight weeks preparing for the championship and held the lead going into the final event, the obstacle course. The other women wouldn’t make that easy, but it was her strongest event. “I wasn’t planning on winning. I just wanted to go out there and do good,” she said. “The females definitely were at a higher level than I was expecting to see.”

Jacobsen and the male winner, Cpl. Ethan Mawhinney, each received a championship belt and 53-pound kettle bell.

Mawhinney, a 22-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beat 18 other male Marines in his second shot at the service championship. He placed sixth last year in the inaugural contest. “I trained a lot harder for the prelims this year,” said the Marine air-ground task force planner from Camp Allen, Virginia. Winning “was surreal. I had left last year really hoping to take the title.”

HITT is like CrossFit, but for and by Marines. That means using brute strength, endurance and determination to survive tactical battles against fellow Marines on the athletic field, in the water and on the paintball battlefield.

“Competition was tough,” said Lance Cpl. Isaac Namowicz, an admin clerk with Marine Security Guard headquarters and this year’s Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia, HITT champ. “There’s a lot of passion.”

Marines traded tips and even encouraged each other during the championship, but each had a mission: Win. “You’re a brother, but at the same time, you are trying to beat everyone,” Mawhinney admitted. That included the male 2015 Ultimate Tactical Athlete, Cpl. Joshua Boozer.

Boozer, ammo tech with 1st Tank Battalion at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., was champ this year at his home base but met his match at Miramar.

“It’s not easy competition,” he said, catching his breath after enduring the “500 Yard Power Shuffle” where competitors did nearly a dozen events including tire flips, box jumps, dummy carry, weighted sled pull and push and a variety of weight lifts — on a sweltering athletic field. It was the longest event, time-wise.

The Marine Corps organized its first HITT competition last year, held at Twentynine Palms. Like last year, Marines learned events’ details at the start of the competition, so they didn’t really know what they’d face.

Ryan Massimo, the Corps’ HITT program manager and event coordinator, said the intent is to include some base-specific events – this year’s “Maneuver Under Fire” took place at Miramar’s paintball park – with physical challenges that reflect the strength and conditioning program. Last year, the run up and down the desert base’s hills while lugging heavy items made “sugar cookies” of a weakened competitor.

This year’s championship included a timed water event, the “Amphibious Tactical Challenge.” Competitors in boots and utes swam multiple laps bearing their pack and rubber rifle, and then they traversed the pool, diving and ducking with a pack under markers before cranking out 10 (men) or 5 (women) pushups wearing the pack. “It did definitely throw a curve ball for some people,” Mawhinney said.

Namowicz said he struggled in the pool.

“I was not expecting all that weight. It felt like cinder blocks,” he said. “My upper body was getting tired.”

At times, he’d talk to himself as he pushed weighted sleds or carried 35-pound ammo cans and 120-pound dummies in the sweltering heat. “I just kept saying, ‘Finish this.’ You have people in the stands pushing you, and it just keeps you motivated,” he said. “You just want to be done.”

Jacobsen hadn’t real plans to become competitive until the Miramar HITT Center coordinator encouraged her to the local HITT combine challenge. “I didn’t know how big it was, that it was Marine Corps-wide,” said the Nebraska native. “We just went in unassuming.”

And she finished first among the women, getting the ticket to compete against other installation winners for the championship.

She’s a HITT convert. The isolation workout she previously did for weightlifting “isn’t applicable to everyday life,” she said. Interval training demands endurance and strength and “is a lot more applicable to everyday life. That’s definitely changed my mindset.”

Thin crowds watched this year’s competition, but Jacobsen said she was glad to see her station commander and sergeant major on the sidelines. “It’s an awesome event, and it needs to be more widely broadcast,” she said.

It’s certainly not as well-known as the military’s most famous tactical-physical competition, the “Best Ranger.”

The 60-hour event at Fort Benning, Georgia, pits Army Rangers against each other in two-man teams to test their skills, including land navigation, small-arms firing, obstacles and, in true Ranger style, parachuting.

Not to be outdone, Marines run the less-known but still grueling and gung-ho “Recon Challenge” at Camp Pendleton, California. After a predawn swim in the Pacific, two-man Marine Recon and Marine Raider (and Navy recon corpsmen) teams run in boots-and-utes with rucksack and weapon, enduring a nonstop series of grueling events in the pool, on the range and along Pendleton’s roller-coaster scrubby hills.

A close parallel to the HITT championship may be the Army’s “Best Warrior” competition, a four-day contest where soldiers complete tactical challenges, written exams and fitness events in more battlefield-like environments. The top 10 soldiers and 10 noncommissioned officers who’ve bested their local competitors will vie for the title at this year’s contest, to be held Sept. 26-Oct. 3 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virgina. The Army National Guard held its own contest on June 22 at Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Events included a 14-mile ruck march.

The Air Force’s 1st Air Support Operations Group put airmen through grueling individual challenges and 22 events over a week in July for “Cascade Challenge 2016.”

The contest, held at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska this year included navigating the wild Alaskan forests with body armor and 50-pound rucksack.

The Navy takes a different tack in sailor competition. Its surface fleet of destroyer, cruiser and frigate crews each year showcase their athletic and professional naval skills during “Surface Line Week.” Sailors went toe-to-toe in firefighting drills, valve packing, welding, small-arms shooting, sailing and stretcher-bearer races. Team events include dodgeball and soccer, so fun is the operative word.

East Coast units this year even raced off in a cardboard boat regatta.

MIGHTY FIT

How to use the gym to manage stress

You are probably living in a state of chronic stress. That means you always feel some base level of uneasiness, all the damn time, and not just when your drill sergeant is screaming in your face.


Thinking about the PFT? Chronic stress. Conducting the PFT? Acute Stress.

(pixabay.com)

Chronic versus acute stress

Chronic stress and its associated hormones prevent the human body from operating the way it is supposed to. For instance, people who are chronically stressed tend to get sick more often and more severely than those that have a healthier amount of acute stress. This is a classic example of the body following the mind. A sick body follows a sick mind.

In his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky explains how mitigation of chronic stress is imperative for health, not just physical health but also mental health, spiritual health, and emotional health. One way to learn how to handle that stress is to observe those who are composed and calm.

Calm as a cucumber, but ready to make some gains.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

Some of the calmest people in the world are as follows, in no particular order:

  • Power-lifters
  • Olympic lifters
  • Sprinters
  • Fighters
  • Operators
  • Explosive athletes
  • Endurance athletes
  • People on their deathbed… sometimes

Most of these groups of people have something in common. They purposely put their body under extreme acute stress and learn to overcome it. Acute stress is the much shorter and easier-to-overcome type of stress. It gets our hearts pumping and our bodies primed for action.

Most of the above activities will satisfy your physiological requirement for release. I don’t recommend waiting until your deathbed to accept your fate and finally find peace though…

Consistency of effort breeds progress…Same shit, different day, better person.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

Why lifting makes the most sense

The goal is to expose ourselves to acute stress so that we can mitigate chronic stress. I prefer barbell movements for this, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s an economic use of time. → The same physiological end-state can be met in 5 minutes of heavy back squatting as it would after running a marathon or fighting in a cage for 5 rounds.
  2. It’s the safest of these modalities. → Barbell movements require the least amount of time under stress, so overuse is mitigated. The movements are a skill that have proper form, whereas the other methods are more dynamic and therefore have a greater chance of something going awry.
  3. It’s measurable. → The weight doesn’t change. 400lbs will always be 400lbs. The more constants in an equation, the easier it is to solve for (x). For instance, let’s say you decide to sprint. If the wind is blowing in a different direction, or the incline of your running path is just slightly different, it could completely change your output, and thus require more or fewer iterations than the previous session. For a quantitative person, this is too many variables to have to constantly calculate.

Check out that support system in action… It’s a beautiful stress reducing thing.

(Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash)

How the weight room meets the recommendations

The American Psychological Association has set some recommendations to help manage stress. Allow me to show you exactly how 3-4 strength training sessions focused on compound movements satisfies all these recommendations.

  • Set limits – Drop a heavy set of bench press on your chest one time and you will learn how to set limits. Understand that the bench press is a metaphor to literally pushing tasks through to completion. One task too many and you crumble. This lesson applies to all other facets of life.
  • Tap into your support system – Being part of a team is something we all need. Many of us joined the military for this very reason. Having workout partners that rely on you to keep them safe and healthy is one of the purest forms of community available to us today.
  • Make one health-related commitment – There are countless hormonal and physiological benefits of weightlifting. Your health-related commitment to the back squat is to survive and not allow the weight to crush you and your ego. It teaches us that we have the power to get those heavy life issues that are weighing us down off our backs – one rep at a time.

Overcoming acute stress in the great outdoors just like our ancestors.

(Photo by: Frame Kings)

  • Enhance your sleep quality – The body craves movement and adversity, and when it overcomes that adversity through physical dominance it feels like it can relax. Sleep is your body’s way of rewarding you for putting in work.
  • Strive for a positive outlook – Have you ever seen someone frown after a super heavy deadlift? Nope. Usually, they start smiling as soon as the hips lockout at the top. It’s really hard to think the world is all doom and gloom when you repeatedly prove to yourself that you can move a previously immovable object with a smile.
  • Seek additional help – This is where spotters, gym buddies, coaches, and veteran gym rats come in. Put in enough time and work, and eventually, you’ll be the one the young guys look to for approval and guidance. It’s extremely difficult to be stressed when you exude confidence and have the battle scars and stories to prove it.

Pleasant lifting.

MIGHTY FIT

The Burpee Mile Challenge is the perfect way to end 2020

Looking for a ridiculous fitness challenge to keep you on track this winter? Or maybe you’re just tired of the same old boring lift routine and need something new. Well, friends, let us introduce you to one of the most insane things to come out of CrossFit ever – the Burpee Mile Challenge.

You read that right – burpees for an entire mile.


The challenge isn’t so much about competing for a specific time, as it is one of those things you can say you’ve done and cross off your list. Like running the Red Bull 400 or completing a Ragnar, doing the Spartan Death Race, marathon rucking, or ultramarathoning.

So let’s talk about this challenge – what it is, the benefits of it, and how you can safely train to complete it.

The Burpee Mile challenge isn’t one of Crossfit’s better known WODS (Workout of the day) – it doesn’t classify as a Hero WOD that pays tribute to military and first responders, and it’s not one of the Girl WODs, but it’s definitely a benchmark. Doing burpees for an entire mile will test not just your physical ability to do over 800 burpees but also your mental toughness as well. First, the official rules: You must cover one-mile using burpees only. You can jump forward as far as you want for each burpee, but you’re not allowed to walk forward. So that’s on track to be a complete, full mile of burpees. Gross.

But the sneaky trick here is that you can jump forward as far as you want (or can). That means all your movement doesn’t have to come from burpees alone. That’s key if you’re really considering this challenge.

The best part is you don’t need any special equipment – just a stretch of distance to measure your progress. Gloves are a good idea if you’re doing this on anything other than soft ground since your hands are likely to get destroyed. A good goal time should be around 2 to 3 hours for beginners (that’s anyone who’s new to the painful love of burpees), 1.5-2.5 hours for intermediate burpee lovers, and for folks who knock out 100 burpees a day just for fun, your time should be less than two hours.

Keep in mind if you’ve never done a burpee in your life, this might not be a good challenge for you to try.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joel Mease)

So what are the benefits and what’s the point?

Well, the benefits are scant, to be honest. Sure, you’ll get a really good cardio because, of course, that’s going to happen when you perform so many burpees and broad jumps. But you’ll also fatigue your entire body, since burpees are a full-body movement. The combination of great cardio and improved muscle endurance will definitely put you one step closer to becoming stronger, leaner, and faster.

Benefits aside, the point is that the Burpee Mile is a workout that you’re going to want to quit … over and over and over again. It’s mentally challenging, just like running a marathon or doing a Spartan Race, and that’s the whole point. Challenging your mental stamina is all about perseverance and the Burpee Mile will definitely help with that.

Things to consider

A track is best for all these burpees because you’ll be safer than on the road, and it’s easier to measure distance. Make sure you have water and snacks like fast-acting carbs set up at various points along the route. You’re definitely going to need to refuel at least once during this challenge because it takes so much out of you.

As for clothing – long pants are best since you’re dropping to the ground. Knee sleeves can be a good idea, too, if you have those. No matter what, though, make sure you have a pair of gloves on – otherwise, your hands are going to get destroyed.

Don’t start off too fast. Just like with any other endurance race, save your go-go juice for when you really need it. Keep your jumps measured. Don’t try to jump too far. That just wastes energy and you’ll fry your legs.

Of course, the most common mistake is failing to train properly for this weird challenge. Don’t expect to walk onto a track and perform two hours’ worth of burpees right out of the gate. Work toward this goal by adding in several sets of burpee broad jumps to your existing routine. You know you’re ready to try the challenge when you can do 45 minutes of burpees without dying.


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:

For the uninitiated, these are Dragon Flags. GIF: Youtube/BaristiWorkout

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

GIF: Youtube/Dan Blewett

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

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.

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

8 rules everyone should live by while in the gym, but don’t

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!

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

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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.

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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.

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Nailed it!

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

Seriously!

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.

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Creepy!

No gawking

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.

MIGHTY FIT

Peloton instructor leans on military mindset to push riders through pandemic

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.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.