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

5 ways to work out with a trainer without paying for it

It’s no secret that enlisted troops don’t make a lot of cash (especially when you think about what’s asked of them). The military has mandatory fitness requirements for active troops, but even so, PT sessions concentrate on limited exercises geared toward passing the PT test. Many servicemembers also have families who want a healthy lifestyle, but who can’t afford a gym membership.

Most military base gyms are pretty exceptional but, like all tools, these workout faculties don’t mean sh*t unless you know how to use them. Hiring a personal trainer to put you through a series of workouts can get super pricey and most troops can’t afford someone’s expert advice on how to get leaned out.

So we came up with a few ways to help you learn from those expensive trainers without paying a freakin’ cent.


Learn workout tips from trainers as they work with their other clients

In many of the non-exclusive gyms, once you enter the facility you’ll notice many of the trainers are putting their clients through their paid workouts out in the open. This is a great time to be at the gym.

Now, without looking like a complete stalker, it’s okay to take mental notes of what exercises they’re conducting and how they are performing them.

You can use that visual information and put it in your bag of workout routines for later. If you just happen to overhear the trainer’s personal critique of a specific exercise, then that’s a huge plus.

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We don’t care what it is — it’s free!

Search for free personal training vouchers online with no commitments

One of the best ways for physical trainers to build their fitness empires up is by online marketing and their clients’ word of mouth. The hardest part for any trainer is to get you through their door and meet with them face-to-face. To get you into their gyms, many will offer you free training sessions to prove they can bring value to your lifestyle.

If you go through with the free sessions, make sure you read all the fine print on the voucher so you’re not falling into a more significant commitment than you thought. Free personal training vouchers could be your golden ticket to a healthier lifestyle.

Casually talk to trainer and have them pitch you why they should train you

Trainers are always looking for new clients; this makes them super approachable. In fact, they will try and make eye contact with you so they can start a casual conversation with you that will hopefully lead to you setting up an appointment with them. If you want to outsmart them and get some free training, you can tell them your fitness goals and they might recommend a workout program you’ve never heard of.

Take that information to the internet and research what the hell they were talking just about. You can save money by watching free video streaming services — let ad revenue pay for your work-out!

www.youtube.com

Watch one of several thousands free training videos on YouTube

The fitness market is flooded with ripped men and women trying to teach you their way of training using YouTube as their distribution system. All you have to do is type what workout you’re looking for and at the touch of a button, you’ll have thousands of training videos to choose from at no cost.

Everyone wins in this scenario. The YouTube trainer expands their personal following and you get great advice without shelling out boatloads of cash.

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We said “discreetly!”

Discreetly watch the other fit people

Ripped people at the gym have put in the time to build that muscle mass.

If you have no idea what exercises do what, discreetly take a look at what the ripped gym-goers are doing and how they are doing it.

Like they say, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Learn the movements and attempt to mimic what you just saw — with a manageable weight. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than spending your hard earned cash on a trainer.

FYI: Sorry to all the fitness trainers out there for this article c*ck block. But we’re telling the truth.

MIGHTY FIT

The correct way to train while injured

If you are asking any variation of “should I keep training even with (XYZ) injury or condition?” The answer is yes.

Then nuance ensues. You can’t necessarily keep training how you were before, and you definitely shouldn’t be training at the same intensity that you were before. At least not initially.


This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

Just keep movin’

You need to dial it back, not off

You can still bench if you injure your ankle.

You can still squat if you hurt your elbow or shoulder.

That’s obvious. The body part that is injured will require some adjustment but the rest of your body is probably fine.

But if you injure your ankle or any part of your lower body you can still squat too; you just need to dial it back to what you can do with no pain.

I go in-depth on how to recover from an acute injury here.

One of my favorite sayings around this topic comes from Dr. Jordan Feigenbaum over at Barbell Medicine; it goes like this:

“…What are you gonna do? Not train?”

Not training isn’t an option. You should just remove it from your list of possibilities right now.

As a military professional, you need to find another way…

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

Do things properly and you’ll never have an issue.

You need to target the issue

Target the root cause, not the injury.

The incident/exercise that you’ve targeted as the cause of your injury or pain IS NOT the cause of your injury or pain. It is merely the culminating event. Your chronically bad form or overly aggressive programming is the cause. Honestly, it’s most likely a combination of the two.

The most common example I see often is people doing deadlifts for time, (WOD anyone?) with sh!tty form where they:

  1. Bounce the weight and “catch” it with their low back in flexion
  2. Hyperextend their low back at lock out at the top of the rep
  3. Have a fundamental lack of understanding as to why these are bad things.
  4. These are things you will never have to worry about if you’re doing the Mighty Fit Plan

This type of action with heavy weight repeatedly is a recipe for an acute injury, as well as chronic stress. The athlete deadlifting in this fashion often comes to the conclusion that deadlifts are bad and cause injuries.

That’s a false narrative.

What they were doing is bad and causes injuries, not deadlifts.

More times than not, I see that poor form translate into the lifting of all things, including luggage, small children, a case of beer, and dropped pencils.

Don’t let a training injury translate into you joining the sedentary epidemic.

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

Treat the root cause

Targeting the issue doesn’t mean you stop training

Demonizing a movement or activity like deadlifts is a red herring. Taking them out of your life will do nothing for all of those other times you have to pick something up in your life as I mentioned above.

Pain from deadlifting is just a symptom.

The root cause is poor form.

This is a good thing. This means you can do anything and need not fear any one particular movement or activity.

It also means you never have to stop training. You just need to dial things back.

Root causes are what really makes us tick or not tick.

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

There’s always a way to simplify if you can control your ego.

An example: How to dial back deadlifts

You should regress your exercise until you get to the point of no pain. That implies that you start by dialing back range of motion, weight, and intensity.

Here’s how I would do that for a theoretical low back issue as I mentioned above:

  1. Stop doing deadlifts for time. Events for time are for people that have perfect muscle memory of a movement, your injury has proved that you aren’t at that point.
  2. Reduce the range of motion. If it hurts at the top of the movement, don’t do that part. Hurts at the bottom? Do a rack pull.
  3. Drop weight. If you can do the full exercise at a lighter weight, do that. Use a weight in which you are at less than a four on the pain scale of 1-10.
  4. For a full run down on ALL the possible deadlift form fixes to correct low back pain check out this bad boy.

Something you need to mentally accept here is that you’re not “gonna be gettin’ it” like you were before the injury. BUT, you’ll still be training.

Again, for a more in depth conversation on this topic, check this out.
This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

Rebuild one part at a time… that’s good advice.

The process of champions

This is the smart process. It will get you back in the saddle quickly and smartly. Three to six weeks of reducing your training on exercises that cause pain will ensure that you properly rehab your injury AND ensure that you continue the habit of training.

It will prevent you from sitting on the couch and waiting for yourself to “heal.” It’ll prevent you from writing off entire exercises or workout modalities for the rest of your life.

Knees hurt? Check out this article on how to get them back to 100%.

It’ll flex your patience muscle. Being patient with your body is not easy, especially when you used to be able to do something. Patience is a great thing to hone so that when you get old and frail, you don’t become one of those curmudgeons who hate the world for how it wronged you. (Damn, that got deep.)

It’s all connected people. Use your training as a testing ground for the positive character traits you value and want to exhibit in your everyday life.

Heal smart and keep training!

If you want to train smart so that you never have to worry about this recovery process, check out my video course for how to set up your training to workout smarter and more effectively here.
This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community
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.

MIGHTY FIT

Engineers develop new strength-based physical readiness program

Company D, 31st Engineer Battalion, at Fort Leonard Wood is one of a small handful of training units piloting a new concept in physical readiness mirrored on characteristics of the new Army Combat Fitness Test.

The Strength Training Program was developed by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine’s Training and Education Development Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, who looked at an assessment of Soldier physical fitness in relation to the Army Physical Fitness Test.

“The APFT does not adequately assess the domains of muscular strength, explosive power, speed, agility, flexibility and balance,” said Capt. Jeffry O’Loughlin, Company D commander. “This new physical training program was developed to better prepare a Soldier’s readiness for the demands of the modern battlefield by focusing on all aspects of combat fitness — similar to the aim of the ACFT.”


According to Maj. Donny Bigham, head strength coach for the Tactical Athlete Performance Center at Fort Benning and developer of the program, the pilot’s purpose is two-fold.

“First, it will increase lethality and survivability through physical dominance,” he said. “Second, it will increase readiness by reducing musculoskeletal injuries in order to improve a unit’s mission capability in the operational force.”

According to O’Loughlin, the program has a balanced design to attain the new physical readiness training goals to develop strength, endurance and mobility. The current fitness model has 47 aerobic sessions, 18 anaerobic sessions, zero strength sessions and zero mobility sessions.

“The Strength Training Program Delta Company implemented consists of 16 aerobic sessions, 16 anaerobic sessions, 19 strength sessions and 19 mobility sessions,” he said. “It deliberately integrates more strength and mobility workouts into the schedule to increase physical readiness in all aspects. The current model only builds muscular endurance — we instead instruct proper form while lifting heavier weight. Correspondingly, trainees are better prepared to complete warrior tasks and battle drills, such as casualty extraction.”

The program allows for strength and endurance development into the performance of basic military skills such as marching, speed running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, crawling and combatives.

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

Staff Sgt. Daniel Yeates, a drill sergeant with Company D, 31st Engineer Battalion, demonstrates to trainees the proper technique for a kettlebell bent-over row. The company is piloting a new concept in physical readiness called the Strength Training Program, which is designed to reduce injuries throughout Basic Combat Training.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jeffry OLoughlin)

“The ACFT will utilize six assessments at a minimum to capture all of the essential attributes of a Soldier to ensure nothing is overlooked in training the Soldier as a tactical athlete,” Bigham said. “The combination of fitness components, along with the performance fitness skills provide a better picture of the true functional competence required to physically dominate any mission related tasks. This program ensures exercise order, variation and the specificity necessary to be successful on today’s battlefield.”

As part of the new program, an assessment divides trainees into three ability groups — advanced, trained and untrained — and the results seen so far in Company D over 18 months show an overall increase in APFT scores and decrease in injuries. From 2018 through the most recent training cycle to be completed, Company D went from 26 injuries to 11, eight, seven, and finally just four. At the same time, O’Loughlin saw average physical training scores jump from 212 to 227 (237 to 248 in advanced individual training).

O’Loughlin said he feels much of that success can be equated to this new way of thinking in Army physical training.

“This program is not just about lifting kettlebells,” he said. “We also consider active recovery with mobility sessions with rollers and balls to break up adhesions and scar tissue to speed up the healing process and help prevent over-training.”

According to Bigham, seven training units have completed the program so far, and currently all trainees assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning are piloting the program as of Oct. 1 of this year. Across the board, he’s seeing injury numbers halve, while APFT failure rates are about a third of what they were previously

“Physical training should be the number one aspect when it comes to improving lethality on the battlefield,” he said. “It must be mandatory to ensure Soldiers have the tools in their kit bag to win the last 100 yards. This strength-based program will be a force multiplier that will increase lethality, combat effectiveness, moral and ethical decision making, overall readiness and survivability on any battlefield that enemies pose a threat to our nation.”

This article originally appeared on Army.mil. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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:

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community
For the uninitiated, these are Dragon Flags. GIF: Youtube/BaristiWorkout

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

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community
GIF: Youtube/Dan Blewett

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

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community
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.

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community
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

5 health tips you should think about on cheat day

You’ve spent week after week dieting to prepare yourself for your unit’s command fitness test because you want to do your absolute best and make weight. However, it’s hard as hell to stick to a diet with all those delicious foods out there to enjoy — we’re only human, after all.

Skipping out on tasty treats in order to shed a few pounds isn’t any fun, but it does work. However, we all deserve to cheat on our diets once every week or so to reward ourselves for making excellent progress. Like everything in life, properly cheating on your diet is all about timing and efficiency. Here’s how to do it right.


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Protein!

Add some protein

When people cheat on their structured meal plan, they tend to scarf down carbs and love every minute of it. However, adding some protein to your cheat meal allows all those carbohydrates to escort that nutrition into storage — which helps increase your metabolism.

By adding some protein to your cheat meal, you’ll continue to build lean muscle even after you ditch the diet. Also, adding protein will fill you up quicker, making you less likely to overeat.

Put some lemon in your water

About 15 minutes before your cheat meal, put some fresh-squeezed lemon into your water. This will help you digest food your body is no longer accustomed to consuming.

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Sit down during your meal

When tend to eat faster when we’re standing up. Sit down, slow down, and enjoy your meal. Not only will you fill up more quickly, it’s also more comfortable. This is your cheat day — treat yourself.

Chew your cheat meal slowly

When you scarf down a cheat meal, you typically don’t feel so awesome afterward. Consider chewing each bite of food around 8-10 times before swallowing. This process allows your body to release a hormone called leptin. When this unique hormone is released, it tells your body it’s getting full.

So, the more slowly you eat your cheat meal, the less likely you’ll earn those love handles back.

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Don’t skip your workout

After a solid workout, your body’s insulin sensitivity is higher and proactively absorbs nutrients. Your body has a tendency to take more of the positive nutrients out of that high-carb meal.

Resistance workouts are ideal for when you cheat on your diet.

MIGHTY FIT

Team RWB invites you to accept the 1776 Challenge!

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

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

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


Up for the challenge?

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

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

Learn More!

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

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.


 

This fitness app was designed by veterans for the military community

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

How a lack of sleep could be affecting the weight problem in the military

The most recent Health Related Behaviors Survey for the Department of Defense, conducted by the RAND Corporation, has been released recently — and, spoiler alert: it’s not looking so good.

While the study covers a wide array of health problems, the biggest standout — the one that ruffled everyone’s feathers — was that, across every branch, over sixty percent of troops are overweight or obese. The Army took top “honors” with a whopping 69.4 percent while the Marines achieved a slightly slimmer 60.9 percent.

But this isn’t the most alarming statistic.


Troops are also getting less sleep than before. There’s no denying the connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Troops are still PTing their asses off early in the morning along with eating relatively well, which makes it pretty easy to identify the real root of the problem.

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It’s not hard to point out why troop’s get little sleep nor why their sleep is so awful.
(U.S. Army photo)

 

As noted by the Military Times, nearly sixty percent of all troops have reportedly gotten far less sleep than needed. Another research study conducted by the Journal of Sleep Research concludes that both insomnia and sleep apnea are on the rise among service members. This surely contributes to the nine-percent of all troops that have reported daily or near-daily use of sleep medication.

Contrary to popular belief, sleeping more is not a symptom of laziness, a laziness that many point to as the cause of weight issues. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A lack of sleep throws a person’s hormones that regulate hunger, ghrelin and leptin, out of order. Getting just four hours of sleep will impact your body’s ability to accurately determine its food intake needs.

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Your best bet is to eat three solid meals a day to curb hunger.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Riley Johnson)

 

Of course, eating too much junk food is going to increase weight gain. But did you know that the opposite — eating one meal a day (which is usually junk food or a late-night binge meal) — is often just as bad. Fat buildup is the body’s way of conserving energy. If you’re starving your body throughout the day and, right before going to bed, loading up on pizza and beer, your body will instinctively hold that junk food because that’s all you’re giving it.

While has been proven that intermittent fasting (intentional or not) does not have adverse effects on metabolism, it’s still very unhealthy — especially when combined with the metabolism drop that comes with a lack of sleep.

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It’ll be a hell of a work out, I’m sure. But don’t expect it or the training to cut fat off the formation.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kelsey Miller)

 

Which scenario is more likely within the military? That a slight change in PT schedule was so widespread and disastrous that well over half of troops are now more fat — or that an increasingly competitive and stressful environment is causing troops to skip meals and sleep to accomplish arbitrary missions in a garrison environment?

And since the Army Combat Readiness Test, the new PT test for the Army, focuses more on physical strength over cardiovascular endurance, expect them to keep the top spot for the foreseeable future.

MIGHTY FIT

How to get some sleep if you’re a veteran

We veterans suck at sleeping and relaxing. We got used to going 1000 miles an hour for an indefinite period of time until we were told by our OIC to take some leave and get our shit together before we burnout.

As civilians, that time may never come. For better or worse, you probably don’t have anyone that remotely resembles an OIC in your life anymore.


If we are looking at each day as a mini-deployment cycle, that means after work we should be taking leave, getting psychologically evaluated, spending time with family, and caring for ourselves.

I don’t mean this as a joke either. If we are constantly managing the damage each day inflicts on us, we are more likely to thrive in our post-military lives.

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You can talk about computers, chalkboards, sunglasses or life.

(Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

The elements of chilling out

Connect with others. The purpose of the work day, like deployment, is mission accomplishment, not necessarily forming bonds and finding common ground with others. We do need real connections with other people though. The recent bestseller Lost Connections beautifully lays out how a lack of meaningful connection in our lives is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety.

Bond with your kids, join a book club, talk to your high school best friend, volunteer at the soup kitchen. It doesn’t much matter, as long as the conversations you’re having get past talking about work and the weather. Enter the conversation with the intention of learning something new about your fellow human.

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Who am I?… Typical Derek Zoolander reflection questions.

(Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash)

Reflect on the day. Run an after-action report on your day. You can write it down or just think about it. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • How can I carry my wins today into tomorrow?
  • How can I learn from my losses today to make tomorrow better?

Once you’ve reflected, write down your learning points and forget it for the rest of the night. You can apply lessons learned tomorrow.

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It doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to be “good” at it.

(Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash)

Wind down your body. Maybe you haven’t had the chance to train yet today, if so… get your ass training. If you have already, it’s time to cool down physically, as this will help you to cool down mentally as well. I prefer a static stretch while I watch old episodes of the Office or YouTube videos on the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. It doesn’t have to be something complicated.

Whatever you decide should include the intention of releasing stress and tension from your body. Dedicated breathing, a bubble bath, or a glass of whiskey while staring at the stars can all work if the intention is correct.

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Stare into the stars and calm things down.

(Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash)

Wind down your mind. Sometimes this happens in tandem with cooling down the body, sometimes we need more. Yeah, meditating is f*cking great for this, but it isn’t a requirement.

Just like above, choose an activity that you intend to serve the purpose of letting go of the day’s stresses. Reading, listening to Miles Davis, or calmly venting to your spouse can all serve this purpose.

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A full day for you to rest and repair so you can tear shit up again next week.

(Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash)

Take a day off.

Having a daily rest and relaxation plan is the first line of defense, but sometimes life gets messy. It’s rare that the work day actually ends at 1700 or that you don’t have other obligations in the evenings. This is precisely why the Sabbath was created–even God needs to rest.

Taking a rest day doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion if you don’t want it to. What it is, is a day where you schedule things that are restorative and relaxing.

Physically your body needs time to recover. When stress hormones are high, your immune system and internal recovery procedures are compromised. Any type of stress can and will impede your ability to recover, even if it’s the kind of stress you may enjoy.

When we weight train we are literally causing damage to our muscles. They can only fully be repaired with proper nutrition and dedicated rest.

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I dare you to sit on the beach and do nothing except watch the waves. It’s harder than you think.

(Photo by Auskteez Tran on Unsplash)

Type-A personalities AKA most of you

Many veterans are some degree of a type-A person. If you:

  • Like stress
  • Are hyper-alert
  • Have little patience
  • Are a workaholic
  • Love schedules

You probably fall into this category.

Type-A people like to do things that get them going and dislike the idea of unwinding. They like to work out at super-high intensities. If they aren’t sweating gallons, they feel like they haven’t done anything.

Telling one of you guys to chill and unplug for a day probably feels like I want you to take a vow of silence and live in a monastery. Take heed, the research shows that you are not necessarily anymore immune to stress than the rest of us without mitigating practices like above. In fact, as a type-A personality, you may even be more at risk for health issues or low performance than others.

Here is the evening routine I use with many of my clients to help them wind down. Keep in mind, it is not doctrine, it’s guidance.

Also please, take 2 minutes on this survey and help Michael and the other Mighty FIT writers create the content that you want to read. Thank you!

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MIGHTY FIT

100 bodyweight squats vs 10 barbell squats

Why are you working out? That’s always the first question you should be asking yourself. I’ve been asked on multiple occasions about the benefit of doing bodyweight exercises as a replacement for barbell training. Usually, they go something like this:

“Are bodyweight squats better than barbell back squatting?”

To which my response is usually something like:

“Better, how?”

If your goal for working out is to get better at bodyweight squats …then sure, they’re better.

If however, your goal is to increase muscle mass, (which it is 90% of the time, whether you realize it or not,) well then, probably not. The reasoning relies on a theory called “effective reps.” But first!


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Real easy to get distracted.

Your time and attention

If you’re doing 100 repetitions of bodyweight squats, it’s going to take a while, minutes at the very least. That’s assuming you’re going as fast as possible, which will lead to your form breaking down.

If you’re slow and controlled and performing each rep perfectly, you’ll be spending much longer on 1 set.

No matter which way you decide to tackle this beast, one thing is going to take a hit:

  • Your time
  • Your form
  • Your attention

That right there is reason enough for me not to go this route.

On the other hand, if you’re doing sets of 10 reps on the barbell back squat, that’s something you can accomplish in under a minute with a relatively high level of concentration on form.

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​Quarter squats increase anterior knee pain. Just one of the many form failures that usually occur during body weight squats.

When form breaks down

How we move becomes etched in our brains as a motor pattern. If your form is bad on an exercise like the bodyweight squat, it will transfer to how you move in real life.

Eventually, that crappy form will lead to an injury. Maybe it will be when you try to pick up something heavy like a weighted barbell or an overweight baby. Maybe it will be from doing something you love like playing adult softball, hunting, or picking up overweight babies.

What usually happens when people get injured is that they demonize the activity they were doing when the injury occurred and completely ignore the other 99 things they did that actually contributed to the event that caused the injury.

It wasn’t that activity, that activity was just the straw that broke your CamelBak…(see what I did there).

So, if you’re half-assing 87 out of 100 bodyweight squats three times a week, and in turn, moving throughout your life with crappy/lazy movement, then it’s only a matter of time before you hurt yourself doing something that would have otherwise been enjoyable.

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Those are for sure effective reps.

Effective reps

The idea is that the closer a rep is to failure, the more effective it will be in recruiting the most amount of muscle mass and in turn be the best at building muscle.

Assuming you can only do 100 bodyweight squats and the last rep is quite close to failure, then 1 out of 100 is an effective rep…and it took you minutes to get there, and 87 or those reps sucked.

Assuming you’re in relatively good shape, you can actually do many more than 100 bodyweight squats so even rep 100 isn’t anywhere close to failure. That means you are getting ZERO effective reps. You basically just wasted minutes doing a bunch of crappy half-assed squats that did nothing except make you waste your precious time.

I should note that by “failure” I mean you couldn’t do one more rep no matter what, all of your leg muscles are on fire, and they feel like they are going to pop from the excess blood flowing into them. I do not mean that you’re bored or “kind of” tired from something and just want to stop. Register the actual difference.

On the contrary, weighted squats offer you the opportunity to feel like you’re approaching failure, usually around rep 6 or 7 out of a set of 10 if you choose an appropriate weight.

If you do 3-4 sets of back squats that’s nearly 16 effective reps, that’s a great session.

To top it off you don’t need to do 95 reps prior to getting there.

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People with long limbs tend to have a difficult time doing body weight squats in general. Their long torsos pull them onto their toes.

Conclusion

Bodyweight squats are great if you have no other option, if you just want to make a workout brutally annoying and also mildly difficult, or if you hate yourself. Otherwise, they are just a recipe for wasted time, establishing poor motor patterns, and not getting many effective reps.

If your goal is to build muscle, get stronger, burn fat, or workout smartly throw some weight on your back.

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Valgus knee collapsing imminent on the first Marine from the right.

References

Here’s a few links if your interest on effective reps has been peaked.

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MIGHTY FIT

The Back Squat: The full-body exercise king

The back squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises, especially by those who frequently squat — and those who like a nice booty. But does it live up to the hype? And, more importantly, should you be squatting to get you closer to your fitness goals?


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That’s what I call full-body stimulation. Even the face gets a workout…

(Photo by Senior Airman Alyssa Van Hook)

Muscle recruitment

The squat is touted as that exercise which recruits the most muscle mass with the most weight possible.

You may immediately think of thrusters as an exercise that proves this previous statement false. The problem there is that, strength-wise, the upper body lags behind the lower body. So, a weight that may be difficult for you to press overhead will likely be very easy to squat to depth with.

The back squat, on the other hand, isometrically engages the upper body without impacting the work of the lower body.

The barbell back squat actively works just about every muscle from the ribs down if performed correctly, and it also works the shoulders and upper back isometrically.

If you’re one of my clients, you are familiar with the cue, bend the bar over your back. This cue engages the pulling muscles of your back and arms even more, since you are literally trying to bend the bar over your back with your hands. This cue also has the benefit of locking your core into a tighter contraction, so that you can transfer more force from your legs into the weight.

How To Squat: Low Bar

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This is the same concept as trying to push a button with a noodle vs a rod. If it’s a really light button, you may be able to do it with a noodle, but it’ll be a lot harder because much of the force is being lost. The rod directly transfers all your energy straight into the button efficiently.

There isn’t another exercise that allows you to move as much weight as the back squat with so many muscles. It can be considered a true test of total strength. Not only that, but it can save you time.

If you only have 45 minutes for a workout, you will be able to hit more muscle groups faster by chunking them into compound exercises like the back squat. Five sets of squats will always be faster than 5 sets of leg extension, 5 sets of leg curl, 5 sets of calf raises, and 5 sets of glute bridges.

For the average trainee, this efficiency approach is more than sufficient for satisfying your need for muscular stimulation. If you are a bodybuilder, a different more isolative approach may be required. Remember, everything is dependent on your goals.

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More muscle mass equals more testosterone. The squat is highly effective at building lower-body mass.

(Photo by Sgt. Roger Jackson)

Hormonal response

The typical bro-scientist states that the back squat is superior in raising anabolic hormones, like testosterone and growth hormone, which then act like a systemic steroid that boosts your muscle-gaining ability throughout your whole body. This is true to an extent, specifically when you are training at 90% intensity with heavy weights. The boost lasts for about 15-30 minutes.

A 15-30 minute spike of testosterone is enough to make you feel awesome, boost your mood (it has been shown to positively affect both anxiety and depression), and help you keep on gettin’ after it in the gym. 15-30 minutes isn’t enough to boost whole body muscle growth to any considerable degree though. Don’t worry, though — it still helps.

I’ll let that sink in…

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You don’t need growth hormone to get huge. You do need it to keep those muscles on the bone though.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo)

Growth hormone, despite its name, doesn’t help grow your muscles at all. Its name is super misleading and will probably continue to confuse people — at least until we start communicating via telepathy and no longer have a use for words.

Growth hormone actually grows connective tissue, like tendons and ligaments. It’s still super important, because without it, your huge muscles would tear right off the bone when you flex.

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350+ lbs on your back will stimulate growth and your desire to be strong.

(Photo by Airman BrieAnna Stillman)

The real benefit

This spike in testosterone that you experience from heavy squats is enough to make you hungry for more weight, more reps, and more gains, which will result in higher motivation to continue getting in the gym.

The more consistent you are with your lifting sessions, the more muscle mass you will put on. That increase in muscle mass directly correlates to an increase in overall testosterone throughout the entire day, not just during your workout. It raises your testosterone baseline. That means you will have more energy, feel stronger in general, and have a higher capacity to burn fat in general.

We discussed the fat burning effects of resistance training here.

Staying consistent with the barbell back squat will have a huge effect on your overall progression towards being a better, stronger, and sexier human.

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