Often times, you’ll be working out at the gym and notice a few people writing in these small books when they finish a set. You might think they are writing some sort of story, but chances are they’re keeping a personal journal of their workout progress.
Similar to a having a diary, many gym-goers like to record various aspects of their workouts like how many reps they managed to complete, the exact weight on the bar, and how the exercise felt afterward.
Using a journal is an excellent tool to track all sorts of personal progress. If you’ve never considered tracing your fitness path, we compiled a few reasons that just might make you reconsider it as a valuable option in your life.
Whether you have a goal in mind, like lifting competitively, or just because you enjoy working out, accurately recording your gains is a stable way to track your improvements. Plus, if you’re going to brag about how much you lift, it helps to have it in writing.
Track your workouts
This sounds obvious, right? It may be hard to believe, but sometimes people forget what muscles groups they’ve worked on earlier in the week. Sure they hit triceps on Tuesday, but did they do pull-down or extension movements? Although most people don’t care about this type of record keeping, others find it to be a time-saving practice.
When most patrons enter the gym, they warm up, work out a specific muscle group, record the result, finish up, and then they leave. In the following week, they might check to see how many reps per set they were able to do during a particular exercise.
This week that weight may not feel so heavy. Because of recording that data, they know why: it’s time to add on!
Fitness is all about continually setting goals and breaking them. Recording your weekly weight loss is an excellent indication that your workouts and diet plan are being effective. If you don’t see improvements, you may have to look for flaws in your lifestyle and adjust them.
You know your body better than anyone else. By using your personal journal to debrief yourself, you can track what exercises you felt were the easiest and which ones you struggled with. This doesn’t mean you halt doing those movements that you thought were too hard.
It’s quite the opposite actually.
You should practice those physical motions you had a tough time with to strengthen your body. Fitness is all about setting goals and breaking right past them.
One of the biggest fitness mistakes people make is eating too many calories per day. Then, when they go on a diet, they make the critical error of lowering their calories by too much. By tracking your calories, both in-and-out, you’ll be able to manage your calorie intake more efficiently than just by simply guessing.
The buzz of the crowd had Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vaccaro on edge. Then a loud bang made him look around nervously.
He knew the noise came from a Zamboni machine, yet its exhaust made him think of the aftermath of a roadside bomb.
All his stress melted away immediately, however, as soon as he stepped out onto the ice.
“When I’m on the ice, no matter what happened before, everything dissipates,” he said. “It’s like a fresh start.”
Former Army Spc. Matt Holben, Capital Beltway Warriors assistant team captain and defensive player, hits the puck up ice during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional Hockey Challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Vaccaro is one of the co-founders of the Capital Beltway Warriors, a hockey team of veterans with disabilities founded two years ago.
Veterans on the team open up to each other and talk about how they cope with injuries, stress and other issues, said retired Maj. David Dixon, another co-founder of the team.
“It’s like a giant support group,” he said, “or therapy on ice, as we like to call it.”
Many of the players have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder from service in Iraq, Afghanistan or other hot spots, Dixon said. He personally survived four deployments to Iraq, where he was shot in the back and shaken up by three different improvised explosive devices.
Retired Maj. David Dixon, president and executive director of the Capital Beltway Warriors, makes game notes while coaching players between periods during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Dixon and a number of the other veterans also coach youth hockey teams and a few of them help with a local blind hockey team, the Washington Wheelers.
“Giving back to the community often gives them a sense of purpose,” Dixon said of the veterans, adding that it helps minimize depression and PTSD.
Dixon puts in more than 20 volunteer hours a week managing the Capital Beltway Warriors as president and executive director of the team. He helps solicit sponsors, run meetings, apply for grants, recruit players and schedule games.
“In a sick kind of way, I enjoy all the hard work,” he said. “You go from commanding troops to working in a cubicle,” he said about retiring from the Army and beginning a civilian job.
He explained that managing the hockey team gives him a renewed sense of purpose.
“You find that niche in life that gives you purpose and whether it has a monetary award or not, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
He helps make the games special for the warriors with lights, music, an announcer and filling the stands with veterans. Local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion in northern Virginia help bring veterans from retirement homes to the games, Dixon said.
Vaccaro also spends several hours per week helping the Capital Beltway Warriors and other veteran hockey teams. He spends a week every year helping run the USA Hockey camp in Buffalo, New York, where they select the national sled hockey team.
He serves as a referee for blind hockey and sled hockey. He helps stand up other Warrior division hockey teams. In November, he spent a few days in Philadelphia helping the Flyers start a warrior team.
“This is my therapy,” he said of the volunteer work. “This is what keeps me going.”
Former Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joey Martell, Capital Beltway Warriors team captain, takes a shot during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Spreading the word
Just over two years ago, Vaccaro met up with Dixon who was interested in starting a Warrior hockey team in Virginia.
They met in the Pentagon food court in December 2016. “We sat down and started sketching stuff out on napkins,” Dixon said.
They laid out plans for a team that would play in rinks across Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.
They found players by word of mouth. They showed up at “stick and shoot” sessions and asked if anyone was a military veteran with a disability rating.
Now they have 76 veterans with disabilities on the team and they play other warrior clubs. A game in Ashburn Dec. 22, 2018, pitted the USA Warriors from Maryland against the Capital Beltway Warriors. The teams also play in annual tournaments.
There are now 16 warrior teams across the United States. The minimum requirement to play on one of the teams is a 10 percent VA disability. Some of the players are 100 percent disabled and play with prosthetics.
Some of the veterans, like Vaccaro, have been playing hockey since they were 3 years old. Dixon, however, did not pick up the sport until he was 40.
Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vaccaro serves as referee for the charity exhibition game between the Capital Beltway Warriors and a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
In 2006 and 2007, Vaccaro was an advisor to an Iraqi Army unit in Ramadi. He and two Marines were on patrol when they were pinned down by machine-gun fire. Then an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade.
“It hit the wall in front of me and knocked me back. Next thing I remember, I heard this really loud ringing in my ears and there was a Marine dragging me back into the courtyard. They were calling for air support.
“We finished the patrol,” Vaccaro said, explaining aerial medical evacuation was not available. A doctor patched him up, and a couple of days later, he was back out on patrol.
After his tour in Iraq, he came back to Virginia, where he had been a reservist with the 80th Training Division. But he had PTSD issues. He decided to go to Liberia in western Africa as a contractor to help put about 2,000 Liberian soldiers through basic training.
“I thought that would help, but I just ended up coming back with the same issues,” he said. “That’s another thing: You can’t hide from this.
“Everybody handles PTSD in a different way. I tried the group therapy stuff and it just didn’t work.”
He received treatment and medication from Veterans Affairs, but the issues persisted. When he smelled fresh bread, for instance, it reminded him of the flatbread Iraqi soldiers baked every morning.
“That’s a good smell,” he said. But then his mind would continue to remember until he imagined the smell of an IED.
“You’ve got to face your fears. You’ve got to face your issues,” he said. “I was trying to hide from it and hockey has helped me open up and talk about it.”
About 10 years ago, he became involved in the first-of-its-kind USA Warrior hockey team stood up by a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.
“When I’m on the ice, things slow down; things are different,” Vaccaro said.
Both he and his family noticed the difference in him after playing hockey.
“It really helped me,” he said. “The first thing I said to myself when I started realizing that is, ‘I’ve got to get other veterans involved in this.'”
So he became the national representative for USA Hockey in its Warrior division to help stand up teams. He does that in his spare time when he is not working as a civilian employee for the Army Corps of Engineers or on duty as an Army Reserve NCO.
David Dixon, coach of the Capital Beltway Warriors, provides tactical advice to players between periods during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Gary Sheftick, Army News Service)
Dixon was coaching little league baseball when he was approached by his son’s hockey coach, Bobby Hill.
“He said he really liked the way I worked with the kids and he could use my help on the ice coaching,” Dixon recalled.
Dixon told him he did not skate, but Hill said he could take care of that. He got Dixon out on the ice and taught him the basics of hockey.
Dixon went to adult learn-to-play sessions Wednesday evenings at Ashburn Ice House. He participated in adult pick-up games after helping coach his son’s youth team.
He eventually took over as head coach of the Ashburn “Honey Badgers” peewee hockey team.
In the meantime, however, he heard of the USA Warriors hockey team and the effects it was having on disabled veterans in Maryland. He thought it would be great to bring the same benefits to veterans in northern Virginia.
Matt Holben (No. 19) of the Capital Beltway Warriors, and Joey Martell (No. 21) take the puck down ice with three members of a Congressional hockey challenge team not far behind, during an exhibition game Dec. 16, 2018 at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
(Gary Sheftick, Army News Service)
The warrior hockey program aims to provide purpose, education and camaraderie that veterans miss after they separate from the service, Dixon said.
The team creates an environment that in some ways simulates being back around a military unit, said Matt Holben, alternate team captain for the Capital Beltway Warriors.
“It feels good, because you’re back with the guys, you’re back with the unit,” he said.
“We’ve got members with both physical and mental disability,” he added. “It’s hard for them to share their story, but when you talk to them, it’s just that little bit of relief they get when they’re in the locker room and on the team.”
“We’re helping each other,” Vaccaro said. “And half of the guys don’t even realize we’re helping each other, but that’s what we’re doing.”
The help is not limited to the rink either, Dixon said.
There is another part to the program that informs veterans of benefits available to them and helps with issues.
Anything from service dogs to getting help building a house, to loans, and more is available, Dixon said.
“We don’t do it all ourselves. We reach out to other veteran service organizations to get the help and education these guys need,” he said. “We have a whole network of VSOs that we can tap into.”
Vaccaro summed it up: “It’s veterans helping veterans.”
John Brown, WR, Bills- Introducing your top fantasy scorer of week 11— John Brown. Brown is the best-kept secret in fantasy football, and an absolute stalwart of consistency. He is the only player in the NFL with at least 50 receiving yards in every game (putting him at 9.5+ in every single game). The only problem with Brown? His schedule includes ball-hawking secondaries down the stretch, including Pittsburgh and New England.
Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens- Ingram took the stand in his post-game press conference Sunday and basically said he’d toe-up with anybody who doesn’t think Lamar Jackson is an MVP. Very few people would take up that fight (maybe Russel Wilson would… or Ciara). However, Jackson should say the same about Ingram being a pro bowl RB. Ingram is the 12th highest scorer in running backs and a staple of the most dangerous offense in the NFL.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints- Michael Thomas just quietly broke the record for most receptions through 10 games in NFL history. He’s on pace to beat the single-season reception record, and is obviously a PPR wet dream. Just listen to his last four fantasy outings: 25.4, 28.2, 27.3, and 22.1…. Need to take a cold shower after that.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys- Well that annoying dude you went to basic with is finally right, the Cowboys have a quarterback who could throw for 400 yards. Dak threw for 444 and put up 31.6 fantasy points this last week en route to a stellar stretch of fantasy games. He has weapons, an offensive line, and a dynamite running back—sky is the limit for Dak come fantasy playoffs.
Mitch Trubisky and Jared Goff when they realize someone has to win the gamepic.twitter.com/u1SBcVfYqZ
Jared Goff, QB, Rams- The Rams are broken. Much like a femme fatale in an old noir flick, Goff secured his bag (4 years for 4 million) and immediately went missing. He looks confused, lethargic, and does not have the lethal running attack of yesteryear to float his poor play. He’s still owned in ~70% of ESPN leagues, while plenty of more viable options float around unclaimed.
Latavius Murray, RB, Saints- Murray’s streak of dominance in Kamara’s absence is over, and it is time for Murray to retreat back to the loamy fringes of deep 14 team league lineups. Murray is a talented downfield running back, but simply doesn’t have the opportunities moving forward to put up any kind of viable numbers, save for a vulture goalline TD here and there.
Devin Singletary, RB, Bills- Singletary has become a roster staple across the league, if only because of the shallow RB pool this year. It seems like he’s a consistent presence for starting rosters across ESPN, but after posting back to back single-digit performances against the Browns and the Dolphins (dis-respectfully), there are more promising backs floating around.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins- Well, the “Scary Terry” reign has ended as abruptly and disappointingly as his NBA counterpart “Scary” Terry Rozier’s did. He’s put up nothing but single-digit efforts since week 6. Barring injury, Haskins is going to be under center moving forward, which does not help his case.
Crazy circus catch by Deebo Samuel.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers- Samuel may be the most potent weapon in Jimmy G’s arsenal. Don’t buy it? Peep Deebo’s absolutely insane catch above. Outside of his catch-of-the-year caliber grab, he’s got back to back 19+ point games against fierce secondaries in Seattle and Arizona. He’s available in about 70% of leagues, and is worth a waiver while pickings are slim.
Ryan Griffin, TE, Jets- Griffin made use of a massive opportunity in Herndon’s injury. He had five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. He had multiple red zone targets from Darnold and, in a time when tight ends are at an insane premium, could be a viable option down the stretch.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons- Calvin Ridley is giving fellow ex-Alabama receiver Julio Jones some serious relief. When Jones draws double coverage and key safety attention, Ridley is punishing secondaries for not spreading the attention. It makes for a teeter-totter of production between the two receivers— but Atlanta’s offense is too much of a playground to ignore.
Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys- Gallup is trending upwards in fantasy production. Gallup is benefitting from lining up on the opposite side of Amari Cooper in the same way that Ridley benefits from playing alongside Julio Jones— he is able to torch the weaker coverage defensive backs. Gallup has put up three double-digit fantasy performances in a row and could be on a major upswing.
Nick Bosa, meet Larry Fitzgeraldpic.twitter.com/Q4NXIG2AnL
A really fun NFL fun fact: Fitzgerald has more career tackles than drops. Another fun NFL fun fact: that old man will still lay you out. Fitzgerald crack blocked the young phenom Nick Bosa in a poetic stroke of old school’s undying grip on all things tough. “Ok Boomer…”
If you struggle with exercises like pull-ups or the deadlift, chances are your legs and back aren’t to blame. It’s your weak-ass grip.
Have you ever used wrist straps while deadlifting or doing a back exercise?
If you have, then you know it’s usually much easier to go as heavy as possible. Why?
Your limiting factor isn’t that your back or legs are weak, it’s your grip.
For pull-ups, it’s more of the same story. You’ve probably noticed that doing exercises like rows and pulldowns for 10 to 15 isn’t too bad, even when the weight is more than your bodyweight. But doing the same for full range pull-ups is out of the question.
Again, it’s not your back that needs work but instead your grip strength.
If your weak grip is an issue and you want to learn some tricks for fixing it, check these suggestions out.
Bodyweight and weighted dead hangs
If you want a strong grip, try hanging on a bar for as long as possible. While it seems basic, chances are you can’t hang for more than a minute, at least at first.
Try jumping onto a pull-up bar with a pronated grip, where your hands are facing away from you. Allow your arms to fully extend overhead and hang unassisted for as long as possible. Then, repeat.
Once a minute is easy, start adding multiple sets.
When that gets too easy, add some extra weight with a dumbbell between your feet or thighs and repeat the process.
The best part about building grip strength is that the techniques to do so are simple. Just like with dead hangs, a great way to develop massive grip strength is to hold on to some heavy ass weight for as long as possible.
Similar to dead hangs, set up a barbell in a squat rack with the safety pins just above your knees. Then, work up to a weight that you would come close to maxing out on the deadlift for three reps. Hold the weight for as long as you can and work your way up to 60 seconds per set.
The only thing here is that for maximum benefit, you can’t use an alternate grip if you usually do while deadlifting. You do that because it’s easier to hold on, right?
Instead, use a pronated or double overhand grip while doing dead holds. It will be humbling at first, but over time, your grip will become unstoppable.
If you’ve got a weak grip, you also need to train the muscles in your hands that allow your fingers to stay firmly wrapped around the bar. One of the easiest ways to develop finger strength is the plate hold.
Depending on your grip strength, you want to start with a 10 to 45 pound weightlifting plate, like the ones you used to deadlift. Turn the plate vertical and grip the edge with your four fingers on one side and your thumb on the other.
Pick the plate up and hold for as long as possible. If you want an extra challenge, see how far your walk while holding the heaviest plate possible with your fingers.
It’s going to suck, but your grip will thank you.
Use a towel
No, seriously, using a towel to train is a lesser-known grip training tactic.
If you think doing a pull-up on a bar is challenging, try wrapping a towel around that bar and doing pull-ups while holding the towel instead.
The best thing here is that this tactic can be used with other equipment as well.
You can wrap the towel around the handle of a dumbbell or kettlebell and do curls or farmer’s walks. You can even use a towel for machines like lat pulldowns too.
Believe it or not, even repeatedly ringing out a thick towel is an effective way to build wrist and grip strength.
Just keep in mind, not all towels are created equal.
If you’re going to try and use this method for an exercise like pull-ups, place a crash pad underneath you, have a spotter or use a pull-up assist machine just in case the towel breaks.
If you have a solid training program that holistically trains your entire body, then grip strength probably isn’t a concern of yours. If you’re like most people and lack that training plan then sign up for The Mighty Fit Plan… it’s free and the perfect thing to help get your grip strength up to snuff.
Don’t forget to check out the Mighty Fit FB group for more Military and Veteran training greatness.
Think back to your poncho liner (or woobie, if that’s what you called it). For many of us, it was our most valuable piece of gear. Why? It kept us warm when it was cold and cool when it was hot. Many a veteran still has their poncho liner or bought one after they got out because they know it’s the best blanket out there — it did the best job under the worst conditions.
When we, the members of the military community, buy stuff, we fall back on if we used that item (or something similar) back in service and base a lot of our purchasing decisions on that.
When you buy work boots, you think of what worked best on all the forced marches, boots and utes runs, and standing around all day. When you buy a utility knife, you think of what worked best when you had to improvise fixing something outside the wire and all you had was the knife on your flack. Anytime you get a watch, belt, cold-weather jacket, backpack, workout gear — the list goes on — a lot of us think of similar items we used in Iraq, Afghanistan, on ship, during a training exercise, or when we were out in the field.
BRAVO SIERRA uses the principle of “agile product development” when it comes to designing their products. This company is founded by leading experts and operators across the consumer products and technology industries — a team of veterans and civilians — and they are using software to build a fast-response, product development platform.
BRAVO SIERRA calls their software, “BATTALION,” and it’s likely the future of consumer culture. They use a research, development, testing and manufacturing model that integrates the tester community throughout each step of the process, while engaging them through design and interaction.
Currently, the program and software allows BRAVO SIERRA to ensure the quality, relevance and performance of their products among their core community. The long-term goal is to constantly iterate product development, so the product you get tomorrow will be an upgrade from the one you purchased today. That’s a lot better than getting ‘military-grade’ products that were only tested in a lab, leaving you wondering which military they were graded for.
We looked at some of BRAVO SIERRA’s products and picked out the ones we think you should have when you’re out in the field, deployed, on ship, or outside the wire. We threw in real feedback from military members and veterans so you can see how well BRAVO SIERRA develops their personal care products.
Antibacterial Body Wipes
Body wipes come in handy when you need a quick shower alternative, need to clean your nether regions, wash your face, scrub your hands, or wipe down anything dirty. We’ve all had the wipes that easily fall apart, make you smell more like ass, or simply don’t do a good job. These wipes are on a different level. They are biodegradable, which makes them ideal for the field. They kill 99.99% of bacteria in 60 seconds and are 4x thicker than baby wipes.
Hair and Body Solid Cleanser
We have all done it while deployed: Taking a Navy shower, where you only have 30 seconds (maybe a minute, if you’re lucky) to lather yourself up as much as possible. BRAVO SIERRA’s Hair and Body Solid Cleanser is perfect for washing every part of your body (including that glorious low-reg you have going on). BRAVO SIERRA doesn’t use traditional harsh cleansing agents that strip your skin. The hydrating formula and coconut-derived cleansing agent allows you to use this product from hair to toe without drying skin, hair, face or scalp, even when you only have 30 seconds.
Hair/Body Wash & Shave
When you are out in the elements, the space in your ruck is invaluable. This is the ultimate space saver — soap, shampoo, and shaving cream in one. 2 out of 3 of the ‘three S’s are covered by this awesome product!
Face Sunscreen SPF 30
It’s happened to most of us — even those of us who tan. You have a bunch of layers — a flak, combat load, Kevlar and sunglasses — on while you spend all day outside the wire, in the turret during a long convoy, or walking on a really long patrol. You get back to your outpost or FOB, take off your gear… and you’re sporting a very clear, very pink outline of where your sunglasses once sat. Sunscreen is key when out and about and BRAVO SIERRA makes sunscreen that is geared toward enduring rugged terrain. It’s lightweight, non-greasy, non-shiny, non-sticky and best of all; fragrance-free.
Taking care of your body is important, whether you are in the roughest of environments or working a 9 to 5. Make sure you use the products that have been tested by, tweaked for, and proven to work for the military.
You’ve got lazy glutes and your knees are paying the price.
The valgus knee collapse, yes, you read that correctly. It’s that brutal-looking event that happens when your glute medius doesn’t know how to pull its weight.
If your knees are caving in when you squat, fix it by focusing on twisting your knees out and engaging the upper outside corner of your glutes AKA your glute medius. For some of you that simple correction will be enough to relieve your knees and clear up any pain.
In between sets of squatting perform 12-15 reps of the glute bridge. Really focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement and keeping your knees pointed out while bridging. This will cue your glutes to stay on when you get back to your sets of squatting.
It’s not always the glutes’ fault; sometimes the hip flexors are just as guilty. The majority of us spend all day sitting down with our psoas muscles and the rest of the hips flexors gang shortened and disengaged. It’s not totally their fault for not taking part in the squat.
By engaging your hip flexors, you’ll find it easier to sit back and down rather than crumbling forward into your knees like you may be doing currently.
Give your hip flexors some resistance between sets with your hands and force them to actively close your hip angle.
If that simple cue doesn’t work for you, use a resistance band to give you some errr…. resistance. Hang it up high and hold onto it with both hands. Then actively pull yourself down into the squat position by engaging your hip flexors.
The box isn’t there to make your life easier. It’s there to help you make the squat as efficient and gainful as possible. Put that box behind you and stick your ass out and back to the box. Just touch it with your butt and stand back up. Don’t linger down there relaxing.
Hit your obliques and rectus abdominis. Chops and ab wheel roll-out will do the trick here. Throw them at the end of any workout and go for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. They will make your core so stable that your knees won’t ever feel the secondary effects of a weak spine ever again.
Only squat once per week. Unless you love squatting or are competing you don’t need to do it more than 1 time a week. You have 3 major lower body movements; the squat, the deadlift, and the hip thrust. There’s no need to squat, especially if your knees bother you.
There’s only one person aside from the Secret Service who brings guns to the White House every day. That would be Chef Andre Rush, who can be found in the gym when he’s not cooking up a storm for the leader of the free world. As you can imagine, his fitness routine is heavy on arm work and (of course) his diet.
Rush not only tends to his biceps with what some might consider an excessive amount of curls, he also pumps up with the 22 Pushup Challenge every weekday, his part in raising awareness of the estimated 22 military veterans who die from suicide every day. Only, Andre Rush doesn’t just do 22. He does 2,222 pushups on top of his 72-hour rotating isolation schedule. Chef Rush is himself a military veteran who served in the Army before he ended up in the White House kitchen. He has served supper to Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and now Trump – and their families, of course.
Food is still, thankfully, bipartisan.
Rush joined the Army as a cook in 1994. His military career took him through culinary training before he started serving the goods at the Pentagon, and eventually, the White House. He retired only 18 months ago. He still works as a consultant for the White House.
“The camaraderie among the chefs reminded me of hanging out with my friends back in Mississippi, and I got tired of being serious and being out in the field 24/7,” he told Men’s Health Magazine. “Plus, I just love to eat!”
A diet for this force of a man consists of 12-24 hard-boiled eggs, only two of which are whole eggs. For the rest, he eats only the whites. He also downs his own peanut butter protein shake with blended quinoa and nonfat milk. For the rest of his training meals, he eats greek yogurt, oatmeal, and lean turkey – at the gym. He snacks on the turkey in the gym. For his afternoon meals, he consumes four roasted chickens.
Eat normal and have this shake every day, and weight will accumulate.
You can always eat more, if it’s sustainable…
Is that really enough?
If your goal is to really pack on size you should be more aggressive. BUT, if you’re a true hardgainer there’s a psychological barrier you need to overcome, or a more aggressive bulk will never work out for you.
One of the main hurdles for you to overcome is to become okay with your “abs” becoming softer. Skinny guys almost always take solace in their abs. It makes sense, everyone has abs if they can just get lean enough. Modern culture has decided that abs=strength. Not true.
Especially not true if the rest of your body looks emaciated.
Nevertheless, hardgainers find their identity in their stomach muscles that look more like extra ribs than something capable of protecting their midsection and developing power.
If that’s you, a more modest caloric surplus is the best way to start adding some size. You won’t “lose” your abs and may even start to see an increase in definition depending on how diligently you’re training.
If any of your bulking meals look like this you have a 99.99999% chance of having a bad time.
The dirty bulk, AKA eating like an asshole, is unsustainable for true hardgainers. It implies that you’ll get a few calorically heavy days and then go back to your normal eating patterns. Being a hardgainer means that you naturally eat less than you should, you can’t trust your body to intuitively want to eat more than will feel physically comfortable.
A more modest increase of 300-500 calories is much more sustainable for the time period it takes to gain muscle. On average, if you’re gaining more than 5 lbs a month, it’s going to be mostly fat. You don’t want that. The math of a 500 calorie surplus works out to about 4.5 lbs of muscle gain per month for a novice lifter. That’s right in the sweet spot.
Get the Mighty Fit Plan now and be first in line to get it fully supported in a mobile app for free.
If this article has spurred more questions than it’s answered, check out the Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, it’s in my Free Resources Vault over at Composure Fitness. This guide is the perfect compliment to the Mighty Fit Plan, which is about to get a huge update shortly. If you’ve already completed the plan or are interested in it, now is the time to sign up for it so that you can be one of the first people to experience the plan in all its mighty glory after the overhaul.
The trap bar deadlift isn’t a true deadlift. It’s somewhere between a squat and a deadlift. As a hip hinge stickler. it’s hard to watch just about every video I’ve seen of soldiers conducting this movement. There’s too much knee flexion most of the time.
The trap bar deadlift DOES use more knee flexion than a traditional deadlift. BUT it doesn’t need all the hip flexion you guys are giving it.
The reason there’s more knee flexion is because the handles on the trap bar are closer to your center of gravity than the bar is during a conventional deadlift. This means you don’t need to hip hinge as far forward with a trap bar.
But you still need to hinge.
You should only be bending at your knees, and hips for that matter, as far as you have to in order to reach the ground. If any part of your body is moving, but the bar isn’t, you’re wrong.
It’s a little bit like a squat and a little bit like a deadlift.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)
It’s not a true squat
This may seem like a weird statement. It’s called a deadlift, not a squat so obviously, the trap bar deadlift isn’t a true squat. Hear me out though.
Lower body movements are generally broken into two main groups:
Knee dominant movements
Hip dominant movements
The king hip dominant movement is the deadlift. The king knee dominant movement is the squat. The trap bar deadlift isn’t wholly a hip hinge like the conventional deadlift, and it isn’t wholly knee dominant like the back squat.
It’s somewhere in between the two.
Which if we’re being honest is how you should ideally pick something up. The trap bar deadlift assumes that you’re getting the weight as close to your center of gravity as possible, and you’re recruiting the most amount of muscle as possible (quads, hamstrings, and glutes).
Your hips should be lower and your knee angle should be smaller.
SO…It’s a hybrid
This is actually good. It means you can get more quad involved in the movement than a conventional deadlift. It also means you can get more hamstring involved than a traditional squat. This means you can be stronger in the trap bar deadlift…if you train for it properly with correct form.
The handcuff hinge is the go-to movement to teach a hip hinge. We are taught by people who don’t know what they’re talking about to fear lifting with our hips, often because lifting with the hips is confused with lifting with the back.
Your hips AKA your hamstrings and glutes can be the strongest muscles in your body if you train them using hip hinge movements like the deadlift or good mornings.
Use the handcuff hinge to help you commit the hip hinge pattern to your neural matrix. Check out the video above for specifics on how to perform it.
This is a really basic way to prep for this test.
(I made this.)
How to train: 3 MONTH PLAN
Because the trap bar deadlift is a hybrid between the squat and the deadlift, it’s super easy to train for. You should simply break up your strength days into three main lower-body movements. It can look something like this:
Monday: Conventional or Sumo Deadlift 3 sets of 3-10 reps at RPE 8
Wednesday: Back Squat 3 sets of 3-10 reps at RPE 8
Friday: Trap bar Deadlift 3 sets of 3-10
Your rep scheme should change every 4-6 weeks. Let’s say your ACFT is Jan. 1, I would break up your rep scheme to something like this leading up to the event.
Oct 7- Nov. 2: Sets of 10 reps
Nov. 3-30: Sets of 6 reps
Dec. 1-28; Sets of 3 reps
You’re busy; don’t waste your time doing Alternate Staggered Squat Jumps or Forward Lunges. They lack the ability to load heavy enough and are unilateral movements that require a balance component that’s completely irrelevant to the trap bar deadlift. If you have a plan that uses these movements, throw it in the garbage.
Being strong doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cool.
This article is intended to give you some basic information on the trap bar deadlift. It is by no means exhaustive. Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook or send me a direct message at email@example.com with your sticking points, comments, or concerns on the trap bar deadlift.
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.
As part of the crazy world of the military, our schedules are freakin’ hectic. We have a boatload of responsibilities to complete daily and, after everything’s done, we have to try and carve out time to get a solid workout in. That sh*t isn’t easy, but some types of exercise are easier to fit into a busy schedule than others.
So, to complement troops’ sh*tty schedules, some masterminds developed a workout technique called high-intensity interval training that will quickly get your heart pumping. The concept is simple, but effective: you perform short bursts of strenuous activity and sneak in even shorter periods of rest between.
Using this technique, trainers have come up with a 7-minute exercise routine that can be done virtually anywhere using just your body weight, a wall, and a standing platform. You’ll do 12 different exercises for 30 seconds each and reward yourself with 10 seconds of rest between each set. Although you don’t have to do the following motions in any particular order, we recommend that you start from the top with side straddle hops to get your blood pumping.
Let’s go over the routine:
First exercise: side straddle hops for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Wall sit for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Next exercise: push ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Pretty sure you did this exercise in high school. Sit-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Platform (or chair) step-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Side planks for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Air squats for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Triceps dips for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Planking for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Running in place for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Lunges for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Last exercise. Push up with side plank for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
After you complete the first round, if you’ve got more time and energy in the tank, then do another.
If you can’t find time to do at least one round of this exercise routine, you might want to rethink your lifestyle…
Scientifically known as the trapezius, this incredible fibrous structure is attached to the lower portion of your occipital bone (at the base of the skull) and extends toward your thoracic spine. Too much medical mumbo-jumbo? Okay, it’s the muscle that makes you look like a King Cobra and tells everyone not to f*ck with you.
Some people are genetically blessed with prominent, defined traps, while the rest of us do standing shoulder shrugs in hopes of getting ours to grow just a little bit. But did you know that shoulder shrugs aren’t the only exercise that can develop these alpha-looking muscles?
In fact, there are a few ways to treat your traps — and they all start with isolation movements and heavy weights.
Usually, shrug rows are great exercises for toning your back but, with a slight change in positioning, they can help you nail that King-Cobra. By laying face-forward on the incline bench, you can greatly stimulate your traps with an isolated shrug movement.
What’s nice about this exercise is that you can use horizontal resistance bands to build those traps. The key here is to squeeze those muscles in a controlled manner throughout the entire motion. The traps aren’t often worked out on their own — be sure to remain mindful throughout the exercise and try to activate only the targeted muscle group.
Most of us are familiar with doing military presses to get buff shoulders. To really target your trap muscles, consider laying flat on your face — no, really. Prone presses may look kind of odd, but they are a great way to get blood to those muscles and bulk them up.
Unfortunately, most gymgoers do shoulder shrugs completely wrong. When they pull up on the weight, they tend to use their legs to bounce, giving themselves an extra boost. To get your traps to grow, you have to stimulate the muscles, which means isolating the movement. So, sit before you shrug.
This helps remove the bounce and makes the exercise tougher — which is what you want.
The arrival of spring signifies a midpoint for many in summer preparation. For New Year Resolutioners, the desire to be in the best shape of their life fades by Valentine’s Day. There are others, however, who have or are near to achieving the body they dreamed of when they set foot in the gym on January 1. The beginning of spring tells them that it’s almost time to break the glass on their new digs.
To those who have fallen off, no worries. There’s still time to make serious strides toward achieving that summer body if you take action sooner rather than later. The following veterans have made it their business to offer information and help the masses as best they can — and the fitness community has responded! These veterans are the top of the top and any of them can get you speeding down the road toward your fitness goals.
Greg Plitt was one of the first fitness personalities to break through and cross over into mainstream acceptance. Plitt was one of the most booked and photographed fitness models of his day, even landing a role — well his body did, anyway — in Zack Synder’s adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen.
He was a U.S. Army Ranger prior to his career in fitness and his videos still inspire. He passed, tragically, at the age of 37.
CT Fletcher is a veteran of the U.S. Army and is considered by some as the godfather of the YouTube fitness community. He ushered in a new, brash, high-tempo style of content in the early 2010’s and has gathered a legion of loyal fans since.
Before social media fame and after serving, he was a multi-year champion powerlifter. He holds the strict curl record to this day.
Castro is a former Navy SEAL who has been instrumental to the widespread popularity of CrossFit. He conjured up and hosted the initial CrossFit games at his family’s ranch and hasn’t let up since, spearheading the growth and marketing that we see everywhere today.
Check out Dave’s social media for the latest and greatest:
A few things about Josh Bridges: He is a former Navy SEAL. Prior to that, he was a collegiate wrestler. Somewhere along the way, he became a CrossFit legend and one of the top-ranked competitors despite being just 5’5″.
An Army Veteran who has made his life about fitness, Max “The Body” Philisaire has been an active member of the fitness community for nearly two decades. He is an current and certified personal trainer training everyone from your average joe to some serious A List talent.
An active duty U.S. Army 1st Sgt., Diamond Ott is one the world’s strongest and fittest men. He first garnered attention after some videos of his gym feats made their way to the internet. Ott has since been on multiple magazine covers and his audience and influence continue to grow.
U.S. Army veteran and self-made millionaire Colin Wayne has been on multiple international magazine covers, amassed a few million followers and fans across various social media outlets, and built a steel upstart into a multi-million dollar company.
Jaron Mosley is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, having spent an enlistment as a Security Force member. His videos offer insight and “game,” as he calls it, to get you all the way right in time for summer.
Check out Jaron’s IG and YouTube in time for Spring and Summer:
As I covered in the above video, there’s a lot going on the HRP that cut out much of the nonsense that occurred during the standard push-up test. So yes, they’re harder. Not only physically but also for your coordination. Here’s why:
Long sleeves can definitely help if you like to cheat at the top of the push-up.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Osvaldo Martinez)
NO MORE BOUNCE.
The stretch reflex response in the chest is a powerful force.
In the HRP every rep starts from a dead stop, this means that you can’t load your chest with the stretch reflex response. This levels the playing field a bit for those of you who don’t know how to use the stretch reflex and sucks for anyone who is used to banging out 100+ “bouncing” reps.
This movement is harder and takes longer than you’d think.
(U.S. Army Photo by Cpl. Tomarius Roberts)
The HRP requires you to have your index finger just to the inside of your shoulder. This narrow position is equivalent to a close grip bench press. It’s much more triceps dominant than a standard press. It also almost entirely removes the risk of shoulder impingement.
The TLDR of it is most people are slowly sawing a hole in their shoulder socket when they perform pressing movements. The narrow hand position helps relieve a lot of that stress.
That being said, this means you WILL BE WEAKER performing the hand release narrow stance push-up than you would with the standard variation.
I know they’re Marines…it’s a cool pic.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)
TIME IS YOUR ENEMY.
The 2-minute time limit wasn’t generally a problem for most people with the standard push-up. Most people blow their whole wad well before the time expired.
With the HRP time is a very large factor. You need to conduct one push-up every two seconds in order to fit all the reps in.
Maybe you can do 60 reps, but doing all 60 in 120 seconds is a whole other story. I would venture to guess that I need to be able to do 70 or 80 hand-release push-ups in order to be able to do 60 fast enough to be within the time limit.
I don’t think the mask would make push-ups harder so much as just generally uncomfortable. That’s the military in a nutshell…
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. ShaTyra Reed/ 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
OBVIOUS CORE CONTROL.
An argument I’d be willing to engage in is one that states that the HRP actually requires more core strength that the Leg Tucks….Oh yeah!
The standard push-up allowed for this sneaky thing to happen that was often left uncorrected. The hips were allowed to sag, the core could be weak, for multiple reps before it became so egregious that the grader would mention it.
Because the HRP starts every rep from a dead stop, any core weakness becomes immediately apparent and can be called out on the first rep that the body isn’t perfectly in alignment.
This means your core needs to be strong, or it will give out well before your pressing muscles run out of steam. Unlike the leg tucks, which I talked about here, where for 90% of soldiers, your grip or back strength will give out before your core.
Practice, practice, practice.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Hull)
How to train for HRP
There are four things you need to focus on in order to be properly prepared for the HRP.
Core Control- You need to plank, a lot. Practice the RKC plank 2-3 times a week. The RKC plank is where you contract every muscle of your body while holding the plank.
Press from a dead stop- Train using paused reps and presses from the rack. You need to learn how to start every rep from a dead stop. Standard pressing movements that use the stretch reflex response of the chest are going to set you up for disappointment come test day.
Practice high reps with long periods of time under tension- 120 seconds of work is about 4-5 times as long as a standard set of any exercise. You need to prepare your body for that task in muscular endurance. Practice slow sets with 45+ seconds of time under tension and/or sets of 15-20 reps on the bench press and 20-40 reps of push-ups to build your muscular endurance.
Practice the full movement- It’s harder than it looks to get your hands back to the exact perfect pushing position for every rep. You need to practice it and build the mind-muscle connection so that you can focus on putting out come test day and not have to worry about hand placement.
That’s it folks. If you want a plan to help train for the HRP, check this out. It trains all the aspects of pressing that I just covered. In order to prepare for the ACFT, you need more than just exercises. You need to be particular about how you’re training. That’s what this plan does, and all my plans for that matter.