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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s a reason why elite Special Operations courses always begin with intense physical training. The shock value of initial stress overload is the best discriminator while assessing an individual or group’s willingness and capacity to accomplish difficult tasks. It’s because after twenty minutes, when you are tired of holding a log over your head, you can’t fake it any longer. When the pressure is on and the stress increases, your true personality comes out.
The vocal, motivated cheerleader types who try hard to encourage others? They suddenly shut up. The pessimists who are there because they were told to be there but don’t really want to be there? They suddenly quit. The eternal optimists who are always positive and see the good in everything? They suddenly wonder if they have what it takes to make it in the first place. The playing field is now even because everyone is in survival mode and doing whatever it takes to get by. Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
Eventually, there is a moment when everybody is miserable and focused on themselves. Our heads are down, and we are contemplating when the suffering will end. As the level of stress increases, our brains narrow our focus, and our sensory attention goes inward. Our body language reflects, as the pupils dilate, heart rate increases, breathing intensifies, heads go down, shoulders slump, and our thoughts begin to race: What in the hell did I get myself into? When will it all end? How much longer can I keep this up? Is it all worth it?
During log PT on day one of selection, for whatever reason, almost counterintuitively, even though it spent energy on something that was risky, I looked up. I looked up and looked around. I deliberately chose discomfort. The guys around me were all suffering just as badly as I was, if not worse. In that moment, my friend Pat lifted his head up as well. He looked around, and we looked at each other. He shouted, “Let’s go, J. You got this!” I shouted words of encouragement back at him, even though it required energy that could have been used on myself.
More guys lifted their heads and looked around. We began to focus on one another rather than on ourselves. Looking up became infectious. Strangely enough, we began to forget about our pain, the time seemed to move faster, and the log felt lighter. The reality is that nothing changed about the situation except our attitudes. The conditions still sucked, it was hot as hell, our bodies still strained, and the logs didn’t get any lighter. It was our minds that had changed. We began choosing how we thought, deciding where to direct our attention and energy.
In these difficult moments, situations that make or break individuals and teams, we find our collective purpose. When the pressure is on and you’re on a team, it’s never about you. It’s about the people to your left and right who are going through the experience and process with you. In this moment, I found purpose. My purpose was to make the team succeed.
Misery is suffering without a purpose. The guys who make it through these types of courses are the guys who experience an aha moment. When they realize that they’re not alone. That they are on a team and the success of the team is more important than their own personal success.
The people who don’t make it are the guys who are self-centered, who don’t risk any energy that doesn’t immediately serve their own interests. The people who don’t look up.
The secret to the elite mind-set of Special Operations Forces, no matter how many books you read or podcasts you listen to, is to look up.
The same “look up” mind-set applies to the everyday mundanity of real life. As a lot of well-intending families do, my wife and I are committed to attending church services every Sunday. As a couple with young children, parenting lessons come early and often. Our daughter is a toddler with boundless energy, which means that we spend a good majority of the service outside in the foyer. Whenever she acts up, screams, or causes a distraction during the sermon or in Sunday school, we do the polite and sensible thing and remove her from the situation.
After several months of faith in the foyer went by, my wife and I looked up at each other and asked ourselves, “What are we doing here?” We don’t hear the sermon; we don’t hear the Sunday school lesson. We just sit out in the foyer and distract our daughter. What’s the point of getting up early and getting dressed to come to church and play with our daughter in the foyer?
I thought back to my experiences during log PT. I was embarrassed that I had forgotten that critical lesson from years ago. I realized that I wasn’t going to church for myself. I was going for the other members of the congregation. I asked myself, “What can I do this Sunday to serve the church and church members’ needs?” Sitting out in the foyer with a screaming daughter, maybe all I could give was a hello or a smile. If that was all I could give, then I would give that. For me, Sundays are sacred because they represent our commitment to spending that quality time together in fellowship to reflect and celebrate our common values and beliefs. This is the foundation of our collective purpose. Is the quality of time we invest now showing an immediate return? Certainly, not immediately, but that’s a limited and short-sighted way of looking at the situation. That’s the same reason why people decide to quit: the log is too heavy right now, and they want to make the pain stop. It’s not about the log, and it’s not about the foyer. It’s about the people to our left and right.
We chose a different perspective and approach to the situation. Through this choice, we realized that if we continued our routine, our daughter’s behavior would eventually improve. By the time she is old enough to know better, this routine as a deliberate and weekly choice will not just be something she does but an integral part of who she is. Suddenly on Sundays, chasing my daughter in the foyer doesn’t seem as bad as it once did.
It’s easier to gain weight during the two-month period between Halloween and New Year’s Day than any other time of the year.
From colder weather to football season, holiday parties, having snacks all over the house and office, and huge feasting holidays, it is no wonder why everyone is ready to start a “resolution” by the time the new year comes.
The list below includes ways to stay ahead of the weight gain curve by considering a few minor tweaks to your day:
1. Don’t quit.
The most important thing is to keep the habit of working out or physical activity on your schedule. Stick to your workout even when extra travel, late work hours and excessive social events interfere with the best intentions. You may have to be flexible and do something for a shorter time before or after work, even if it is only walking or a quick PT pyramid. The best way to avoid holiday weight gain is not to get out of the exercise habit.
2. Walk it off.
Keep walking or add walking throughout the day in multiple sessions. Walk before every meal, even if only for 10 minutes. Walk longer in parking lots (be safe) when at work or shopping. Take regular breaks every hour at work to walk to the bathroom. A good way to remember to do that is to drink water throughout the day so you have to get up regularly. Otherwise, set a timer for 60 to 90 minutes and remind yourself to walk for three to four minutes around the office, up and down stairs, or to your car and back to get some fresh air. You will find this quick getaway helpful with productivity as well.
3. Like football? Keep moving.
Football season gets many Americans to sit still for hours several days a week. Try to get up during commercials, walk during halftime or actually bring the treadmill or stationary bike into the TV room. If you walk during commercials, you will accumulate about 20 minutes of activity per hour of watching television.
4. Avoid game-time snacking & drinking
This is a tough one and requires discipline. It is easy not to move for hours during a game and add in another 500 to 1,000 calories of soda, beer, chips and other game-time foods. Keep moving, as detailed above, and you will limit your ability to put food and drinks into your mouth. After a game, you can break even or have a 500- calorie surplus or deficit — it just depends on how you control snacking and being sedentary.
5. Twenty-minute challenge
When time is tight, try to get at least a daily minimum standard of activity, even if it is just 20 minutes. See how much you can do in 20 minutes. How far can you walk in that time (or total accumulated walks)? How far can you bike or swim in 20 minutes? How high can you move through the PT Pyramid in that time? Can you get into the gym and do a 20-minute gym circuit of as many machines as possible?
Any of these ideas will help you burn off steam and make you feel like you did something. Fit this 20 minutes into your lunch, before work or after dinner if you have to. You will find that you will sleep better as well.
In the end, it comes down to discipline. You need discipline not to break old training habits while creating new bad habits of binge-eating and binge-watching television (without activity). I know it is easier said than done, but this season will not last forever, and you will wish you had not forsaken your health and fitness once the weather turns nicer.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Here’s a fact: Training prepares you for the demands you’ll face in the field.
Sure, it might feel good to bend your knees an inch or two and call it a squat and curl for days on end, but what benefit are you gaining?
You need your workouts to provide results.
If you train with your ego, you’re probably wondering why you aren’t getting the results you require.
Here are a few things to remember that will keep your ego in check and the results rolling in so that your body is ready when you actually need it to perform in a life-or-death scenario.
Half and quarter reps have there place in a very specific type of training plan. Message me if you want to know what that plan is. For the other 99% of us they are just a waste of time.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
1. Use a full range of motion
Imagine you walk over to the squat rack, load the bar up with two, maybe 300 pounds, and step under it only to find that it’s way too heavy for a full rep.
Instead of lightening the load to match your ability, you bend your knees ever so slightly, give a grunt and look around to see if anyone saw that sorry excuse for a squat.
Now, if this describes your typical leg day or any other workout for that matter, stop.
Honestly, if you’re grabbing weights that are too heavy to perform a full rep, you’re not only kidding yourself but also wasting your time. While doing heavy partial reps might massage your ego, you probably won’t find any measurable benefit, and you’ll for sure increase your chances of injury.
Using a full range of motion means that you’re activating all of the muscle fibers within a particular muscle group to perform the exercise. As a result, those muscle fibers and connected nerves are receiving the signal to grow bigger and stronger.
For most of you, resistance training isn’t just to look great. In the field, you need to perform under any circumstance, so your training needs to prep you to deal with the unknown.
What if you really need to be able to carry your 230-pound brother but can’t since you trained with two-inch squats? Will that sad example of a squat make you feel better then?
To fully benefit from each rep and training session, use the amount of weight that allows for a full range of motion. Eventually, your strength will improve enough to perform that 300-pound squat with a full range of motion, and you’ll be so much stronger as a result.
The bench press, when performed correctly works way more than just your chest. Triceps, core, glutes, back, and sometimes even your face.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
2. Prioritize important exercises
To get straight to the point, which of the following exercises is more likely to benefit you in the field:
Bicep curls or a barbell squat?
I know, biceps are the most important muscle group to many of you, but in reality, training them every day probably won’t provide much of a performance benefit. In fact, they may hamper your performance.
The barbell squat not only allows you to use more resistance, but it’s also a full-body challenge. Despite being a leg-dominant exercise that works quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, it also demands that you have a strong upper and lower back and overall core strength.
Not to mention, using higher rep ranges also allows you to challenge your anaerobic capacity. Bicep curls, on the other hand, train your biceps and forearms and not much else.
If you need to improve performance in the field, you should prioritize compound movements that are most likely to improve that performance. If you have extra energy and time, then focus on the less-important exercises.
Use your rest periods to perform a corrective, work an antagonist muscle group or rest. Leave the IG feed for 3AM when you’re supposed to be sleeping instead.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
3. Put the phone down
If you head to the gym and spend half of the time scrolling through a feed, you’re wasting your time and probably ruining someone else’s workout if you’re doing it on a popular piece of equipment.
It’s clear that most of us feel the pull of social media, even at the worst times.
But the time you spend in the gym is meant to be for work. If you’re distracted by your phone and resting for longer than intended, you could be losing out on training improvements.
If you find yourself distracted in the gym, make a conscious decision to hold off until the workout is done, and then get your fix. I promise, your workout will be far more productive.
Squatting heavy isn’t for everyone, but it is a metaphor for handling the important stuff first that I think everyone can understand.
U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik
BONUS: The bigger picture…
I’ve been recording my dreams lately and weird things have been happening as a result. Long story short, I received some great advice from my late grandfather in a recent dream. The gist of our dialogue was this:
“Everything you do in life is either making you a better version of yourself or a worse version.”
Obviously this advice can apply to all areas of life but when specifically looking at physical training it can be quite directive. We all have a mission we’re working towards accomplishing. Every training session, every exercise, every set, and every rep should be bringing us closer to mission accomplishment. If it’s not, fix it.
The Commander’s Intent of training, especially for those on Active Duty is: “…in order to become more capable at inflicting positive change on the world.” Be that becoming more deadly in combat, or simply having greater work capacity to keep moving forward when others would quit.
“Don’t tell medical sh*t!” That’s the advice I got before I went to Marine Corps OCS in the summer of 2011.
“If you tell them you’re jacked up in any way they will DQ you before you even get started.” I wanted to become a Marine, I wanted to be at the school, but I did not want to be there any longer than I needed to be. Fessing up to any old injuries or conditions would be one way to end up in Quantico longer than I wanted or having to come back again next summer.
This was a common trend I witnessed throughout my entire career. Marines hiding injuries and other medical issues so they could keep their job and achieve mission accomplishment.
As it turns out, there is actually some evidence to suggest that this isn’t as stupid as I used to think it was.
Allow me to walk you through the three most common ways people deal with injuries to get a little deeper into this sh*t.
You’re not gonna get out of Fallujah if you can’t get over some chapped lips
(Marine Corps Times)
The mentally weak
We all know “that guy,” the one who always had a chit from medical explaining why they couldn’t PT. This is the guy who would turn chapped lips into a week of light duty on doctor’s orders.
You become more deconditioned than necessary. You get in worse shape than you were previously in. For those of you who are barely scraping by as it is this could be the last nail in your coffin for getting accepted to an elite program or finishing a difficult school.
You develop a fear of movement. If you roll your ankle running on a trail and then you cease running altogether, you will become afraid of the trail that supposedly injured you and of running. This may translate to a shorter or slower stride, which will both cause you to be slower in general. Again, this is not good.
Lastly, you will become less resilient. By folding due to a minor injury your mental toughness takes a major blow. Learning to overcome the small stuff is what gives you the strength to overcome the big sh*t. Resiliency is a muscle that must be trained.
At least get a band-aid you ninny.
The mentally stubborn
The guy who could be bleeding from both ears and keeps on swinging. Dude your brain is bleeding, stop and reassess the situation.
Similarly, this is the person who ignores the doctor’s orders altogether and goes right back to the same activity that caused the injury at the same intensity as before.
When you suffer an injury, even something as simple as a minor ankle roll (I know I keep talking about ankles, but it’s the most common injury among otherwise capable military personnel) you are no longer operating at 100%. That’s okay.
By smartly reducing your training load to an amount that doesn’t cause more pain, you can live to train another day. The stubborn mind doesn’t do this though. Often the stubborn mind increases training volume in order to beat the weakness out of them.
Statistically, this is stupid. If you continue to blast your body into oblivion, you will be of no use to anyone. Knowing when to dial it back is an art that this individual has yet to master.
Don’t take time off from this place, just adjust your training.
When you get injured, you are by definition deconditioned. You are slightly less capable than you were before the injury.
The smartest thing to do is to dial things back as little as possible so that you can still train but aren’t making the issue worse. In this training Goldilocks zone, you risk neither becoming a baby-backed-b*tch like the mentally weak do nor an armless-legless-fool like the stubborn mind does.
Military doctors take the most conservative route possible to hedge their positions. If you continue training and get injured further, the doc may get chewed out or lose their position. BUT if doc says do nothing and you fail out of your school due to missed training days or overall mental weakness…well it’s a lot harder to blame medical personnel for your lack of tenacity.
You know what doc is gonna say, and you can pretty much assume that your SNCO is going to say the exact opposite, choose the more measured approach. This may mean reducing your running pace, lowering the weight on the bar, or slightly modifying the exercise you are training. The less you change things, the easier it will be to get back to where you previously were.
Be as mentally strong as possible without being stupid. Add that to your list of adages to live by.
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Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals- The Christian Kirk bubble has finally burst. The young receiver exploded this past Sunday, hauling in three touchdowns on the way to ending his TD-drought on the season. Murray is steadily gaining confidence, and Kirk is getting more red zone looks as Fitzgerald looks on nodding proudly and stroking his long white beard. All signs point to massive value for Kirk.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans- Derrick Henry is currently 5th in the NFL in total rush yards. That’s thanks in major part to his 32 fantasy point performance in a win over the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense is questionable, but what’s not questionable is Henry’s workhorse load, especially with a quarterback like Tannehill, who is green to the offensive system.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs- Are the Buccaneers good? Is milk good for you? Who cares! The Bucs have produced two of the best fantasy scoring WRs this year, and now Ronald Jones looks to be a borderline RB1 tier player moving forward. The big upside to Jones as of late is his pass-catching ability—8 receptions for 77 yards.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs- That knee seems to be holding up just fine. Mahomes returned with his superman cape still intact, and although the Chiefs suffered a surprising loss to the Titans, Mahomes continues his dominance as a fantasy stalwart. He even added some razzle-dazzle on a jump pass across the middle of the field for a 63-yard score.
Seeing Cooper Kupp’s stat line from today:pic.twitter.com/qdpzx9MIwi
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings- Diggs just posted his second consecutive sub 5 point fantasy performance. Diggs has always been streaky; the truly concerning reason to be cautious moving forward is the fact that his last two duds came in games where Thielen was sidelined. Even with the lion’s share of targets, Diggs cannot seem to get anything going lately.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams- Congratulations reader! You had as many catches, touchdowns, and fantasy points as Cooper Kupp this week. The Pittsburgh defense (apparently amazing now???) shut Kupp down, and highlighted just how hobbled the Rams offense looks this year with a banged-up Gurley. Goff could not get anything going, and with a tough stretch of good secondaries to come, now may be the time to trade Kupp.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants- Daniel Jones posted a 30+ point fantasy performance Sunday. You’d think then, that Barkley had a major role to play. Somehow that was not the case, as a clearly still slightly injured Barkley toughed it out for a measly 8 fantasy points. Barkley saw a loss of snap counts to Wayne Gallman, further signaling the idea that he was not fully 100%. He has a bye week to rest up, but simply put, he has not come within a mile of his supposed #1 pick value this year.
Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Browns- Christian Kirk entered Sunday’s matchup with 0 touchdowns. When the game ended, he had three times as many touchdowns as OBJ has had on the year. This isn’t for lack of targets, however. Mayfield was practically forcing the ball to OBJ in the red zone, but the two could just not get any kind of offensive rhythm going. Odell may take his talents elsewhere this off-season.
Ryan Tannehill with MAGIC, should’ve been the starter all season long.pic.twitter.com/zGBYv2kpIV
Brian Hill, RB, Falcons- Devonta Freeman suffered a foot injury, and Ito Smith is out as well. That makes Hill the lone figurehead in the backfield of a fairly potent offensive attack. Hill is the #1 waiver wire pickup in a fairly dry point of the season. He’s worth an add.
Jacob Hollister, TE, Seahawks- Hollister filled in nicely for Dissly, as he compiled 14 fantasy points en route to a 49ers upset. Tight ends are slim pickings this year, and with Hollister available on over 50% of leagues, he’s worth a waiver add.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans- Tannehill has filled in for Marcus Mariota guns blazing. He’s stringing together Titan wins, and (mort importantly for fantasy owners) he’s putting up solid numbers. The AM receiver-turned-quarterback product can also get the job done with his legs—boosting his value.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings- Sure, Rudolph has been somewhat of a “bust” this season from a fantasy standpoint. However, a multiple TD game from a tight end simply can’t be overlooked when the outlook is so thin. He hauled in both red zone targets and, while only racking up 14 receiving yards, ended the night with 17 fantasy points. If you’re hurting for a tight end (nice) then give Rudolph a shot.
Marshon Lattimore was having none of it @shonrp2pic.twitter.com/7jXWf9UssZ
Marshon Lattimore is one of the best cover corners in the league. Apparently, he wanted to prove to Julio Jones (and the rest of the league) that he’s a headhunter too. This Sunday, he delivered a textbook hat-on-the-ball-wrap-up that would make your high school DB coach cream his Nike fleece joggers.
Jocko Willink retired from 20 years serving as a US Navy SEAL in 2010, but his morning routine is as intense as ever.
As he said in a recent Facebook Live Q&A at Business Insider’s New York headquarters, “It’s not fun to get out of bed early in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t sing you a song, it hits you in the head with a baseball bat. So how do you respond to that? Do you crawl underneath your covers and hide? Or do you get up, get aggressive, and attack the day?”
Willink is the former commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which became the most decorated special-operations unit in the Iraq War. In his book, “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” cowritten with his former platoon commander and current business partner Leif Babin, Willink writes that one of his guiding principles is “Discipline equals freedom,” and that discipline begins every morning when his alarm goes off, well before the sun rises.
Business Insider asked Willink to break down his mornings for us. Here’s how a typical day begins:
Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Three alarms are set — one electric, one battery-powered, and one windup — but he almost always only needs one. The two others are safeguards.
After a quick cleanup in the bathroom, take a photo of wristwatch to show his Twitter followers what time he’s beginning the day. It’s become both a way to hold himself accountable as well as inspire others to stick to their goals.
Grab his workout clothes, laid out the night before, and head to the gym in his garage for one of the following strength workouts, which lasts around an hour.The exercises can either be lower weight with high reps and little rest or heavy weight with low reps and lots of rest.
Day 4: Overhead squats, front squats, regular squats.
Spend anywhere from a few minutes (intense bursts) to a half hour (steady) for cardiovascular training. This could include sprints or a jog.
Finish workout around 6:00 a.m. Depending on the day, go out to hit the beach near his home near San Diego, California, to spend time swimming or surfing. If the weather is nice, he may also do his cardio on the beach.
Shower and start working for his leadership consulting firm, Echelon Front, or for his popular podcast, any time after 6:00 a.m. He doesn’t get hungry until around noon, and only has a snack, like a few handfuls of nuts, in the morning.
After work, Willink gets in two hours of jujitsu training and heads to bed around 11:00 pm.
Willink said that he recognizes that everyone is different, and that not everyone would benefit from getting up at 4:00 a.m. for an intense workout. The key is that “you get up and move,” whether that’s jogging, weight lifting, or yoga.
The discipline comes in in setting a schedule and sticking to it so that your day begins with an energizing accomplishment, not a demoralizing stretch of time where you lie in bed and hit snooze on your alarm a few times. Every morning should start off with a predictable routine.
“And that’s the way that you own it,” he said. “Because once the day starts, well, then other people get to have a vote in what you’re doing.”
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.
Marine veteran George Hood held a record-breaking abdominal plank for more than five hours while also raising money for a veterans’ charity in 2015. Then, in 2020, he shattered his own best by several hours, holding it for an insane 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds.
In 2015, the then-57-year-old held the plank position for five hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds to break the Guinness World Record previously set by Mao Weidong of Beijing, China, in September 2014 at four hours and 26 minutes. Hood, who is also a fitness instructor, dubbed his achievement “The People’s Plank,” which doubled as a fundraiser for the Semper Fi Fund for injured service members, according to CBS News.
“There are injured Marines that come back from the fight, who have suffered life-altering injuries and the discomfort that I feel right now pales in comparison to that which they feel,” Hood told NBC while in mid-plank position. “They’re my heroes, they really are, every one of them.”
Watch Hood during his record-breaking plank on YouTube:
You know that old person feeling? Yeah you do. You wake up in the morning, and everything hurts. You don’t want to turn your head, stand up, or even open your eyes sometimes.
Ever think some variation of this thought? “I hope I die in my sleep so that there’s one less morning of going through this shit.”
As you could have guessed, there are some ways you can mitigate the pain and discomfort of the morning. Not only that, but there are some very real physical reasons you feel tight and sore in the morning…none of them involve you dying.
In this article we are going to walk through those reasons for feeling stiff in the morning and offer a daily fix for you to make a part of your morning routine. Also, a free ebook to kick start your morning AND guidance on how to be one of the first to get your hands on the new Mighty Fit Plan below!
Standing in formation is the opposite of what your body needs in the morning.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Kregg York)
Why does my body hate me?
Ever hear the saying “Motion is lotion“?
That’s because it is.
When we move, a lot is going on deep inside us, and when we are still or sleeping for hours at a time, a lot is not going on. It’s normal.
You can think of movement like wringing out a towel to get the water out. When you move, fluid is excreted from the tissue surrounding your joints to literally lubricate them.
In the morning, you don’t have any of that lubrication going on. So you feel like crap until you start getting the juices flowing.
Next is the part where I talk about morning routines/movement.
Mornings are tough. They’re even tougher if you fight your need to move.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood)
Culturally the West hates itself
I was stationed in Japan for three years. In that time I visited/worked in about a dozen countries. Do you know what a lot of Asian people do that I rarely see at 0600 in the good ole’ USofA?
On my drive to the formerly named MCAS Iwakuni, I would drive by a Japanese barber doing his morning calisthenics on his porch every morning. Then when I got on base, I witnessed dozens of Japanese construction workers (working on the expansion of the base) in perfect unit alignment doing a warm-up routine before they started any construction activities for the day.
Fast forward to walking into the office and interacting with my fellow Marines, some of which were still groggy from rolling out of their rack 10 minutes prior (if there wasn’t unit PT), others who sported coffee mugs that read aggressive sayings like “Don’t f*@k with me until I’ve had my coffee.”
Obviously, that wasn’t everyone, but the military is an elite cross-section of society. If that’s going on in the Marine Corps, just imagine what the Air Force is like, or better yet a small-town accounting firm in Indiana (I see you Phil).
Point being that culturally The United States sucks at waking up in the morning and does little to help with that morning soreness.
It’s our duty to get a little better each day. That’s what you signed up for…
(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)
Side benefit of waking up early is getting to enjoy sunrises like these.
(Photo by Capt. Amit Patel)
Step 1: Drink
Synovial fluid is that stuff that lubricates your joints. It’s mostly water that transports a bunch of other valuable molecules to your joints and ensures you move smoothly.
When you wake up, thank your Creator for the gift of another day and give thanks for access to clean drinking water.
Don’t be that backwards thinking jacka…errr person that says things like: “I don’t drink water. Fish have sex in there!”
That’s something a child who learned about sex too young would say.
You lose body water throughout the night due to breathing, sweating, and peeing (or prepping to piss in the morning). You need to restore it if you want step two to be even more effective.
You don’t need to jump out of a plane. You just need to dedicate 5-10 minutes of your time.
(Army photo/John Pennell)
Step 2: Move
The great American Poet Christopher Brian “Ludacris” Bridges was talking about you first thing in the morning when he said:
“Move b*@$h, get out the way”
Although I don’t necessarily agree with the negative self-talk, Luda has a point. If you want to feel good, be successful, and healthy, you need to move in the morning. Help yourself get out of your own way.
Now that you’ve restored your synovial fluid with your water, your body will have an even easier time greasing up your joints and spine to make you feel like your limber self.
Besides, just making it more comfortable to live movement helps transport all the cellular workers of your body to decrease inflammation (reduce soreness) and increase recovery (that means you’ll be able to train harder and longer sooner.)
Running to get the new Mighty Fit Plan like…
(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Jennifer Shick)
You’re now better than the 80% of Americans that don’t get the recommended weekly dose of activity.
You can always do more, don’t let your exercise for the day stop here. Remember that momentum is a powerful thing. If you start the day with three big wins every morning by:
making your bed (like ADM McCraven told you to),
and getting 5-10 minutes of movement in, then the rest of the day is just gravy.
This is it, part 3. There’s some weird stuff on this list, but don’t make the mistake of overlooking something or you may miss out on that “1 weird trick” to more gains than you ever thought possible. I’m only partially joking, I give a very clear recommendation to help boost your own endogenously produced free testosterone…check it out below.
If your workout is typically less than an hour you literally don’t need this supplement.
(Photo by Sgt. Jonathan Wright)
Intra-workout (AKA something you need to take while training)
I’ll sum it up for you one more time just to really beat this horse harder (I hate horses after all).
If your workout is less than 90 minutes, it’s probably completely unnecessary.
If your workout is 90 minutes or longer a simple beverage of ~40 grams of fast carbs, like Gatorade, ~15 grams of protein, and electrolytes (AKA salt and potassium) like those provided in a Gatorade every hour at and after the 90-minute mark should satisfy your need.
Maybe there’s an intra-workout that satisfies that need more simply than some fruity flavored protein powder and a Gatorade. I’m not sure, I haven’t looked that deeply into it recently. If you have one that you like, tell me in an email at email@example.com, and I’ll include it in a future article on the best intra-workout supplements.
The one that seems to be purchased the most on bodybuilding.com contains no carbs and costs nearly dollars. That’s a bullshit product that completely misses the point/purpose of an intra-workout.
How to Increase Testosterone Naturally | Science Explained
This is a good time to talk about blends, proprietary recipes, and trademarked ingredients. If the supplement you are considering has any of these in them, DO NOT buy that supplement. These terms are just clever marketing and, more often than not are an excuse to hide the fact that the supplement is completely ineffective.
The specific testosterone support supplement I looked at in my bodybuilding.com search didn’t contain half of the vitamins/minerals that have been shown to have the most efficacy in boosting testosterone. It did have a bunch of unverified nonsense and herbal remedies in it like fenugreek, maca, and boron. I wouldn’t spend any money on this or any similar product for testosterone support.
If you truly have a testosterone deficiency, talk to your doctor about getting a no kidding testosterone cycle to help your medically recognized deficiency.
If you are simply trying to increase your testosterone because you think that’s good then try taking these with a dietary fat containing meal for at least a month to see if things change for you:
zinc (10–30 mg)
magnesium (200–350 mg)
vitamin D3 (50–75 mcg / 2,000–3,000 IU).
Buying those three should be much cheaper per serving than any nonsense that is 15 ingredients mixed together.
Of course you could just get this one from your diet.
Before I even get into Omega-3s ask yourself why you’re taking it. If it’s for joint health, then continue on. If it’s for heart health, stop and have a more in-depth conversation with your doctor. It seems that even though Omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on triglycerides and blood pressure they don’t actually seem to prevent cardiac events.
As far as joint health goes, the rule is simple. You want to be supplementing with 3 grams of combined EPA and DHA to get the effect you’re searching for. If the supplement you’re looking at has that serving size and no other nonsense in it, go for it.
Alternatively, you probably don’t need to supplement if you are eating fatty fish like salmon a few times a week. Make the decision for yourself. If you have access to salmon regularly, I don’t know why you’d waste your time taking more pills than you need.
Pssst… Tryin’ to get a pump?
(Photo by Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky)
WTF is this/why do you need it? Seriously, I want to know. If you take something that is specifically designed to give you a pump, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why.
The pump stimulator I looked at had two ingredients that seem to be intended to do something:
Glycerol: It’s supposed to help your muscle cells to hold on to more water and therefore increase output. I found one weak paper on the topic. I’m not convinced. It will probably make you feel like you have a bigger pump since it’s allowing more water to be stored in your muscle…the only group I can see caring about this is bodybuilders. But even then, it may inhibit vascularity due to the increased water retention. TLDR: Meh.
A proprietary blend of something containing nitrate and who-knows-what-else. Stay away from trademarked or patented combinations like the plague. They lack evidence and efficacy (translation: it’s someone trying to pull the wool over your eyes.)
If you choose to achieve said calorie surplus using a mass gainer, then go ahead. All a mass gainer typically is just a butt-ton (or is it an ass-load? I always get them confused) of carbohydrates… Guess where else you can get carbohydrates. In just about every delicious food!
If you prefer the mass gainer over all other foods, I guess go ahead, weirdo. In my own personal experience of anyone, I’ve ever seen purchase mass gainer is that it sits on top of the fridge 80% full until it expires. Pretty sure that’s the definition of a waste of money.
Those are the 12 most commonly purchased categories of sports nutrition supplements purchased on bodybuilding.com. Chances are you’ve seen them in your local supplement store/megastore and considered purchasing one or all of them. Hopefully, this guide has shown you where to spend your money and where to save it.
As I mentioned multiple times throughout this article, if you have any questions or alternative opinions on my take on these types of supplements, do not hesitate to email me at email@example.com.
As always, when it comes to nutrition, your number one solution to any dietary need or hack should be to alter your diet of real foods to get adequate quantities and proportions of macro and micronutrients. Only after you have that dialed-in like I very explicitly outline in The Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide should you bother walking down the supplement aisle.
If you made it this far in the article, you clearly care about your health and fitness. Why then have you not joined the Mighty Fit FB group? If you are in the group, post in there which category of sports supplements that I covered in this article that you are the most disappointed by.
Many of us have walked into nutrition stores, looking to buy a pre-workout supplement that’ll give us the energy we need to boost our next training session. However, if you’ve ever stopped to read the ingredients, you probably can’t pronounce half of the convoluted, scientific terms printed on the label.
Don’t worry; you aren’t alone.
The truth is that most supplement companies don’t want you to be able to read what’s in their product, they just want your hard-earned dollars. More importantly, these companies don’t want you to just make your own drink. Instead, they want their cool packaging design to sell you on their powder (which, like all the others, is the best-tasting and provides the best results).
Let’s break down what it is in most pre-workout powders that gets you all pumped up.
This is a form of amino acid that we consume naturally by eating seafood and steak. The synthetic version we find in our pre-workout drink is safe and effective for increasing muscle mass, endurance, and strength. Due to how inexpensive the compound is, it’s one of the most-used supplements on the market.
Creatine also increases the amount of water stored inside your muscles, giving you that extra mass you probably want.
Also known as “L-arginine,” this amino acid aids with wound recovery, dilating your arteries, and delivering nitric oxide, promoting that classic gym pump that everyone loves to show off. In short, you can blame “invisible lat syndrome” on this amino acid.
Pre-workout drink companies want to make you believe you’re getting bigger by the minute and L-arginine helps with that.
This is a non-essential amino acid, which means it’s something our bodies make naturally. Beta-alanine might be printed on the label under the name “CarnoSyn” and it’s makes us feel all intense and tingly as we press out those extra reps. Beta-alanine is excellent at reducing muscle fatigue, elevating your workouts to the next level.
The “explosive energy blend” or “proprietary blend”
Some labels don’t tell you exactly what’s in their blends — and if whatever’s in there is bad for you, the FDA has to prove that the mixture is unsafe before the supplement company is forced to take it off the market, which takes a long time.
Anyway, this is where the caffeine comes into the mix (as well as n-acetyl-l-tyrosine and other types of amino acids). Caffeine levels vary from product to product, but most pre-workout drinks contains between 75 to 200mg. The standard cup of coffee comes with about 95mg. To some, that’s a lot of caffeine.
L-theanine, L-citrulline, and L-valine are also commonly found in pre-workout drinks. Why you so many amino acids? Instead of wasting time waiting on the digestion process, by drinking these supplements, amino acids are shot straight to your muscles, promoting faster recovery and growth.
We’d also like to point out that you can actually mix your own pre-workout drinks and save money.
Trying to deadlift a weight that is entirely too heavy for you is a great way to start demonizing the deadlift. Take your time in progressing to heavier weights. There’s no rush; you literally have the rest of your life to get to a three times bodyweight deadlift.
Maybe you did manage to get the weight to the top of the rep. This is not the time to lose tension; a weight that causes you to lose tightness at the top will make you regret picking it up on the way down.
This is where most of you will find the answer to your pain.
Your lats aren’t firing. Watch the video to learn how to turn on those lats with every rep. You’ll stop putting extra stress on your low back if you are properly engaging your lats.
Even though the deadlift is considered a pull, there is still a push aspect to it. Spend some time actively pressing your feet through the floor in your next session. You will immediately notice the difference as well as a relief in your low back.
The deadlift is a hip hinge movement. It isn’t a squat. Learn how to hip hinge using the drill in the video above. It will prevent the bar from getting in your way during the deadlift and causing extra stress on the low back as opposed to the glutes where you should be hinging from.
You’re so special that maybe the conventional deadlift isn’t good enough for you. If you have a hard time getting into position in the straight bar deadlift try another variation. The trap bar can be your friend here, as can a kettlebell.
If your shoes have the word “air” in their name, or the word “comfort” anywhere in their product description take them off when deadlifting. The cushion creates an unstable base that your body needs to compensate for. That compensation takes away from your form and can cause pain in the low back.
90% of people are in flexion (see #2). The rest of you may be in hyperextension at the top of the movement. If that’s the case, check out the video and learn how to wake up your glutes so that you can engage them instead of throwing all of your weight into your low back.
Here’s the full video to correct all potential low back issues in the deadlift. Get in the gym, apply your fix, and keep training!