The endurance boost training plug-in - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

The endurance boost training plug-in

Half of readers get tested on their endurance capability. The other half is worried about surviving the zombie apocalypse. Lucky for you, in the Venn diagram of fitness, those two overlap quite nicely.

This endurance plug-in lays out a very simple and effective plan to get you up to snuff for the PFA or the incoming wave of walking-dead. If you’re worried about your chainsaw-wielding skills or max push-ups, you better be using the Mighty Fit Plan to prepare!

I’ll be talking in terms of running, but this basic template can be applied to swimming, cycling, Pogo-sticking, or any other endurance training modality.


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Don’t get me wrong training outdoors can be a mind-blowing experience. If you enjoy it you should do it.

(Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash)

How to logistically fit in endurance training

Strength training is the base of any solid training plan. Three days of strength training is the minimum in order to ensure all bases are covered. That still leaves four days a week to train.

Typically, you don’t want to do the same type of training two days in a row. That means your endurance training sessions should alternate days with the strength training days. That covers 5-6 days a week.

Day seven is special: it’s a day of rest. Some people may need two days of recovery, while for others, one is enough. The number of runs you engage in per week depends on your current level of fitness, your proximity to your race or test day, your ultimate goal, and one other factor…:

The level of enjoyment you get from endurance training!

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It’s not all sunrises and mountain views though…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Debra S. Sainer/Released)

If you enjoy running, go out three days a week. If you are doing it for work, run twice and add the third day two months out from your test. If you’re like me, ignore it entirely until you get winded going up a flight of stairs and then start training it to ensure you are more survivable in the zombie apocalypse.

Soreness is the last limiting factor. If you are sore from lifting and sore from running, only run two times a week until you are recovering efficiently enough to be fresh on day six.

You need to learn to trust your body, but also not be mentally weak. If you feel good enough to train, you should; don’t allow soreness to be a convenient excuse to be a lazy POS.

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There’s a reason many professional swimmers get fat after retiring. Read the article below and commit it to memory.

(Photo by Gentrit Sylejmani on Unsplash)

This plug-in is not for fat loss

I know this needs to be said. It is highly likely that the world has convinced you that cardio is the best type of exercise to achieve fat loss. I’m here to tell you the prior sentence is a horrible generalization and exaggeration. It’s plain wrong.

The intricacies of fat loss in relation to exercise are spelled out here.

In short, cardio makes you lose weight indiscriminately. You’ll lose fat, muscle mass, and a whole bunch of other “stuff.” This total decrease in size means two things:

  1. Cardio makes you require fewer calories all day; this needs to be reflected in your diet to achieve continued fat loss.
  2. Over time, you become more efficient at cardio, so you burn fewer calories for the same workout that used to burn more.

Here’s the full article again. Read it and commit it to memory so you can start shutting down any bro science that claims you lose fat by indiscriminately running, biking, or swimming more.

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Sometimes you gotta run…You can’t kill ’em all.

(Zombieland Oct 11, 2009)

The 3 workouts of the endurance boost plug-in

Here are the template workouts to improve your endurance. Start where they recommend, and progress as able to achieve your peak performance.

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The epitome of long and slow, the open water swim.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kevan Dunlop)

​Workout 1: Long and slow

Run for 25 minutes at a pace in which you can still speak in full sentences.

If you have a heart rate monitor, the goal is to keep your heart rate under 60% of your heart rate max. That is roughly where most people can carry on a conversation while running.

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You don’t need blocks for your sprints but you do need to PUT OUT.

(Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash)

​Workout 2: Sprints

400-800 meter repeats (for those of you training to improve PT test scores.)

Choose your distance, and always do that distance so that you can gauge improvement. Time yourself, and then rest for 2-3 times that length of time. Sprint as hard as you can every repetition for the entire length. Don’t cheat yourself.

Start workout one with four iterations of your distance and increase 1-2 lengths every two weeks as your recovery permits.

Example:

  • Week 1: 4×400 meters
    • 1: 75 second sprint/ 150 second rest
    • 2: 80 second sprint/ 160 second rest
    • 3: 86 second sprint/ 172 second rest
    • 4: 91 second sprint/ 182 second rest
  • Week 2: 4×400 meters
    • 1: 72 second sprint/ 144 second rest
    • 2: 79 second sprint/ 158 second rest
    • 3: 83 second sprint/ 166 second rest
    • 4: 85 second sprint/ 170 second rest
  • Week 3: 6×400 meters
    • 1: 72 second sprint/ 144 second rest
    • 2: 79 second sprint/ 158 second rest
    • 3: 83 second sprint/ 166 second rest
    • 4: 85 second sprint/ 170 second rest
    • 5: 90 second sprint/ 180 second rest
    • 6: 97 second sprint/ 194 second rest
  • etc…
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I love people that look the part. I’d be the guy running a marathon in cargo shorts, eating tater-tots for a mid-race glucose boost.

(Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash)

​Workout 3: Timed distance

Run your race length or the length of your PT test and time yourself.

Simple and idiot-proof. Just hop on a site like gmaps pedometer and plan your route.

Mighty FIT is making some big strides to bring you the fitness content that you want to read, please take 2 minutes and let us know what your preferences are here. Michael and the other writers will take your input to craft future articles and training plans.

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MIGHTY FIT

These sports icons served during the Battle of the Bulge

(Featured image courtesy of War History Online)

Sports, in large part, were halted when the U.S. military became involved in World War II. The Indy 500 was canceled to save gasoline, and the U.S. Open golf tournament was scrapped favoring resources in rubber, which typically made golf equipment. Several professional athletes, managers, owners, and even rules officials across many leagues enlisted, commissioned, or were drafted.



These sports icons sacrificed the prime of their careers for a cause bigger than themselves. On the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, we celebrate the lives of some of sports’ greatest stars who served during this time.

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(Courtesy of World Golf Hall of Fame)

Lloyd Mangrum

“I don’t suppose that any of the pro and amateur golfers who were combat soldiers, Marines, or sailors will soon be able to think of a three-putt green as of the really bad troubles in life,” Mangrum said when he returned from World War II. Mangrum was both a veteran of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Before he left for war to fight with General Patton’s Third Army, he made a pact with his friend, Sergeant Robert Green. Each ripped a id=”listicle-2641582160″ bill in half, vowing to each return it when the war ended. Green was killed in action, thus the pair never rekindled their promise.

Mangrum and his brother spent their childhood in the backyard where his thirst for competition began. “A small creek ran behind our house,” he told the NY Times. “My brother, Ray, and I built a crude green on the opposite bank and had [sic] pitching contests with a rustyblade old mashie somebody had discarded.” Soon he was a caddie learning how to approach the game through judgment. He took first place in the first US Open (1946) golf tournament since its hiatus during World War II. He became known as “Mr. Icicle” for his calmness on the links, which he credits how nothing on the golf course could rattle him like the battlefield.

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Ralph Houk

Ralph Houk is not a name that is first mentioned when thinking of a New York Yankee, but he should be. His commanding officer, Caesar Flore, spoke of his battlefield fearlessness when he sent Houk out in a jeep to do reconnaissance on enemy scouting positions. He didn’t return until two nights later, and Flore listed him as ‘missing in action.’ “When he had returned, he had a three day growth of beard and hand grenades hanging all over him,” Flore said. “He was back of the enemy lines the entire time. I know he must’ve enjoyed himself. He had a hole in one side of his helmet, and a hole in the other where the bullet left. When I told him about his helmet he said, ‘I could have [sic] swore I heard a ricochet.'”

Houk rose from Private to Major in four years and earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, and a Purple Heart for when he was wounded in the calf during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he secured the back-up catcher’s position behind Yogi Berra and became a manager where players referred to him as “The Major” for his wartime discipline.
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(Courtesy of the New York Times.)

Gino Marchetti

Gino Marchetti was known primarily for two things: being a Hall of Fame defensive end for the Baltimore Colts and an entrepreneur who co-owned a restaurant called Gino’s with teammate Alan Ameche. Their influence was so great that members of the community, including New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, often muttered their slogan “Gino’s, oh yeah!” while they visited players at their favorite hamburger joint.

What most don’t know is that Gino Marchetti served as a machine gunner with Company I, 273rd Regiment of the 69th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. “You don’t realize that you are going to see some of your friends go down,” Marchetti told ESPN. “You don’t realize any of it. For example, the first time I ever saw snow, I slept in it. It’s hell.” Marchetti credits joining the Army as the greatest thing he had ever done because it gave him the discipline and toughness to compete in the NFL.

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Nestor Chylak

Nestor Chylak’s career behind home plate almost never came to be. While serving as a Technical Sergeant in the US Army’s 424 Infantry Regiment, Chylak was severely wounded on January 3, 1945, in the Ardennes Forest. While his battalion braced artillery fire in the blistering cold and blanketed snow, an artillery shell exploded a tree, which sent splinters traveling the speed of bullets into his face. He was blind for ten days, but ultimately regained his eyesight. He was awarded both the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Chylak would go on to become one of the most legendary MLB Umpires in the history of the game. He was never one to cower to a feisty manager’s tirade, nor did he get flustered from loud boos from fans. He umpired baseball’s bizarre promotion games like the infamous “10-Cent Beer Night” promotion in Cleveland and Bob Veeck’s “Disco Demolition Night” in Detroit. Both promotions ended in similar flair — a forfeiture and a flying chair. Chylak, however, umpired for 25 years in five World Series and was respected for his fairness.

At the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, a bronze plaque in the Umpire Exhibit says in his jest, “This must be the only job in America that everybody knows how to do better than the guy who’s doing it.”

MIGHTY FIT

4 dietary mistakes that are making you gain weight right now

With so many diets out there to choose from, it’s hard to find one that you’ll feel comfortable with. To help with this, most diets are designed to allow at least one “cheat meal” outside of their plans.

A world where chocolate is not allowed is one few people actually want to live in, so taking a break from a rigid meal plan is a helpful way to be rewarded for dietary disciplined. However, these meals still need to have some structure to them.

There are common mistakes not many people know about — even when “cheating.” You might be wondering how that’s possible because you’re already cheating, but you can really mess up your diet and stack up those unwanted calories quicker than you think.

So we compiled a list of the common ways those sneaky calories work themselves onto the plate.


Also Read: This is the ‘stress hormone’ that’s making you gain weight

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He’s trying to run off all those tasty milk bones.

Binge eating

People love food. That said, when they begin to enjoy a delicious meal, it can be easy to forget that each bite can take them past their maximum calorie threshold for the day. Eating out while maintaining a fat-burning diet is tough enough because of the variety available — but even worse, you don’t know exactly what is going into those meals.

A cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant usually contains more calories than ones you might make at home just from the added ingredients.

Those numbers quickly add up and the next thing you know, you’re cursing at yourself when you’re not making the progress you were hoping for. Be selective with your “cheat meals” so they don’t punish you later. As The Rock says, “Don’t cheat yourself. Treat yourself.”

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As you should!

Listening to other people

The internet is full of people who claim to know every aspect of health and fitness just get you to subscribe to their YouTube channel or like their Facebook page. If you want to support them, that’s entirely up to you. Now, when these so-called “experts” deliver their advice on how you should be dieting, they are generally explaining themselves to a broader audience and not directly to you.

Some fitness personalities will tell you that “in order to get big, you need to eat big.” Unfortunately, that might not be the most beneficial diet plan for you. Eating a high-calorie diet that is meant to bulk you up also runs the risk of making you gain weight based on your metabolism rate and genetics.

The best way to monitor your weight gain is to count the calories going in versus the ones you’re able to burn throughout the day. Refrain from weighing yourself every day because the number can fluctuate based on the amount of water you retain. Jumping on a scale every few weeks will give you a more accurate reading of your progress.

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Calories cutting cooking, at it’s best.

Counting calories incorrectly

There are approximately 206 calories in a cup of white rice, 231 in a whole chicken breast, and 45 in a cup of steamed vegetables. That equals 482 calories. Although the meal is healthy, it is nearly one-fourth of a 2,000 calorie per day meal plan. The various snacks and meals you’re eating in a day can add up real quick, so plan accordingly.

(Also, why are you eating white rice? Complex carbohydrates only!)

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Hey, what’s up!

Cutting too many calories

Starting a new diet can yield quick results. You might start seeing physical improvements right away as you embark on this fitness journey. But if you cut too many calories, you won’t be able to sustain that progress.

If you drastically cut calories, that notable fat loss will come to a halt when your body begins to protect itself from the food decrease you placed on it.

It will go from burning stored fat to only using the food you just ate for energy. Cutting calories should be a gradual process, not one you rapidly jump in to.

Articles

Here’s how to get in shape to be an Air Force special operator

The Air Force’s special operations candidates are encouraged to complete a tailored fitness program before they report for selection.


This 26-week guide is designed to get them physically ready for the challenges of the grueling training pipeline that features 1-3 workouts per day split into cardio, physical training, and swim workouts.

Old military favorites like pushups and planks are included along with creative stuff such as dragon flags, sliding leg curls, and handstand pushups.

Dragon flags are basically leg raises, except you keep raising your legs until all your weight is on your shoulder blades:

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

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

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GIF: Youtube/Dan Blewett

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

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GIF: Youtube/practicetroy’s channel

The challenge of the Air Force’s fitness guide is there for a reason. The training pipeline for combat controllers is over a year long and is physically tough.

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GIF: Youtube/United States Air Force

Those interested in trying out the Air Force’s 26-week fitness program can download the guide as a PDF here. But be advised: It starts tough and gets tougher as it goes on.

Unlike the Marine Corps’ fitness app, the Air Force guide does not include instructions for individual exercises. Take some time to research proper form before attempting any unfamiliar exercises. (And WATM’s Max Your Body series can help.)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet Mighty Milspouse Ashley Keller

Ashley Keller was frustrated. Why was every prenatal workout she found on YouTube too slow or beyond extreme and not safe for her baby?

The triathlete Army officer was no stranger to fitness. Upon her graduation from West Point, she was offered the opportunity to train for the Olympics, but turned it down to pursue serving her country in a traditional way.


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“My husband Luke got his mid-tour leave from a year long deployment and a government paid ticket to anywhere in the world,” Keller explained. “He sacrificed that ticket on a flight to West Point, New York to support my graduation from the Academy. We got married two days later, honeymooned to Costa Rica and he flew back to Iraq and I headed to Fort Leonardwood for Engineer Officer Basic Training. The Army then gave me a choice: go be a platoon leader like I had spent the last four years at West Point preparing to do or be sponsored by the Army to train at the World Class Athlete Center in Colorado for the next triathlon Olympics. [Training in Colorado] would mean not serving our country as I hoped to do, and it would post me across the country from Fort Bragg, where my new husband was stationed. I also knew one injury in triathlon [training] could foil all Olympic prospects and didn’t want to sacrifice my marriage for it.”

Keller had forfeited her Olympic dreams in favor of service, but never sacrificed her love of sport, representing the U.S. Army in NBC’s Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge and competing in the notoriously grueling Ironman races. When she became pregnant with her first baby, Keller longed for workouts that were challenging, yet effective.

“So I got certified and nerded out on scholarly articles about training,” Keller says. “I’d rush home over lunch breaks, change out of my Army uniform, and record ten to fifteen minute prenatal workouts with a cheap camera propped up on index cards on my countertop. I thought there might be some women out there who also wanted more challenging prenatal workouts.”

As it turns out, there were quite a few women. Keller quickly built a community of online followers and her passion for fitness and educating women online grew. After five and a half years of active duty service and a deployment to Afghanistan, she separated from the Army to pursue fitness full time and GlowBodyPT was born.

Today, Keller has an online following of more than 40,000 on social media and offers free workout videos on her Youtube channel, as well as customized plans through her website, featuring specialized workouts for prenatal and post-pregnancy.
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“A couple of months ago I launched my newest and favorite plan to date: The 10 Minute Plan,” Keller said. “It was a year in the making while my husband was deployed, raising a newborn and running GlowBodyPT.”

When asked why specifically targeting the mom community is so important, Keller smiled knowingly.

“Fitness does more than just make your body look good, it transforms how you feel about yourself,” she said. “Fitness empowers you to have patience, more energy and more drive, to pour into your marriage and your kids. Staged workout videos in white studios don’t resonate with me. When you follow my workout videos it’s like working out with a friend in your living room who says it how it is, teaches you how to train and makes the best use of every single minute of your time, because I know you don’t have time to waste.”

5 MIGHTY QUESTIONS

What piece of advice would you give to fellow military spouses?

Put yourself out there to make a couple of good friends every time you move. I tell my friends, “You are my people!” Give them your number and let them know, sincerely, you are here for them day or night no matter what they need. Follow through. Having your tribe and fueling those relationships is what makes the military community what it is.

What is your life motto?

God, use me for your purpose.

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What inspires you about the military community?

Only military families know the sacrifices we make as service members and spouses. How it feels to wonder if your spouse got back safe from a mission. Wondering if everybody is okay when there is a communications blackout. Missed holidays and birthdays. Lonely nights. Phone calls as you try to make conversation without talking about sensitive information related to your spouse’s everyday life. Consoling crying children who miss Daddy. I love the military community because there is a shared sense of respect, reverence, family and sacrifice.

What has been your toughest professional challenge?

I got my front teeth knocked out, elbow broken, wrist casted, stitches across my lips, chin and both palms during a Half Ironman bike crash a couple of years ago. The top four athletes racing all got rushed to the ER. The injuries lasted for months and I didn’t get permanent teeth for over a year. My husband was away at a military school when the crash happened and I came home the next day to two kids, one of which I was potty training and the other who put on my socks for me the next morning because it hurt to move my hands.

What’s your superpower?

I actually care about every single woman who does my plans, and her progress. Bigger companies just don’t have the capacity to pour into others at this level.

MIGHTY FIT

The one weightlifting exercise everyone might be overdoing

If you’re even remotely into the world of exercise and fitness, chances are you’ve noticed more people, particularly women, catching on to the various benefits of weight training over the past few years.

However, according to Dan Roberts, a personal trainer to models and movie stars, while there are countless benefits of weightlifting, there’s far too much emphasis on it within the world of fitness — particularly for women.

Business Insider caught up with Roberts at the Be:Fit London fitness festival, where Roberts gave a talk on mental health in the industry.


Originally a sports coach, Roberts has been a strength and conditioning trainer in New York, Australia, and London, working with elite and pro athletes and sports teams.

His accomplishments involve training India’s national tennis team, Britain’s junior ski team, and “a lot of pro wrestlers and pro fighters,” he told Business Insider.

About 10 years ago, he moved to Rio and became the in-house trainer for a big modeling agency, working with Victoria’s Secret models, before moving to Thailand to become a pro fighter for a year.

Eventually, his experiences led him to London, where he set up the Dan Roberts Group, which operates a number of companies offering personal training, online workouts, nutrition, branded fitness products, and fitness retreats, with a “small growing team” in New York.

While he says he trains “the biggest A-listers you can think of,” whether it’s an athlete, a model, or an actor preparing for a role, the company keeps things low-profile. “The reason I get clients like that is because I don’t tweet about it, [it’s not] on my Instagram.”

Through his company, Roberts tries to inspire better body image, as he believes there’s too much focus on looks in the industry.

“The main thing is exercise can be really good for mental health, but if you do it mindlessly trying to look hot, that’s not good for mental health,” he said. “Your approach towards exercise, the relationship you have with your body and food, and the relationship you have with exercise are all really important, so we try and help people with that.”

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The obsession with squats

Roberts believes the one exercise the fitness world it too obsessed with is the squat.

“We tend to live quite quad-dominant lives, which means we sit down all day, and we sit up, we tend to lean forward, because when we sit down our hip flexors tighten, and our glutes switch out. Certain things tighten and these end up working more.”

He added: “If these are working more and your hamstrings are weak and your glutes aren’t working, to me it doesn’t make sense to do exercises which do exactly the same.

He said that holding a heavy weight and “going up and down a bunch of times” is “not very functional.”

“To me we don’t need to be that strong and it’s emphasising the muscles which, for most of us who sit down in the Western world, have overdeveloped.”

He also added that he works with a lot of women who want a firm bum and toned legs, but not big thighs — and the weighted squat is the opposite of what they’re after.

Instead, he recommends his clients do posterior chain exercises, like a deadlift.

“You bend over and stand up — that is far better than a squat,” he said.

“I very rarely give a squat just because I want people to have balanced bodies. When you have a balanced body and less muscular imbalances, you have less injuries.”

Strength is just one part

As a strength coach, Roberts believes that if you’re only doing a short half-hour workout, “weight training is more bang for your buck, because you strengthen the bones, you increase metabolism, and also when you’ve got a stronger body it’s more bulletproof to injuries.”

However, while he pushes the benefits of weight training, he said that fitness obsessives do not focus enough on “multi-directional movements — playing, basically.”

“We’re way stronger than we need to be,” he said. “If you go to the gym now people are deadlifting 200 pounds — [but] the only time you ever need to do that is in a gym. We don’t need to be that strong. We need to have a balance of flexibility, endurance, coordination, strength — strength is just one part. There’s too much emphasis on strength.”

He added that there’s a myth within the industry that because women don’t have as much testosterone as men, they can’t bulk up.

“A lot of what personal trainers are taught is you must have the right hormones to build up and weights will never get you bulky,” he said. “It’s not true — weights can get you bulky.”

Treat your body like a unit

Planning leg day, chest day, or back day at the gym is a very “1950s, 1960s bodybuilding view,” according to Roberts.

“If you’re a bodybuilder with those goals, it is an effective way. You don’t have to do total body if you want to isolate.”

However, he said: “Most of us aren’t bodybuilders, so that approach doesn’t really make sense. For 99% of us, it makes sense to work the body as a unit, because we’re designed as a unit. That’s why sports is really good.

“Say you’re serving in tennis or playing netball, you’re using your upper body and lower body together, working two or three planes of motion, twisting and bending, [which is] way better than just (lifting up and down).

“Generally, I disagree what that targeted approach. But there are always exceptions. If I’ve got to tone someone for a film, and they have to have a big chest, I’m not going to pay tennis with them, I am going to do a bench press. Like all of these things, for the majority of people I disagree, but there’s always exceptions.”

Work with your environment — and body

Roberts’ own fitness routine changes all the time.

“I’ve got a competitive sporting background,” he told Business Insider. “I was a county level tennis player, I played lacrosse for England, I’ve done ultra-marathons, I’ve had fights professionally, so it depends what’s going on in my life. At the moment, I’m doing quite a lot of cardio stuff.”

He added that he recently worked with a client abroad, so they spent time kayaking and swimming every day.

“I’m not training for a particular event right now, so I usually let the situational environment dictate. If I’m in a gym I’ll do more weights, if I’m outside I’ll do more running, if I’m on a beach I’ll do more swimming.

“I’ve done so much training over the years that I like just playing.”

He added that along with your environment, your own personal needs should also dictate the type of workout you’re doing.

“If you want to look after your bones, swimming is terrible for you, but weights is great for you. If you want to improve flexibility, don’t do boxing, do yoga. It depends on what you want.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Your workouts are rough. With the right personal care products, your body doesn’t need to be

After I fractured a vertebra in Iraq, I took up swimming instead of running because it was easier on my spine as I grew older. It has become an integral part of my daily routine. I also like having a beard, but as I swam, my facial hair became super dry and ragged. I went from having a nice thick, black beard to a Brillo pad pretty fast.

One day, I was on the phone with a potential client who sold beard care products. I mentioned what the pool did to my beard and that regular shampoo wasn’t helping. He said, “Dude, if all you want is to not have neck dandruff, use shampoo. If you want to have a full, robust beard, use actual beard products”.


Like many of us, I initially balked. From my days of hardcore PT in the Marines, to the lackadaisical faux workouts post EAS, to the insane post-divorce shred sessions, to my current let’s-just-do-something-to-keep-active routine, I didn’t think twice about how my workouts affected my skin, beard, and body — until I had a steel-scouring pad growing from my face. But after trying different products, I have seen a difference. I am now a firm believer. Using the right personal care products is just as important as the workouts you do.

With BRAVO SIERRA, you know you will get quality care regardless of how intense your workout is.

It’s part of their business practice. This personal care company, founded by a team of veterans and some patriotic civilians, uses feedback from men serving in the military to create and finely tune products that really go the extra mile to make you look and feel good.

It’s in their mission statement. “BRAVO SIERRA believes in agile physical product development to ensure consumers get better products, faster. We believe the human body is the most important system, and that democratizing product development will be the future of taking ownership of our health and wellness.”

Here are some of their products and how they are a cut above what you use post-workout.

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Hair & Body Solid Cleanser

Lots of soaps use sulfates and silicone in their composition. They smell good, but don’t clean your pores, skin, or hair as well as they should. Also why do you want to douse yourself in chemicals?

BRAVO SIERRA doesn’t use the traditional harsh cleansing agent that strips your skin. Their hydrating formula and coconut-derived cleansing agent allows you to use this product from hair to toe without drying out your skin, hair, face or scalp.

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Face Moisturizer

Yup, I watched American Psycho back in the day, saw Patrick Bateman’s routine and thought, “Nope! Not me.” And yet here I am telling you that you need to moisturize your face. All that sweat from the gym, the chemicals from the pool, the sun when you run or bike outside… it takes a toll. This non-greasy option uses blue algae and apple fruit extract for all-day hydration. It also has aloe vera so you can use it as an aftershave.

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Shaving Foam

Shaving can get tedious when you have a 9 to 5 but it really sucks when you are in the military and have to shave literally anywhere. I still get irked when I think about being made to shave using old razors and cold water every day when I was out in the middle of the Syrian Desert. Well, BRAVO SIERRA made a shaving cream with that in mind. Its foam-to-cream texture prevents irritation on sensitive skin. It’s engineered with the first environmentally friendly, non-flammable propellant, making it ideal for your travel pack.

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Antibacterial Body Wipes

Can’t shower right away after working out? Given the current situation with the virus, you might be looking to avoid the gym showers altogether! Have to run into the store on the way home after the gym? These wipes are the ultimate on-the-go solution for when you have to clean up when you can’t clean up.

Infused with aloe vera, ginseng and blue algae, these wipes will have you feeling refreshed and smelling like an adult — instead of a baby. They kill 99.99% of bacteria in 60 seconds, are 4x thicker than baby wipes, and are biodegradable.

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Deodorant

You don’t want to be told “you stink” like poor Slider from Top Gun. If you aren’t breaking a sweat, you aren’t working out. And if you are breaking a sweat, then you really should be bringing deodorant with you. BRAVO SIERRA’s deodorant is aluminum- and baking soda-free. It’s long lasting against odors and provides excellent sweat protection. As an added bonus, it’s stain free.

BRAVO SIERRA also lets you combine these products into awesome kits so you can bundle according to your needs. There is a starter set, an active set, a barber set, and a hygiene-ready set or you can just build your own!

Working out is fun. Working out hard is even more fun. But maintaining your health also is important on the outside as well. Skin and hair care go a long way and BRAVO SIERRA has the best products to get you there.

This article is sponsored by BRAVO SIERRA.

MIGHTY FIT

How to get some sleep if you’re a veteran

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

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


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

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

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

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The elements of chilling out

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

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

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Who am I?… Typical Derek Zoolander reflection questions.

(Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash)

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Scott Broome on Unsplash)

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

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

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Stare into the stars and calm things down.

(Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash)

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

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

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

(Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash)

Take a day off.

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo by Auskteez Tran on Unsplash)

Type-A personalities AKA most of you

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

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

You probably fall into this category.

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

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

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

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

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MIGHTY FIT

Why it’s so hard to keep the weight off, part 2 – now that you know

If you’ve dieted before and lost weight, how did it go? What were your thoughts when the three months were up, or the 6-week challenge was finished? If you were like most people, you probably had some thoughts like these:

That was good but I’m glad it’s over.

I got what I wanted (lost weight), so now I can bring back some of the things I used to eat.

All those urges sucked, I’m not doing that again.

I learned some good stuff, but that diet didn’t really fit my lifestyle.


The hidden idea behind these thoughts is that the diet was temporary. The thing is, when you start a diet, you want to end with the result being a new weight, and you want to KEEP your new weight, right? Why doesn’t this happen?

Losing weight AND keeping the weight off requires that you learn to manage your mind.

If you’re overweight, then it’s because you’re overeating. It’s as simple as that… but it’s also not so simple.

Food doesn’t get eaten just because it’s there, sitting in front of you – whether it’s chicken and broccoli or two Pop-Tarts. Just like you don’t go to the gym just because it exists – it’s just a building with heavy stuff in it. So why do you eat the food you put in your mouth, and why do you lift the weights when you’re at the gym?

The reason you do anything in life is because of how you think it’s going to make you feel when you get it or when you do it.

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Our feelings are the most powerful experiences in our body because they compel us to act. Feelings are what drive our actions. They are the fuel to our actions. Think about it… we don’t do anything unless we feel like it.

We eat the salad because we think we’ll feel lighter, healthier, and happier. We go to the gym because we think we’ll feel strong, skinny, and sexy. We show up early for watch because we think we’ll feel liked and benevolent by our peers. We complain about our job or our supervisors because we think we’ll feel justified and correct.

Think about it… why do you follow orders so well?
“We follow orders because it was “drilled” into us…. On your first day of basic training (when you’re sweating, confused and scared), and the drill instructor was yelling and spitting in your face telling you to follow his or her orders or else your shipmate on your first deployment could die… the feeling of horrendous guilt, fear, and shame inundated you. You may not remember this day or how it went down exactly but you’ll never forget the feeling. You immediately envision that terrible possibility of you being ignorant and not following orders and someone you know dying or getting maimed because of your inaction. The guilt and fear of that thought is so compelling, that your brain learns immediately that following orders is non-negotiable. Your brain shifts that thought into your subconscious so that it doesn’t even have to think twice about following orders. That’s why following orders sometimes feels necessary for your survival. That’s how powerful our thoughts and emotions are.”

All feelings come from our thoughts. We have a thought that begins in our brain. Our thoughts are triggered by what we see, hear, smell, feel, and taste around us. Each thought travels down our body, and we experience it in our body as a feeling, as an emotion. It’s known that we have tens of thousands of thoughts a day, which is why it’s so hard at the beginning to develop the skill of managing your mind by finding the thoughts that are creating certain emotions for you.

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We have a thought in our brain, and the neural connections that are made cascade their way down our body signaling a feeling that corresponds best. You’ve seen this happen in your own life. When you think about how sharp and proud you’ll feel by wearing a clean, ironed uniform and the great first impression you’ll make at the pinning ceremony in front of your new Commanding Officer, what do you do in that moment? You’ll most likely wash and iron your uniform and lay everything out so that you don’t forget a single uniform item, including your underwear.

Your brain, which is the most powerful tool on the planet, was designed to operate this way and understanding how it works will help you begin to manage your thoughts so that you can start losing weight without having the weight come back on.

The more you think about the result you desire, the more your brain will learn to pay attention to it because it feels better than anything else.

Remember, we only do things because of how we think we’ll feel when we do them or when we get them.

This is how you begin developing the skill of managing your mind.

The answer is, you learn to eat the way that you see yourself eating for the rest of your life that creates the body and the results you want for yourself.

It’s important to know that you can take action from any feeling, positive or negative. You can follow a diet feeling deprived. Or, you can follow a diet feeling fulfilled. But one route guarantees a more enjoyable experience, one that you will want to continue to experience. Ultimately, one way ensures a more enjoyable existence. Therefore, how willing and committed are you to creating the results you want for yourself?

You must decide. Then let your feelings drive or inspire your actions, and over time, you will have your results.


MIGHTY FIT

Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 7

This was a strange fantasy football week. Consider which of these teams you’d rather have going into week 7: Team A (Matt Ryan, David Johnson, Kerryon Johnson, Will Fuller, Tyler Boyd, and Evan Engram) or Team B (Jacoby Brissett, Chase Edmonds, Latavius Murray, Marvin Jones, Zach Pascal, and Rhett Ellison). Team A, right? Well, that would leave you with a grand total of 16.8 points. Team B? 177.8 points. That’s why Janet from marketing is undefeated in your league right now.


Marvin Jones to the end zone today.pic.twitter.com/zuJb5LmTK0

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Blue chip medal

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts- Jacoby Brissett is 2nd in the NFL in passing touchdowns right now. His 14 passing TDs are only one behind the current #1 holders, and he’s played one less game than them. This is while playing without TY Hilton for an extended period of time, an insanely high red zone efficiency, and continuing to have balls dropped by Eric Ebron (as is tradition). Brissett is available in around half of leagues right now and is immediately worthy of an add.

Darren Waller, TE, Raiders- Darren Waller went into week 7 as the 7th highest scoring tight end In fantasy football (without a single TD, mind you). He finally broke pay dirt in week 7 and is currently the #2 fantasy tight end. Not bad for a player who was on the Ravens practice squad a year ago. He is Carr’s go-to target, and a bright spot in an offense riddled with weak air weapons.

Marvin Jones Jr, WR, Lions- You probably woke up Monday morning with a groan. Maybe you slapped at the snooze button on your iPhone, tricking yourself into eight more minutes of half-assed sleep before you had to drag your lifeless body into the shower and grab a handful of dry Cheerios before your commute to work. Marvin Jones most certainly did not wake up that way Monday morning. The Lions wideout had FOUR touchdowns on Sunday. Hell, he still might be asleep right now. But hey, he earned his rest.

Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys- Lost in the shuffle of up and coming RBs and electric WR performances is fantasy football’s half-decade stalwart, Zeke. He rushed for 111 yards, had 376 receiving yards, and a touchdown. When pressed about Doug Pederson’s over-zealous guarantee of a Philly win in Dallas, Zeke said, “We don’t give a f*ck what Doug Pederson says.”

“how many times did Melvin Gordon get stuffed at the goal line?”pic.twitter.com/Tr4Ye4cgDp

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Loss of rank

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers- After perhaps the least successful holdout in recent memory, Gordon, with a whole lot of dough on the line, re-entered the Chargers lineup as a shadow of his former self. His snoozefest of a performance on Sunday was capped with a fumble on the 1-yard line with 19 seconds left. The Chargers were only down by 3. Gordon may have lost much more than just the game.

Evan Engram, TE, Giants- Evan Engram was targeted five times on Sunday. He caught one of those for a measly 5 yards. This was against a mediocre Cardinal secondary, and with (an albeit hobbled) Saquon Barkley to draw defensive attention. Daniel Jones did him no favors, however, as he turned the ball over three times, and was sacked eight times. This does not bode well for the talented tight end moving forward. Consider trading him to a tight end streamer in your league if possible.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons- On the list of “dudes-I-wouldn’t-want-to-fight-in-the-NFL” Aaron Donald would be #1 and #2— one for each fist. Devonta Freeman obviously doesn’t agree with this sentiment as he tried to toe-up with the behemoth monster Rams tackle, and was promptly saved by the referees from certain death (by being tossed out of the game). In addition, the Falcons continue to lose and play from behind, making Freeman’s running opportunities thin at best.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders- Despite the box score, the Raiders played the Packers pretty close for 28 minutes. They were driving to the goal line for a would-be go-ahead score before halftime, when Carr rolled out to the right and dove for the endzone with a grip on a football that was so delicate that a light breeze in Lambeau would’ve been enough to knock it into the endzone for a touchback. It was eerily reminiscent of a 2017 incident of the same caliber. The Raiders lost the rock, and the Packers drove and scored before halftime to make it a 14 point swing. Carr is a mediocre fantasy play, and should be dropped in all but deeper 2QB leagues.

Nobody even laid a hand on Chase Edmonds @ChaseEdmonds22pic.twitter.com/Q9zKjwKkVx

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Promotion watch

Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals- Edmonds dominated the backfield this Sunday in spite of a (shaky) David Johnson return. He put up an insane 35 fantasy points, and is only owned in 17% of leagues. He should be picked up at all costs, especially considering he’s in an offense that has been putting up really good numbers at the behest of rookie sensation Kyler Murray.

Auden Tate, WR, Bengals- In the past five games, Auden Tate has a least six targets per game, alongside either a 50+ yard performance or a touchdown. That makes for a fairly reliable flex play for someone who could easily be snatched off the waiver wire this week. With Tyler Boyd playing a bit more quietly lately, and AJ Green not expected to return before November, he could be highly useful.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings- Kirk Cousins hears y’all talking sh*t. Over the last three games, he has thrown for ten touchdowns and over 300 yards in every performance. Next week he plays against a Washington Redskins defense that would give up 30 points to Adam Sandler’s team from “The Longest Yard” making him the absolute top quarterback add.

Latavius Murray, RB, Saints- Murray came through for the injured Alvin Kamara in a big way: 119 rushing yards, 2 TDs, and five receptions for 31 yards. The Saints play the Cardinals next week, followed by a bye in week 9, so they will most likely opt to sit Kamara through two weeks to ensure adequate rest for the talented running back—making another full Murray game a more than viable RB option for next week.

#Raiders RB Josh Jacobs lays the truck stick on #Packers S Adrian Amos on his first carry of the game.pic.twitter.com/AyA1oPJCQp

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Badass hit of the week

Josh Jacobs

The days of bruising running backs seems to be over. Marshawn Lynch was the last living relic of days when Earl Campbell, John Riggins, Mike Alstott, and Jerome Bettis plagued NFL linebackers. That doesn’t mean that today’s running backs lack some pop every now and then. Take this absolute truck stick from offensive-rookie-of-the-year front runner Josh Jacobs, he takes Adrian Amos to the canvas on his first carry of the day. Pad level, son. Ice up.

MIGHTY FIT

How to train your plank without planking

As an exercise, the plank has some crazy lore surrounding it. If you were an alien from another planet and came to earth to study human society, you would think that planks have replaced the, now extinct, fire-breathing dragon as enemy #1 to Homo sapien survival.

The plank isn’t going to kill you. In fact, it may be unrivaled in its ability to engage a large number of muscle groups in an isometric contraction. So much so that you actually become harder to kill when the plank is trained properly.


That being said, you can’t plank all day and all night. so I’m going to give you four alternative exercises to add to your training program in lieu or in addition to planks.

If you just want to learn more about planking, check this out.

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1. Seated Straight Leg Lifts

The straight leg lift has gotten more attention thanks to gymnastics strength training picking up popularity in the last few years.

It’s pretty simple you sit up straight, with your legs out straight in front of you, and alternate raising each leg for a set number of reps or seconds. It seems simple, but it lights up your quads (especially the rectus femoris) like no other.

If you find your hips sagging quickly when planking or you know that your quads are a weak point of yours in general, I strongly recommend adding two sets of straight leg lifts to your leg day.

This exercise will help with your plank, the ACFT’s leg tucks, as well as building strength for sprinting and running distances under a mile where you’re pushing for speed.

If you want more quad stimulation, you better be doing this exercise…

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2. Quadruped Hand Walk-outs

This is the poor man’s ab wheel exercise. Don’t let that fool you though, at first glance, it may seem easier than a roll-out, but when you focus on the right muscles, you’ll find that it brings a whole new level of muscle recruitment to your core.

Start on all-fours, with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Alternate walking each hand out about a ½ a hands length away from your body. Try to open your hips and your shoulders simultaneously as you walk out. The tendency is to allow the hands to walk away from under your shoulders faster than having the hips move past their starting position, directly above the knees.

Here’s the hard part. Step your hands slowly, and DON’T allow your hips, core, or shoulders to shift from side-to-side as you walk. Instead, keep your core so tightly contracted that it allows you to hold in a balanced position even when you only have one hand supporting you on the ground, while the other is in the air changing position. Walk your hands out as far as you can and then simply walk back.

When doing this exercise, go for time instead of reps. For whatever reason, when people go for reps, they tend to cheat a lot more. Just set your timer for 30 seconds and perform 30 seconds worth of perfect and deliberate movement.

For more on not wasting your time in the gym and practicing deliberate movement, read this thought-provoking article.

To make it even harder, lift your knees slightly off the ground, like the video demonstrates above.

When you’re able to walk all the way out to arms fully extended overhead, holding a plank will feel like child’s play.

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3. The Ab Wheel

The ab wheel is basically moving you from a position that’s easier than holding a plank to a position that’s harder than holding a plank. When performing this one, really focus on that position in the middle of the movement that most closely mimics the plank.

The ab wheel has the ability to work every core muscle fully, if you do it correctly. The common cue I give is to “Stay out of your lower back!” meaning that you shouldn’t allow your low back to hyperextend. Instead, I’d rather see you hold a constant position of mild flexion, that doesn’t change throughout the entire movement. When you hyperextend in your low back, you’re basically losing all core tightness and relying on your vertebrae to stop you from arching any further. If that sentence seemed painful to read…imagine how your back feels.

Similar to the previous exercise, I prefer to do the ab wheel for time instead of reps. It prevents cheating and allows you to focus on perfect form rather than trying to hit some arbitrary number of reps that will undoubtedly cause you to throw form out the metaphoric window.

Don’t waste your time in the gym, you can probably do everything you need to in 3 hours a week…

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4. Hollow Body Hold

I like to think of the hollow body hold as pull-up junior. The engagement of muscles that a properly performed hollow body hold can achieve is exactly the same as a pull-up minus the lat engagement of pulling yourself to the bar. If that sounds crazy to you, I’m willing to bet you rarely perform beautiful pull-ups.

Yes, your core is the primary muscle of the hollow body hold, but it’s not the same “core” as the one that gets worked during crunches or other dated ab exercises. The hollow body hold allows you to isometrically contract your quads, pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, lats, seratus, erector spinae (if you’re really good), neck muscles, pecs, psoas, and calves. Basically, every muscle of the front of the body and then some.

I highly encourage you to actively mentally walk through every muscle group I just mentioned the next time you attempt the hollow body hold. If you do, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. A few sets of a solidly executed hollow body hold, and you’ll be begging to just do planks instead.

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Work smarter, not harder…even when you’re trying to work hard do it smart.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Andy O. Martinez)

Go train your core. Before you go though…

Join the Mighty Fit FB group and get in on the conversation. Join the Mighty Fit FB group and get in on the conversation. Everyone there is trying to achieve something new and bigger than they ever have before. If that’s the type of person you want to be surrounded by, I suggest you get in there ASAP.

The New Might Fit Plan is coming soon. Sign up for it here and become one of the few to put the “We” in We Are The Mighty.

Send me a message at michael@composurefitness.com if you hate these core exercises or want to know if you’re doing them right. I get a kick out of hearing gripes from those of you bold enough to message me directly, rather than just screaming into the void that is Facebook comments… or you know, just tell me how you’re training is going and what your goals are. Bringing others in on your challenges and goals is a sure-fire way to ensure you actually overcome and accomplish them.

MIGHTY FIT

Fighter pilots do it. Why don’t you?

Breathe and brace, lift, exhale.

That’s it, pretty freakin’ simple. Why then do so many people literally forget how to breathe when lifting? It’s involuntary. You would die without sweet, sweet oxygen pouring into your face holes constantly.

When you are about to squat 2x your body weight, or even just your body weight, the number one risk to injury is structural damage, be that muscular or skeletal. The most efficient way to prevent injury from occurring is to brace and contract all non-moving body parts. It’s called the Valsalva maneuver.

But first…

How NOT to breathe

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Other approaches to breathing

Common other breathing methods such as exhaling on the concentric and inhale on the eccentric are problematic for lifting heavy weights.

In order to inhale or exhale, we need to engage the diaphragm and other breathing muscles to draw in air or release it. This means that the body needs to do two separate things while lifting; breath and lift.

This is problematic for a few reasons.

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There is no room for wiggle with 584+ lbs on your back. The breathe and brace is the only option here.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah N. Petrock)

  1. Most people aren’t coordinated enough to successfully do this for every rep of every set at the proper cadence.
  2. With two different processes going on, you aren’t able to actually recruit the maximum amount of muscle possible.
  3. If certain muscles of the core aren’t fully contracted, they are at higher risk for injury during the movement. This is a bit of a domino effect, especially if you tend to breathe into your shoulders or belly. Some of those muscles that should be used for the lift may end up sitting the rep out from confusion as to what they should be doing exactly.
  4. If something in your form goes awry, a muscle that isn’t “paying attention” to the lift may jump in at the wrong moment and get pulled. This happens with muscles between the ribs often.
HOW to Deadlift & Squat Correctly: Breathing, Abdominal Bracing & Total Tension (Ft. Cody Lefever)

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How to breathe

Think back to the last time you picked up or pushed something heavy. What did you naturally do?

You breathed and braced.

This technique, called the Valsalva maneuver, has been used by fighter pilots, SCUBA divers, lifters, and doctors for hundreds of years with little to no complications.

It doesn’t matter if you’re picking up a torpedo, a mortar plate, a tire, or your overweight nephew. They all elicit the same involuntary response… the breathe and brace Valsalva maneuver.

Here’s how you do it:

Breathing and Bracing…You’re Doing it Wrong

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1. Inhale

A deep inhale fills your core and increases pressure like in an unopened carbonated beverage rather than a plastic water bottle that is ¾ empty.

Fully filled lungs are step one towards the ideal apparatus for transferring power from your legs and ass to the barbell you’re attempting to move in all heavy lifts.

Deadlift Pillar #3 | Breathing & Bracing | JTSstrength.com

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2. Flex your abs

In the squat, for instance, this means isometrically contracting all of your core muscles to support the spine and those muscles themselves.

By staying tight, you are putting yourself “on the rails” there is literally no wiggle room for your form to get jacked up.

Once ALL of your core muscles are contracted, you can take total advantage of maximum abdominal pressure.

With the core muscles contracted, there is no longer space in the abdomen that needs to be occupied. We have now removed all possibility of unwanted movement in the spine and core.

Back Squat Step 4

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3. Execute the rep

Perform the rep in its entirety until you are back to the starting position. Check out these other articles for specifics on perfect form for the main lifts.

  • The complete bench press checklist
  • 5 steps to back squat perfection
  • 5 steps to deadlift perfection
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Don’t exhale until the weight is safely on the ground when deadlifting. That’s your rest position, not the top.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Roland John)

4. Exhale and repeat

Lift using the Valsalva maneuver to protect your spine and allow for the maximal transfer of force in whatever movement you are doing.

When you are doing lighter exercises or the big exercises at lighter weight the Valsalva isn’t necessary. You can, in these cases use the other method described above. The Valsalva is the big gun that you bring out when you make it to the final boss level. Generally, it’s only needed for your main lifts for each workout like squats, deadlifts, and the bench press.

Proper Breathing Technique for Weightlifting | Valsalva Maneuver

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What about blood pressure?

Yes, your blood pressure does increase when you perform the Valsalva. No there is not no risk to the technique (that’s a double negative).

Listen to the above video for why and how you don’t need to worry as long as you are otherwise healthy.

In addition, here is a very in-depth source on the intricacies of blood pressure and the Valsalva maneuver.

If you aren’t otherwise healthy, you shouldn’t be training at all without your doctor’s approval. This discussion is no exception.

Breathe smartly my friends.

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MIGHTY FIT

Coast Guard expert gives tips for selecting a great gym

The Department of Health and Human Services recently released the second edition of their physical activity guidelines for Americans. These guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity and 30 minutes of strength training, and confirms the overall importance that exercise has on our lives. These guidelines also align with Coast Guard policy for active duty members.

Although there are many ways to accomplish this goal, this time of year many people look to local gyms as an option to help them get physical activity. Before you invest in a gym membership, consider the following:


1. Convenience. Make sure the gym is convenient to your location. Do you pass the gym on the way home from work? You also may want to work out early in the morning or after work hours, so it is important to visit the gym during these times. What is the atmosphere during those times? If you are interested in group classes, do they have them available during the time slots you’re available?

2. Equipment and amenities. When you preview a prospective gym, take a good look at the condition of the equipment and cleanliness of the facility. Do they offer towels or a sauna? Check out the showers and restrooms for cleanliness. Take note of what equipment is available to help you attain your fitness goals and also how long people are waiting to use the equipment. Nothing wilts enthusiasm for a good workout than having to wait to use a machine.

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Port Security 3rd Class Francesca Smith, a policewoman at Coast Guard Activities NY who recently won the New York City Golden gloves Championship, shadow boxes inside Gleason’s Boxing Gym, brokklyn, NY., June 20, 2003.

(USCG photo by PA1 Tom Sperduto)

3. Fees. The costs involved to join a gym can vary greatly. Some facilities offer a great workout for a low monthly fee with no contract while others want you to commit for a year. Take time to make a good comparison of what is available in your area and make sure it’s within your budget. Do they offer a group discount, family, or military discount? Do they have reciprocal membership to other gyms? Make sure they have a military clause if you suddenly get orders out of the area. Ask if childcare is available onsite and how much it is.

4. Qualified instructors and personal trainers. If you would like the advice of a personal trainer to reach your fitness goals, you need to see if they are available and what the costs are to have them give you instruction on a good routine. Having a qualified instructor to evaluate your form may save you months of rehab. It’s also advisable to see how well-equipped the facility is if an emergency arises. Are the staff trained in CPR or do they have people who are certified to use any emergency life saving devices or techniques?

A formal gym is not necessary to achieve the updated physical activity guidelines, but in certain situations, it can help. Before investing in a gym membership, take a look at all the aspects of this commitment and make sure it is the correct fit for you and your family.

This article originally appeared on Coast Guard All Hands. Follow @USCG on Twitter.

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