Think your physical fitness is top-notch enough to become a SEAL? If you’re even loosely considering taking the Special Warfare Physical Screening Test there are definitely some things you need to know. Watch this video for the top tips and a blueprint on making your way through the hardest workout PT test for US Navy special forces. It’s not just physical fitness that’s required to crush this test – it’s mental toughness, too.
The PST is a hardcore workout with strict time limits that challenges your physical fitness. First, there’s a rigorous 500-yard swim in under 12.5 minutes. You get 10 minutes to rest before starting the next part of the workout where you race to achieve a max number of pushups in two minutes. Two minutes to breathe and then you try to max out on sit-ups. Another 2-minute break before maxing out on your pull-ups. Then, you have a ten-minute break before the brutal 1.5-mile run – that has to be completed in under 12.5 minutes.
Oh, and if you really want to be considered, you exceed these standards – not just meet them.
How to cut down on the minutes it takes you to complete the test
To really do well on this, you need to identify your weaknesses and then crush them.
Train like you’re testing. Keep the same time limits for your own breaks. That way when you get to test day, it won’t seem completely impossible to regain your breath.
Focus on progression. Get repetitions in throughout the day. For the exercises like sit-ups, break them up into sets. For example, if your max is 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes until failure. Break that up into 25 sit-ups several times a day to work on max progressive overload.
Pacing is key for each test. Swimming 500 years in 12.5 minutes will wipe you out unless you pace your swim, using underwater recovery techniques including breaststroke, sidestroke and combat swim stroke to utilize your swim as a warm-up that gets you ready for the next part of the workout.
The Navy Seal training pipeline includes six-month basic training on underwater demolition and airborne operations as well as three months of tactical training. Maintaining a top level of physical fitness and regular workouts is a necessity for a SEAL.
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.
Everyone other than the likes of the Nabisco executive board agrees that processed foods are bad for you. But why exactly are they pinned as the food version of Lucifer by modern popular health gurus?
Do they cause disease?
Do they have mind control chemicals in them?
Are they simply a misunderstood solution to a problem we no longer have as a society?
Yes MREs are processed… Did I even need to point that out?
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)
Why are our brains dumb?
We are mentally weak when it comes to unnaturally delicious foods.
Think about it in this context:
In Ye Olde Cave Man Days, food tasted terrible.
Fruit and veggies were fibrous and bitter, and animals were fast and difficult to catch.
Whenever they were caught, they were lean and not that delicious; they were, after all, eating the same fibrous foods as our ancestors.
If a food was delicious, it was a sign that it was calorie-dense, because it was loaded with either lots of fat or sugar. That food was devoured quickly, because it would provide much more energy than the foods on the typical menu.
If you’re gonna eat it, at least get it in your mouth!
Processed food isn’t the devil. Eating too much is.
Some research suggests that processed foods cause obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure, and cancer. But the poison probably isn’t the food itself. It’s the dose.
Too many processed foods lead to the above issues because it’s so easy to overeat them.
For instance: in order to get the same number of calories as a 16 ounce package of Oreos, you would need to eat roughly 250 ounces of broccoli. That’s over 15 pounds of broccoli! I’m pretty sure that’s physically impossible.
We usually only fill our gas tanks to the amount they can hold. What if instead of stopping there, I popped the hood of my car and sprayed gas all over the engine and other vehicular unmentionables? What if I then opened the driver’s side door and shot some gas into the passenger compartment of the car?
She is not going to have a happy tummy after that meal.
Do you think that there may be some negative side effects of over-fueling my vehicle in this way? Might my car develop type 2 car diabetes?
This is exactly what we do to our cells when we over-eat consistently. Our mitochondria (cellular engines) can no longer hold all of the energy inputs from the food we eat, just like the gas tank couldn’t hold any more fuel. Our mitochondria overflow and fuel spills out everywhere.
This is how we get fat and sick. This is also how you cause irreparable damage to the interior of your car.
Certain foods may be more prone to this phenomenon, like ultra-processed hyper-palatable foods. It is, in theory, possible with any food though.
There were no trees growing donuts 15,000 years ago…
What initially started as a way to ensure people never starve like they did during the Great Depression turned out to be profitable. So profitable that the health of the nation became a secondary concern of food companies. They became slaves to the bottom line.
Food companies became so good at convincing our dumb caveman brains to buy their products that we are now experiencing a great depression of a whole different degree. A great Individual depression when we look at our naked bodies in the mirror.
Two-time Olympian runner Nick Symmonds, now the CEO of his own company, Run Gum, and the host of a popular YouTube channel, recently took on a new challenge: The Army Physical Fitness Test.
In a video posted Aug. 1, Symmonds attempted the test without any special training or practice, and bagged a respectable score, albeit with some not-quite-authorized modifications. Here’s what you need to know about Symmonds’ APFT challenge — and how you can take your own test to see how you would compare.
The Army Physical Fitness Test currently involves three elements: maximum push-ups in two minutes, maximum sit-ups in two minutes, and a two-mile run for time.
Let’s start with the run. It’s been three years since Symmonds officially retired as a professional athlete, but he’s still in great shape and impressively fast. He completed two miles on the track in 11 minutes, 54 seconds — just under his personal goal of 12 minutes. Symmonds is 36, so he could have bagged a perfect score with a run time of 13 minutes, 18 seconds, or 6 minutes, 39 seconds per mile. No problem.
One the push-ups, Symmonds unfortunately would have been disqualified partway through (more on that below). But if all his reps had counted, he would have gotten 55 in two minutes. That’s good for a score of 79 out of 100. He would have had to get 75 push-ups to max out the APFT with a perfect 100 score.
For the sit-ups, the middle event on the APFT, Symmonds barely beat his push-up reps count, with 56 sit-ups. Here too, he would have been disqualified mid-event if the test had been administered by the Army. But if his full score counted, he would have gotten a 76 out of 100. To max out in his age ground, he would have needed 76 reps.
Bending the Rules
Here’s the thing: It’s not enough to do the reps on push-ups and sit-ups; you have to do them exactly as prescribed by the Army, and you can’t take unauthorized breaks.
On push-ups, Symmonds repeatedly sat up on his knees to shake out his arms, which would have meant instant disqualification on the real APFT. According to the official Army Physical Fitness Test administration rules, the only rest permitted mid-test is an “altered front leaning rest position,” meaning that soldiers may flex their back up or sag in the middle.
According to 550cord.com, “if you rest on the ground or raise either hand or foot from the ground, your performance will be terminated.”
Otherwise, Symmonds’ push-up form was strong. The Army regulations require the upper arms to be at least parallel to the ground on each repetition; Symmonds went deep enough to touch the ground on each rep.
The sit-ups also would have resulted in disqualification, according to Army rules. For proper sit-up position, a soldier must interlock fingers behind his or her head and come up to a vertical position where “the base of your neck is above the base of your spine.” The feet must be held by another soldier. Reps don’t count “if you fail to reach the vertical position, fail to keep your fingers interlocked behind your head, arch or bow your back and raise your buttocks off the ground to raise your upper body, or let your knees exceed a 90-degree angle.”
In addition, there’s only one authorized rest position: vertical. A soldier cannot rest in the “down” position.
Symmonds completed his reps with his arms crossed over his chest (although occasionally they flailed), used a soccer goal to secure his feet and rested repeatedly in the down position. The test was still tough and no doubt a good workout, but it would have landed Symmonds in trouble with Army supervisors for multiple rules infractions.
New Test Coming
Symmonds says he plans to retake the test as some point in the future and try again for a perfect score. But by the time he gets around to that, soldiers may be taking a different test with new rules and events. The Army is in the process of introducing the five-event Army Combat Fitness Test, which will be the test of record beginning Oct. 1.
The ACFT is considered more difficult to ace than the current APFT, and requires more equipment, too. The events on the new test include a maximum deadlift; standing power throw; hand-release push-up; sprint, drag and carry; leg tuck; and two-mile run.
Also new on the ACFT: all scores are age- and gender-neutral, which means there’s just one score chart for all soldiers. There are different minimum requirements based on job category, however; soldiers with jobs that are highly physically demanding, such as infantry, have to achieve higher scores than those with less physical jobs.
We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.
Got a water bottle you’re trying to keep cold? This one holds up just as well on the homefront as it does on deployment. Soak a sock in some cold water before you head out, and then toss a water bottle in it. It’ll help keep it cooler for longer. Sure, it might make the outside of the bottle smell like a McDonald’s Playplace, but if it keeps you hydrated—it’s worth it. Which brings us to point number two…
The old adage “if you’re thirsty then you’re already dehydrated” is a wise one to live by this summer. Soldiers hauling 60 pounds of gear in 90 degree weather (while blanketed in insulated cammies) can’t stay cool—their only option is to drink an assload of water continually throughout the day. It’s usually recommended to drink 1 1/2 quarts of water per hour to avoid “heat injuries” such as heat stroke. Your pee shouldn’t be the color of a Lakers jersey. It should be the color of, uhh, nothing.
Look, if you had… one shot, or one opportunity, to make your patio a little cooler outside, would you canopy it, or let it spit-fry? Your palms are sweaty. Sure, that’s understandable. Your knees are weak (from heat), and your arms are heavy (also from heat). If there’s vomit on your sweater already, you are suffering from heatstroke and should contact medical services immediately. Don’t be nervous, just be calm and ready. Sometimes a little bit of shade, also known as slim shady, goes a long way.
Everyone knows that you can hit an ice bath to drastically regulate your body temperature. However, if you’re too hot, the extreme change in body temperature can actually send you into shock. To mitigate this risk, some on-base soldiers will roll up their sleeves and dunk their arms into an ice bucket (sometimes called an “Arm Immersion Kit” by higher-ups with too much time on their hands) full of water and allow them to soak until their blood temperature drops a bit.
Jury rig a ghetto A/C unit
What you see before you is the latest innovation in hood engineering. Many a budget-restricted renter has pulled off a MacGuyver A/C attempt, but none succeeded like this anonymous Twitter user. Put this baby on full blast, grab a cheap beer from the back of your (roommate’s) fridge, sit in your inflatable mini kids pool (that you definitely didn’t steal from your nephew’s birthday), and enjoy a freezing blast that rivals the arctic winds.
If you’re enlisted, this sh*t is basically free sunblock. This one won’t help keep you cool, necessarily, but it will protect your skin from harmful UV rays and prevent sunburn. Not to mention it can make you look like an intimidating linebacker, an overrated 60s rock guitarist, or Arnold Schwarzenegger—depending on how you apply it.
Everybody always says the same thing when you announce you’re expecting: “Better catch up on your rest!” Or, “Sleep in while you still can!” Or even worse, “I’m your carefree single friend who stays out until two AM and then goes to brunch!” All of them also think they’re sharing a secret, as if they’re frontline soldiers watching new recruits get rotated to the front. These people are incredibly annoying. Or maybe they’re not. Who knows, you’re in a groggy, sleep-deprived haze.
How you deal with sleep deprivation defines your first years as a parent. If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about propping up sagging eyelids, it’s John McGuire. A Former Navy SEAL, he not only survived Hell Week — that notorious 5-day suffer-fest in where aspiring SEALs are permitted a total of only four hours of sleep — but also the years of sleep deprivation that come with being a father of five. McGuire, who’s also an in-demand motivational speaker and founder of the SEAL Team Physical Training program, offered some battle-tested strategies on how to make it through the ultimate Hell Week. Or as you call it, “having a newborn.”
Get Your Head Right
It doesn’t matter if it’s a live SEAL team operation or an average day with a baby, the most powerful tactic is keeping your wits about you. “You can’t lose your focus or discipline,” McGuire says. In other words, the first step is to simply believe you have what it takes best the challenge ahead. “Self-doubt destroys more dreams than failure ever has.” This applies to CEOs, heads of households, and operatives who don’t exist undertaking missions that never happened taking out targets whose the Pentagon will not confirm.
Teamwork Makes The Lack Of Sleep Work
“In the field, lack of communication can get someone killed,” says McGuire. And while you might not be facing the same stress during a midnight diaper blowout as you would canvassing for an IED, the same rules apply: remain calm and work as a team. Tempers will flare, but the last thing that you want, per McGuire, is for negativity to seep through.
One way to prevent this? Remind yourself: I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I love my family, so I’m going to really watch what I say. At least that’s what McGuire says. And when communicating, be mindful of your current sleep-deprived state: “If you are, you’ll be more likely say something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling myself because I didn’t get enough sleep,'” he says.
Put The Oxygen Mask On Yourself First
The more you can schedule your life – and, in particular, exercise – the better, says McGuire. And this is certainly a tactic that’s important with a newborn in the house. “It’s like on an airplane: You need to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can put one on your kid.” Exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and get the endorphins pumping. “You can hold your baby and do squats if you want,” he says. “It’s not as much about the squats as making sure you exercise and clear the mind.” Did your hear that, maggot!?
Don’t Try To Be A No-Sleep Hero
McGuire has heard people say that taking naps longer than 20 minutes will make you more tired than before you nap. Tell that to a SEAL (or a new dad). McGuire has seen guys sleep on wood pallets on an airplane flying through lightning and turbulence. He once saw a guy fall asleep standing up. The point is, sleep when you can, wherever you can, for as long you can. “Sleep is like water: you need it when you need it.”
Know Your Limits
Lack of proper sleep effects leads to more than under-eye bags: your patience plummets, you’re more likely to gorge on unhealthy foods, and, well, you’re kind of a dummy. So pay attention to what you shouldn’t do as much as what you should. “A good leader makes decisions to improve things, not make them worse,” says McGuire. “If you’re in bad shape, you could fall asleep at the wheel, you can harm your child. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”
Embrace The Insanity
It would be cute if this next sentiment came from training, but it’s probably more a function of McGuire the Dad than McGuire the SEAL: Embrace the challenge because it won’t last long. Even McGuire’s brood of five, which at some point may have seemed they may never grow up, have. “You learn a lot about people and yourself through your children,” he says. “Have lots of adventures. Take lots of pictures and give lots of hugs,” he says. It won’t last forever — and you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when it’s over.
On Jan. 2, the Army began administering the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or “OPAT,” to all recruits to assess their fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT also will be used to assess some Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.
Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.
Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.
When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the significant category to the heavy category, for example, he or she will need to take the OPAT. However, a Soldier whose new MOS falls within the same or a lower level physical demand category will not need to take the OPAT.
The Soldier’s commander will be responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the battalion-level or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.
When it comes to recruiting, Brian Sutton, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command, said the OPAT is not meant to turn away or weed people out.
“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so,” he said.
OPAT scoring is gender neutral, he added. All Soldiers, male and female, must pass the same physical standards for their desired career field.
The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army: officer, enlisted, active, Reserve and Guard. It will be administered by any command responsible for Soldier acsessions — including Recruiting Command and Army Cadet Command — after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.
OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:
The “standing long jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants stand behind a takeoff line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump as far as possible.
The “seated power throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4-pound (2-kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45-degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
The “strength deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to ensure good technique. They then begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, working up to 220 pounds.
The “interval aerobic run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loudspeaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Participants are scored according to the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.
Here is a quick breakdown of the four physical demand categories incorporated into the OPAT:
“Black” is for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more. To attain black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 5 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw; 160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43 shuttles.
“Gray” is for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds. To attain gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 4 feet, 7 inches in the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.
“Gold” is for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands are occasional. To attain gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 3 feet, 11 inches in the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw; 120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36 shuttles.
“White” is unqualified. A recruit or Soldier who attains white has failed to meet OPAT’s minimum standards.
Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it may be possible to renegotiate the contract to allow the recruit to enter an MOS with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being gold.
If you think that self-quarantine orders mean nothing but boring workouts in the corner of your room, think again. Well, in a sense, your options are limited..by your imagination. It’s time to dust off that creativity muscle.
Most of us are sick of the order to stay home and since exercising outdoors is still considered essential you might as well make the most out of it.That is, as long as you stay far enough away from everyone.
So, if you’re having trouble figuring out a way to train that doesn’t just include bodyweight squats and planking, fear not.
I’ve got you covered with a few outdoor challenges that are sure to keep you interested and in shape.
Run! When you get caught fight. Escape and run until your veins pump battery acid.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Gabrielle Sanders
Heading out for a run is the most obvious answer to your craving for exercise outdoors. But running the same route at the same pace each day can get repetitive. Instead, try to mix things up by adding other exercises.
To do this workout, decide on a total distance that you want to run, like 2-4 miles.
But keep in mind, this can’t be a leisurely jog if you want a challenge. Instead, run at a pace where even a half-mile is tricky. If you can go further, you’re not running hard enough. For fun and extra motivation imagine a zombie, mugger, cougar is chasing you.
Now, once you hit that plateau where you need a break, the fun starts.
Take 10-20 seconds to catch your breath (or don’t cougars don’t need to catch their breath) and immediately jump into a three-exercise circuit. To make things simple, try to hit your upper body, core, and lower body with these three exercises. Good examples include crucifix push-ups, punching planks, and mule kicks.
Your circuit, depending on your fitness level, should look like this:
The thing is, if you’ve ever worked a punching bag for even just a minute straight, you know it takes incredible endurance. And that’s only one minute!
Instead, I like to use a round-based workout to simulate some of the demands you might encounter during a fight. While you won’t get to connect any punches (unless you have a heavy bag), the movements involved will still challenge your cardio endurance like nothing before.
Here’s an example:
3 Rounds @ 90% Intensity for 60 seconds each
Vertical knee strikes
Once you finish, take a two-minute rest. And when I say take a rest, I mean it.
More rest will mean you can train harder once the next round starts. If you can start another round without taking two minutes, you need to go harder.
Now, of course, this workout can be done inside. If you can manage to get out, try replacing exercises like skipping rope and high knees with others, like a few sprints or a 60-second run.
If you’re one of those that watch MMA and think that you can do it no problem, do five of these five minute rounds, imagine how much harder it would be with someone punching you in the face, and reassess.
Start off smiling…Finish smiling…It’s those 1500 lunges in the middle to be worried about.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jordan Ripley
The one-mile lunge
You read that right: Lunge for one mile.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity, though. If you’ve never performed more than 20 consecutive lunges in a row, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Lunges are an excellent exercise since they tax your quads and hamstrings, depending on your stride length. Plus, if you’re moving at a fast pace, consecutive lunges will test both your muscle and cardiovascular endurance.
Not to mention, for most of you, this is going to take well over an hour to complete. To finish, you’re going to have to stay mentally hard, or else, you’ll quit.
Some tips to get through this challenge:
Know your limits. If you need to start with a quarter-mile or a half-mile instead, do it. The actual length doesn’t matter as long as it’s challenging.
Don’t cheat. The only way you get to brag about this feat is if you actually finish it. If you take a step that isn’t a lunge, step back and finish it. If you cheat, what’s the point?
Listen to your body. This challenge is going to suck, and there’s a good chance your legs will cramp. If they do, stretch out and continue. If it gets bad, suck it up, call it a day, and try again when you’re muscles are healed and ready.
There’s nothing boring about the combat or goal you’re training for. If your workout is boring are you really training?
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Margaret Gale
Just use your head
When I was just a youngin’ we would go on fun-runs on Fridays down by the creek (pronounced “crick”). It involved 5 miles of jumping over logs, wading through the water, swinging from trees limbs, and avoiding hobo camps. It was fun.
When we “become” adults we fool ourselves into thinking that things are supposed to feel like work. Shake off your imagination and let your workout get fun again.
Or for the masochists out there just lunge a mile and sleep happy,
When we leave active duty, we go through a lot of emotional ups and downs, we have many hurdles to overcome, and most importantly, we have to repurpose ourselves.
That repurposing process is a subconscious one for the overwhelming majority of us. We fall into the civilian world and look for things we couldn’t do or have while we were in the service. You know, like drugs, experiences, traveling opportunities, and sleeping in past 0600 on a weekday. Basically, we’re just adult versions of Amish teens on Rumspringa.
After we get those things out of our system, we find ourselves so far on the other side of society that we realize we need to get back to “normality.” That normality is somewhere between the extreme lifestyle of the military and the post-DD-214 period of blowing off steam, so we think.
We should instead be repurposing ourselves to do great things like growing businesses, shaking up industries, raising the status quo. In order for us to do that, we need to not forget the greatness we came from by ending up in a “normal” life.
I’m not just talking about combat veterans or vets with spec ops training here. I’m talking about all of us, all veterans, from the most boot Airman to the grizzliest retired E-9 turned private security contractor that you can think of. If we weren’t better humans, we wouldn’t have even thought the military was an option for us in the first place.
Get out of the shadow of normalcy.
The decision to end up in normal is a mistake for us. Normal kills potential. Normal shits on passion. Normal shames greatness.
We need to stay closer to the fringe than the normals do.
Blasting normal in the crotch… after living like this there’s no way you’ll be happy being “normal.”
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)
The fringe is where the magic happens
It’s not easy to stay on the fringe though… it’s demanding and exhausting out here, but it feels like home to us. You need to stay fit and capable in order to live outside of normal.
That’s why the military has fitness standards when normal people have 2.6 doctors visits a month. The fringe only seeks medical attention when something is broken from flying too close to the sun.
That’s why you need to be training. You’re training to stay strong, lean, and healthy, but even more importantly, you’re training to stay at the tip of the spear, albeit a different spear than you stood on in the military.
It doesn’t matter if your new spear is higher education, the business world, entrepreneurship, or parenthood. The best in their field are those that know how to leverage their body to produce greatness.
You’ve already been given keys to the castle of greatness through your military indoctrination. The foundation of that castle is training hard to take care of your body and make everything else in life seem easier.
As part of the crazy world of the military, our schedules are freakin’ hectic. We have a boatload of responsibilities to complete daily and, after everything’s done, we have to try and carve out time to get a solid workout in. That sh*t isn’t easy, but some types of exercise are easier to fit into a busy schedule than others.
So, to complement troops’ sh*tty schedules, some masterminds developed a workout technique called high-intensity interval training that will quickly get your heart pumping. The concept is simple, but effective: you perform short bursts of strenuous activity and sneak in even shorter periods of rest between.
Using this technique, trainers have come up with a 7-minute exercise routine that can be done virtually anywhere using just your body weight, a wall, and a standing platform. You’ll do 12 different exercises for 30 seconds each and reward yourself with 10 seconds of rest between each set. Although you don’t have to do the following motions in any particular order, we recommend that you start from the top with side straddle hops to get your blood pumping.
Let’s go over the routine:
First exercise: side straddle hops for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Wall sit for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Next exercise: push ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Pretty sure you did this exercise in high school. Sit-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Platform (or chair) step-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Side planks for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Air squats for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Triceps dips for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Planking for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Running in place for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Lunges for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Last exercise. Push up with side plank for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
After you complete the first round, if you’ve got more time and energy in the tank, then do another.
If you can’t find time to do at least one round of this exercise routine, you might want to rethink your lifestyle…
Working out your core is one of the toughest and most painful parts of any exercise routine. Putting strain on your torso and getting that unique, deep burn isn’t a very appealing prospect to most people — they’d rather be making gains in their arms or chest.
Planking primarily targets your core muscles, like the hip abductors, pelvic floor, lower back, and lower chest. During a plank, all of these structures must work in concert to hold up the body’s weight, strengthening the entire group with a single exercise. Although most people only hold the position for between 30 and 60 seconds, this brief moment can feel like a freakin’ eternity.
To help all you hopefuls looking to strengthen your core, we’ve come up with a few proven remedies to get your mind off the anguish. Use these tips to hold a plank for long periods of time, build core strength, and, most importantly, get those abs to pop out.
As you hold a plank, your body will tire out. Your torso will let your brain know it’s getting sore via pain receptors. Although it’s wise to listen to your body, at times like these, it’s better to distract yourself from every little message sent to the brain. A great way to do this is by focusing on your breathing.
Breathing deeply relaxes your body and blocks out distracting thoughts like, “when the hell will this exercise be over?” The next time you decide to shoot for a 45-to-60-second plank, inhale in on a 4-count and exhale for just as long. After just fifteen inhales and exhales, you’ll be at the 1-minute mark.
Working out is meant to break you down physically. It takes mental strength to push through discomfort. That’s exactly why so many people hire trainers — for outside motivation that pushes them through those last, crucial minutes of intense training.
If you don’t want to shell out cash for a trainer, there are other ways to find the motivation to get into tip-top shape. Many people watch cool motivational YouTube clips to distract the mind and block out the physical pain. Via that smartphone you keep in your pocket at all times, you can quickly view a “moto” clip (like the one below) to get you through those final seconds of your plank.
As with any other exercise, there are many variations of planks, each designed to focus on the various muscles that make up your core. You can use this information to your abdominal advantage. If you start out in a four-point plank and fatigue sets in, modify the exercise and move into a side plank.
The idea is to build up your strength gradually — go until you can’t.
Everyone likes music. There’s no doubt that you’ve memorized a few verses during all those hours you’ve logged listening to the radio. So, as you set out to challenge your body via planking, start reciting a 45-to-60-second song verse in your head — not out loud — to get you through the tough, physical static hold.
The buzz of the crowd had Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vaccaro on edge. Then a loud bang made him look around nervously.
He knew the noise came from a Zamboni machine, yet its exhaust made him think of the aftermath of a roadside bomb.
All his stress melted away immediately, however, as soon as he stepped out onto the ice.
“When I’m on the ice, no matter what happened before, everything dissipates,” he said. “It’s like a fresh start.”
Former Army Spc. Matt Holben, Capital Beltway Warriors assistant team captain and defensive player, hits the puck up ice during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional Hockey Challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Vaccaro is one of the co-founders of the Capital Beltway Warriors, a hockey team of veterans with disabilities founded two years ago.
Veterans on the team open up to each other and talk about how they cope with injuries, stress and other issues, said retired Maj. David Dixon, another co-founder of the team.
“It’s like a giant support group,” he said, “or therapy on ice, as we like to call it.”
Many of the players have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder from service in Iraq, Afghanistan or other hot spots, Dixon said. He personally survived four deployments to Iraq, where he was shot in the back and shaken up by three different improvised explosive devices.
Retired Maj. David Dixon, president and executive director of the Capital Beltway Warriors, makes game notes while coaching players between periods during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Dixon and a number of the other veterans also coach youth hockey teams and a few of them help with a local blind hockey team, the Washington Wheelers.
“Giving back to the community often gives them a sense of purpose,” Dixon said of the veterans, adding that it helps minimize depression and PTSD.
Dixon puts in more than 20 volunteer hours a week managing the Capital Beltway Warriors as president and executive director of the team. He helps solicit sponsors, run meetings, apply for grants, recruit players and schedule games.
“In a sick kind of way, I enjoy all the hard work,” he said. “You go from commanding troops to working in a cubicle,” he said about retiring from the Army and beginning a civilian job.
He explained that managing the hockey team gives him a renewed sense of purpose.
“You find that niche in life that gives you purpose and whether it has a monetary award or not, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
He helps make the games special for the warriors with lights, music, an announcer and filling the stands with veterans. Local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion in northern Virginia help bring veterans from retirement homes to the games, Dixon said.
Vaccaro also spends several hours per week helping the Capital Beltway Warriors and other veteran hockey teams. He spends a week every year helping run the USA Hockey camp in Buffalo, New York, where they select the national sled hockey team.
He serves as a referee for blind hockey and sled hockey. He helps stand up other Warrior division hockey teams. In November, he spent a few days in Philadelphia helping the Flyers start a warrior team.
“This is my therapy,” he said of the volunteer work. “This is what keeps me going.”
Former Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joey Martell, Capital Beltway Warriors team captain, takes a shot during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
Spreading the word
Just over two years ago, Vaccaro met up with Dixon who was interested in starting a Warrior hockey team in Virginia.
They met in the Pentagon food court in December 2016. “We sat down and started sketching stuff out on napkins,” Dixon said.
They laid out plans for a team that would play in rinks across Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland.
They found players by word of mouth. They showed up at “stick and shoot” sessions and asked if anyone was a military veteran with a disability rating.
Now they have 76 veterans with disabilities on the team and they play other warrior clubs. A game in Ashburn Dec. 22, 2018, pitted the USA Warriors from Maryland against the Capital Beltway Warriors. The teams also play in annual tournaments.
There are now 16 warrior teams across the United States. The minimum requirement to play on one of the teams is a 10 percent VA disability. Some of the players are 100 percent disabled and play with prosthetics.
Some of the veterans, like Vaccaro, have been playing hockey since they were 3 years old. Dixon, however, did not pick up the sport until he was 40.
Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vaccaro serves as referee for the charity exhibition game between the Capital Beltway Warriors and a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Photo by EJ Hersom)
In 2006 and 2007, Vaccaro was an advisor to an Iraqi Army unit in Ramadi. He and two Marines were on patrol when they were pinned down by machine-gun fire. Then an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade.
“It hit the wall in front of me and knocked me back. Next thing I remember, I heard this really loud ringing in my ears and there was a Marine dragging me back into the courtyard. They were calling for air support.
“We finished the patrol,” Vaccaro said, explaining aerial medical evacuation was not available. A doctor patched him up, and a couple of days later, he was back out on patrol.
After his tour in Iraq, he came back to Virginia, where he had been a reservist with the 80th Training Division. But he had PTSD issues. He decided to go to Liberia in western Africa as a contractor to help put about 2,000 Liberian soldiers through basic training.
“I thought that would help, but I just ended up coming back with the same issues,” he said. “That’s another thing: You can’t hide from this.
“Everybody handles PTSD in a different way. I tried the group therapy stuff and it just didn’t work.”
He received treatment and medication from Veterans Affairs, but the issues persisted. When he smelled fresh bread, for instance, it reminded him of the flatbread Iraqi soldiers baked every morning.
“That’s a good smell,” he said. But then his mind would continue to remember until he imagined the smell of an IED.
“You’ve got to face your fears. You’ve got to face your issues,” he said. “I was trying to hide from it and hockey has helped me open up and talk about it.”
About 10 years ago, he became involved in the first-of-its-kind USA Warrior hockey team stood up by a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.
“When I’m on the ice, things slow down; things are different,” Vaccaro said.
Both he and his family noticed the difference in him after playing hockey.
“It really helped me,” he said. “The first thing I said to myself when I started realizing that is, ‘I’ve got to get other veterans involved in this.'”
So he became the national representative for USA Hockey in its Warrior division to help stand up teams. He does that in his spare time when he is not working as a civilian employee for the Army Corps of Engineers or on duty as an Army Reserve NCO.
David Dixon, coach of the Capital Beltway Warriors, provides tactical advice to players between periods during a holiday exhibition game with a Congressional hockey challenge team at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Gary Sheftick, Army News Service)
Dixon was coaching little league baseball when he was approached by his son’s hockey coach, Bobby Hill.
“He said he really liked the way I worked with the kids and he could use my help on the ice coaching,” Dixon recalled.
Dixon told him he did not skate, but Hill said he could take care of that. He got Dixon out on the ice and taught him the basics of hockey.
Dixon went to adult learn-to-play sessions Wednesday evenings at Ashburn Ice House. He participated in adult pick-up games after helping coach his son’s youth team.
He eventually took over as head coach of the Ashburn “Honey Badgers” peewee hockey team.
In the meantime, however, he heard of the USA Warriors hockey team and the effects it was having on disabled veterans in Maryland. He thought it would be great to bring the same benefits to veterans in northern Virginia.
Matt Holben (No. 19) of the Capital Beltway Warriors, and Joey Martell (No. 21) take the puck down ice with three members of a Congressional hockey challenge team not far behind, during an exhibition game Dec. 16, 2018 at MedStar Capitals Iceplex.
(Gary Sheftick, Army News Service)
The warrior hockey program aims to provide purpose, education and camaraderie that veterans miss after they separate from the service, Dixon said.
The team creates an environment that in some ways simulates being back around a military unit, said Matt Holben, alternate team captain for the Capital Beltway Warriors.
“It feels good, because you’re back with the guys, you’re back with the unit,” he said.
“We’ve got members with both physical and mental disability,” he added. “It’s hard for them to share their story, but when you talk to them, it’s just that little bit of relief they get when they’re in the locker room and on the team.”
“We’re helping each other,” Vaccaro said. “And half of the guys don’t even realize we’re helping each other, but that’s what we’re doing.”
The help is not limited to the rink either, Dixon said.
There is another part to the program that informs veterans of benefits available to them and helps with issues.
Anything from service dogs to getting help building a house, to loans, and more is available, Dixon said.
“We don’t do it all ourselves. We reach out to other veteran service organizations to get the help and education these guys need,” he said. “We have a whole network of VSOs that we can tap into.”
Vaccaro summed it up: “It’s veterans helping veterans.”
Humping is a reality for many of us, and I’m not talking about the kind that has a happy ending. In my Marine Corps career, I estimate that I easily hiked 1,000 miles with a full pack — between 50 and 150 lbs. At a minimum speed of 3 miles an hour, that’s over 300 hours of time for the mind to go to dark or funny places.
On a long hump, the mind so often goes dark. I remember envisioning the sweet relief of rolling an ankle so I could ride in the safety vehicle, even picking out the exact rock I was planning to eat shit on.
“That one….seriously, that one. Okay, fine, the next one… Ah, fine, I don’t wanna cause any serious damage. I’ll just take a header into that ditch and cause a concussion instead.”
On my 23rd birthday, I was on an 8-mile movement to a range for a live fire event. It was the second day in a row we were humping, and the entire epidermis of my right foot was already falling off, from the ball of my foot to the start of my heel, from the previous day’s movements. I had spent the previous weekend in Virginia beach drinking homemade Sangria, and the effects were still very much present.
I spent that entire hump in my own head questioning all of my life decisions.
You know he’s thinking about the next ‘Avengers’ movie.
Eventually, I got to the point in my career where I just accepted that I would be walking for the next 8 hours and decided to make it fun. Games I played:
Reliving every fight I’ve ever been in and how I would Jason Bourne my way to victory if it happened again.
During daylight hikes I would make up fake hand and arm signals and try to confuse people who took things too seriously.
I would secretly listen to music on my iPod (I’m old) through a strategically placed earbud. #combathunter
My roommate would use hikes as an opportunity to eat as much as he could; it was one of the few times you had enough “free time” to eat a full meal. The trick would be to figure out a way to use the heater packet while hiking. You need to jam it between your pack and back and focus on walking level, so it doesn’t fall out. Beware of the high potential for second-degree burns.
“Hey! What was the name of the fat guy in The Office?”…
At one point, I wrote a new phonetic alphabet with just profanities. You can imagine what replaced Foxtrot. It was enlightening.
“A cougar is following you.” That’s just a game where you pretend a cougar is going to rip out your jugular as soon as you stop. The trick to this one is to think one step ahead of the mountain cat.
I would replace famous movie characters with my mom and see how the story would play out. It was never as entertaining, but always much more satisfying. If my mom took the place of Frodo in Lord of The Rings the opening scene would have also been the closing scene.
Gandalf shows up at night after dinner. Mom says, “What are you doing here? I’m busy, get out.” He counters “Lisa, you need to take the ring to Mordor to destr–” And, in classic Lisa fashion, she cuts him off mid-sentence with “That’s not my problem, now is it? Take it yourself.”
Humping is a profession nearly as old as prostitution…
Once I matured, I realized the right answer is to become externally motivated. I believe the jobs of the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant are easier than the rifleman, because you are concerned with your Marines, rather than yourself. When your focus is pointed outward, time flies.
This lesson applies to every kind of difficult situation. Caring for others is one of the most selfish and least selfish things you can do. When it comes to hiking, if you focus externally, you get to push your own ailments aside until you are alone in your room, crying like a big dumb baby.
In the gym, you are forced to confront your demons directly; there are no troops for you to look out for.
But in actuality, everything you do to make yourself better is also making the lives of those around you better. So, in a way, finishing a workout for your spouse or kids is no different than completing a movement for your unit.
Where are you in your hump day progression? Are you living in a world of regret and grief? Are you writing the next great American novel in your head? Or have you reached the point of hiking enlightenment and started checking on your guys and planning for their success when you reach your objective?