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.
Here’s a fact: Training prepares you for the demands you’ll face in the field.
Sure, it might feel good to bend your knees an inch or two and call it a squat and curl for days on end, but what benefit are you gaining?
You need your workouts to provide results.
If you train with your ego, you’re probably wondering why you aren’t getting the results you require.
Here are a few things to remember that will keep your ego in check and the results rolling in so that your body is ready when you actually need it to perform in a life-or-death scenario.
Half and quarter reps have there place in a very specific type of training plan. Message me if you want to know what that plan is. For the other 99% of us they are just a waste of time.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
1. Use a full range of motion
Imagine you walk over to the squat rack, load the bar up with two, maybe 300 pounds, and step under it only to find that it’s way too heavy for a full rep.
Instead of lightening the load to match your ability, you bend your knees ever so slightly, give a grunt and look around to see if anyone saw that sorry excuse for a squat.
Now, if this describes your typical leg day or any other workout for that matter, stop.
Honestly, if you’re grabbing weights that are too heavy to perform a full rep, you’re not only kidding yourself but also wasting your time. While doing heavy partial reps might massage your ego, you probably won’t find any measurable benefit, and you’ll for sure increase your chances of injury.
Using a full range of motion means that you’re activating all of the muscle fibers within a particular muscle group to perform the exercise. As a result, those muscle fibers and connected nerves are receiving the signal to grow bigger and stronger.
For most of you, resistance training isn’t just to look great. In the field, you need to perform under any circumstance, so your training needs to prep you to deal with the unknown.
What if you really need to be able to carry your 230-pound brother but can’t since you trained with two-inch squats? Will that sad example of a squat make you feel better then?
To fully benefit from each rep and training session, use the amount of weight that allows for a full range of motion. Eventually, your strength will improve enough to perform that 300-pound squat with a full range of motion, and you’ll be so much stronger as a result.
The bench press, when performed correctly works way more than just your chest. Triceps, core, glutes, back, and sometimes even your face.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
2. Prioritize important exercises
To get straight to the point, which of the following exercises is more likely to benefit you in the field:
Bicep curls or a barbell squat?
I know, biceps are the most important muscle group to many of you, but in reality, training them every day probably won’t provide much of a performance benefit. In fact, they may hamper your performance.
The barbell squat not only allows you to use more resistance, but it’s also a full-body challenge. Despite being a leg-dominant exercise that works quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, it also demands that you have a strong upper and lower back and overall core strength.
Not to mention, using higher rep ranges also allows you to challenge your anaerobic capacity. Bicep curls, on the other hand, train your biceps and forearms and not much else.
If you need to improve performance in the field, you should prioritize compound movements that are most likely to improve that performance. If you have extra energy and time, then focus on the less-important exercises.
Use your rest periods to perform a corrective, work an antagonist muscle group or rest. Leave the IG feed for 3AM when you’re supposed to be sleeping instead.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson
3. Put the phone down
If you head to the gym and spend half of the time scrolling through a feed, you’re wasting your time and probably ruining someone else’s workout if you’re doing it on a popular piece of equipment.
It’s clear that most of us feel the pull of social media, even at the worst times.
But the time you spend in the gym is meant to be for work. If you’re distracted by your phone and resting for longer than intended, you could be losing out on training improvements.
If you find yourself distracted in the gym, make a conscious decision to hold off until the workout is done, and then get your fix. I promise, your workout will be far more productive.
Squatting heavy isn’t for everyone, but it is a metaphor for handling the important stuff first that I think everyone can understand.
U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik
BONUS: The bigger picture…
I’ve been recording my dreams lately and weird things have been happening as a result. Long story short, I received some great advice from my late grandfather in a recent dream. The gist of our dialogue was this:
“Everything you do in life is either making you a better version of yourself or a worse version.”
Obviously this advice can apply to all areas of life but when specifically looking at physical training it can be quite directive. We all have a mission we’re working towards accomplishing. Every training session, every exercise, every set, and every rep should be bringing us closer to mission accomplishment. If it’s not, fix it.
The Commander’s Intent of training, especially for those on Active Duty is: “…in order to become more capable at inflicting positive change on the world.” Be that becoming more deadly in combat, or simply having greater work capacity to keep moving forward when others would quit.
Preparing for the abs portion of your PT test might trick you into thinking you have a six pack, but those workouts are potentially getting you into worse shape. Stop taking ab selfies in the gym mirror and listen up.
“Core exercises” are a part of every service’s PT test, whether it’s crunches, sit-ups, or what the Navy inexplicably calls, “curls-ups.”
This is a curl-up… right?
If you’ve carefully read the procedural guidelines for your service’s PT test, you already know how easy it is to cheat on these ab exercises. Or maybe you’re just really bad at counting…
…8, 9, 10, 17, 18, 36, 74… Teamwork at its finest.
Even if you’re not a cheater, the abdominal portion of the PT test is still only testing your ability to do that one hyper-specific movement, not your overall core strength. Strength is specific to how you train, and how you train should be specific to what you do (you know, like your job). What job in the military are any of these exercises specific to? Those crunches will make you able to sh*t really fast and keep your breaks short and your NCO happy, but it won’t make you stronger.
The Navy PRT guidelines state that, “the curl-up, when performed properly, can help develop abdominal strength and endurance, which are important factors in preventing low-back injuries.”
Nice view, okay smell…
While ab strength definitely protects the spine, the curl-up is far from targeting the actual core muscles needed for that job. The abdominals have many functions, and only one of them is flexion of the spine.
Flexion: that’s the one where you flex your abs, and your spine makes the same shape as Gollum’s.
That’s right — stretch it out.
The other functions of the abs include but are not limited to, breathing, coughing, sneezing, stabilizing, and maintaining posture.
External obliques help pull the chest downward to increase pressure in your abdomen, which is important for the Valsalva maneuver. Divers, pilots, and people who move heavy weight couldn’t survive without them.
The transverse abdominis is the deep, corset-like muscle that provides stability and postural support for the spine. Without it, you would rupture a spinal disk every time you farted.
The rectus abdominis is the sexy one. The rectus abdominis’ primary function is to flex your trunk. It also happens to be the only one really tested in any PT test.
An exercise program that only tests one function of the abs leaves a huge gap in both knowledge and functionality for both you and your service of choice.
Judging from your PT scores alone, no one can tell if your body is actually structurally sound. So, the next time you go to dig a fighting hole, load a torpedo, or crank a wrench may just be the time that your weak back and tight rectus abdominis conspire against your spine, even if you scored among the best.
In order to have full spinal protection, you need to ensure you are working all the muscles of your core, from front to back. That includes the erector spinae. These are the muscles that are growing weak while you crunch your way to some non-specific lower back pain.
Having a strong rectus abdominis and weak erector spinae creates the kind of postural imbalance that causes back pain and loss of mobility and, as a service member, if you can’t hold up your body, you’re about as useful as a poopy-flavored lollipop.
Since you only have to do curl-ups for your PT test, why bother ensuring your low back muscles are equally as strong as your abs? Having a strong lower back isn’t going to get you promoted faster. But low back pain is the most common type of pain in existence today. 84% of humans have reported that, at one point in their life, they experienced back pain of some kind.
The military is not exempt from this statistic. I’ve known 19-year-old LCpls with “chronic” back pain. This type of highly preventable injury crushes combat readiness.
“Hey, Devildog! Get up! We still have 6 klicks to the objective!” “I can’t Sergeant, my L3 is throbbing! I have chronic back pain.” “Didn’t you get a 300 on your PFT? You’re supposed to be in shape!”
So, following the clues, not only does the PT test not prove that you can function adequately to conduct your job, it inadvertently causes you to injure your back by becoming hyper-focused on your front.
This takes REAL core strength.
Try these “core exercises” instead: squats, deadlifts, lunges, and farmers’ carries. These exercises load your core the way it is designed to work: with all core and back muscles engaged equally and totally.
Paleo, Ketogenic, and the South Beach diet are a few of the famous plans that countless people from around the nation use to shed those unwanted pounds. Since most troops can’t be nearly as selective with their food choices as civilians can, finding a healthy way to lose body fat before the physical assessment can be rough.
After all, the MREs we scarf down during deployment aren’t exactly low-carb meals.
Today, intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular trends to hit the fitness world. The idea, in brief, is to eat all your meals within a structured time frame and then go several hours without eating a single calorie. IF has been proven to manage two vital chemicals in our body: growth hormones and insulin.
Growth hormones help the body produce lean muscle, burn fat, and reduce the effects of aging. Elevated insulin levels block the benefits of growth hormones and cause weight gain. Yet many people who are on this structured plan may want to see quicker results that will positively benefit the body – that’s the whole point of IF, after all.
So here’s out you can get the most from your structured fasting plan.
Extend the length of your fasting window
Many people will fast for 16 hours a day and only eat their meals within an eight-hour window. However, consider extending the window to 18 to 20 hours if your body will allow it. Many people have a hard time going that long without eating. To combat the hunger, people who intermittent fast regularly drink large amounts of water to fill their stomachs up. This is just a temporary fix. Keep in mind it can sometimes take the body time to adapt to this type of meal plan structure.
The longer our insulin levels remain low, the more our bodies feed off stored energy.
Intense workouts mean we’re burning some serious calories. While you’re already fasting, working out during that window adds to your body’s caloric deficit — which means you’re going to lose even more weight.
However, listen to your body — many people will feel too weak at the gym when they first start using this meal plan.
Lift heavy at the gym
Although fasting will use up the glycogen stored in our muscles on its own, by lifting heavy at the gym, the body turns to other sources of fat storage to restore that glycogen into your muscles.
Eating ice cream will elevate your insulin, but rubbing it on your face is fine.
Avoid foods that spike your insulin
Once your fasting window has closed, and you’ve finally eaten something after several hours of going without food, to keep your insulin levels as low as possible, its recommended you avoid intaking in meals that contain a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar.
Eating clean proteins and healthy fats will raise your insulin levels, but not at the high rate as carbohydrates and sugars do.
Chantae McMillian Langhorst is an Army spouse of two years, currently stationed in Georgia while her husband trains to be a helicopter pilot. She’s also a mama to one-year-old Otto, Olympic athlete and just won the coveted title of “Titan” for the central region on NBC’s the Titan Games, hosted by “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson.
She’s just a little busy.
Even before her husband decided to join the Army, Langhorst’s life was already deeply rooted in the military. Both of her parents were in the Army when they met, while stationed overseas in Germany. They would go on to serve and retire after 20 years each. Langhorst shared that she absolutely believes being a military kid helped her become more adaptable and independent. She knows those experiences served her well and helped mold her into the person and competitive athlete that she is today.
Langhorst graduated from Rolla High School in Missouri as a track and field athlete. She was also selected as a Nike All American. She received a scholarship to the University of Nebraska and began competing in the heptathlon. During her time in college, she received the coveted title of All-American five times while competing. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art, she was approached by a coach who suggested she continue competing.
This time, in the Olympics.
“One of the best times of my life was learning about myself, how hard I could work and being able to dig deep and figure things out,” said Langhorst. In 2011 while training to compete in the Olympics, she suffered a devastating injury to her patellar-tendon in her knee during a high jump. Although she would never want to go back to that time in her life, Langhorst believes pushing through to heal from that injury to qualify for the Olympics made her a stronger athlete in the end.
Despite that injury, she made the U.S. Olympic team. Although Langhorst didn’t medal, she credits making it to the London 2012 Summer Olympics was one of the greatest achievements of her life.
In 2014, she found herself in Ohio training for the 2016 Olympics. Langhorst became a track and field coach at the University of Dayton. She also met her future husband, who was a sports trainer at the time. In 2015, she was selected for ESPN’s famous body issue. Although she didn’t make it past the trials for the 2016 Olympics, she didn’t give up. Langhorst began exploring the winter Olympics but stopped once she was faced with a surprise.
She was pregnant with little Otto.
Langhorst’s husband had begun the process of joining the Army and knowing that little Otto was on the way, they were even more excited for their new journey. They married in 2018 and he went off to Army training in 2019. After his graduation, they were stationed in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he began helicopter pilot training. Then, Langhorst received an interesting phone call.
The Titan Games wanted her to try out.
They flew her out to Los Angeles in January of 2020 for a combine. A few days later, she was told she made the cut and would need to get to Atlanta to start filming. For 20 straight days she was involved in competitions twice a day and filming 12 hours a day. Langhorst describes it as an amazing experience but also exhausting. She also shared that there wasn’t much food. “I look so shredded on TV because I was eating like a bird,” she said laughing.
Langhorst became a Titan, swiftly eliminating her competition in the first episode.
“I hope I can inspire people,” she shared. Langhorst said that she understands how easy it is to get lost in being a military spouse and putting the service member’s career before your own. She found herself doing it before that call from The Titan Games. “Spouses need to know that they can still achieve a lot – even with a kid,” she explained. Langhorst said that having Otto gave her more purpose and the fuel to work even harder to make him proud.
These days, Langhorst is training for the Olympics again with the goal of medaling. Even with her super athletic abilities and tunnel vision goals, she’s absolutely human. She loves donuts, although she doesn’t indulge often. Fun fact: She loves training barefoot. Langhorst is also an artist who loves to paint and still searches for four-leaf clovers, something she always did with her dad who passed a few years ago. Now when she finds one, she feels him with her.
Langhorst has come a long way from the young girl who had her goals written on her bedroom ceiling. She hopes that her story of persistence and drive will encourage others to live their purpose. Langhorst has achieved so much in her life already, but she isn’t done yet. She’s just getting started.
To learn more about Langhorst, check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook as she takes you on her journey to the Olympic trials.
Pandemic mania has set in as the country braces together (on their couches) to flatten the curve. While we’re all hoping to drop a few curves (on the international scale), our doomsday snacks are threatening to exponentially expand our waistlines.
Sticking to a militant regiment of working out might look different, but it’s not impossible. Think of it like a fun drinking game…without the drinking and a lot less fun. Here’s your new at home PT list.
Replace your Drill Sergeant with your hangry kids
Eager to replace the salty Sergeant voice still ringing in your head yelling, “Drop and give me 20?” We’ve got a solution for that — kids in quarantine. Every time you hear “I want a snack” that’s your cue to drop and pump out a quick round of push-ups, sit-ups or burpees. Believe us when we say you’ll never be in better shape.
Trips to the fridge require squats
It’s 10:27 am and you’re on your third trip to the icebox. You want to quit the snacks but the snacks are calling you. How do people ignore a perfectly good pint of ice cream all day? They do it by mandating squats for each and every trip to the fridge. Rocky road looks a lot rockier if it means a set of 50.
No ruck, no problems
Working out with a full-fledged army of children running around makes sunrise PT look a lot more attractive right about now. Need to get some miles in with munchkins around? This is what they made child carrier backpacks for. Strap ’em in and ruck on.
How to end news cycle scrolling
Doomsday news is so fascinating, it can lead to an infectious disease we’re calling “mindless scrolling.” But alas, there is a cure for getting off the couch and redirecting your tired eyeballs from the hourly updates. Next time you’re feeling the itch to peek at the latest pandemic news, require yourself to run a solid mile first. Yep, a whole mile. Give a mile, get a minute (or 60) of news coverage. If you’re a habitual news checker, you can thank us later for your new marathon-ready body.
Keep calm and drink on
We’ve said it before — military life has prepared you for this. Watching every civilian lose their s!*t right now over the government disrupting plans and telling them what to do is entertaining to say the least. We as a community know a thing or two about government mandates. For every Facebook post you see fretting over cancelled plans, take a drink…of “water.” Drinking half your bodyweight in water is a challenge no more if you follow this plan. We’re guessing you’ll be up to your mark well before noon.
For Marines, doing twenty solid pull-ups is literally good for your career. Each time your chin crosses the bar’s threshold is five more points added to your physical fitness test score. That’s huge for any jarhead looking to get promoted. Plus, they’re just a great measure of how strong you are.
Pull-ups are a great equalizer. Yeah, you may be able to lift a ton, but if you aren’t lean, all that extra weight can hold you down while trying to pull yourself up. And if you think you’ve got it made because you’re skinny, you’ll quickly remember how important it is to be strong as your body flails around below the bar like a worm on a hook.
It takes discipline to master this exercise classic. So, to help elevate you young Devil Dogs, here are a few simple steps that’ll make you more capable on the bar during a PFT — and throughout life in general.
Photo by Stew Smith
Sounds like common sense, but very few people actually stretch on a regular basis. And if they do, chances are they’re not doing it very well. Understand that stretching leads to increased muscle control, enhanced range of motion, and improves circulation by upping blood flow to the muscles.
This is everything a body needs to perform and recover from exercise. It’ll make you feel better, both now and later.
There’s no disgrace in a red face — but try to breathe a little.
2. Take it slow
How many times have you seen a Marine who said they can do sixteen pull-ups — but when they get on the bar, it’s a fury of swinging and kipping that ends in a red-faced warrior collapsing to the ground without having done a single real pull-up? One day, they’ll find themselves being monitored by Sgt. Strict and not have even one of those reps counted, leaving them with a less-than-mediocre score. Don’t be that leatherneck.
Instead, practice doing very slow, very strict pull-ups. Count out loud or have a buddy count for you: One full second to pull your chin up and over the bar and three full seconds to lower yourself down to a completely locked-out, dead hang. Breathe and take it slow. Doing this will likely cut your repetitions by half, but don’t be discourage. Stay strict and your strength will increase exponentially.
3. Now kip, baby, kip!
You’ve been humbled by your new number, now it’s time to spread your wings and fly!
When done properly, kipping pull-ups can help you break through performance plateaus, increase overall strength, incorporate back muscles that may otherwise go unused, and increase confidence by inflating your rep count.
Just be sure to wear gloves and do them properly, hands have been known to get torn up doing this exercise. Try alternating, week over week, between doing strict pull-ups and kipping to increase your overall performance.
Is this really necessary?
4. Add weight
When you start feeling comfortable with pull-ups, try adding weight. Start with an empty vest and add on gradually. Doing strict, traditional pull-ups with extra weight will make you feel as light as a feather come kip week and increase your number dramatically.
5. Get some rack time
Sleep is an essential part of the recovery process. All that work you’re putting in will be for nothing if you don’t allow your body the opportunity to rest and repair from the internal, micro trauma taking place in your muscles. If you want to do twenty, then sleep eight — it’s that simple.
photo by Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara
6. Actually do them
Get a calendar. Make a plan. Do it.
No matter how well-crafted your routine may be, if it isn’t a part of your daily routine, then nothing will change. Being fit and strong is a lifelong endeavor that requires every bit of discipline and fortitude as anything else worth attaining. There may be better techniques and smarter methods, but there is no substitute for hard work. If you want to be able to do pull-ups, you must do pull-ups consistently and correctly over a long period of time without interruption.
Getting better at pull-ups is a subject of concern for many people. As with the “Pushup-Push Workout,” this idea makes little sense physiologically, but it works. You never want to have an extended period of repeating the same exercises day after day, but you can do this workout for ten days, rest for three or four days with no pull-ups, then test on day 14 or 15. Then you will find your increase to be as high as 50-100% from your previous max pull-ups.
Here is a question from a Marine Reservist wanting to max his PFT of 20 pullups:
“Where can I find your pull-up routines outlined? I am stuck at about 7 pull-ups and would like to get to 10-12.”
After the unbelievable success from the “Push-up Push Workout,” in which people doubled their pushups in two weeks, I performed the same test on pull-ups with (young and old) students with similar success. This workout works best on folks who can do 3-10 pull-ups. Many increased their pull-ups to 10-20 in two weeks.
Here is what you need to try for a two-week period:
– Do your regular workout program, but for 10 straight days do an additional 25-50 pullups.
– If you are only able to do less than 5 pull-ups: do 25 pull-ups for your daily plan below:
– If you can do more than 5 pull-ups: do 50 pull-ups for your daily plan below:
Odd Days (Supersets OR Pyramids):
Supersets (repeat 10 times):
– Pullups – max
– Pushups – 20
– Dips – 5-10
– Abs of choice – 30
Pyramids (see PT Pyramid article above)
– Pullups – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 rest with
– Pushups – 2,4,6,8,10,12,14….2
– Abs of choice – 5,10,15,20,25,30,35….5
– Alternate with NO rest from one exercise to the next
25-50 pullups anyway you can throughout the day or in a single workout. Do small repetition sets until you reach 25- 50 pull-ups.
Rotate for the next ten days from odd day workout options and even day pull-up supplement, then take three-four days off from doing ANY pull-ups. Test on day 14 or 15 and let me know your results.
Good luck with the Pullup-Push Workout. Push yourself and you can quickly perform better on your pull-up test. You can fit this type of program into your present workout plan by just adding 25-50 pullups on your rest days so you do a ten-day routine of pull-ups.
Eat normal and have this shake every day, and weight will accumulate.
You can always eat more, if it’s sustainable…
Is that really enough?
If your goal is to really pack on size you should be more aggressive. BUT, if you’re a true hardgainer there’s a psychological barrier you need to overcome, or a more aggressive bulk will never work out for you.
One of the main hurdles for you to overcome is to become okay with your “abs” becoming softer. Skinny guys almost always take solace in their abs. It makes sense, everyone has abs if they can just get lean enough. Modern culture has decided that abs=strength. Not true.
Especially not true if the rest of your body looks emaciated.
Nevertheless, hardgainers find their identity in their stomach muscles that look more like extra ribs than something capable of protecting their midsection and developing power.
If that’s you, a more modest caloric surplus is the best way to start adding some size. You won’t “lose” your abs and may even start to see an increase in definition depending on how diligently you’re training.
If any of your bulking meals look like this you have a 99.99999% chance of having a bad time.
The dirty bulk, AKA eating like an asshole, is unsustainable for true hardgainers. It implies that you’ll get a few calorically heavy days and then go back to your normal eating patterns. Being a hardgainer means that you naturally eat less than you should, you can’t trust your body to intuitively want to eat more than will feel physically comfortable.
A more modest increase of 300-500 calories is much more sustainable for the time period it takes to gain muscle. On average, if you’re gaining more than 5 lbs a month, it’s going to be mostly fat. You don’t want that. The math of a 500 calorie surplus works out to about 4.5 lbs of muscle gain per month for a novice lifter. That’s right in the sweet spot.
Get the Mighty Fit Plan now and be first in line to get it fully supported in a mobile app for free.
If this article has spurred more questions than it’s answered, check out the Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, it’s in my Free Resources Vault over at Composure Fitness. This guide is the perfect compliment to the Mighty Fit Plan, which is about to get a huge update shortly. If you’ve already completed the plan or are interested in it, now is the time to sign up for it so that you can be one of the first people to experience the plan in all its mighty glory after the overhaul.
Heading out to the beach or chilling out by the pool are some of the best ways to spend a warm, summer day. Unfortunately, countless people feel insecure about getting into swimwear because they don’t like the way their body looks. Whether you’re doing it for your health or just to feel more comfortable in your skin, you can tone up that tummy with a few exercises that take just 10 to 15 minutes out of your day.
Do the following and get out there and soak up the sun’s rays.
And, of course, don’t forget proper sun protection.
Start by getting into a laying position. Now, place your hands under your lower back, extend your legs out, and hold them up, slightly bent. Begin the rep by raising your legs upward toward the sky and then slowly lowering them back down, but do not touch the ground with your feet. It’s a solid exercise for our lower abdominal muscles. Make sure you engage that core throughout.
Now repeat this 10-15 times and do at least two or three more sets.
Lay flat on your tummy and — just like how Superman flies — hold your arms and legs straight out, lifting them slightly. This action creates controlled stress on your lower back, which you should hold for two to three seconds before releasing.
Got it? Sweet!
Now repeat this 10-15 times and do at least two more sets.
This excellent exercise can be done anywhere that you have enough space to lay on your back. Once you’re in position, bring your knees, one at a time, toward your face, tightening your abdomen in the process. Then, simply pedal your feet as if you’re riding a bike.
It’s easy and your abs will thank you in a few weeks.
For those who’ve never been before, the gym can be an intimidating place. The weights are heavy, some of the isolation machines are complicated, and the other people look jacked. While everyone around you goes about their workout, you feel a little lost and you start feeling like you made a mistake just by showing up.
We call this, “gymtimidation.”
On the surface, the gym can seem like an unwelcoming place, even if the person at the first desk was so nice to you. And if you’re not in the best shape, standing next to some ripped guy or gal can make you feel insecure.
As with any new environment, it takes a little time to adapt to the gym. Fortunately, we’ve got a few tips that’ll help you feel a little more comfortable as you hit the weights.
Most of the time, finishing an intense workout is all about finding the proper motivation. Having a little support at the gym goes a long way. Nobody is going to motivate you like a good friend that’s also looking for results. Plus, working out with a few friends helps drown out some of the outside distractions that can make you uncomfortable.
Wear comfy clothes
Going to the gym doesn’t need to be a fashion statement, even if some people do dress up in expensive workout clothes for whatever reason. If you want to spend a pretty dime on the clothes you’re going to sweat in, that’s fine by us. Those who buy buy into the pricey trends tend to do so because it makes them feel better when they enter the weight room.
You don’t have to wear the newest Air Jordans or a Lululemon shirt, but if it’s comfortable and makes you feel more confident, then go for it.
It’s safe to say that most people have a general sense of what constitutes a solid workout. Push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups are some of the fundamentals and, if those are exercises you know, that’s fine. But the internet is full of free workout plans.
As long as you have a working smartphone, you can connect to the world wide web, even while you’re in the gym, and find tons of step-by-step workout routines.
It’s that freakin’ simple.
Listen to good music
The majority of gym-goers listen to music to help amp themselves up and get through their strenuous workouts. Listening to a good jam is the perfect way to tune out the world around you and focus on lifting all the weights you can. Before you know it, that “gymtimidation” you once felt will filter its way out of your mind.
At any given time, there are likely dozens of people working out in the same gym alongside you. The majority of all gym patrons have the same goal: to become healthier people. As long as you try to get in shape while you’re there, you’re just like everybody else.
Go during slow hours
Being uncomfortable in crowds can limit you in life. When it comes to getting a good workout, however, even those who are extremely comfortable in the gym like to show up during the slow hours.
Who the hell wants to wait on workout equipment anyways? Certainly not us.
You see all those toned people working out on the treadmills and in the weight room? Guess what: Those people decided that they were going to get in shape one day, just like you’re doing now. This might sound cheesy, but everyone starts on day one.
Building and toning muscle takes time, just like confidence. Remember, fitness is a process and a journey.
Remember your initial indoc school to the military? I do: It was hot and heavy, and not in a good way, like at a rave or water park. You were asked in a short period of time to learn the entire guiding doctrine of your service of choice, so much so that you could easily fold into the operational forces upon completion of the school.
That is no small task.
How was this accomplished? We weren’t given textbooks and told to read. We weren’t even put into classes and told to take notes. Nope.
I’m just walking bro, no need to yell.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Blankenship/Released)
We were taken under the wing of professionals who have already lived and breathed that which we were about to undertake.
I fully understand that that is a rose-colored-glasses approach toward the DI, MTI, RDC, or Drill Sergeant that you still have nightmares about. Hear me out though: an argument can be made that an instructor, who I’ll affectionately refer to as a “coach” from now on, is the one thing standing between you and your personal and professional goals.
He wants you to hate him. It’s his coaching style.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Bessey)
The body of literature on the topic of coaching is dense and complicated, but suffice it to say that the question is not if a coach is effective. It’s how can coaches be most effective.
Two of the main factors discussed are attitude and control.
The attitude evoked by the person who is teaching you dictates how well you perform. You and your coach need to be on the same page. In your basic training, your “coach” did this whether you realized it or not. It was most likely in an “us vs. them” approach. Meaning your instructor made you want to prove him or her wrong. The dirty secret is that they wanted you to prove them wrong as well. #reversepsychology.
Control is simple. The person learning needs to have some sense of control over their outcome. In the beginning of your schoolhouse, undoubtedly you had little to no control. Over time, you were given choices and tasks that directly impacted whether or not you chose to be successful.
These are the fundamentals of great coaching in a high volume way.
Civilian life has its pitfalls too. Don’t wait until it feels like its too late.
The assumption of a coach is that you are going to get better, and faster than you would with no one helping. Eventually, you would have figured out the rules of the military well enough to “graduate” to the active forces, but it would not have been as cleanly or efficiently as it was with the guiding force of your instructor.
It’s quite common for former service members to decide they can do everything alone upon separation. That’s a mistake. We assume that we are now the commander of our own lives until we eventually hit a wall. Then we start looking for guidance.
Don’t wait for that moment.
Pro athletes know this truth. They can’t do it alone.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, find someone who has done it and learn from them. They will keep you from falling into all the typical pitfalls.
If you want to stay home and raise a family, read from the best and learn from your friends and family that have the types of children you want.
If you wanna get in killer shape, find someone who makes that happen for people.
Don’t waste your time.
You are always in the basic training of something.
Don’t spend more time on Parris Island getting eaten by sand fleas than necessary. Find and follow the coach that will lead you past your goal.
How would he know where to crawl if it wasn’t for explicit guidance?
(Photo by David Dismukes)
Tips for finding a keeper
For many service members, the whole reason they get out is because they are sick of other people telling them what to do.
Now you have the choice as to what type of person you want to get your guidance from. If you don’t like the volatile gunny with bad breath and a worse temper, you don’t need to work with him anymore. Here are five things to look for in your coach of choice for any endeavor you may have.
This kid knows what’s up. What’s his economy of force coach?
Nobody wants to be the weakest troop in their unit. Some people are naturally gifted with the ability to put on layers on muscle quickly, while others spend hours in the gym to grow a single fiber.
However, natural ability aside, many newbies who go to the gym don’t know how to properly lift a weight or how many reps they should be doing in each set.
In general, certain muscle groups are easier to bulk up than others. One common problem area is the shoulders. Considered a weak joint, properly developing definition in the shoulder is best done by emphasizing form over heft.
There are a lot of advanced exercises in the workout vault, but beginners can get away with doing a few of these basic weighted movements to get those healthy-looking shoulders.
The exercise allows you to use all three of your shoulder muscles at once. As an added bonus, this compound movement also works out your triceps. Sit down, grab some weights you’re comfy with and settle into a position with the weights lifted to about your ears, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, push up.
Make sure that you don’t lock your elbows out at the top of the rep. That’s bad for your joints and we want to avoid injury. So, always keep a slight bend in your elbow. After the rep, don’t use gravity to lower the weights. Instead, use your shoulder muscles to slowly lower the weight back to the original position.
Cool? Now go and do eight to twelve more, followed up by two to three more sets.
This one doesn’t requires a barbell, just a weighted plate heavy enough to challenge you. All you need to do is grab onto a weighted plate, usually gripping around 9 and 3 o’clock, and hold it close to your chest. Then, extend your arms out parallel to the deck and slowly bring it back in.
Cool? Now go and do eight to twelve more and follow it up with two to three additional sets.
For a lateral raise, you’re not going to need a lot of weight, so don’t use this movement to impress any girls or guys at the gym. Begin by sitting or standing up straight whiling holding a workable weight in each hand down by your sides (near your hips). Once you’re ready to start the rep, raise your hands up and away from your body to each side until your arms are parallel and lower slowly.
You’ll want to do two to three sets of eight to twelve.
Now it’s time to bend over and work the rear shoulder muscles, also known as your posterior deltoids. While using those same manageable weights, start in a static position, kick the weight back by rotating your thumbs downward like you’re pouring Patron into a shot glass, then slowly return to the starting position.
Got it? Good. Now go and do eight to twelve more, followed up by another two-to-three sets.
Remember, control and form are everything while trying to build muscle.