Olympian Nick Symmonds' Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

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 Scores

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.

Army PFT Score Charts

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This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

Why this Navy veteran with TBI is set to run for 12 full hours

Like many post-9/11 veterans. Amanda Burrill is all about physical fitness. She’s very conscious of what food she eats, she makes sure to get enough sleep, and she’s very, very active. She has to be — this is how she beats TBI every day of her life. Now, the Navy officer who nearly had to relearn how to walk is set to run — for her fellow veterans, that is.

As a young Navy officer on a deployment, Burrill slipped in a sewage leak and lost consciousness. Soon after, she began to have memory problems. When she went to get it checked out, she was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. But that didn’t deter her — she spent a total of eight years in the Navy. After leaving the service, she became an advocate for veterans suffering from TBI, but first, she became an amazing example for them to follow.


Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

She spent two years in surgeries, rehabs, and therapies. She spent a great deal of time studying as well, attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and becoming a trained chef at the famed Le Cordon Bleu. She even studied wine in Paris. Next, she started running. She runs marathons and Iron Man triathlons on top of competing in fitness competitions. Now, she’s a writer and on-air talent for the Travel Channel and uses that fame to advocate for anyone who is suffering from TBI.

But she’s not finished running. She’s just running for her fellow veterans now.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

In September, 2018, Amanda Burrill will run in the Relay for Heroes, benefiting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Endurance athletes from all over the world will converge on New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air Space Museum to follow a route along the banks of New York City’s Hudson River. The goal isn’t 26.2 miles or any number of miles — the goal is to run as many miles as possible during the 12-hour race.

If you’re there, you just might see Amanda Buriill, the Navy rescue swimmer who climbed Denali after her TBI diagnosis, running for the first time since 2015.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
“We summited Denali unguided!” Burrill told WATM. “I’m an avid, record-breaking mountaineer; not despite my injuries but because of them. The mountaineering interest started while I was in brain injury rehab, as I needed a fun hobby to replace my first and true love: running.”

After her injury, Burrill’s balance and gait were poor and it affected her running ability. Doing marathons and Ironman races with busted form “messed her up,” as she says. She now has a metal shank foot, full of screws, that’s been opened lengthwise five times.

“Mountaineering is more about suffering well than having stable feet,” she says.”I WILL OUT-SUFFER ANYONE. Knowing that in my heart is pretty damn awesome.”

She is running to highlight female veterans, TBI awareness, and resiliency. From firsthand experience, she believes female vets are underserved when it comes to TBI treatment and believes self-advocacy is an essential element in furthering the cause of women getting the help they need — even if that just means receiving a diagnosis.

“I hope to raise awareness — and money — and bond with my teammates in a show of Lady Vet solidarity,” she says.

The Relay for Heroes will start on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in New York City. The starting line can be found at West 46th Street 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10036. You can run as an individual or in 4-6 person teams. For more information or to register, visit the Relay for Heroes website. If you’re unable to run or support a runner, you can still donate to Burrill’s Relay for Heroes team here.

MIGHTY FIT

How a club drug is curing PTSD

Portland, Chicago, Berkeley, Dallas, Denver, and Oakland are all making moves to decriminalize psychedelic drugs that have been shown to have therapeutic applications.

So in your lifetime, you may see the decriminalization and eventual legalization of magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, mescaline, and DMT.

How is this not bigger news?!

It begs the question though… Are these “drugs” actually helpful in treating illness?


Well, to answer that question, allow me to take you on a very shallow dive of what MDMA has managed to do for veterans with PTSD in just one study.

Put your preconceptions and socially conditioned ideas about these drugs aside and try to take in this information as if it’s the first time you’re hearing about it.

How MDMA is being used to treat PTSD | The Economist

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Ecstacy is good for more than just raves

In 2010 scientists studied the effects of MDMA assisted psychotherapy on 19 veterans and/or first responders with treatment-resistant PTSD. Some of these guys had been experiencing PTSD for more than 19 years. Greater than 57% of the participants no longer met the diagnosis for PTSD after the study concluded. Remember, these people were previously resistant to all PTSD treatment.

The long term follow up had some other findings worth noting:

  • Only 2 of the participants that finished the study had a relapse that resulted in unimproved symptoms of PTSD.
  • 16 of 19 were attending therapy before enrollment in the study. Only eight were still in therapy during the 2-month long-term follow up.
  • Everyone wanted to do more sessions afterward and thought that they would be beneficial.
  • 13 of the 19 participants reported improved cognitive function. There are no negative cognitive side effects to MDMA with respect to this study.
  • No participants suffered from substance abuse after the initial treatment.
Healing Trauma in Veterans with MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy

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Expert discusses MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD

What is even more telling to me than the numbers are some of the direct quotes from the participants.

  • “The therapy made it possible for me to live”
  • “The MDMA provided a dialogue with myself I am not often able to have, and there is the long-term effect of an increased sense of well-being.”
  • “I was always too frightened to look below the sadness. The MDMA and the support allowed me to pull off the controls, and I … knew how and what and how fast or slow I needed to see my pain”

The picture painted by these quotes is a complex one. The therapy was life changing for many of the participants, but it wasn’t easy, as is obvious from this statement by one of the participants.

“…one of the toughest things I have ever done…” That’s from someone who went to war. The therapy was on par with combat for this individual.

Anyone who has taken a hard look at their “shit” whether it be from war, an abusive childhood, or just having to live with being human, knows that it can be the hardest thing you ever try to do. Burying it deep down and ignoring it is the easy route.

Breakthrough for Psychedelic Medicine

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More than PTSD

Okay, so that’s PTSD and veterans, obviously a topic close to my heart and the rest of the We Are The Mighty family, but there is a whole host of other conditions that are being studied/treated with psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms.

The most interesting aspect of these studies, in general, is that the drugs aren’t curing anything. The psychedelics aren’t doing the work; the patients are. The psychedelics are simply helping people get out of their own way so that they can help themselves, especially in mental conditions.

The cancer treatments are a little different. Cancer isn’t being cured. The studies are looking at whether these drugs can help people with cancer-associated depression and anxiety. Also, it seems to be helping people become okay with dying.

From personal experience, I can attest that these compounds can show you exactly what it means/feels like to die. Depending on your experience and the way you set up the experience, the fear of death could be completely erased.

More on mental health and meditation here.

The science of psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering

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Do the work

Without going total hippie on your ass, I’d like to leave you with this one idea.

The boom in psychedelic research is great news for humanity. When done correctly with pure substances, there seem to be no side effects whatsoever from these compounds. No side effects is basically unheard of when it comes to current PTSD medications.

The main reason is that these drugs aren’t doing much more than helping us let our guard down. The world is filled with a whole lot of really messed up shit that conditions us to protect ourselves. Veterans are one of the most stark examples of what happens when you experience something truly terrible.

You close off. You bury deep. You try to fight the memories. You try to change the past in your mind. You take responsibility for something you had no control over in the first place.

The research on psychedelics is showing us that what actually needs to happen is the opposite of all those things. We need to forgive ourselves, let go, and become okay with moving on. Facing your own death and coming to terms with it helps in dealing with the deaths of others as well.

Sometimes we just need some help to do those things. A properly set up psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy session may just provide the help needed. The opportunity to face your demons may be accessible and legal in a city near you within the next few years.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Share and promote this research if you’re on board with helping veterans. The reason this research is being conducted is because of people that care. The system isn’t set up to promote this research. We have to speak up to get our brothers and sisters treatments that could change their lives. Visit MAPS for information on how to help and donate to this cause. Share this article if there’s someone you know who could benefit from this type of treatment. Comment on Facebook and keep this conversation going. Send me an email at michael@composurefitness.com if you have had an experience or know someone who has had an experience with these substances that you think would help shed some light on this conversation. We need to be the keepers of our health and the health of our brothers and sisters.

To get on the inside of the Mighty Fit community, join our Facebook group here. It’s where all the Mighty Fit faithful gather to share knowledge and motivate each other.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
MIGHTY FIT

5 exercises to smoke your civilian friends in PT

We all have that civilian ‘friend’ who says they would have joined the military, but they were too weak had other plans. The more you talk about your achievements and stories, the more they feel the urge to one-up you. So, why don’t you invite that Jodie-looking POS, in the most tactful way, to a light P.T. session and make him wish he was never born show him how the world works.

Once you’ve convinced the wannabe warrior to join you in PT, try employing the these, the most challenging, nausea-inducing exercises, to defend the honor of your branch and country once and for all. This list was made to slay bodies, so stay hydrated.


240 burpees Marine Corps Birthday

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Burpees

Burpees are a staff NCO favorite for a reason: they’ll smoke most people within a few sets. You could be waiting in line to do a urinalysis, and First Sergeant will still challenge you to a few just because he’s bored.

Give your victim workout partner the benefit of a brief period of instruction by nonchalantly explaining it’s just push up followed by a jump. Simple enough, right? Well, if service members find these challenging, a civilian won’t last long at all. Give ’em hell.

Top 12 Battle Rope Exercises For Fast Weight Loss

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Battle ropes

Busting out the battle ropes — though I’ve heard them called by other names — will give them the false sense of hope that you’re moving onto something easy. Do as many variations as you feel necessary and make it look effortless. Keeping your bearing here will destroy their ego much more profoundly.

Your arsenal of hate may contain:
  • Alternating waves
  • Hip tosses
  • In-and-out waves
  • Russian twists
  • Waves
  • Counterclockwise waves
  • Clockwise waves
  • Jumping jacks
  • Power slams
  • Side-to-side waves
  • Shuffles
  • Ski steps
Dumbbell Bear Crawl

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Dumbbell bear crawl

The dumbbell bear crawl is self-explanatory: it’s a bear crawl, but with weights. Travel, on all fours, across an area and back while holding a pair of dumbbells. The distance traveled should be proportionate to the length that they ran their mouth about ‘going to college instead.’

It feels even better as a veteran to counter that condescending statement with, “Funny. I did both without student loans thanks to the G.I. Bill.”

Pyramids w Mike Tyson Push Up and Jumps

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Pyramids, push-ups and jumps

Mike Tyson, in his prime, was a force to be reckoned with — in and out of the boxing ring. His training consisted of waking up at 4 am to do a 3-5 mile jog, followed by breakfast, a 10-12 round spar, and calisthenics. Then, he’d eat lunch, do six more rounds of sparring, squeeze in some bag work, slip bag, jump rope, pad work, and speed bag.

It’s not over yet. Then, Tyson would then do more calisthenics, shadow boxing, followed by even more calisthenics, a quick dinner, and some time on the exercise bike as a cool down before studying his upcoming opponents or watching training footage.

So, grab that pencil-necked Melvin you brought to the gym and make him do the following pyramid exercise, inspired by the titan himself.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Tell me again why you could have joined but didn’t?

​U.S. National Archives

Run. Run ’til the sun gets tired

Odds are that Mr. Stolen-Valor-Waiting-to-Happen has already quit but if, by some miracle, they’re still alive, take them on a run. Not just any run, but the longest run they’ve ever done. Give them a false sense of hope whenever they ask ‘how much further?’ by saying ‘we’re almost done.’

Little do they realize you’re not running to a place, you’re running until they quit.

MIGHTY FIT

Coast Guard expert gives tips for selecting a great gym

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

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


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

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

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

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

(USCG photo by PA1 Tom Sperduto)

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY FIT

5 ways to save money by constructing a home gym

Frequently working out is one of the primary activities active duty service members do throughout their work week. The military provides some well-financed fitness centers to keep the troops in shape both mentally and physically. The memberships are technically free of charge since you signed your name on that dotted line before you swore in.

After we get our DD-214s, we’re technically not allowed to show up on base and work out in this those military gyms anymore. After losing that benefit, veterans are forced to do one of three things: stop working out, pay a hefty monthly subscription to a local facility, or build their own gym.

Now, we know what you’re thinking, you don’t have the cash in your pocket (or the experience) to build a home gym. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than it seems. In fact, countless veterans across the nation have started doing just that same thing in their garages, backyards, and spare bedrooms.

It can be done quite effectively if you do your homework. But you’re in luck if you’re reading this article because we’ve done the homework for you. Since gym memberships can cost between nine dollars all the way up to $150+ a month, over time, you can save some serious coin by building what you actually need in your home versus all the crap your paying for in the gym that you don’t use.

So, remember all this valuable information we’ve about to shed light on when building your first home gym.

Also Read: 5 workout machines you should skip while at the gym

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Figure out your fitness goals

Do you want to run a triathlon next year, compete in the next physique contest, or just look good naked? We think these are fair questions and the paths to these individual goals are different for obvious reasons. Depending on what your fitness goals are, you’ll want to research what type of equipment you’re willing to purchase for your home gym.

Those who enjoy running will probably buy a higher-end treadmill versus a large variety of dumbbells they’re probably never going to lift. So, pick a goal and figure out what equipment can deliver the results you’re looking for.

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Take measurements

One thing most service members all have in common is that they probably all lived in the barracks at one time or another. That means we all know have to make the best out of a very confined space. You can actually squeeze a decent home gym into your garage, a spare bedroom, or a back patio. This means, after identifying your fitness goal, you’re going to have to measure and find out exactly how much space you’ll have available to for assorted gym equipment.

Planning is key to setting up a budget.

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Establish a budget

Most of us may be rich at heart, but our bank accounts don’t reflect our good nature. That being said, you don’t have to break the bank on building your home gym. You can buy each piece of equipment individually if you want or everything at once. But it’s important to make sure you can pay your mortgage next month, so make that budget and stick to it.

We don’t want anyone to go broke.

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Research for proper condensed equipment

Unlike decades ago, fitness manufactures have developed multi-weight equipment that can be easily stored in your home gym without taking up too much space. These condensed pieces of equipment can consist of multi-angle workout benches to multi-weight dumbbells.

You can build dozens of routines by purchasing these modernized condensed pieces of workout equipment for your home gym. These space savers will also keep you from spending all your cash on workout crap you don’t need.

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Look for equipment at second hand locations

Workout gear can be super expensive. Walk into any retail sports store and check out the prices for all the equipment you’re looking to purchase. Then, write all those prices down, then go to a second-hand fitness equipment store or even Craigslist (be careful because that can be a hit-and-miss) to search for the gear you want to purchase.

The beauty of workout equipment is since the gear isn’t electronic, you don’t really have to worry about any of the stuff burning out.

MIGHTY FIT

The SEAL behind the ’40 percent rule’ is a fitness beast

Some Navy SEALs follow a saying that, when you feel that you’re completely wiped out, you’re actually only 40 percent done and have 60 percent in the tank.


It’s an idea popularized by David Goggins, a SEAL who completed 14 races that were each over 100 miles long, and he did it most of it while on active duty with a potentially fatal heart defect that limited him to about 75 percent heart function.

Jesse Itzler, a billionaire who competes in some endurance events, met Goggins during a 100-mile race, one of Goggins’ first. Itzler was running as part of a 6-man relay team. The SEAL was running the same race on his own at 260 pounds.

 

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
Navy SEAL David Goggins runs with a news reporter during a press event. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Kapica)

According to Itzler, Goggins’ feet and kidneys were shot when they met on the course. But Goggins kept going and, after they finished race, Itzler asked Goggins to come live at his house for a month and teach his family about mental resilience.

Itzler later wrote a book about that month and related stories of how the SEAL pressed him forward. Goggins did things like teaching Itzler to do more pull-ups than he ever thought possible by making him do 100 more after he thought he was already exhausted from doing about 18.

Goggins taught Itzler to leave his comfort zone by telling him about the 40 percent rule, which basically says that the feeling that you’re completely tapped out actually comes when you’re only 40 percent done; you still have 60 percent left in the tank.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
(Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Honnick)

 

And that’s what most of the world knows about Goggins, but his story is actually more amazing than he gets credit for.

He kept running and began competing in triathlons despite a hatred of running. He did it to raise money for the families of fallen special operators, and he raised over $200,000 in three years by running more than 14 races of over 100 miles. 

Since beginning to run ultra-marathons in 2005, he has completed more than 50 of them. Clearly, the 40 percent rule works pretty well.

He competed in the Badwater 135 less than a year after running his first marathon and he placed fifth. He ran the race again a year later and finished third by running 135 miles in 25:49:40. That’s about 11:30 per mile for 135 miles.

 

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
(Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique Canales)

Oh, and he did most of this while still on active duty as a SEAL. And he did most of it with a potentially fatal heart defect that was surgically corrected in 2009. The defect limited him to approximately 75 percent heart function before he was treated.

Goggins hadn’t known about the defect when he joined the Air Force and became a tactical air controller, or when he completed Army Ranger School, or when he completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S).

But he had the defect from birth and just kept pushing himself.

Goggins now completes speaking engagements where he focuses on pushing people out of their comfort zones and convincing them to stay there.

MIGHTY FIT

Drink this to put on weight

Are you trying to put weight on?

If that seems like a ridiculous question to you, well, you’re not going to enjoy this article.

For those of you intrigued by the idea of gaining some mass, the following is the answer to all your hard-gaining woes.

I’m going to share with you the recipe I recommend to help you gain lean muscle in a sustainable way.

It’s a shake, and it’s delicious.

But first…


Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Adding size isn’t rocket science, it’s just regular science.

How do you actually put on weight?

In the Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, I lay out a very simple and clear formula to manipulating your body composition without getting fat in the process, like would happen on a dirty bulk.

In short, that entails adding 300-500 calories to your daily consumption each and every day for a period of up to 6 months.

That is the answer. Follow that sentence, and you will add a sustainable amount of weight without losing the definition you’ve already achieved past the point of no return.

The easiest way to do that is to have the Weight Gain Shake. It’s one simple addition to your diet. One variable change, that’s my kind of math.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

It doesn’t need to be pretty, but it will be tasty.

The weight gain shake

This is my go-to favorite.

When I’m cutting or maintaining my current weight, I have my daily protein shake with water. That’s

  • 1-2 scoops of protein powder
  • 12-24 of water

When trying to add size I simply throw in:

  • a banana ~100 cals
  • 2 tbsp of peanut butter, AKA ~a heaping spoonful AKA ~32 grams ~200 cals
  • 8 oz of whole milk ~150 cals

In total, I’m adding 1.5 servings of carbs, 1 serving of fat, and ⅔ of a portion of protein.

It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of extra calories each day 450-500 calories per day. That’ll keep your second brain happy.

BOOM! That’s your caloric surplus.

Eat normal and have this shake every day, and weight will accumulate.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

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.

I go deeply into the psychology of a hardgainer in the Ultimate Nutrition Guide.

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.

Those “abs” don’t really do what you think they do anyway.

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.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

If any of your bulking meals look like this you have a 99.99999% chance of having a bad time.

The dirty bulk

90% of the time, the above is my recommendation to add weight (in addition to doing the opposite of everything laid out here). That other 10% are people who need to add weight faster or are of a different caliber of mind.

Not better caliber, just different.

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.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Get the Mighty Fit Plan now and be first in line to get it fully supported in a mobile app for free.

Final Note

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.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know
MIGHTY CULTURE

The perfect grooming products for your bug-out bag

You wake up to a bunch of texts asking if you are ok. You stare at your phone, then turn on the television and see that there is some type of calamity in your area and you need to go. So, you walk to the garage, grab your bug-out bag that’s been hanging on the wall, throw some bottles of water in the trunk and hop in your car. You head out of town knowing you have enough supplies to last you for a few days until this blows over.

If you served in the military, you probably are prepared like this because you probably have some variation of a bug-out bag. For some of us, it is a small little pack that has the basics to last 48-72 hours. For others, it pretty much has everything you need to survive any crazy scenario up to and including the Apocalypse.


Typically, your bug-out bag should be able to ensure your survival in the 2-3-day window. While some people might scoff that the idea of having a pack sitting around, the fact is most Americans are decidedly underprepared when life drastically changes, and disaster becomes the norm. (I mean you did see the rush on toilet paper this past month)

Most of us military/vet types learned that proper planning prevents piss poor performance and that is very important when it comes to your safety and well-being.

Well-being is a term that we continually tend to redefine as we get older. One thing we know is that in addition to the water, food, fire starters, and flashlights that are in your bag, the toiletries you take with you are important as well. Yes, you need to take meds, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper.

But you also need to take care of your body, too.

Enter BRAVO SIERRA.

The Military-Native performance wellness company that makes top of the line grooming products for both military personnel, veterans, and civilians has some of the best personal care products that you will need in your bug-out bag. Why them?

BRAVO SIERRA, a personal care company founded by a team of veterans and civilians, has military members field test their products in real world environments. They use true data and actual feedback which ensures that products that you have in your bug-out bag will get you through a good 48-72 hour stretch while keeping you clean, healthy, and refreshed.

Here are some of the products you should definitely add to your bug-out bag!

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Antibacterial Body Wipes

These were lifesavers when you were out on deployment and in the field. Why wouldn’t you have it there now? In every bug-out bag, there should be body wipes. Bacteria leads to infection and you don’t want to risk that at all. These wipes kill 99.99% of bacteria in 60 seconds. Also, it helps to be able to clean yourself off when you don’t have access to a ready shower or water supply. Not only are these wipes bacteria killers, they are alcohol-free (which is great for your skin) and leaves you smelling like an adult instead of a baby. Durability matters, too, and these are 4x thicker than baby wipes while remaining biodegradable.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Hair and Body Solid Cleanser

Yes, you need soap in your bag. And not just some random bar. This coconut-derived cleanser is a two-in-one that will save space and keep you clean. It’s also great on your skin. BRAVO SIERRA’s hydrating formula and coconut-derived cleansing agent allows you to use this product from hair to toe without drying skin, hair, face or scalp.

The last thing you need is dry cracking skin that will leave you open to cuts, sores, and dirt and this bar doesn’t use the traditional harsh cleansing agent that strips your skin like other soaps.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Deodorant

Yes, you need to not stink. Remember your bug-out bag needs to keep you held over for 48-72 hours. You need to make sure that you feel fresh and smell normal too. Unlike many brands, BRAVO SIERRA doesn’t use baking soda or aluminum in their deodorant.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Hair/Body Wash & Shave

The ultimate combo and space saver, this is your soap, shampoo, and shaving cream in one. Use it to clean your body, wash your hair, and keep your face within regs. Enriched with ginseng and blue algae, this gel to foam wonder is a must have for your bug-out bag.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Lip Balm

Why have lip balm handy? Dry/chapped lips lead to crack and, potentially, infection. You don’t want that.If your lips are prone to crack or chap, it is wise to have this handy in your bag.

And no, this isn’t the lip balm your mom uses. BRAVO SIERRA’s is fragrance-free, flavor-free, non-greasy and doesn’t leave you with glossy lips! It’s also enriched with murumuru butter from the Amazon, which means it’s so clean you could eat it — but you should probably stick to regular food.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Face Sunscreen SPF 30

This one is an obvious one. Even if you have layers and don’t plan on being outside, sunscreen will go a long way to ensuring your skin’s health. Blocking out the sun‘s rays keeps you from getting burnt, and you don’t want to be burnt, especially if you are in a situation that means you are outside your AO for a couple of days. What makes this sunscreen great is that it’s lightweight, non-greasy, non-shiny, non-sticky, and fragrance-free.

So, now that you know what grooming products you need in your bug-out bag, let’s get to work!

Visit BRAVO SIERRA and stock up.

This article is sponsored by BRAVO SIERRA.

MIGHTY FIT

The crazy helpful guidance for the Army Combat Fitness Test

Look, most of us were trained with videos or guides from the 70s, so I was seriously surprised when I discovered the U.S. Army’s Combat Fitness Test page.

The page is modern, informative, and actually very helpful. Plus, the graphic designer was on point. (Kudos: Army Public Affairs Digital Media Division.)

I’m not in the Army but I find myself wanting to go do some deadlifts.


The Army Combat Fitness Test is comprised of the deadlift, standing power throw, hand release push-up, sprint-drag-carry, leg tuck, and 2-mile run. When designing the test, they looked at the Marine Corps’ Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, the Air Force TAC-P Operators Test, and physical performance assessments from 10-15 other sports programs and military/government tests.

All soldiers must be capable to deploy and fight. From the Army Vision: “The Army Mission – our purpose – remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustain land dominance by Army forces.” To accomplish that mission, the Army will “build readiness for high intensity conflict” with training that “will be tough, realistic, iterative and battled-focused.” The battlefields of today and tomorrow are increasingly complex, fluid, and uncertain; they demand that all Soldiers are physically fit and ready for full-spectrum operations. —U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test website

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

To help prepare soldiers, the Army really went above and beyond with educational materials about the test. From videos of the exercises to training techniques and safety tips to highlighting the muscles engaged, the page is an incredible resource.

If I sound surprised, it’s because I am.

The military does not have a good reputation of taking care of service members’ bodies. There’s an underlying “suck it up” mentality that tends to prevent troops from treating injuries in a timely manner. When they do finally seek medical care, it’s often too late and they’re added to the end of a too-long list of patients needing treatment.

Cue the Motrin memes.

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Shameless plug for this T-shirt

U.S. troops deploy to combat zones and respond to missions that require physical strength, flexibility, and capability, so it’s important that they train hard — but it’s also critical that they learn how to prevent and treat injuries efficiently.

A minor training nuisance like a strained muscle or a shin splint can become a career-ending injury when ignored; instead it should be treated like a loose part on a weapon and it prioritized as such.

The effort the Army put into their website might seem like a small thing, but it actually communicates the importance of soldiers’ bodies — training them, honing them, and caring for them.

Sorry-not-sorry to call out the Marines, but their website is much more difficult to navigate and doesn’t really do much to educate anyone, even though they specifically acknowledge that injury prevention is important:

The mission of the Sports Medicine Injury Prevention (SMIP) Program is to reduce attrition and lost work-days associated with musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) in order to increase operational readiness of individual Marine, Sailors, and their units. —U.S. Marine Corps SMIP website

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

I wish I had this kind of stuff when I was active duty.

The Army, on the other hand:

The government knows that injuries are a detriment to the military, but the Army has currently has a lead in educating its troops about how to train. Physical health should be prioritized as part of the military culture, not just physical strength. Troops can’t be strong if they’re not healthy.

Check out the website here — and then get your ass to the gym!

MIGHTY FIT

4 killer exercises that will get those traps ripped

Scientifically known as the trapezius, this incredible fibrous structure is attached to the lower portion of your occipital bone (at the base of the skull) and extends toward your thoracic spine. Too much medical mumbo-jumbo? Okay, it’s the muscle that makes you look like a King Cobra and tells everyone not to f*ck with you.

Some people are genetically blessed with prominent, defined traps, while the rest of us do standing shoulder shrugs in hopes of getting ours to grow just a little bit. But did you know that shoulder shrugs aren’t the only exercise that can develop these alpha-looking muscles?

In fact, there are a few ways to treat your traps — and they all start with isolation movements and heavy weights.


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Prone incline dumbell shrug

Usually, shrug rows are great exercises for toning your back but, with a slight change in positioning, they can help you nail that King-Cobra. By laying face-forward on the incline bench, you can greatly stimulate your traps with an isolated shrug movement.

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Reverse trap fly

What’s nice about this exercise is that you can use horizontal resistance bands to build those traps. The key here is to squeeze those muscles in a controlled manner throughout the entire motion. The traps aren’t often worked out on their own — be sure to remain mindful throughout the exercise and try to activate only the targeted muscle group.

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Prone press

Most of us are familiar with doing military presses to get buff shoulders. To really target your trap muscles, consider laying flat on your face — no, really. Prone presses may look kind of odd, but they are a great way to get blood to those muscles and bulk them up.

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Seated dumbbell shrugs

Unfortunately, most gymgoers do shoulder shrugs completely wrong. When they pull up on the weight, they tend to use their legs to bounce, giving themselves an extra boost. To get your traps to grow, you have to stimulate the muscles, which means isolating the movement. So, sit before you shrug.

This helps remove the bounce and makes the exercise tougher — which is what you want.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s the group of veterans making the best NFL teams better

Every professional athlete will tell you there’s a science behind elite performance. Every coach will tell you there’s one for team dynamics as well. And, every military leader will say their best performing units are men and women who understand the importance of not just bettering themselves, but constantly working toward improving the group as a whole.


One Green Beret has cracked the code on understanding the battlefield and translating it to the professional playing field.

Jason Van Camp is the founder of Mission Six Zero, a leadership development company focused on taking teams and corporate clients to the next level. “We have some of the best military leaders you’ve ever seen,” said VanCamp. From Medal of Honor recipients Flo Groberg and Leroy Petry, Green Beret turned Seattle Seahawk Nate Boyer, to plenty of Marines, Delta Force, Rangers and Navy SEALs, their team is stacked with experience.

But that’s not where it ends. Van Camp has put research behind performance mechanisms with an equally impressive team of scientists to qualify their data and translate it into something teams can implement. One of the key factors to their success? “Deliberate discomfort,” said Van Camp. “Once you deliberately and voluntarily choose the harder path, good things will happen for you and for your team. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

The reviews of the program speak for itself. “I thought I knew where I stood in the football world,” said Marcel Reese, former NFL player. “But after my experience with Mission Six Zero, along with my team, I learned more than I could have ever imagined… mostly about myself as a teammate, leader and a man in general. I would strongly encourage all teams to work with these guys.”

Van Camp shared a story about one of the teams he worked with. A player asked him if the workshop was really going to make him a better player. He responded, “It’s not about making you a better player, it’s making the guy to your left and to your right a better player.” Van Camp took his lessons and parlayed them into a book with the title reflecting their greatest theory: “Deliberate Discomfort.”

Olympian Nick Symmonds’ Army Fitness Test Challenge: What you need to know

Van Camp and 11 other decorated veterans take you through their experiences – intense, traumatic battles they fought and won, sharing the lessons learned from those incredible challenges. Jason and his cadre of scientists further break down those experiences, translating them into digestible and relatable action items, showing the average person how they can apply them to their own lives and businesses.

The book is “gripping. Authentic. Engaging… prodigiously researched, carefully argued and gracefully written,” said Frank Abagnale, Jr., world-renowned authority on forgery (and also the author of Catch Me If You Can). It’s a heart-pounding read that will keep you turning the pages and wanting to immediately apply the lessons to your own life.

In addition to writing books, running a company and being just a badass in general, Van Camp also has a soft spot in his heart for the veteran community. He founded Warrior Rising, a nonprofit that empowers U.S. military veterans and their immediate family members by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American veterans, and earn their future.

From the battlefield to the football field to the boardroom, with such an elite mission, it’s easy to see why Mission Six Zero is such an elite organization.

MIGHTY FIT

5 health tips you should think about on cheat day

You’ve spent week after week dieting to prepare yourself for your unit’s command fitness test because you want to do your absolute best and make weight. However, it’s hard as hell to stick to a diet with all those delicious foods out there to enjoy — we’re only human, after all.

Skipping out on tasty treats in order to shed a few pounds isn’t any fun, but it does work. However, we all deserve to cheat on our diets once every week or so to reward ourselves for making excellent progress. Like everything in life, properly cheating on your diet is all about timing and efficiency. Here’s how to do it right.


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Protein!

Add some protein

When people cheat on their structured meal plan, they tend to scarf down carbs and love every minute of it. However, adding some protein to your cheat meal allows all those carbohydrates to escort that nutrition into storage — which helps increase your metabolism.

By adding some protein to your cheat meal, you’ll continue to build lean muscle even after you ditch the diet. Also, adding protein will fill you up quicker, making you less likely to overeat.

Put some lemon in your water

About 15 minutes before your cheat meal, put some fresh-squeezed lemon into your water. This will help you digest food your body is no longer accustomed to consuming.

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Sit down during your meal

When tend to eat faster when we’re standing up. Sit down, slow down, and enjoy your meal. Not only will you fill up more quickly, it’s also more comfortable. This is your cheat day — treat yourself.

Chew your cheat meal slowly

When you scarf down a cheat meal, you typically don’t feel so awesome afterward. Consider chewing each bite of food around 8-10 times before swallowing. This process allows your body to release a hormone called leptin. When this unique hormone is released, it tells your body it’s getting full.

So, the more slowly you eat your cheat meal, the less likely you’ll earn those love handles back.

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Don’t skip your workout

After a solid workout, your body’s insulin sensitivity is higher and proactively absorbs nutrients. Your body has a tendency to take more of the positive nutrients out of that high-carb meal.

Resistance workouts are ideal for when you cheat on your diet.

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