Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Whether you just got back into working out after a long hiatus or you’re just switching up your game, everybody has one thing in mind when it comes to fitness: results. Improvement is the name of the game, but along the gradual transition from flabby to fit, it’s not always easy to see how far you’ve come with the naked eye. That’s why we big-brained monkeys prefer quantitative measurements of our progress: something with numbers that change over time. For many of us, that means making regular stops at the scale… for better or worse.


Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

We tend to think weight is a reflection of fitness, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The thing is, your scale isn’t all that good of an indicator of how well you’re doing. While keeping tabs on your weight is never a bad idea, it’s important to remember that your weight will fluctuate quite a bit throughout your weight loss journey. There are a number of variables, for instance, that can affect a person’s level of water retention throughout the week — causing your weight to fluctuate up and down and really taking the wind of your proverbial fitness sails when you’re reveling in every pound lost.

And of course, there’s the long-held truth that muscle mass weighs more than fat, despite taking up considerably less space. If you haven’t worked out in a while, chances are good that you’re not just changing the shape of your body, but also it’s physical makeup (to an extent). As you burn fat and develop muscle, your body simply isn’t composed of the same ratio of materials it was the first time you stepped on the scale–really sucking the value out of a comparison measurement.

Think of the human body as a 200-pound pile of clay sitting on a scale. Someone lowers a curtain so all you can see are the numbers on the scale. Behind that curtain, someone removes thirty pounds of wet clay and replaces it with thirty pounds of marble. From your vantage point on the other side of the curtain, nothing has changed, but in reality, there’s been a dramatic shift in the body’s makeup.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

The way 180 pounds looks on you may be different than how it looks on professional body builder and Senior Airman Terrence Ruffin, but to the scale, you’re one in the same.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

The scale isn’t a measurement of body makeup, it’s simply a measurement of weight. As your body makeup changes, the scale may not reflect your hard work… but that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.

For the sake of your sanity, try to limit trips to the scale to once a week or fewer–just often enough to keep tabs on your weight as one metric of your progress, and most importantly, don’t get down on yourself when the number doesn’t keep shrinking week after week (when weight loss is the goal). Instead, if you really want to get a sense of how far you’ve come, there’s one old gym rat trick that has served me better than any scale: an old, familiar tee shirt.

Pick one of your old-standby tee shirts, the ones you wear when hanging out with friends or lounging around the house. The more used to the shirt you are, the better. Then wear it for a day, wash it, and set it aside for a month. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s really as simple as that.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

The most important physical improvement I made in my twenties was losing that stupid necklace.

After a month goes by, put the same shirt on and feel how differently it hangs on your body. That’s progress. Your shoulders may have filled out, your midsection may have shrunk down, and the way you stand may even shift slightly as you gain strength and confidence. The scale may only say you lost five pounds this month, but the way your shirt fits will tell you that you’ve made some significant strides nonetheless.

Now, if you’re a numbers-driven type of person, qualitative measurements might not sound all that appealing to you. Of course, this method isn’t intended to replace body fat measurements (when done properly), performance figures from your workouts, or even that dreaded scale… but at its heart, fitness really is about how you feel. It’s about feeling healthy, feeling capable, and feeling like your hard work is paying off.

You can’t get that from a scale, but you can from that old Voltron tee shirt in your drawer.

MIGHTY FIT

Will soy really turn you into Bob from Fight Club?

Everyone remembers Bob.

“Bob had bitch tits.”

“Six months ago, Bob’s testicles were removed. Then hormone therapy. He developed bitch tits because his testosterone was too high and his body upped the estrogen…”

Bob only made it about 105 minutes into the 151-minute masterpiece that subverted modern male culture, hence the past tense. You probably knew it by its Christian name Fight Club. There are those of us that know it simply by the way it makes us squint our eyes into the future of what “could be,” we call it The Light.

In that future, men can be men, materialism holds no grasp on our testes, and no men have bitch tits (roids or no roids). That begs the question, is there soy in my utopian view of the future?


Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Was it really the steroids?

Seriously, does soy make men more feminine in the same way that hormone therapy made Bob a big lactating moosie?

Should Bob have even been concerned with “supplementing” his diet?

Let’s find out, shall we?

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

The below rule includes beer. Tough.

Some idiot

The majority of this anecdotal hype comes from a story about some 60-year-old dude who drank 3 quarts of soy milk a day.

I’m going to be blunt here. If you drink three quarts of anything other than water per day, there will be negative side effects. This is for a few very simple reasons.

  1. The body is something like 60% water NOT SOY MILK
  2. When you drink nutrients, they generally flood your bloodstream very quickly because they don’t need much processing. This is why sugary drinks spike your blood glucose levels much more dramatically than other forms of sugar.
  3. A woman in Arizona died from drinking too much water. Yeah…even too much of the thing that makes up 60% of your composition will harm you. Ever hear of a Tsunami?
Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Or…the things you eat end up composing (or destroying) you.

But soy has estrogen in it…?

Yeah, Phytoestrogens… sounds scary. Phytoestrogens are found in soy products, NOT actual estrogen.

So if you eat soy, you’ll get phytoestrogens in your body. It’s only a matter of time until you get bitch tits….Right? NO.

Phytoestrogens (also sometimes known as isoflavones) aren’t estrogen and really aren’t the same as naturally produced estrogen.

It’s not uncommon that consuming a certain molecule has an entirely different effect on the body than when it is naturally produced, or no effect whatsoever. Kind of like how many collagen protein supplements do nothing but waste your money when you eat them even though you need collagen to build strong connective tissue like ligaments and tendons (stick to hydrolyzed powders if you don’t want to waste your money.)

The thought originally was that the phytoestrogens in soy will make the body worse at producing testosterone. This hasn’t been seen in 15 studies on this very topic.

The only times that there have been issues is when soy products have been consumed in what I’ll call an ex-soy-bitant amount like our 60-year-old friend above or in a 19-year-old vegan that was getting his protein basically from only soy.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Well, depending on your diet…

Your diet should not solely revolve around one food or food group.

The point of talking about soy isn’t to demonize or convince you that soy is safe for consumption. It’s about the dangers of relying solely on one food to get your nutrition.

You can find a story of someone over-consuming just about everything on planet earth. Don’t join that club.

If you don’t, you’ll hear me say something like, “I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise,” when I read about you on Reddit in some comment thread about the dangers of nightshades, or legumes, or mTORC1 (not a typo).
Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

You always have the option to do anything. You just have to decide…

His name is Robert Paulson

Bob had bitch tits. They were from horse tranquilizers, not soy. Eat a lot of varied protein sources to build muscle, a good portion of that can be soy, and you won’t see any adverse effects. If you are only eating soy products, stop and reassess. It’s that simple.

Tyler Durden had a dream of turning a bunch of lost, dejected men who were raised by women and scared of commitment into a thinking and breathing apparatus for real social change (Sound familiar…? *cough cough* military *cough cough*). Putting his methods aside, that’s a worthy pursuit.

I have a similar dream, to help men who feel like society has left them in a perpetual state of boyhood or at least left their body soft and doughy while they conquered other professional pursuits.

If you want to feel like you’re carved out of wood and your veins pump battery acid, you don’t need to roll around on the concrete floor of Lou’s Tavern with another guy. You just need to check out Grown Ass Man Programming. Check it out and get a free month here to see what it’s all about.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
MIGHTY FIT

4 ways to make ‘planking’ easier

Working out your core is one of the toughest and most painful parts of any exercise routine. Putting strain on your torso and getting that unique, deep burn isn’t a very appealing prospect to most people — they’d rather be making gains in their arms or chest.


Planking primarily targets your core muscles, like the hip abductors, pelvic floor, lower back, and lower chest. During a plank, all of these structures must work in concert to hold up the body’s weight, strengthening the entire group with a single exercise. Although most people only hold the position for between 30 and 60 seconds, this brief moment can feel like a freakin’ eternity.

To help all you hopefuls looking to strengthen your core, we’ve come up with a few proven remedies to get your mind off the anguish. Use these tips to hold a plank for long periods of time, build core strength, and, most importantly, get those abs to pop out.

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

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Control your breathing

As you hold a plank, your body will tire out. Your torso will let your brain know it’s getting sore via pain receptors. Although it’s wise to listen to your body, at times like these, it’s better to distract yourself from every little message sent to the brain. A great way to do this is by focusing on your breathing.

Breathing deeply relaxes your body and blocks out distracting thoughts like, “when the hell will this exercise be over?” The next time you decide to shoot for a 45-to-60-second plank, inhale in on a 4-count and exhale for just as long. After just fifteen inhales and exhales, you’ll be at the 1-minute mark.

Easy, right?

www.youtube.com

Watch a motivational YouTube clip

Working out is meant to break you down physically. It takes mental strength to push through discomfort. That’s exactly why so many people hire trainers — for outside motivation that pushes them through those last, crucial minutes of intense training.

If you don’t want to shell out cash for a trainer, there are other ways to find the motivation to get into tip-top shape. Many people watch cool motivational YouTube clips to distract the mind and block out the physical pain. Via that smartphone you keep in your pocket at all times, you can quickly view a “moto” clip (like the one below) to get you through those final seconds of your plank.

www.youtube.com

Conduct an intra-modification

As with any other exercise, there are many variations of planks, each designed to focus on the various muscles that make up your core. You can use this information to your abdominal advantage. If you start out in a four-point plank and fatigue sets in, modify the exercise and move into a side plank.

The idea is to build up your strength gradually — go until you can’t.

www.youtube.com

Recite a music verse in your head

Everyone likes music. There’s no doubt that you’ve memorized a few verses during all those hours you’ve logged listening to the radio. So, as you set out to challenge your body via planking, start reciting a 45-to-60-second song verse in your head — not out loud — to get you through the tough, physical static hold.

Your abs will thank you later.

MIGHTY CULTURE

When was the last time you chose Deliberate Discomfort?

There’s a reason why elite Special Operations courses always begin with intense physical training. The shock value of initial stress overload is the best discriminator while assessing an individual or group’s willingness and capacity to accomplish difficult tasks. It’s because after twenty minutes, when you are tired of holding a log over your head, you can’t fake it any longer. When the pressure is on and the stress increases, your true personality comes out.


The vocal, motivated cheerleader types who try hard to encourage others? They suddenly shut up. The pessimists who are there because they were told to be there but don’t really want to be there? They suddenly quit. The eternal optimists who are always positive and see the good in everything? They suddenly wonder if they have what it takes to make it in the first place. The playing field is now even because everyone is in survival mode and doing whatever it takes to get by. Fatigue makes cowards of us all.

Eventually, there is a moment when everybody is miserable and focused on themselves. Our heads are down, and we are contemplating when the suffering will end. As the level of stress increases, our brains narrow our focus, and our sensory attention goes inward. Our body language reflects, as the pupils dilate, heart rate increases, breathing intensifies, heads go down, shoulders slump, and our thoughts begin to race: What in the hell did I get myself into? When will it all end? How much longer can I keep this up? Is it all worth it?

During log PT on day one of selection, for whatever reason, almost counterintuitively, even though it spent energy on something that was risky, I looked up. I looked up and looked around. I deliberately chose discomfort. The guys around me were all suffering just as badly as I was, if not worse. In that moment, my friend Pat lifted his head up as well. He looked around, and we looked at each other. He shouted, “Let’s go, J. You got this!” I shouted words of encouragement back at him, even though it required energy that could have been used on myself.

More guys lifted their heads and looked around. We began to focus on one another rather than on ourselves. Looking up became infectious. Strangely enough, we began to forget about our pain, the time seemed to move faster, and the log felt lighter. The reality is that nothing changed about the situation except our attitudes. The conditions still sucked, it was hot as hell, our bodies still strained, and the logs didn’t get any lighter. It was our minds that had changed. We began choosing how we thought, deciding where to direct our attention and energy.

In these difficult moments, situations that make or break individuals and teams, we find our collective purpose. When the pressure is on and you’re on a team, it’s never about you. It’s about the people to your left and right who are going through the experience and process with you. In this moment, I found purpose. My purpose was to make the team succeed.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

pbs.twimg.com

Misery is suffering without a purpose. The guys who make it through these types of courses are the guys who experience an aha moment. When they realize that they’re not alone. That they are on a team and the success of the team is more important than their own personal success.

The people who don’t make it are the guys who are self-centered, who don’t risk any energy that doesn’t immediately serve their own interests. The people who don’t look up.

The secret to the elite mind-set of Special Operations Forces, no matter how many books you read or podcasts you listen to, is to look up.

The same “look up” mind-set applies to the everyday mundanity of real life. As a lot of well-intending families do, my wife and I are committed to attending church services every Sunday. As a couple with young children, parenting lessons come early and often. Our daughter is a toddler with boundless energy, which means that we spend a good majority of the service outside in the foyer. Whenever she acts up, screams, or causes a distraction during the sermon or in Sunday school, we do the polite and sensible thing and remove her from the situation.

After several months of faith in the foyer went by, my wife and I looked up at each other and asked ourselves, “What are we doing here?” We don’t hear the sermon; we don’t hear the Sunday school lesson. We just sit out in the foyer and distract our daughter. What’s the point of getting up early and getting dressed to come to church and play with our daughter in the foyer?

I thought back to my experiences during log PT. I was embarrassed that I had forgotten that critical lesson from years ago. I realized that I wasn’t going to church for myself. I was going for the other members of the congregation. I asked myself, “What can I do this Sunday to serve the church and church members’ needs?” Sitting out in the foyer with a screaming daughter, maybe all I could give was a hello or a smile. If that was all I could give, then I would give that. For me, Sundays are sacred because they represent our commitment to spending that quality time together in fellowship to reflect and celebrate our common values and beliefs. This is the foundation of our collective purpose. Is the quality of time we invest now showing an immediate return? Certainly, not immediately, but that’s a limited and short-sighted way of looking at the situation. That’s the same reason why people decide to quit: the log is too heavy right now, and they want to make the pain stop. It’s not about the log, and it’s not about the foyer. It’s about the people to our left and right.

We chose a different perspective and approach to the situation. Through this choice, we realized that if we continued our routine, our daughter’s behavior would eventually improve. By the time she is old enough to know better, this routine as a deliberate and weekly choice will not just be something she does but an integral part of who she is. Suddenly on Sundays, chasing my daughter in the foyer doesn’t seem as bad as it once did.

MIGHTY FIT

This is the science behind how muscle is built

Pectoralis major (chest), gastrocnemius (calf), and the rectus abdominis (abs) are just a few of the popular areas that both men and women work to strengthen and tone. But how do we get them to grow without overdoing it and hurting ourselves in the gym?

The Answer? Science.


There are approximately 600 muscles found in the human body. This dense, complex fibrous tissue makes up between one-third and one-half of our total body weight. Even if your goal isn’t to win a bodybuilding competition, working out determines whether your body will grow or wither.

 

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
A short list of the muscles in the human body.

(Baldaivirtuves.info)

So, how can science help us grow muscle? Well, you need to learn how a muscle works before you can push it to its limit.

Let’s say you want to lift a small amount of weight that your body can efficiently manage. First, your brain sends a signal to the motor neurons in your arm. Once the neurons receive the message, they fire up, contracting and relaxing your muscles. The muscles pull on the bones in your arm to create the movement needed to lift the weight.

It’s pretty simple, right?

Now, if the load we need to carry is on the heavier side, that signal from your brain gets magnified, enabling you to generate the required force.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Inside of a human muscle fiber.

In lifting this heavy object, you’ve exposed your muscle to stress and, as a result, you’ve completed a controlled tear in the muscle fibers. Nice work! In response to the damage, your body releases inflammatory cells called “cytokines.” These cells activate your immune system, repairing the controlled injury and making the muscle fibers stronger.

And we like that.

Since our bodies are great at adapting, continuing with the same routine, day-in and day-out, will cause your body to plateau — meaning you won’t build any additional muscle. By introducing different types of resistance to your body, you can avoid this plateau. Instead, your body will enter into a state called “hypertrophy.”

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Weight lifting is great, but adding in another type of exercise will keep your body guessing.

(Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Christian J. Robertson)

 

Now, lifting the heavy weights isn’t the only critical aspect to getting your body ready for beach season. Your tissue won’t be able to repair damaged muscle fibers without the help of proper nutrition, rest, and, of course, the right amount of hormones. Science has proven that gender and age affect the healing process, which is why young men with high testosterone levels find it easiest to bulk up.

Check out Ted-Ed‘s animated video below to get an entertaining and educational look at how humans get buffed out using science as their weapon.

Articles

How Diamond Dallas Page developed yoga to help disabled veterans

World Championship Wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page was badly injured at the height of his career. To get back to the top of his game he created a unique mix of yoga and rehabilitative motion — what he calls DDP Yoga.


“I’m the guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga the first 42 years of my life,” says Page, now 59. “Especially when I started wrestling at 35, and my career literally took off at 40.”

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Page was on top of the world in 1998, when he was one of the top four wrestlers in the world. Soon after, however, he blew out his back, rupturing his L4-L5 spinal segment.

“Three specialists I went to and they all said the same thing,” he continues “‘You’re done. You had a great run, but you’re done.’ On that Sunday, I just signed a multimillion dollar three-year deal.”

They guy who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga was suddenly willing to try anything.

“All the reasons I didn’t ever do yoga, the whole spiritual mumbo jumbo, it wasn’t my thing,” he says. “But I started doing yoga and learning the moves on VHS tapes. I would mix those moves with rehabilitation techniques because I had to rehab both shoulder surgeries, both knee surgeries, and my back.”

This combination of forces worked like a charm. He was back in the ring in three months. At age 43, he was the oldest champion ever to wear a belt. His wrestling career continued well into 2005 and he still makes sporadic appearances to this day.

“At 42, they tell me my wrestling career is over, and at 43 I’m the world champ. Yeah, I’m going to keep doing that,” he says.

While DDP Yoga is for anyone who wants to be stronger, recover from an injury, or just generally look and feel better, Page created it for workers and athletes who, by the nature of what they do, end their careers having put a great deal of physical stress on their bodies.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

“I developed DDP Yoga for cops, firefighters, the military, the worker, the roofer on his knees, tile layers, the athlete that’s beat up,” he says. “If you played high school football or soccer, there’s a good chance that by the time you got to your forties, you’re pretty beat up.”

One day, a disabled Gulf War veteran named Arthur Boorman bought the DDP Yoga program. Page sent Boorman a questionnaire and was moved by the vet’s responses.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Desert Storm veteran Arthur Boorman before DDP Yoga

“He wrote, ‘I’m a disabled vet that’s morbidly obese and so beat up I’ve relegated to thinking of myself as a piece of furniture,'” Page says. “I told him to send me some pictures so I can see what I’m looking at. I saw knee braces that took him twenty minutes every morning to put on. They attached into his back braces. His wife had to do that for him every morning. Then he grabbed these canes, he called them wrap around cups. I saw those cups and was like, how am I going to help that guy?”

Page and a dietician developed a meal plan for Boorman while Boorman started DDP Yoga. In ten months, Boorman lost 140 lbs, as well as his knee and back braces, his canes, and was not only able to walk, he started running.

“If he would’ve wrote back to me, ‘I think I can do this’ or ‘I’ll give it a try,’ I would’ve typed back, awesome, keep me posted,” Page says. “But he didn’t do that. He wrote, ‘I can do this.'”

These days, Boorman appears in DDP Yoga workouts.

“When you see him on the energy workout which is twenty-five minutes, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, that’s that guy! Wait a minute, that’s ten years later!'” Page says with a smile. “Then when you get to the hour-long workouts, there’s Arthur again. Doing the most extreme levels.”

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Boorman Beforeand After

As he developed DDP Yoga, he found two of his fellow wrestlers in despair. Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon) suffered from drug and alcohol abuse. In 2012, Roberts was obese, addicted, and contemplating suicide. Hall faced much the same situation. World Wrestling Entertainment wouldn’t even let the legendary wrestlers into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. They both turned to DDP Yoga and made remarkable changes. Roberts’ turnaround is the subject of Page’s new film, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Page and Roberts

“All I did was guide my two buddies who guided me in other times in my wrestling career,” Page says. “It was great to help my buddies get their lives back in order.”

DDP Yoga has expanded exponentially. Page has a live-streaming studio in Atlanta, as well as DDP Yoga apps for Android and iPhone formats, which include cooking and nutrition. His Twitter account is full of people like Arthur who thank him for developing the program. The company tries to respond to every tweet.

“I’m not a doctor,” Page says. “And I have enough lawyers to know that I don’t claim to do anything. What I am is a guide. I don’t put the work in for you and I won’t. I will help guide you from what I’ve learned.”

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

MIGHTY FIT

This is how much exercise you need if you sit behind a desk all day

This isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone, but people working desk jobs are too sedentary. In fact, 86 percent of the American working population sits down all day while at work. Combining all the hours we work with the amount of time we sit lounging at home and that number can increase beyond 12 hours each day.

But we’re not done doing the math yet. Figure in the total amount of sleep we get per night (an average of six to eight hours) and you’re looking at a pretty static lifestyle. As Americans, we’re in a state of rest for nearly 20 hours per day — give or take.

That’s a whole lot of resting, people!

We understand that some jobs require us to be in the office each day and sitting in front of our computers.

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However, finding time to be as active as possible will earn you a solid path to a healthier lifestyle.

Sitting all day can contribute to some significant risk factors like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. No one wants to fall ill because of the all the stressors they encounter while at work. If this sounds like your current lifestyle, there is a way to counteract these future medical conditions — exercise.

But how much is enough? Well, keep reading.


Also Read: 4 health benefits of drinking the coffee in your MREs

According to Tech Insider, a massive study was reviewed that researched one million people around the world and scientists concluded that finding at least one hour per day of aerobic exercise reduced the chance of developing life-threatening ailments.

To prevent the harmful elements of sitting all day, it’s recommended to take breaks throughout the day to do some physical activity. This might mean waking up 30 minutes earlier for a brisk walk, biking to work, using the lunch hour to run in the park, or cut down on television time in the evening to lift weights. Even getting up and walking for a few minutes each hour will do wonders for your health.

Finding the necessary time for aerobic exercise has also been known to mitigate existing health problems. Luckily, gym professionals have developed easy-to-follow 7-minute exercise routines that require virtually no gym equipment and can fit anyone’s schedule if they’re willing to attempt the program.

The workout consists of 12 different exercises that you’ll do for 30 seconds each, with a rest period of 10 seconds before moving onto the next aerobic movement.

This program is specially designed for those people with crazy schedules who only have small windows available to get their heart rates increased.

Check out the Tech Insider video below for details on why exercise is important — especially if you’re sitting all day.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Not training because you think you have nothing to prepare for?

Put the beer down and read.

When we leave active duty, we go through a lot of emotional ups and downs, we have many hurdles to overcome, and most importantly, we have to repurpose ourselves.


That repurposing process is a subconscious one for the overwhelming majority of us. We fall into the civilian world and look for things we couldn’t do or have while we were in the service. You know, like drugs, experiences, traveling opportunities, and sleeping in past 0600 on a weekday. Basically, we’re just adult versions of Amish teens on Rumspringa.

After we get those things out of our system, we find ourselves so far on the other side of society that we realize we need to get back to “normality.” That normality is somewhere between the extreme lifestyle of the military and the post-DD-214 period of blowing off steam, so we think.

Check out the details of my transition struggle here.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

This bell curve shows how the population is distributed when it comes to potential for greatness.

(I took the liberty of making this normal bell curve much better.)

The ‘Normal’ Trap.

By definition, we aren’t normal people; we’re 1%-ers. It’s a different and much more dangerous 1%. That being the case, normal for us isn’t the same normal as it is for actual “normal” people.

Falling into how normal people live looks something like this:

  • Wake-up at the last possible minute for a job you hate.
  • Fight through traffic to get to the same place you’ll go for 15-30 years of your life.
  • Expend all of your energy, will power, and decision-making ability by just trying to make it to the end of the workday.
  • Get home exhausted, reach for an alcoholic beverage, sit on an unnecessarily comfortable couch, and watch 4-6 hours of premium content.
  • Eat whatever is around or order something that you don’t know where it came from or why you’re eating it.
  • Lose track of time due to social media and end up going to bed with only 4-5 hours left before you need to wake up for work again.
  • Repeat for years on end.

Can you imagine what happens when you put a 1%-er into the same box as the majority? Have you ever seen what happens to a feral bull after it’s domesticated?

But this is what happens when we allow ourselves to be subconsciously repurposed.

Here’s how you can keep a 1%-er happy in the gym.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Build stuff, kick butt, and charge big bucks for it.

(Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash)

Shadows of normalcy

We should instead be repurposing ourselves to do great things like growing businesses, shaking up industries, raising the status quo. In order for us to do that, we need to not forget the greatness we came from by ending up in a “normal” life.

I’m not just talking about combat veterans or vets with spec ops training here. I’m talking about all of us, all veterans, from the most boot Airman to the grizzliest retired E-9 turned private security contractor that you can think of. If we weren’t better humans, we wouldn’t have even thought the military was an option for us in the first place.

Get out of the shadow of normalcy.

The decision to end up in normal is a mistake for us. Normal kills potential. Normal shits on passion. Normal shames greatness.

We need to stay closer to the fringe than the normals do.

Here’s how to clear your head so that you can actually figure out what empire you want to build.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Blasting normal in the crotch… after living like this there’s no way you’ll be happy being “normal.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

The fringe is where the magic happens

It’s not easy to stay on the fringe though… it’s demanding and exhausting out here, but it feels like home to us. You need to stay fit and capable in order to live outside of normal.

That’s why the military has fitness standards when normal people have 2.6 doctors visits a month. The fringe only seeks medical attention when something is broken from flying too close to the sun.

That’s why you need to be training. You’re training to stay strong, lean, and healthy, but even more importantly, you’re training to stay at the tip of the spear, albeit a different spear than you stood on in the military.

It doesn’t matter if your new spear is higher education, the business world, entrepreneurship, or parenthood. The best in their field are those that know how to leverage their body to produce greatness.

You’ve already been given keys to the castle of greatness through your military indoctrination. The foundation of that castle is training hard to take care of your body and make everything else in life seem easier.

That’s it. Train hard, become the best at what you do, and teach normal people what greatness actually looks like.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

Click the image if you want to get in touch with me directly.

Me (the author)

The new Mighty Fit Plan is nearly ready. Become one of the first to hear about it here!

Get over to the Mighty Fit FB Group here and join like-minded 1%-ers that are ready to step out of normalcy and into their next big move.

MIGHTY FIT

4 dietary mistakes that are making you gain weight right now

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

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

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

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


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

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

Binge eating

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

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

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

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As you should!

Listening to other people

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

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

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

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Calories cutting cooking, at it’s best.

Counting calories incorrectly

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

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

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Hey, what’s up!

Cutting too many calories

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

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

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

MIGHTY FIT

5 reasons why you should always keep a workout journal

Often times, you’ll be working out at the gym and notice a few people writing in these small books when they finish a set. You might think they are writing some sort of story, but chances are they’re keeping a personal journal of their workout progress.

Similar to a having a diary, many gym-goers like to record various aspects of their workouts like how many reps they managed to complete, the exact weight on the bar, and how the exercise felt afterward.

Using a journal is an excellent tool to track all sorts of personal progress. If you’ve never considered tracing your fitness path, we compiled a few reasons that just might make you reconsider it as a valuable option in your life.


Also Read: 7 of the most common mistakes you’re making in the gym

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Document personal records

Whether you have a goal in mind, like lifting competitively, or just because you enjoy working out, accurately recording your gains is a stable way to track your improvements. Plus, if you’re going to brag about how much you lift, it helps to have it in writing.

Track your workouts

This sounds obvious, right? It may be hard to believe, but sometimes people forget what muscles groups they’ve worked on earlier in the week. Sure they hit triceps on Tuesday, but did they do pull-down or extension movements? Although most people don’t care about this type of record keeping, others find it to be a time-saving practice.

When most patrons enter the gym, they warm up, work out a specific muscle group, record the result, finish up, and then they leave. In the following week, they might check to see how many reps per set they were able to do during a particular exercise.

This week that weight may not feel so heavy. Because of recording that data, they know why: it’s time to add on!

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Record weight loss

Fitness is all about continually setting goals and breaking them. Recording your weekly weight loss is an excellent indication that your workouts and diet plan are being effective. If you don’t see improvements, you may have to look for flaws in your lifestyle and adjust them.

Debrief yourself

You know your body better than anyone else. By using your personal journal to debrief yourself, you can track what exercises you felt were the easiest and which ones you struggled with. This doesn’t mean you halt doing those movements that you thought were too hard.

It’s quite the opposite actually.

You should practice those physical motions you had a tough time with to strengthen your body. Fitness is all about setting goals and breaking right past them.

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Track your calories

One of the biggest fitness mistakes people make is eating too many calories per day. Then, when they go on a diet, they make the critical error of lowering their calories by too much. By tracking your calories, both in-and-out, you’ll be able to manage your calorie intake more efficiently than just by simply guessing.

MIGHTY FIT

Recovery is just as important as working out — Here’s why

A general assumption is that in order to lose weight, gain muscle, or get in better physical shape, you have to work more and work harder. While it’s true that the body must be put under stress in varying degrees for muscles to grow, what is sometimes overlooked is the importance of not working — the recovery process.

Anytime you deadlift, squat, bench press, or exceed the normal limits of daily activity, your muscles experience micro-tears. In response, your body releases inflammatory molecules called cytokines that activate the immune system to repair the muscle. Your body triggers delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) — that dull achy feeling you may experience 24 to 48 hours after the activity.


DOMS are local mechanical constraints. It’s your body telling you to stop using the muscle group and to start recovering the affected area.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

(Photo courtesy of Katie Whelan.)

When deciding which recovery techniques to use, various factors must be considered, such as age, gender, physical fitness level, and the activity that was performed.

There are a growing number of techniques being used by athletes; however, proper sleep, nutrition, and hydration are key.

Sleep

Sleep is a vital aspect of muscle repair and growth. While you sleep, your body goes into full repair mode. As you enter the N3 stage of non-REM sleep, your pituitary gland releases human growth hormone, which stimulates muscle growth and repair. Not only does sleep replenish the muscles, but it also recharges the brain — allowing for productive workouts the following day.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

(Graphic courtesy of Bodybuilding.com.)

Eat

Exercise causes the depletion of glycogen stores and the breakdown of muscle protein. Consuming both carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes of your workout can improve recovery. Carbohydrates refuel your body, allowing you to restore lost energy sources, while proteins help repair and build new muscle cells. It is recommended that you consume .14 to .23 grams of protein per pound of body weight and .5 to .7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.

Hydrate

Proper hydration is imperative both during and after your workouts. During strenuous exercise, your body sweats to maintain temperature, causing fluid loss within your body. You can find your sweat rate by weighing yourself before and after exercise — then replenish your body by drink 80 to 100 percent of that loss.

Additional recovery techniques can be used in conjunction with the basics.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

By reducing the weight and volume, weightlifting becomes active recovery.

(Photo courtesy of Katie Whelan.)

Active recovery

Active recovery is a way to flush out the by-products produced by exercise. To do this, choose an activity and lower the intensity to just above your resting heart rate. Some examples include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, yoga, and weightlifting at lower weights and volumes.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy — such as cold water immersion (CWI), hot water immersion (HWI), and contrast water therapy (CWT) — is a common technique used by many athletes. Studies have shown that CWI is significantly better than others in reducing soreness and maintaining performance levels.

The easiest way to reap the benefits is to fill your tub with ice, run some cold water, and immerse your body for six to eight minutes. Ice baths can be painful at first, but they get easier with time.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

U.S. Army 2nd Lt Chris Gabayan, left, and Air Force 2nd Lt. Rhett Spongberg talk about how they each pushed each other to conquer the course while they recover in an ice bath after the 2019 Alpha Warrior Inter-Service Battle at Retama Park, Selma, Texas, Sept. 14, 2019.

(Photo by Debbie Aragon/U.S. Air Force.)

Myofascial relief

The fascia is a thin connective tissue that covers our muscles. The purpose of myofascial relief is to break down the built-up adhesions and decrease muscle aches and stiffness.

If you’ve entered a gym in the last five years, chances are you’ve seen a foam roller — one of the most basic techniques to reduce muscle stiffness. In addition to foam rollers, sports massage and lacrosse balls have also been known to provide short-term increased range of motion and reduce soreness.

It’s easy to muster up an hour of motivation. Just turn up the music, scoop some pre-workout, and chalk up your hands. What’s not so glamorous is the time spent outside the gym — the 23 hours between training sessions. But it’s that time in between that determines your long-term results. Work hard — but recover harder.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Articles

Common military injuries: Myths & treatments

Those suffering from injuries will do and try just about anything to relieve pain. With musculoskeletal injuries being a top health problem for the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s time to prioritize better treatments and solutions. 

A recent report by Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences found that 3/4 of medically non-deployable service members are sidelined due to musculoskeletal injuries, and 68,000 service members fall into that category each year. Studies suggest that non-combat musculoskeletal injuries could account for nearly 60% of soldiers’ limited duty days and 65% of soldiers who cannot deploy for medical reasons. 

Throughout my five years working with the military, currently with units from every branch, including Special Operations Command and the Reserve Component, the most common musculoskeletal injuries I see our service members suffer from are lower back pain and lower leg issues, with the former being at the top of the list for the warfighter. Lower leg issues are a close second, with those injuries ranging from shin splints and stress reactions to stress fractures.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
No one takes shin splints seriously until they’ve had them.

These two injuries are the most common across the force, but each branch exhibits certain types more than others. For example, the Air Force tends to suffer from lower back injuries because Airmen are sitting in cramped areas for an extended period. Additionally, they are at an increased risk for spinal injuries, neck, and back. The neck becomes an issue because jets are faster and helmets have more tech, making them heavier. Confined spaces, faster jets, and heavier helmets make a great recipe for spinal injuries.

However, the Army is the best example of lower leg injuries because they tend to cover the most mileage on rugged terrain over long distances. 

Although these two branches stand out for certain types of injuries, nearly every service member will suffer from some musculoskeletal injury during their career and seek the best solution for recovery and pain relief.

Whether information is found on the internet or received from a doctor, it is typically seen as the magic cure by the patient seeking help.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
“If I hear one more ‘I read on WebMD’ I’m just gonna snap…”(U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers)

While there are certainly good doctors and sound advice online, each injury and individual require specific, personalized treatment. As an expert in using Force Plate Machine Learning™ (FPML™) to identify, prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries, I encourage military leaders to seek out programs that focus on the individual warfighter’s health and fitness needs. Solutions like FPML™ will allow for early identification of musculoskeletal weakness and help create individualized training programs to prevent future injury.

Practices that utilize evidence-based, individualized solutions are best for preventing injuries and correctly training the body but understanding that this technology is not yet widely used by the Service, I will share some generic at-home remedies for common service member injuries, as well as dispel myths about well-known treatments.

The easiest way to make an injured area feel better is to stimulate or contract the opposite area. For example, if suffering from back pain, a solution can be working your abdominals with exercises like the plank. This is because the human body has antagonistic relaxation – meaning when one muscle group fires, the other is inhibited. Therefore, activating the abdominal muscles will, in turn, relax the back muscles and provide relief. 

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Planks: Tricking tough guys into doing Pilates for decades (U.S. Marine Corps)

The quick and easy treatment used by traditional doctors reluctant to adopt more complex solutions is RICE. We’ve all heard it: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Sure, ice is great as an anesthetic (a numbing agent) for short-term pain relief immediately after injury. It will hide the pain and help with performance for about 5-60 minutes post-injury. But after that, ice and RICE will significantly prolong the healing process.

Both RICE and ibuprofen (Advil) actually delay the healing process and can be harmful to the body’s recovery. Many doctors still prescribe the nifty acronym because it’s easy to remember for the physician who is still operating in the 1980s.

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress
Or football coaches… (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rusty Frank/Released)

RICE exemplifies the power of simplification and reinforces the idea that people will try just about anything – opioids, RICE, or over-the-counter painkillers when in pain. 

In reality, movement is the best medicine, with data-driven, individualized movement plans being effective solutions that can help reduce chronic pain and injuries.


Dr. Phil Wagner is a physician, strength & conditioning coach, and expert on using force plates and machine learning to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries. He is the founder and CEO of Sparta Science.

Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Moore

MIGHTY FIT

How to train your plank without planking

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

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


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

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

www.youtube.com

1. Seated Straight Leg Lifts

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

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

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

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

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

youtu.be

2. Quadruped Hand Walk-outs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

youtu.be

3. The Ab Wheel

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

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

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

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

youtu.be

4. Hollow Body Hold

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

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

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

Skip the scale and throw on those old shirts to gauge your fitness progress

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

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

Go train your core. Before you go though…

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

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

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

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