3 training basics every soldier needs to remember - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY FIT

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Here’s a fact: Training prepares you for the demands you’ll face in the field.

Sure, it might feel good to bend your knees an inch or two and call it a squat and curl for days on end, but what benefit are you gaining?


You need your workouts to provide results.

If you train with your ego, you’re probably wondering why you aren’t getting the results you require.

Here are a few things to remember that will keep your ego in check and the results rolling in so that your body is ready when you actually need it to perform in a life-or-death scenario.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Half and quarter reps have there place in a very specific type of training plan. Message me if you want to know what that plan is. For the other 99% of us they are just a waste of time.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

1. Use a full range of motion

Imagine you walk over to the squat rack, load the bar up with two, maybe 300 pounds, and step under it only to find that it’s way too heavy for a full rep.

Instead of lightening the load to match your ability, you bend your knees ever so slightly, give a grunt and look around to see if anyone saw that sorry excuse for a squat.

Now, if this describes your typical leg day or any other workout for that matter, stop.

Honestly, if you’re grabbing weights that are too heavy to perform a full rep, you’re not only kidding yourself but also wasting your time. While doing heavy partial reps might massage your ego, you probably won’t find any measurable benefit, and you’ll for sure increase your chances of injury.

Using a full range of motion means that you’re activating all of the muscle fibers within a particular muscle group to perform the exercise. As a result, those muscle fibers and connected nerves are receiving the signal to grow bigger and stronger.

For most of you, resistance training isn’t just to look great. In the field, you need to perform under any circumstance, so your training needs to prep you to deal with the unknown.

What if you really need to be able to carry your 230-pound brother but can’t since you trained with two-inch squats? Will that sad example of a squat make you feel better then?

To fully benefit from each rep and training session, use the amount of weight that allows for a full range of motion. Eventually, your strength will improve enough to perform that 300-pound squat with a full range of motion, and you’ll be so much stronger as a result.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

The bench press, when performed correctly works way more than just your chest. Triceps, core, glutes, back, and sometimes even your face.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

2. Prioritize important exercises

To get straight to the point, which of the following exercises is more likely to benefit you in the field:

Bicep curls or a barbell squat?

I know, biceps are the most important muscle group to many of you, but in reality, training them every day probably won’t provide much of a performance benefit. In fact, they may hamper your performance.

The barbell squat not only allows you to use more resistance, but it’s also a full-body challenge. Despite being a leg-dominant exercise that works quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, it also demands that you have a strong upper and lower back and overall core strength.

Not to mention, using higher rep ranges also allows you to challenge your anaerobic capacity. Bicep curls, on the other hand, train your biceps and forearms and not much else.

Of course, it’s not a big deal if you train your biceps, and doing so will be somewhat beneficial. Just remember that you’re training to be a badass that can handle anything.

If you need to improve performance in the field, you should prioritize compound movements that are most likely to improve that performance. If you have extra energy and time, then focus on the less-important exercises.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Use your rest periods to perform a corrective, work an antagonist muscle group or rest. Leave the IG feed for 3AM when you’re supposed to be sleeping instead.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ralph Branson

3. Put the phone down

If you head to the gym and spend half of the time scrolling through a feed, you’re wasting your time and probably ruining someone else’s workout if you’re doing it on a popular piece of equipment.

It’s clear that most of us feel the pull of social media, even at the worst times.

But the time you spend in the gym is meant to be for work. If you’re distracted by your phone and resting for longer than intended, you could be losing out on training improvements.

You should be using your rest periods to your advantage anyway…

If you find yourself distracted in the gym, make a conscious decision to hold off until the workout is done, and then get your fix. I promise, your workout will be far more productive.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

​Squatting heavy isn’t for everyone, but it is a metaphor for handling the important stuff first that I think everyone can understand.

U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik

BONUS: The bigger picture…

I’ve been recording my dreams lately and weird things have been happening as a result. Long story short, I received some great advice from my late grandfather in a recent dream. The gist of our dialogue was this:

“Everything you do in life is either making you a better version of yourself or a worse version.”

Obviously this advice can apply to all areas of life but when specifically looking at physical training it can be quite directive. We all have a mission we’re working towards accomplishing. Every training session, every exercise, every set, and every rep should be bringing us closer to mission accomplishment. If it’s not, fix it.

The Commander’s Intent of training, especially for those on Active Duty is: “…in order to become more capable at inflicting positive change on the world.” Be that becoming more deadly in combat, or simply having greater work capacity to keep moving forward when others would quit.

It’s your choice.

Articles

The best martial arts for self defense, according to a SEAL

When it comes to self-defense, what do SEALs recommend? Well, Jocko Willink – a former Navy SEAL who served alongside Chris Kyle and Michael Monsoor in Task Unit Bruiser, earning the Silver Star and Bronze Star for heroism – has some answers. And they are surprising.


When it comes to self-defense, Willink’s top recommendation isn’t a martial art in the strictest sense. It’s a gun and concealed carry.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Willink discusses martial arts. (Youtube Screenshot)

“If you are in a situation where you need to protect yourself, that is how you protect yourself,” he said, noting that potential adversaries will have weapons, they will be on drugs or suffer from some psychotic condition. “If you want to protect yourself, that is how you do it.”

Okay, great. That works in the states that have “constitutional carry” or “shall issue” carry laws. But suppose you are in California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, or Delaware which the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action notes are “Rights Restricted – Very Limited Issue” states where obtaining a concealed carry permit is very difficult?

Willink then recommends Brazilian jujitsu, followed by Western boxing, Muay Thai, and wrestling (the type you see in the Olympics, not the WWE – no disrespect to the WWE). Willinck is a proponent of jujitsu in particular – recounting how he used it to beat a fellow SEAL in a sparring match who had 20 years of experience in a different martial art.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blackbelt Andre Galvao demonstrating a full-mount grappling position at the 2008 World Jujitsu Championship. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

He noted that people should not buy into the notion of a “magical instructor” who can help them defeat multiple attackers. He said martial arts like Krav Maga can augment jujitsu and other arts.

He also noted that you have more time than you think. The attack isn’t likely to happen next week – it could be a lot longer, and one can learn a lot by training in a martial art two or three times a week for six months.

Willick notes, though, that martial arts have a purpose beyond self-defense. They can teach discipline and humility. He notes that few who start jujitsu get a black belt – because it takes discipline to go out there on the mat constantly, especially when you are a beginner.

MIGHTY FIT

How my transition impacted my health

It’s been nearly three years since I officially ended my Active Duty service. The first six months of my transition were rough. After speaking to a lot of fellow former service members, I realize that my experience is not an outlier, but rather, it’s the norm.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Hardest part about the military… logging into sites that don’t take a CAC card.

(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

Civilian stress vs. Military stress.

In the Marine Corps, I was trained to deal with all sorts of tactical stresses. But civilian stresses? Not so much. When it came to work, insurance, or liberty, I could blame Uncle Sam for everything:

  • “Sorry, can’t make that baptism/wedding/ graduation/ (insert family event here). I have to move to Japan for work.”
  • “Yeah, the healthcare system is fugged; I’m on Tricare though, watch anything good on Netflix lately?”
  • “I put my name on a list to live off base, but if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just be put in the tower, end of story.”
  • “I PCS in June. I’ll either go to Camp LeJeune or get sucked into the vortex that is the Pentagon. Not much I can do.”

In the military, every moment of my life was planned out for me, until suddenly… it wasn’t. When I “got out,” all I had was choice, and I didn’t always make the right ones. In fact, it sometimes seemed like there were no right choices–just varying degrees of wrong.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

There wasn’t a big picture for me anymore.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Robert Knapp/Released)

I lost my sense of purpose.

I was actually embarrassed about these realizations for a long time. I was a Marine Corps Officer. I did alpha stuff for a living. There are literally thousands of movies made about my old job.

How could I fess up to being lost and stressed? It felt like I would be admitting defeat to an enemy that hundreds of millions of Americans deal with every single day. That’s not very alpha.

On top of the stress and state of general lostness, my sense of purpose was gone. I felt that my time in uniform had been helping the greater cause. I was helping people. At the very least, I was impacting my Marines’ lives and helping them become better every day.

It’s a lot harder to become excited about sending emails and filing TPS reports in the civilian world when it seems that the only people that are being helped are the company owners or stockholders. That’s not really a mission statement I can get behind.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

1 turns into 10 very quickly.

(Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash)

My health suffered.

I had spent the most testosterone-packed years of my life under the government’s thumb. I signed up at 17. For a decade, I was expected to be: sober, on time, awake at 0600, on-call 24/7, and never take more than 96 hours of liberty/leave.

As soon as I was let off the leash, I had some catching up to do. I slept when the sun was up and spent all night howling at the moon for months. It took a toll on my body; I gained weight, I lost energy, and I got sick a lot.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

My cornerstone was gone.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Worst of all, I stopped training.

Staying up late and spending all day stressing about “coulda, shoulda, wouldas” made me lose sight of the one thing I actually had control over. Me. More specifically, my training and diet.

This was the hardest-hitting of all my issues because it made everything else worse. It’s a lot harder to stay healthy if all you’re putting into your body is junk food and not moving.

Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Without it, I was living in a state of chronic stress.

I had the all too common reaction to physical training that I’ve seen dozens of times first hand. No more PFT…no more PT for me. The overwhelming majority of us do it. It’s like the military induces some traumatic memory of what exercise is supposed to make us feel like as well as how much we should hate ourselves for not working out.

It becomes a physical punishment when we train and a mental punishment when we don’t train.

Recognizing that it doesn’t have to be either one of those punishments was the key to me getting back in the gym.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Great advice.

(Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash)

Combating civilian stress with training.

I knew I had to make changes. I wasn’t in the position to come up with some grand overarching ethos that would cure all my woes. I needed something simple.

I started by making my training mandatory. I knew it made me feel better. Having stress hormones pumping through my veins 24/7 was the literal reason I felt like I was failing. Training hard helps relieve some of that cortisol and frees up the body to actually repair itself. That was the state I needed to get into regularly if I ever wanted to think clearly enough to actually turn my business into a success.

I started losing some of the extra fat I had put on, I got stronger, my performance increased, but the most important benefit of training hard was that I didn’t hate myself anymore.

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Getting your sense of purpose back.

My military service was a high-point in my life, but it isn’t the summit I need to plant my flag on. That’s much higher, and I have a lot more work to do. I was great then, but I’m greater every day that I decide to train and sink my teeth into another bite-sized piece of life.

The Marine Corps made it easy to feel like I was part of something bigger and helping people. Military service isn’t the only option in life to help other people though. By taking care of myself first, getting my training in line, and staying healthy, I’m able to take all the skills and discipline I gained from my service and directly apply them to my current mission.

I know that objectively my life looked fine, but internally, I felt like I was crumbling. Plenty of us live our whole lives with that feeling. I’m lucky that I managed to shift my perception after only six months of the vicious cycle.

Maybe it took you years.

Maybe you’re still in it.

Maybe you never served in the military, but you experienced a different transition that made you feel helpless, alone, and chronically stressed.

It doesn’t matter. Our perception is our reality. If your reality isn’t great, the only thing you can do is change your perception.

The best perception shifter I know of is…training hard.

If you aren’t training, start training.

If this resonates with you at all, I’d love to hear your story no matter what stage of the process you’re currently in. This link will take you to a survey that will allow you to do just that.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
MIGHTY FIT

Looking for community? 5 reasons to try CrossFit

“The military community just gets me. It’s like no other. Military spouses have a special bond. You don’t get it unless you’re a part of it.” I’m sure we’ve all heard these statements before, and some of us may have even said them. Yes, the military community is special, but there are other communities out there who do understand us, who do get us, who do have a similar sister/brotherhood.

One of those communities is CrossFit. Yes, please keep reading, I promise this is not all about the workout of the day and how much we can lift. CrossFit has a community; it’s one of the things people like most about it. The CrossFit community and the military community have so much in common that you find a lot of the same people in both. Here are some of the ways they’re the same.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

(DVIDS)

1. They’re immediately welcoming.

When you show up to a new duty station as a military spouse, you start making friends before the boxes are unpacked. Within the first week, you have a hairdresser, a babysitter, at least one invitation for Thanksgiving, and some emergency contacts. When you walk into a CrossFit gym, you receive a similar welcome. You’ll meet new people immediately, they’ll start asking you questions, figure out what else you have in common, what mutual friends you have and you’ll be part of the group before the workout starts.

2. They show up for each other.

In the military community, we show up for each other day in and day out. Your neighbor will snag your kids off the bus if you’re not home or show up with dinner that night you are going to lose it. CrossFit friends are the same. One CrossFit friend, who works as a labor and delivery nurse, showed up to deliver her fellow athlete’s baby because of the bond they created at the gym. Sounds a lot like that military spouse who drove you to the hospital and held the camera so your spouse could watch the delivery downrange, right?

3. They cheer you on, even when they’re suffering.

There is nothing as heartwarming as watching a military spouse who just sent their spouse off on deployment excitedly holding the hand of their friend who is welcoming their spouse home. Being happy for our friends is what makes friendships rock-solid. In CrossFit, we can do the same. We cheer on new personal bests while we beat ourselves up for not going harder. We celebrate wins as a team, always.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

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4. They hold you accountable.

Everyone needs that friend who tells you when you have spinach dip in your teeth, and you’ll find that friend in a CrossFit gym and the military spouse community. The one who texts you at 4:45 a.m. and says they’re picking you up on the way to the gym. It may even be the same one who comes over and sits you down on the couch with your six-month-old while they fold your laundry, so you finally rest. They know what you need, and they make sure you do it.

5. They are truly a family.

From coffee groups to impromptu backyard barbeques, military spouses cling to each other when they live far from family. They put up with the good, the bad, and the screaming toddler while you’re trying to finish book club. CrossFit friends do the same thing. They hold your toddler so you can finish the workout, they tell you when to take a break and rest, they support you in every part of your life. Family comes first, and if you are a military spouse who CrossFits, you have two awesome families.

We see this in CrossFit affiliates and among the top athletes. Just like we see military spouses rally around the brand-new spouse while simultaneously showing up for the seasoned spouse. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen athletes cross goals off their list while competing against each other on an international level. We’ve seen tears of joy and frustration. We’ve seen pranks and fun head-to-head matchups, even one that took place at the US Army Warrior Fitness Center at Fort Knox.

BLUF: Community is everything. Find your people. Hold on tight.

MIGHTY FIT

5 leg exercises you should never ever skip

In the fitness world, there are too many people who regularly skip one of the most essential workout sessions of the week: leg day. There are plenty of gym patrons that show up to the weight room looking a little too top-heavy.

It might not sound like a big deal at first but, over time, you’ll begin to look quite misshapen.


 

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Training your legs at least once a week burns a ton of calories, increases testosterone levels, and has been known to boost your libido.

So, that’s cool.

Although many of us dread having weakened, sore legs at the end of a brutal lower-limb workout, it’s best to just suck it up for a little bit and do what needs to be done. Before you start any leg workout, properly warm up with at least five to ten minutes of lower-impact cardio to get the blood pumping. Also, always remember to wear a lift-belt to properly protect your lower back when needed.

Let’s get started.

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Stiff-leg deadlift

With a manageable weight loaded on a straight bar, position your feet about shoulder-length apart and lift upward, nearly locking out your knees. Once your body is erected, slowly lower the weight back down towards the floor while keeping your legs straight.

Make sure you squeeze your glutes and leg muscles at the peak of the lift.

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Close stance dumbbell front squat

First, position your legs in a narrow stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Hold a properly weighted dumbbell in your hands at chest level, keeping your elbows to your sides. Then, begin the rep by lowering your hips in a squatting motion.

Once your thighs dip below your knees, slowly rise back up, remembering to squeeze your glutes and leg muscles throughout to achieve maximum burn.

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Front squats

Rest a straight bar atop your chest and keep your feet spread roughly shoulder-width apart. Next, lower your hips in a squatting motion while keeping your back straight. Once your upper leg is parallel with the deck, slowly rise back up to the starting position.

As always, remember to squeeze your glutes and leg muscles when you reach the lowest point of the movement.

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Leg press

After loading a manageable weight, sit into the recommendation position, unlock the machine, and allow the weights to press down toward your body. Once your knees get close to your chest, push the weight back up to its original position by extending your legs.

It’s that easy.

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Seated leg curl

After choosing a manageable weight, sit into the recommendation position, contract your hamstrings, and curl the weight downward. Squeeze your glutes and leg muscles as you successfully curl the weight downward and then return to the original position.

Now, go out and grow those freakin’ legs!

MIGHTY FIT

8 rules everyone should live by while in the gym, but don’t

Just like anywhere else, there rules in place in the gym to protect both patrons and staff. Some common rules include no dropping weights on the floor, no using chalk while deadlifting, and, most importantly, work hard or go home.


These written rules are set in stone, but there are a few others you won’t find taped to a wall or printed in a manual. These gym rules are best left unwritten, but you’ll quickly pick up on them.

To get all you newcomers up to speed, we’re going to plainly spell out these gym norms. You’re welcome, America!

No using the squat rack to do biceps curls

The squat rack is for working out your lower body — not your arms. Most gyms don’t have many squats rack in the first place, so it can be pretty infuriating to see someone repping their out biceps when all you want to do is get a solid lower-body workout in as your pre-game kicks in.

There is an exception to this unwritten rule: If the person doing bicep curls at the squat rack is expertly curling 135+ pounds, leave them alone.

Re-rack your plates

Most of the time, there are signs posted on the walls reminding you to re-rack your dumbbells. Unfortunately, those signs don’t specifically tell gym-goers that they should also re-rack any plates they’ve used after they’re done. Not only is it kind to set up the area to be used by the next person, it’s also a hidden workout — every calorie burned counts.

It’s a good habit to get into.

Wiping yourself down is good, too, but we meant the cleaning the workout equipment.

Wipe down your workout area

It’s simple: After you finish using a workout area, wipe the station down with a paper towel and some sanitation spray (typically provided by the gym). It’s not difficult and it doesn’t take long, and yet people seem to forget to do it all the freakin’ time.

Nursing a workout machine

Most gym patrons want to get in, get a solid workout, and move on. Nobody likes to wait for equipment to become available, especially when another person is “nursing” the machine and shows no signs of leaving.

That sh*t can get annoying.

Nailed it!

Overloading with too much weight

When somebody has an ego or is trying to show off, they tend to put as much weight on the bar as possible, secretly hoping that people are watching. Realistically, unless you’re a professional weightlifter or a fitness celebrity, nobody cares how much you bench.

In fact, when you load up the bar and lift improperly just to push out a bigger rep, you just look dumb.

Wear shin protectors or long socks while deadlifting

There’s nothing more disgusting than seeing spots of blood on the straight bar when you go to do a few deadlifts. This is evidence that the person who spilled blood probably had good form, but it’s still nasty to see… and nastier to touch.

Zero tolerance for body shaming

Seriously!

You have to be an asshole to make fun of someone who isn’t in good shape while you’re in the gym. Giving someone the side-eye for having bad form is one thing, but why snicker at someone trying to improve their lifestyle?

That’s just f*cked up.

Creepy!

No gawking

There are plenty of beautiful people working out at the gym. There are also a lot of attractive people outside of the gym. Continuously staring at someone as they workout gets kind of creepy after too long.

Try and refrain from staring.

In case you need some more tips, check out the video below.

MIGHTY FIT

The Air Force finally ditches the waist measurement test. Why?

In the military, being fit isn’t just for looks. Without meeting certain fitness standards, military personnel may not be able to do their jobs properly, putting themselves and others in danger. What those standards should be, exactly, has been up for debate for decades. Now, the Air Force is rethinking what it means to be fit for duty. In 2021, the universally despised “tape test” will finally be gone. 

Say goodbye to unfair fitness assessments, say hello to a stronger Air Force.

The US Air Force fitness test has historically been composed of three sections measuring cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, and body composition. While the cardio and strength sections are still under review, the body composition portion is getting a makeover. 

In the past, the test has relied on waist or neck measurements to estimate body fat percentages. Unfortunately, it’s not a very accurate assessment. Some airmen with muscular frames had very low body fat, but still failed the waist measurement test. Getting an accurate waist measurement is another challenge; measurements vary depending on the time of day, how much you ate for breakfast, and who is administering the test. 

Because of this, Airmen who didn’t pass were previously forced to reduce their measurements however they could in order to meet the testing standards; even when that meant losing muscle mass in the process. The goal here isn’t to make it easier to get away with lower levels of fitness. On the contrary, the entire point is to give a more accurate assessment of how fit an individual is, regardless of their individual build or body type. 

Upcoming tests, which are expected to resume in January 2021, will still include a 1.5 mile run, and one minute each of pushups and situps. Until new standards are defined, everyone will receive full marks for the waist measurement portion of the test. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., more changes are likely to come soon. 

A new, more holistic approach to fitness testing is on the horizon. 

While the pushups and running are still part of the standards for now, that may not always be the case. Ultimately, department leaders are working to redesign tests with a focus on long term fitness outcomes. Why train with dozens of pushups when planks are less damaging and just as effective? Brown is hoping for fewer overuse injuries, fewer ineffective testing measurements, and better health and fitness for future Airmen.

MIGHTY FIT

49ers star gives Super Bowl tickets to Gold Star family

San Francisco 49ers super star tight end George Kittle announced on Twitter that he gave two tickets to attend Super Bowl LIV to the family of fallen Army Sergeant Martin “Mick” LaMar.


3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

https://twitter.com/gkittle46/status/1220397761352200192?s=21

According to the Associated Press, LaMar joined the Marines and served for four years after graduating high school in 1986. Following a decade of working as an electrician and with an armored truck company, LaMar joined the Army in 2007 despite relatives’ efforts to talk him out of the decision. His brother-in-law Gilbert Alvarado told the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee that LaMar “wanted to go back.”

“He wanted to fight for his country,” Alvarado said.

According to Military Times, LaMar was assigned to 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas and died Jan. 15, 2011 in Mosul of wounds sustained when an Iraqi soldier from the unit with which he was training shot him with small-arms fire. Also killed was Sgt. Michael P. Bartley.

LaMar was a “great guy with a big heart” who loved his family, according to his brother-in-law, LaMar died on his wedding anniversary. His next leave was set to start Jan. 30, 2011, and he would have seen his three-month-old daughter for the first time then.

Kittle donated the two tickets to LaMar’s wife, Josephine, who will be bringing her and Mick’s son to the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 2 in Miami.

“The work I do with the USAA and the TAPS organization is something I really have kind of fallen in love with,” Kittle said (via the Sacramento Bee). “I have a lot of family in the military, so it’s something that I just respect, and the sacrifice that they give is the ultimate sacrifice. So if I can ever give back and make a family’s day or just make them smile a little bit, then I’ve just done a little part in their lives.”

The Salute to Service’s mission is to be a year-round effort to Honor, Empower and Connect our nation’s service members, veterans and their families. It is grounded in deep partnerships with nonprofits and organizations that support the military community in the United States and across the world. In partnership with USAA, the NFL expands Salute to Service off the field to honor and recognize our military by bringing players and team personnel to military bases, hosting thousands of service members at NFL games and events, and enlisting NFL fans to show military appreciation. Learn more about the Salute to Service and their NFL experience at Super Bowl LIV, here.

MIGHTY FIT

6 exercises you can only do with a battle buddy

Not every service member has access to a fitness center where he or she can get their daily pump. Whether you’re deployed on a small patrol base or out in the field training, not having access to workout facilities means troops have to get pretty clever in making up new exercises.

Many workouts are designed around using free weights, but, in their absence, you can to turn to an asset that you’ll never be without: your battle buddy.


Using a battle buddy during PT will help boost morale, pump up your muscles, and get you ready to take the fight to the bad guys. Try these:

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1. Battle-buddy push-ups

We can all do push-ups on our own when we want to. However, to make the exercise more difficult, call for the services of one of your brothers or sisters. They can add more weight to the push-up load.

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2. The human wheelbarrow

This exercise works out the same body parts as the push-up. One member of the team lifts up another (who is in the push-up position) by their legs and, in unison, they both begin walking forward.

One troop is simply walking as the other has to keep pace by quickly pumping their arms. After a while, this movement builds up those pectoral and shoulder muscles big-time.

This maneuver will also improve communication skills by helping troops practice relaying information during strenuous activity.

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3. Fireman squats

The military teaches us how to properly carry a wounded service member to safety on our backs. This process works your entire body hard as the wounded person’s weight bears down on your shoulders.

To best prepare for this type of movement, we do fireman squats. If the time comes where you actually need to carry the wounded, it’s best to be prepared.

This exercise is similar to the deadlifts and squats you do at the gym — except now have a person on your back.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

4. Buddy drags

Every Marine in the Corps performs this exercise several times a year with a buddy. The idea is to simulate dragging your wounded brother or sister to safety when a fireman carry isn’t an option. It’s also a great all-around bodybuilding exercise.

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5. Towel bicep curls

This is the same exercise you’ve done once or twice a week in the gym to buff out your arms. This time, however, involve a towel and your battle buddy.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

6. Buddy crunches

When a troop has no other option for keeping his feet static during a crunch, he calls upon a buddy to sit on them. The military is notorious for having sit-ups as a part of a regular fitness routine.

During our PFTs, it’s great to have a battle buddy who can only count in fours.

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s what happens to your body when you pass out in formation

There you are, marching in a perfectly structured formation when you hear the command to halt. Along with the rest of your platoon, you stop on a dime. The whole unit looks well-disciplined as each service member stands up straight, assuming the position of attention.

You stand proudly in front of all your friends and family with your chest out and eyes forward. Then, suddenly, something weird begins to happen. You start to feel weak and your legs give out. You fall directly to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

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The next thing you know, your eyes open, you see the medic, and you realize you just passed the f*ck out in front of everyone. How freakin’ embarrassing, right?

Well, you just experienced what medical professionals call “syncope,” which is the loss of consciousness due to decreased blood pressure. During bouts of hypotension (lowered blood pressure), our brains aren’t getting the oxygen or glucose they need, so it shuts down as it tries to recover.

So, why would someone pass out in formation? Well, it could be one of several happenings within the body.


Fainting can be a reaction to intense stress triggers, like seeing something crazy, being exposed to heat, or standing for long periods of time. This is called a vasovagal syncope, and it occurs when the part of your brain that governs heart rate malfunctions in response to an external trigger. So, if you’re standing completely still in the heat for long enough and you start to feel lightheaded, this might be what’s happening behind the scenes.

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A sudden change of position may also be to blame. Our blood vessels change width to make sure every part of our body is getting the supply it needs. Sometimes, however, our vessels can’t keep up with the rapid changes to the body’s position. If you’re laying or sitting down, our heart rates are low. If we then quickly stand, our hearts have to speed themselves up in mere moments — sending blood rushing to the brain. This can cause momentary lightheadedness — and, in extreme cases, you might pass out.

Hunger may also be a factor in why your body shuts down. Your brain needs glucose to function — and glucose comes from eating. So, remember to snack before you take on those high-impact activities you like to do on the weekends.

Lastly, not properly hydrating is also to blame. Without enough water, your blood becomes thicker than usual. This causes your heart to work overtime to supply your brain with the oxygen and glucose it continually needs to sustain itself.

In general, some people are prone to passing out due to poor circulation while others may sometimes experience episodes of vasovagal syncopes. Unless injured by the fall, typically, no treatment is required. Most cases of syncope only last a few seconds, but if this event begins to happen more frequently, that person might have a cardiac condition.

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So, if you find yourself often passing out often, book an appointment with your doctor soon.

MIGHTY FIT

Is cold weather training good for your immune system?

Freakin’ Russia, man! That country is everywhere in the news these days. Whether it be unexplained deaths of Putin’s opposition, election meddling, weird political memes, or @lookatthisRussian they seem to be everywhere.

Because of this borderline second Cold War, the U.S. military has taken a renewed interest in cold-weather training. Russia is a cold place, and a foreseen conflict will probably occur, at least partially in the Arctic Circle. Not because it’s a “Cold” war, read a textbook!


With the potential that you may end up in some type of cold weather environment either in training or on an Op, it’s a good idea to take a look at what that exposure to the frigid cold may have on your body and mind.

You may have heard of cold shock proteins, you may have even dabbled with a cold shower or some Wim Hof breathing. Let me spare you the Ice Man’s Polish accent and just get to the good things that cold exposure is doing to your body.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Sgt. Bruce Allen, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, proceeds to the rally point after completing an airborne training jump at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, Alaska, in January 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson Public Affairs)

Strengthens the immune system

Cold exposure three times a week for six weeks actually increases the number of immune cells that you have. Of course, that’s not the only magic combination of exposure that you have to do, it’s just what’s been tested.

Winter swimmers have some insane immune systems. It used to be just them bragging, but some real research has backed them up. It appears the cold water is making these people superhuman.

But that’s not the only benefit to cold exposure. There are a lot more ways that cold exposure can help you maximize your training returns.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

A Soldier prepares to climb out of a hole cut into an ice-covered Big Sandy Lake after jumping in the water as part of cold-water immersion training for Class 19-01 of the Cold-Weather Operations Course on Dec. 13, 2018, at Fort McCoy, Wis.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis)

Improved mood

Depressed? Angry? Outlook grim? Hop in an icy lake; it may be just the thing you need to shake your funk.

When you expose yourself to the cold, your body releases this hormone called norepinephrine (AKA noradrenaline) to constrict your blood vessels. This decreases the amount of heat you lose from your blood by decreasing the surface area of the blood.

There are a few side benefits to norepinephrine, one of which being that it also functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain that helps increase vigilance, attention, and mood.

Makes sense why a cold shower wakes you up!

If you’re a fan of hormones and neurotransmitters, check out how they impact your appetite in my free Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Cold Weather Leaders Course 19-004 students fire from the standing supported position at the Northern Warfare Training Center’s Black Rapids Training Site during the 10-kilometer biathlon March 12, 2019.

(Army photo/John Pennell)

Fixes your brain

Cold shock proteins are these things that form when you experience extreme amounts of cold exposure. They tend to be rather awesome for you. This is where some of the real hype about cold exposure comes from.

Scientists have even found that in mice, cold exposure results in this cold shock protein called RBM3.

If this seems questionable to you, check this out to see how these types of experiments actually work.

RBM3 appears to fix lost connections in the brain!

If you at all worry about dementia or just losing your mental edge, cold exposure should be on your to-do list.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

In addition to cold-water immersion training, students were trained on a variety of cold-weather subjects, including skiing and snowshoe training as well as how to use ahkio sleds and other gear.

(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)

Inflammation management

Inflammation is the key driver in the aging process, meaning the more you can manage unnecessary inflammation, the more likely you are to slow the aging process.

The aging process includes a lot more than just developing wrinkles. Things like joint degeneration, memory loss, slower recovery times, digestive efficiency are all included in the aging process. Basically, anytime something stops working the way you want it to, that’s the aging process.

Inflammation occurs when we hurt ourselves like a swollen joint. Inflammation also occurs from stress. If you’re always stressed, you’re always experiencing increased amounts of inflammation. Remember, more inflammation means more aging.

To help the physical symptoms of inflammation, try some cold exposure like cold water immersion or cryotherapy.

The cause of your chronic stress will take more effort; some simulated life-threatening danger may help, also meditation is a great help.
How you burn more fat through COLD EXPOSURE

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Burns more fat

The best for last. It appears that cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat we have. Brown fat is fat that is much more active than other fat tissue. The browner, fat tissue is, the more active it is because of the increased number of mitochondria that it has.

More active fat cells help us warm our bodies in cold environments through what’s called non-shivering thermogenesis. Basically, your body heats up without shivering. The amount of heat that you produce from this effect requires energy to conduct, AKA calories.

More brown fat means you have a higher metabolism. A higher metabolism while maintaining the same amount of food you normally eat is basically the same thing as going on a diet. That’s science for you.

Here’s some more science on other ways to burn fat!Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember

Cold exposure is another tool you should keep in your toolkit to keep yourself in the fight. That being said, it won’t make up for missed training sessions or a shitty diet. If you want to learn how to maximize cold exposure, diet, or your training, shoot me an email at michael@composurefitness.com.

Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook to keep this conversation alive!

I’m also making a push to keep the conversation going over at the Mighty Fit Facebook Group. If you haven’t yet joined the group, do so. It’s where I spend the most time answering questions and helping people get the most out of their training.

MIGHTY FIT

This Army vet started a supplement company dedicated to education

Before John Klipstein joined the Army, he smoked a pack a day and his PT test run time was roughly 23 minutes — which accounts for the time spent throwing up on the side of the track. The military turned that around. The newly-minted 13B found a love for fitness and pushing his body to the limit. After leaving the military, he developed a line of supplements to help others do the same — safely.


During his first deployment, Klipstein and his friends handled the stress by working out. In his time at the gym, he noticed a lot of soldiers taking a lot of different supplements — some of which could be found on the military’s banned supplement list. Klipstein was interested in why those expensive jugs of pre-workout were confiscated — what exactly their ingredients were.

By the time his second deployment rolled around, he was making his own pre-workout using ingredients he ordered himself. Now that he was in the role of squad leader, it was his job to confiscate banned substances. He used the opportunity to educate his troops on the dangers of those banned ingredients. Sadly, shortly after his deployment ended, an NCO in their unit died during a five-mile run. The cause was cardiac arrest — caused by a pre-workout supplement.

“This happens all the time in the military,” Klipstein says. “Heavy stimulants mixed with extreme heat and intense training can be very dangerous and soldiers end up dying from it.”

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Klipstein and his platoon. He’s the one smiling in the center.
(Courtesy of John Klipstein)

“Sometimes, supplements may be effective but have questionable safety profiles.” says Jennifer Campbell, an Army veteran, Certified Personal Trainer, and Master of Science in Nutrition Education. “Remember Hydroxycut back in the early 2000s? Its active ingredient was Ephedra, which was banned by the FDA in 2004.”

So, when Klipstein started UXO Supplements after leaving the Army, he made it UXO’s mission and vision to provide safe and effective formulas for supplements while educating people on how to use them the right way.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Klipstein in one of many educational videos on the UXO blog.

“With UXO you get clean energy with clinical amounts of researched and proven ingredients” he says. “All products are manufactured in an FDA approved lab, so you will not find any banned substances. In fact, we have all products 3rd-party tested before they hit the shelves to ensure they are safe for our consumers.”

“Knowledge of a supplement’s legality, safety, purity, and effectiveness is critical,” Campbell says. “Unlike food, the FDA does not review supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market.”

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
UXO has developed a full line of safe supplements.

Klipstein left the Army as an E6 promotable after herniating two discs and banging up his knee but UXO’s other business partner remains in the service, keeping up with the fitness trends that affect the military the most. Even though John Klipstein isn’t rucking up and down mountains and patrolling villages on maneuver missions anymore, he’s still working to keep himself — and his veteran-owned business — in shape and taking care of his brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

“The most important thing about being a vet-owned business is giving back to the veteran community,” Klipstein says. “We do it with a quality product and solid education. We also offer them a 25 percent discount.”

Just use the coupon code MILSUPPS25 at when checking out at UXOSupplements.com. He also invites the military-veteran community to tell him what they think of his products.

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Klipstein talks about pros and cons of multivitamins on the UXO blog

Fitness and Nutrition expert Jennifer Campbell also adds that some supplement manufacturers aim to pursue the most inexpensive raw material from suppliers that will pass under the given certificate of analysis to minimize the cost of goods. She backs Klipstein’s insistence on supplement education.

“Do your research,” she says.

John Klipstein isn’t about to let another soldier fall to poor or unethical supplements. He’s happy to post his ingredients — and explain how lesser supplements are trying to be deceptive with their ingredient lists. He, like Campbell, warns of things like “proprietary blends” and implores supplement seekers to find third-party reviewed ingredients in the products they purchase.

UXO products are tasty and provide the energy and recovery they promise. The military discount is great because it makes the products extremely affordable. On top of that, before purchasing, UXO Supplements tells you everything you need to know about the type of product you’re buying as well as the formulation and purpose of the specific item you’re interested in. It’s a great intro to workout supplements, from start to finish.

Klipstein wants all his clients to be healthy, happy, and of course, repeat customers. The UXO Blog says it all.

“There is nothing better than receiving positive feedback from veterans and athletes alike. Our goal is to deliver a great product with an amazing taste. We will never sacrifice our values or our quality to try and make a quick dollar.”

Articles

Here’s how to beat fatigue in your next PT test

3 training basics every soldier needs to remember
Private First Class Shawndel Hunter, Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, does a pushup at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Tyler Viglione


When taking a physical fitness test (PFT), you may recall giving all you have to max out the pushups, only to stop half-way up, shaking violently. No matter how hard you try in the next few seconds of the test, you are not going to get another pushup. That is muscle fatigue.

Also read: A retired Navy SEAL commander breaks down his morning fitness routine that starts at 4:30

Here is a question about how to avoid muscle fatigue during fitness tests.

Stew – it does not matter on what exercise I am on, I can never keep going until the entire two minutes of the PFT is complete. On a good day, I might manage 1:30 of pushups or situps. I usually just shake and drop to my knees uncontrollably. Don’t even ask how my bad days look. I would really like to score better on the PT test. I am a runner so the 1.5 mile run in 7 min mile pace is no problem. Jake

Jake – There are a few things that could be contributing to your fatigue or lack of muscle endurance (aka stamina) during the pushups and sit-up test.

1. Lack of Training

You need to up your training volume. I highly recommend doing pushups, sit-ups, pullups, and other core exercise (planks, etc.) three days a week. For example, if you have never done 100 pushups or sit-ups in an entire workout, you will never get 100 reps in two minutes. Try to build up over time to 2-3 times your goal maximum score during a workout. For instance, if your goal pushups max is 50 in 2 minutes, shoot for 100-150 during a normal workout. (See workout ideas for every OTHER day: PT Pyramid, PT SuperSet, Max Rep Sets). Also, stretch out your sets to 1-2 minutes in length on Max Rep Set Days.

2. Pace Yourself

Too many times people start out way too fast on these exercises only to burn out in the first minute. Pacing your running makes sense to you, right? You do not start the run in a sprint of your first lap (1/4 mile) — you have a set pace. The same holds true for exercises like sit-ups. Too many people start off in the first 30 seconds getting 30-35 sit-ups and fail to match that in the next 1:30. If you are stuck at 60 due to this, you can increase your score near overnight by dropping your pace to 20 reps in the first 30 seconds and push closer to 80 reps in 2 minutes. For pushups — that is a different animal, as you have gravity slowly eating away at your reps the slower you go. I recommend you let gravity take you down and exert fast on the up movement. Don’t waste energy going down when gravity will do that for free. Keep working your pace in the workouts and you will find that you have the stamina to go the full 2 minutes after a few weeks.

3. Fuel and Fatigue

Half of fatigue is in your mind, as your brain will tell you that you are finished before you really are. The other half of fatigue is in your fuel. Did you eat well the day before or the morning of the fitness test? Are you hydrated? Having your body well fueled will help you with PT tests — that means nutritious foods. However, when you start to shake at the end of your pushup timed set, you are going to waste a lot of energy fast, as that is a central nervous system breakdown (or the beginning of it). It is actually best to call it quits and not try to get that last pushup in, versus staying there and shaking for 10-15 seconds. You have to remember that you still have to do the 1.5 mile run next, and you will need that energy your body just dumped failing at pushups.

Practice taking the fitness test once every week or two just so you can also mentally say to yourself, “this is just another workout.” Getting rid of some of the PFT Anxiety might help you perform a little better as well. Eat well and workout regularly, so that 1-2 minute sets become easy instead of an impossibility. Check out the PFT Bible if you are interested in a program that is specifically designed for the most common PFT in the world.

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles onMilitary.com’s Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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