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.
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
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.
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.
Got a water bottle you’re trying to keep cold? This one holds up just as well on the homefront as it does on deployment. Soak a sock in some cold water before you head out, and then toss a water bottle in it. It’ll help keep it cooler for longer. Sure, it might make the outside of the bottle smell like a McDonald’s Playplace, but if it keeps you hydrated—it’s worth it. Which brings us to point number two…
The old adage “if you’re thirsty then you’re already dehydrated” is a wise one to live by this summer. Soldiers hauling 60 pounds of gear in 90 degree weather (while blanketed in insulated cammies) can’t stay cool—their only option is to drink an assload of water continually throughout the day. It’s usually recommended to drink 1 1/2 quarts of water per hour to avoid “heat injuries” such as heat stroke. Your pee shouldn’t be the color of a Lakers jersey. It should be the color of, uhh, nothing.
Look, if you had… one shot, or one opportunity, to make your patio a little cooler outside, would you canopy it, or let it spit-fry? Your palms are sweaty. Sure, that’s understandable. Your knees are weak (from heat), and your arms are heavy (also from heat). If there’s vomit on your sweater already, you are suffering from heatstroke and should contact medical services immediately. Don’t be nervous, just be calm and ready. Sometimes a little bit of shade, also known as slim shady, goes a long way.
Everyone knows that you can hit an ice bath to drastically regulate your body temperature. However, if you’re too hot, the extreme change in body temperature can actually send you into shock. To mitigate this risk, some on-base soldiers will roll up their sleeves and dunk their arms into an ice bucket (sometimes called an “Arm Immersion Kit” by higher-ups with too much time on their hands) full of water and allow them to soak until their blood temperature drops a bit.
Jury rig a ghetto A/C unit
What you see before you is the latest innovation in hood engineering. Many a budget-restricted renter has pulled off a MacGuyver A/C attempt, but none succeeded like this anonymous Twitter user. Put this baby on full blast, grab a cheap beer from the back of your (roommate’s) fridge, sit in your inflatable mini kids pool (that you definitely didn’t steal from your nephew’s birthday), and enjoy a freezing blast that rivals the arctic winds.
If you’re enlisted, this sh*t is basically free sunblock. This one won’t help keep you cool, necessarily, but it will protect your skin from harmful UV rays and prevent sunburn. Not to mention it can make you look like an intimidating linebacker, an overrated 60s rock guitarist, or Arnold Schwarzenegger—depending on how you apply it.
There are a lot of reasons for back pain. Many of them are real, and nearly all of them are 100% treatable without a doctor.
What I’m giving you here is the exact protocol you need to be doing in order to relieve your low back pain once and for all.
Whether it’s your disc, your muscles, your tendons, your actual spine, or some combination of them all, there is still plenty you can do to treat your pain yourself.
This is about taking control and responsibility of your body. You’re a Grown Ass Human who shouldn’t be dependent on someone else to treat your issues.
I’m gonna give you exactly what you need in 5 simple steps that you can do every morning with nothing but your body weight and those little eye crusties still hanging out on the corner of your ocular cavity.
“Low Back” Pain Morning Routine | 30 DAYS TO PAIN FREE
When you walk around, you have a tendency to ‘hang out’ in one of these positions.
If you’re overly anteriorly tilted, your pelvis is “facing forward.” This usually means you have weak glutes, weak abs, and tight hip flexors.
If you’re posteriorly tilted, your pelvis is “facing backward” or level (slight forward/anterior tilt is considered normal). This can mean that you have tight glutes, tight abs, kyphotic posture (a rounded upper back), or all three. I’ll get into kyphosis in another article. For now, this article on posture should satisfy your kyphotic curiosity.
BUT, for most people, these words mean nothing. Maybe you’re one of those people. That’s what this first ‘exercise’ is all about: building awareness between your mind and your hips.
It’s especially easy because you can just crawl out of your bed on your hands and knees and never have to actually stand up. This is a great bonus for those of you who are especially lazy in the morning.
A cat/cow sequence is how we are going to achieve that awareness. Check out the video for exactly how to flow through cat/cow.
Perform the sequence for 1-2 minutes or until you feel aware, and your hips are “awake” daily.
JC is a savior for many of us in the fitness industry. I’m talking about Jeff Cavalier over at Athlean X, of course. He has consistently put out amazing high-quality fitness information for years now. He is one of the few Fitness Youtubers that is truly above reproach. I aspire to be like him.
Down to low back pain business…
JC has provided us with an exercise that is going to provide you with some immediate relief. By starting each morning with the JC Low Back Relief Sequence (JCLBRS for you military nerds that love acronyms), you’re going to get pain free and gain more awareness.
Specifically awareness of how to use your glute medius, which is the weak glute causing your low back to take the brunt of your weight and in turn, causing pain.
Time to take that newfound glute, hip, and low back awareness and apply it to some movement.
Elevated bridges are the perfect way to do just that. You’re going to be teaching your glute medius how to operate under a horizontal load (like what happens when you walk, run, or hike). You’re also going to learn to properly concentrically contract your spinal erectors, without hyper extending them. Lastly, you’re going to train how to posteriorly tilt your pelvis to get a maximum contraction in your posterior chain.
Flutter Kicks rely heavily on engagement from the hip flexors. AVOID them and other exercises like crunches and sit-ups if you have tight hip flexors and/or low back pain.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)
Step 4; Core strength: Side plank
Time to work your abs. Why? Because that’s how you attract a mate. Everyone knows that core definition is the singular way that most people choose a life partner, so of course, we need to do them every morning.
The real trick here is to choose an exercise that’s great for your core stability and building a shredded six-pack without working your already overactive hip flexors and potentially neutralizing the effect of the previous three steps. So don’t do the crunches from your PT test.
You’re going to do that with the side plank. But a real side plank, not that shit I see checked-out field grade officers doing during PT (looks like they’re just hanging out waiting for retirement.)
Watch the video for exact form cues. You’re going to:
keep your hips stacked,
keep your abs actively flexed by shortening the distance between your lowest rib and the top of your hips, this will also keep your spine in a neutral position
Keep your hips neutral/slightly posteriorly tilted by keeping your glutes engaged.
BONUS: abduct your top leg AKA lift your leg for additional core stress and some more glute medius work.
Perform 1-2 sets of 75% effort on both sides each morning. This is about training proper movement and muscular engagement, by staying at the 75% effort threshold you won’t push so hard that your form breaks down and potentially makes your low back issues worse.)
(Courtesy photo by the Indian Army)
Step 5: Spinal decompression: Hanging out
Time for some relief. Hang from your pull up bar or a door frame and decompress your spine.
This is something you should do whenever you have a chance. We spend all day with gravity compressing our spine together. Your low back ends up taking most of that pressure. By decompressing at the end, you are taking an opportunity to “reset” your spine each day into the proper posture and form that you just spent the last 5 minutes training.
Perform this for 1-2 sets of a max hold. (You’ll get some bonus grip strength work here as well.)
You need to train in what you want to be good at… that includes not being in pain.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nathaniel Stout)
When the results roll in.
You’ll start to feel relief almost immediately, but it’s going to take some time for all your pain to dissipate. That’s why this routine should be part of your life for the rest of your life. Consistency is key here.
We use our bodies every day, so we also need to treat/correct our bodies every day. That’s all this is.
If you want to feel something you’ve never felt before (like pain relief), you need to do something you’ve never done before.
Send me a message anytime to let me know how this morning routine is working to help relieve your low back pain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to join the Mighty Fit FB Group to surround yourself around like-minded people who also want to get strong, lean, and pain-free.
It’s proven that working out three to five times a weeks increases morale, decreases waistlines, and can even help save money in medical bills over time.
Nowadays, going to the gym can be a freakin’ hassle. You have to get into the car, drive through traffic, fight off some of the other gym patrons for time on the machines, and hope you don’t get sick from all the bacteria that covers the various plastic workout benches.
To add to that, many military and civilian gyms have a lot of restrictions against doing awesome reasonable things like taking your shirt off or grunting while lifting heavy loads. Let’s face it, when we deploy to a combat zone, we usually grunt as loud as we want to — for motivation — and we work out without our shirts. It shows off the “guns.”
Since many veterans want the freedom of doing whatever the f*ck they want to do during their workouts, the idea of working out at a judge-free area, like at home, is catching on within the fitness world. Many people have decided to build home gyms to combat the unique crowd that tends to flock to the gym just to text message their friend while sitting on the flat bench.
That sh*t gets annoying.
So here’s the basic breakdown of what you need in any home gym.
Aerobic activity is the most critical type of exercises on the planet. It has been clinically proven to boost brain function and stimulate good heart health. Now, you don’t have to purchase a treadmill because you can run outside all you want for free.
The upside to buying a quality treadmill is that it’s specialized belt system can protect your knees from injury. Running is considered one of the most high-impact activities our bodies can be put through, and we want to protect our lower body joints.
Squat rack with straight bar mounts
This is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you’ll find it any gym and has several practical uses. Since there are several types of squat racks to choose from, you’ll want to find one that fits your budget and contains the various physical components you’ll need for your specific workouts.
To get the most out of your squat rack, look for one that has adjustable straight bar mounts. This means you can do both leg squats and bench press without having to purchase two separate stations. This will save you space in your home gym (and money — you’re welcome).
The multi-angle workout bench.
Multi-angle workout bench
You know when you walk into the gym, and you see a variety of workout benches scattered throughout the facility? In a home gym, you need to find a way to get all the various versions of those benches to hit all the angles of your chest. It’s a good thing the bright minds in the fitness industry have already combined a condensed version of the workout bench with a multi-angle one.
These multi-angle benches can move from a 17-degree decline to 90-degree incline in seconds. Having this piece of equipment will save you time and space in your home gym.
This machine is one of the most famous pieces of equipment you can find in any gym. As long as you have enough headroom to house this tall standing workout station, you can work your back, triceps, and lower chest, and get a complete ab workout.
It’s worth having if you can fit it.
A television set
We know this isn’t a piece of workout equipment. However, watching TV during a workout can take your mind off the fact that you’re working out if you’re not a fan of the activity. On a positive note, watching TV doing a workout can motivate you if you see an attractive person on the screen and you want to look like them one day.
Bowflex selectTech 552
Would you rather have a few dozen dumbbells laying around, or have a set of multi-weight ones taking up a small percentage of space in your garage or spare bedroom? The upside to having these multi-weight dumbbells is you can go from five-pounds to 55-pounds just by turning a dial.
The downside is, these weights aren’t a tough as standard dumbbells. Meaning, after you finish your set, you don’t want to drop these weights on the floor as they work off of a gear system and the plates could fall off. If you can avoid this issue, the weights will last you for years.
The gym is full of people of every age, race, and religion, all of whom have their own reasons for being there. It’s a place where people can build themselves up, both mentally and physically, in a positive environment. Unfortunately, there’s a select few who show up with other things on their minds.
These “gym skunks” usually show up to hit the weights, but then quickly decide to do and say stupid sh*t, leaving people asking themselves, “why even show up?”
Avoid these 6 things to save yourself from being one of those skunks.
Circuit training outside of circuit training sessions
Circuit training is a workout method in which you conduct a series of exercises, back-to-back, in a specific and dedicated area. One biggest pains in the ass is when you’re about to use a machine or bench and somebody rushes over from the other side of the gym to let you know they’re using that machine.
Unless the gym is specifically dedicated to circuit training, this kind of behavior boils down to hogging machines that you aren’t even currently using.
Some of the most beautifully fit people show up to the gym to get their daily workouts in. Sure, some people like to turn heads — they’ve worked hard on their bodies and the ego boost is nice. So, by all means, we give you the blessing to look their way and (politely) admire.
However, it’s important to respect that some gals or guys go to specific lengths to not attract your pervy eyes. For example, if someone’s wearing a baseball cap down low to avoid eye contact, do them a favor and leave them alone.
“You should really think about modifying your technique.”
We’ve seen this happen countless times: Someone giving workout tips to a person who isn’t seeking advice. It’s even funnier when the person handing out tips is out of shape.
A visit to the gym shouldn’t turn into a photo shoot. Those who attend the gym on a daily basis and see amateur models snapping selfies in the mirror make this face:
Being an equipment vulture
We understand that there are people who want to workout and get out of the gym in a timely manner. This means finding those open machines and bench areas to push out those reps. Unfortunately, those areas might not be available when you want them, so you’ll have to wait for an extra minute or two.
Instead of giving your fellow gym patron time to finish their exercise, some hang around like a freakin’ vulture, waiting to swoop in the moment you’re done.
We get that you want to work on your posing routine in front of the mirror. Honestly, we can respect it, even more so when you have a competition coming up.
However, there’s no need to do it in the middle of the gym where everyone can see you. Most gyms have rooms where they teach classes and in those areas, they have mirrors where you can work on your posing. Going shirtless and posing in front of people who may have issues with their bodies is a f*cked up way to drive them away from their fitness goals.
The trap bar deadlift isn’t a true deadlift. It’s somewhere between a squat and a deadlift. As a hip hinge stickler. it’s hard to watch just about every video I’ve seen of soldiers conducting this movement. There’s too much knee flexion most of the time.
The trap bar deadlift DOES use more knee flexion than a traditional deadlift. BUT it doesn’t need all the hip flexion you guys are giving it.
The reason there’s more knee flexion is because the handles on the trap bar are closer to your center of gravity than the bar is during a conventional deadlift. This means you don’t need to hip hinge as far forward with a trap bar.
But you still need to hinge.
You should only be bending at your knees, and hips for that matter, as far as you have to in order to reach the ground. If any part of your body is moving, but the bar isn’t, you’re wrong.
It’s a little bit like a squat and a little bit like a deadlift.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)
It’s not a true squat
This may seem like a weird statement. It’s called a deadlift, not a squat so obviously, the trap bar deadlift isn’t a true squat. Hear me out though.
Lower body movements are generally broken into two main groups:
Knee dominant movements
Hip dominant movements
The king hip dominant movement is the deadlift. The king knee dominant movement is the squat. The trap bar deadlift isn’t wholly a hip hinge like the conventional deadlift, and it isn’t wholly knee dominant like the back squat.
It’s somewhere in between the two.
Which if we’re being honest is how you should ideally pick something up. The trap bar deadlift assumes that you’re getting the weight as close to your center of gravity as possible, and you’re recruiting the most amount of muscle as possible (quads, hamstrings, and glutes).
Your hips should be lower and your knee angle should be smaller.
SO…It’s a hybrid
This is actually good. It means you can get more quad involved in the movement than a conventional deadlift. It also means you can get more hamstring involved than a traditional squat. This means you can be stronger in the trap bar deadlift…if you train for it properly with correct form.
The handcuff hinge is the go-to movement to teach a hip hinge. We are taught by people who don’t know what they’re talking about to fear lifting with our hips, often because lifting with the hips is confused with lifting with the back.
Your hips AKA your hamstrings and glutes can be the strongest muscles in your body if you train them using hip hinge movements like the deadlift or good mornings.
Use the handcuff hinge to help you commit the hip hinge pattern to your neural matrix. Check out the video above for specifics on how to perform it.
This is a really basic way to prep for this test.
(I made this.)
How to train: 3 MONTH PLAN
Because the trap bar deadlift is a hybrid between the squat and the deadlift, it’s super easy to train for. You should simply break up your strength days into three main lower-body movements. It can look something like this:
Monday: Conventional or Sumo Deadlift 3 sets of 3-10 reps at RPE 8
Wednesday: Back Squat 3 sets of 3-10 reps at RPE 8
Friday: Trap bar Deadlift 3 sets of 3-10
Your rep scheme should change every 4-6 weeks. Let’s say your ACFT is Jan. 1, I would break up your rep scheme to something like this leading up to the event.
Oct 7- Nov. 2: Sets of 10 reps
Nov. 3-30: Sets of 6 reps
Dec. 1-28; Sets of 3 reps
You’re busy; don’t waste your time doing Alternate Staggered Squat Jumps or Forward Lunges. They lack the ability to load heavy enough and are unilateral movements that require a balance component that’s completely irrelevant to the trap bar deadlift. If you have a plan that uses these movements, throw it in the garbage.
Being strong doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cool.
This article is intended to give you some basic information on the trap bar deadlift. It is by no means exhaustive. Respond in the comments of this article on Facebook or send me a direct message at email@example.com with your sticking points, comments, or concerns on the trap bar deadlift.
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.
For years, men and women have stepped into the gym looking to lift to gain some extra muscle — which is awesome. We, the dedicated, alternate between “arm day” and “chest day” in a never-ending quest to keep our bodies guessing, avoiding that awful “plateau effect.”
Despite its importance, however, many of us dread “leg day.” You should never neglect your lower body strength, but it’s harder to find the motivation to work on something that isn’t glamorous. Thankfully, if you want to bulk the entire body up at the same time, there’s one particular exercise that’ll do the trick: the deadlift.
The deadlift gets a bad rap in the gym world. Many amateur lifters perform exercise using lousy form or simply too much damn weight and end up injuring themselves. The fact is, there are many ways to screw this movement up — and only one way to do it right. Use these tips to get the most out of each massive rep.
Proper foot positioning depends on the individual and how much power they can generate. However, in general, most people want to stand with their feet about shoulder-width apart, if not just a tiny bit wider. Keeping your feet too close together lowers your center of gravity and knocks you off balance.
We don’t want that.
A solid footing will better ensure you lift properly.
After putting on a lifting belt, many people wrap their hands around the bar in opposing positions — one palm facing out and one palm facing in. Others take a simpler route and lift with both palms inward. What’s most important here is to maintain a symmetric angle with both arms. Having one arm flared out more than the other can result in an injury — our bodies weren’t meant to carry more weight on one side than the other.
Most people position their hands just outside of their knees to maintain symmetry. However, different types of deadlifts require different hand placements. For starters, keep your hands in the standard position until you get comfortable.
A rounded back will probably result in a sore back.
Your feet are set, your grip is firm, and you’re ready to do the lift. Give the weight an initial tug upward and straighten out your back. As your rise up into the lock-out position, the weighed bar should just about scrape your shins. If the bar is more than an inch or two away from your front leg, it’s not correctly positioned and you’re risking injury. Remember, the closer the better.
As part of the crazy world of the military, our schedules are freakin’ hectic. We have a boatload of responsibilities to complete daily and, after everything’s done, we have to try and carve out time to get a solid workout in. That sh*t isn’t easy, but some types of exercise are easier to fit into a busy schedule than others.
So, to complement troops’ sh*tty schedules, some masterminds developed a workout technique called high-intensity interval training that will quickly get your heart pumping. The concept is simple, but effective: you perform short bursts of strenuous activity and sneak in even shorter periods of rest between.
Using this technique, trainers have come up with a 7-minute exercise routine that can be done virtually anywhere using just your body weight, a wall, and a standing platform. You’ll do 12 different exercises for 30 seconds each and reward yourself with 10 seconds of rest between each set. Although you don’t have to do the following motions in any particular order, we recommend that you start from the top with side straddle hops to get your blood pumping.
Let’s go over the routine:
First exercise: side straddle hops for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Wall sit for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Next exercise: push ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Pretty sure you did this exercise in high school. Sit-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Platform (or chair) step-ups for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Side planks for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Air squats for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Triceps dips for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Planking for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Running in place for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Lunges for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
Last exercise. Push up with side plank for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds.
After you complete the first round, if you’ve got more time and energy in the tank, then do another.
If you can’t find time to do at least one round of this exercise routine, you might want to rethink your lifestyle…
In terms of physique goals, many men are looking to lean out everywhere while adding bulk to their arms to fill out their sleeves. It’s what a lot of us like to call, “having tickets to the gun show.” Many of us balk at doing cable exercises instead of lifting weights, but it’s not either or.
The biceps are composed of two muscles: the long and short heads. To bulk them up fully, you’ll also need to include some work on the triceps as well. This vital muscle group is made up of the lateral, medial, and long heads.
Now, we all know that using dumbbells is a great way to add size your arms, but your body will adjust to those same exercises after a time, and you’ll notice your results start to plateau. So, many gym professional move over to the cable machines to mix things up and continue to grow those massive arms.
If you’re ready to bulk up those biceps and triceps, here’re a few cable exercises you should try.
While facing the cable machine’s pulley system, grip the straight bar with your palms facing down. Next, take a step backward while keeping your back straight. Your elbows should remain close to your body throughout the movement.
Once you’re ready, use your triceps to push the bar downward until your arms are fully extended, but don’t lock your elbows. Hold at the peak of the rep and feel the tension in your triceps for a brief moment before slowly raising the bar back up.
While facing the cable machine, pick up and grip the EZ-curl bar with your palms facing up. Keeping your elbows down by your side, lift against the resistance in a curling motion, pulling the bar toward your chest while squeezing your biceps. At the peak of the movement, hold that squeeze for a second before slowly lowering the bar.
While facing away from the cable machine, hold the ends of the rope in your hands above your head and keep your elbows pointed upward. As you begin the rep, move the rope ends outward as you extend your triceps. Stop the rep just locking out your elbows, hold weight in place for a moment, and then return the rope to its starting point.
These are similar to dumbbells hammer curls. Grab onto the ends of the extension rope, stand up straight, and take a small step backward. Next, do a controlled hammer curl up and, as always, squeeze those biceps at the peak of the rep before slowly lowering the rope back to the original position.
This is a slightly unconventional arm-strengthening exercise. Unlike the others, you lay flat on your back with your feet positioned on the floor for extra stability. So, grab on to the straight or EZ-curl bar with your palms facing up and carefully move into a lying position.
Keeping your elbows down by your side, lift the resistance in a curling motion toward your chest, making sure to squeeze your biceps for maximum effect. As always, you’ll want to pause for brief moment at the peak of the movement before slowly lowering the EZ-curl bar back to the starting position.
You do not have to be a world-class athlete to join the military. Even within the ranks of Special Ops, you will not be required to be a master of any element of fitness — above average maybe, but not world class.
My observations from training many military members over the past two decades has shown me that we all come from different foundations of fitness. We all excel in different events, and suffer weaknesses in others. It takes a mature and ego-free team player to realize that your preparation to be 100 percent ready for your job may be lacking. When you make the decision to go Special Ops, you must be prepared to research your future profession and acknowledge there are elements of fitness you will have to attempt that you may have never been exposed to.
Your best bet is to be competent in as many of the following elements of fitness as possible.
Strength: Being strong and having a foundation of strength is critical to ALL of your other abilities. This does not mean that you have to bench press a truck. It means that having strong muscles, bones, and connective tissues will assist in your ability to make power when you need it. The most basic way to measure strength is to record the amount of weight lifted in one repetition. Don’t skip leg day!
Power: You cannot have power without strength and speed. The faster you move an object or yourself through space is power. Power usually requires a full body movement generated from your feet and legs and transferred across the body to its end point. For instance, a powerful knockout punch starts from the feet as the fighter steps into a punch, shifts the hips, torques the torso, and extends the arm until the moment of impact with her or his fist. That is power. In physics, power is defined as power equals force times velocity or work divided by time. It is a combination of technique, speed, and strength.
Endurance: Cardiovascular endurance is necessary for nearly any activity, including running, rucking, and swimming. Technique helps with the amount of energy you use, but being able to move and move fast is one element that has to be continually practiced. If you do not lift for a week, you will typically come back stronger. If you do not run for a week, it feels like you are starting over when you run again. Whether you like fast interval cardio or long, slow distance cardio — just get it done. You need both depending upon your job. How fast you can run, ruck or swim longer distances will be the typical measure for your endurance ability.
Muscle Stamina: Combine high repetition muscle stamina with endurance and you are building a PT test-taking machine. A two minute calisthenics fitness test is one way to test your muscle stamina, but another marker is putting in a full day of hard physical work. Having the ability to continuously move your body weight and more over longer periods of time is required in the typical selection programs. Strength is handy. You need it. But being able to work all day is a physical skill and mindset that needs to be fostered daily.
Speed: Testing speed with short runs can save your life when having to quickly run for cover. Speed can be enhanced by adding in faster and shorter runs to your running days.
Agility: Accompanied with speed and balance, agility is how quickly you can move from side to side and change direction quickly. Both speed and agility can be practiced with cone drills arranged in less than 10 second drills, where full speed and changes of direction are measured.
Mobility / Flexibility: Do not forget to warmup and stretch for flexibility, but also to move your joints through a full range of motion for mobility. Like many elements of fitness, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So make stretching and moving in a full range of motion part of your day.
Hand / Eye Coordination: Whether it is shooting, driving, flying, throwing, or lifting objects to be placed a certain way, having a background with hand eye coordination is helpful to any tactical athlete. Sports can be a great for building this skill, but obtaining good hand / eye coordination requires practice.
Running / Rucking: Being prepared to run and ruck takes time. Time spent logically progressing your weekly mileage in running and building time under the weight with rucking has to be a foundation of your training if attempting most military and any Special Ops training program. Lack of preparation will mean injury and possibly failing to meet the standard within a few months of training. If you don’t practice several days a week to build your endurance, you will lose it.
Swimming / Water Confidence Skills: Not having a pool to train in or not being comfortable in the water is not only a physical fitness issue, but a huge mental block for many. Technique is critical to your success in the water. Watch videos and practice, practice, practice if you need to get better in the water for your swimming, drown-proofing, and treading tests. Several days a week of technique training is required, along with building your cardiovascular endurance to maintain any speed.
Specializing in too few of these elements above can lead to neglecting others. World class athletes specialize in only a few of the above for their athletic events. For instance, take the competitive Olympic swimmer or power lifter. Both are incredible to watch, but both would fail miserably at each other’s events on an Olympic stage.
The reason I am focusing on comparing world class athletes to those in the military is that far too many regular Joe’s attempt workouts and training programs designed for world class athletes. There is no need to try an Olympic swim or running plan used by your favorite Gold Medalist to help you pass a fitness test of a 500m swim or a 1.5 mile timed run — even if you are trying to be a Special Ops team member. Trying to deadlift 600+ pounds, which is a massive amount but still nowhere near world class, may cause injury or interfere with your ability to run, ruck, or swim with fins for long distances. You need to ask yourself what you have to give up to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, do a body building competition, or power lifting meet. If your answer involves too many other elements of fitness, you may want to reconsider whether this is a necessary step toward a tactical profession.
There is a quote often used in Tactical Fitness Training: A world-class athlete needs to be an A+ in his/her activity, which may only focus on 1-2 elements of fitness. A tactical athlete needs to be a B in ALL the elements of fitness to best do his/her job. Make your annual training plan so that you can arrange the elements of fitness into your year accordingly. Learn about periodization and do it logically, with smart progressions so that you do not start off with too much, too soon, too far, or too fast, and end up hurting yourself with challenging programs designed for something not related to the Tactical profession.
With the heralding in of the new ACFT, it only makes sense that there should be an app to go along with it. Enter Grunt Fit, a subsidiary of the veteran-run apparel company, Grunt Style. It’s not even on the market yet, and already Grunt Fit is making lots of ways. That’s because of two reasons.
First, Grunt Fit was created based on the real-life successes of personal trainers. That means that the eating plans and workout programs are designed by people who know that they’re going to work. There’s no guessing whether or not an eating plan will help you reach your goals or how many reps you should be doing to gain mass. The people behind Grunt Fit have already helped countless people answer those questions and more.
Secondly, the level of customization that’s available on the app is second to none. It’s so much better than other fitness apps on the market because of how personalized you can make your plans.
Grunt Fit’s mission is to help users achieve their fitness goals by offering customizable fitness and nutrition plans. This free program has a very easy to understand user interface, making it incredibly personalized, and is based on the science of personal trainers.
The app was designed by veterans, but it can be used by people of all fitness levels. After downloading the app, the user is prompted to answer several questions that help determine their current fitness level and long-term goals. Then, the app creates a customized workout and nutrition plan based on those responses.
Did we mention this is a free app?
Not only does it differ in that regard, but it also separates itself from the herd because it eliminates the guesswork of trying to understand what eating style will help you reach your goals. It tells users precisely what foods to eat, what exercises to include to help achieve optimal performance levels.
The other central standout of Grunt Fit is that because it’s so direct and easy to follow, there’s less chance that you’re going to make a mistake following one of the plans. In a statement to Military.com, Tiffany Allen-Hampton, Army veteran and Grunt Fit president, said that the app is designed to help people prepare for the rest of their lives. The app was designed with accountability in mind, much like how military units are structured.
The app will tell a user what they need to do to be successful, but it’s up to the user to make that happen. To encourage participation and follow-through, the app offers users opportunities to earn badges and share success stories on social media. They can even earn discounts on apparel from Grunt Style.
The Army recently released an app designed to help users personalize workouts and calculate potential scores on the new Army Combat Fitness Test. The Physical Readiness Training app is free, offers a selection of exercises, and creates customized PT programs for users. The app guides users through videos led by drill sergeants and might just cut down on the risk of injuries of users performing new exercises. The app also allows service members to create workouts based on having access to minimal equipment. One neat feature of the Army’s app is that it will enable a user to create workouts based on deficiencies. Since the new ACFT is full of exercises that many soldiers might not perform on a daily basis, this is a great feature. Specific programs are available to help soldiers work toward top scores in each of the ACFT’s events.
But the Army’s app doesn’t offer any nutritional advice or meal prep options, so it falls short of creating a holistic approach to functional fitness. Of course, the Army’s app doesn’t offer chances to earn badges or get discounts on apparel, but maybe one day.
Eliminate the guesswork of both your workouts and your fitness when you use Grunt Fitness. Expected to be out sometime this fall, Grunt Fit might just be what helps keep you motivated through the winter to keep on pushing hard through your workouts.
When a customer walks into the health and wellness section of the PX, it’s likely that a salesperson will try to sell them the most expensive brand of supplements on the shelf. You know, that name-brand stuff that’s covered in photos of some ripped fitness celebrity that’s fresh off a set of push-ups and covered in baby oil?
It’s a solid sales tactic. One that typically convinces the customer that, if they take these high-priced supplements, they, too, can get buff in no time.
There’s a long-standing debate over the benefits of drinking your proteins versus consuming enough in your daily meal intake. However, in reality, most service members drink protein shakes because it’s a fast, easy option for getting that much-needed nutrition after a workout when you can’t make it to the chow hall for a meal.
So, what’s so important about the type of protein you ingest post-workout? How does one type of powder compare to other, pricier options? We’re not here to do some product placement, we’re here to tell you that the difference in protein type is more important than selection any single brand.
By drinking a post-workout shake, you’ll cause a spike in insulin production within the body. This is because whey is filled with highly insulinogenic proteins. Insulin helps bring essential nutrients the muscles, making it very important to achieving a productive recovery.
Look for a grass-fed whey protein isolate the next time you’re in the market searching for a new supplement. Since we get whey protein from cow’s milk, going for the grass-fed option means the cattle were given exclusively grain-free food. To add to that, the “isolate” option is highly essential. This means that casein and the lactose portions of the protein were removed, leaving the purest form possible.
For all of our vegan fitness fanatics out there, look for a pea protein option. However, many military installations don’t have a fully stocked nutrition aisle, so plant protein options might be limited.
Have you ever wondered why there’s so much hype surrounding CrossFit? Well, it seems veterans are benefiting from the intense workouts in more ways than one.
Take Air Force Veteran Rachel Escolas for example. She tried out CrossFit for the first time while on deployment in Kandahar in October of 2012. After deployment, she had a burning passion for the sport and eventually became certified as a trainer in 2014 while founding her own CrossFit gym, CBUS Lifting Co.
CrossFit benefits the veteran community in several ways.
Air Force veteran Rachel Escolas powers through the workout of the day at her gym, CBUS Lifting Co.
It’s no secret that as soon as military personnel are shipped off to boot camp or basic training, fitness becomes heavily incorporated into their lifestyle. Physical activity becomes second nature, and is essential to keeping in the best shape for performing day-to-day duties.
With its dynamic arrangements of barbell work, Olympic lifts, strength training, and more, CrossFit can kick anyone’s a** into shape. CrossFit requires discipline and dedication, qualities that already run deep among every branch of the military. The trainers are like drill sergeants that don’t cuss. They don’t let anyone slack and they keep an eye on proper form, correcting when necessary.
There’s nothing like sharing the pain of a workout with others.
Do you remember waking up at 3:00 or 4:00 am to run in formation, in the cold, heat, sleet, or snow? Who would have thought that veterans would grow to miss that nonsense? Behind any grueling physical fitness routine is camaraderie that stems from accomplishing goals collectively, as a team.
When veterans get out of the military, there’s often a gravitation toward working out in a team environment, like the one CrossFit provides. There’s a sense of community that’s built into a CrossFit gym that’s unlike any other. Regular gyms are fine places for lifting and letting off steam, but fostering more than surface-level acquaintances there is a rarity.
Navy veteran and CrossFit trainer Isabel Beutick states, “Crossfit, for me, has kept me in tight circles. I loved the camaraderie I had in the Navy, and that’s the same feeling I get when doing CrossFit. That tight-knit community.”
Certified CrossFit Trainer and Navy veteran Isabel Beutick, demonstrates how to achieve proper form in an overhead squat.
Although there have been major medical advancements throughout the years, an increasing number of veterans come back with combat-related injuries, both physical and mental. It has become evident that, for many, pills are not the solution. Alternative means of healing are helping mend bodies and minds.
CrossFit is not just an outlet for mental stress, there are many attentive trainers out there invested in providing workable modifications to compensate for physical injuries. With the right trainer, there’s nothing stopping a veteran from completing a CrossFit workout, no matter the ailment.
Above, Army Veteran Juan Puentes says, “CrossFit is hard sh*t. It reminds me of all the challenging sh*t I did in the military.”
Although CrossFit promotes a team mentality, there’s also an element of competition. To put it lightly, veterans are extremely competitive. Daily workouts are timed and everyone knows who comes in first and last. Now, we’re not saying we should focus on this entirely, but it kindles the fire in veterans to keep pushing.
Throughout your CrossFit experience, trainers keep track of daily goals on a whiteboard or online. This data helps the competitive veteran see their progress and the progress of others and gets them ready to compete in national tournaments.
The ‘Murph,’ dedicated to Navy Seal Michael P. Murphy, is only one of many WOD’s created to honor fallen warriors.
Hero WODs (workouts of the day) honor fallen service members and provide a way to bridge the civilian-military divide. Most veterans find it complicated to connect with civilian friends, family, and co-workers because they’ve experienced things that are, frankly, hard to explain.
What’s unique about CrossFit’s Hero WODs is that everyone is aware that the workout honors a fallen service member. People truly give it their all on these particular workout days. These workouts create a bond between civilians and veterans that’s truly fascinating to witness.