10 ways to switch up your bench press routine - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

The workout bench is something you find in just about every gym — even those tiny hotel workout rooms that can fit maybe three people. But it’s such a boring workout. It’s a flat, rectangular, stationary object with none of the bells and whistles of those fancy machines at the gym and all you ever see anyone do on it is bench press big weights, over and over. Here’s some advice: Get over it. The bench plays a crucial role in any strength-training program because, yes, it’s everywhere, but also it is versatile and allows for an increased range of motion during any given strength exercise.

You could spend a whole session doing variations on the traditional bench press and leave the gym a fitter man. But you can get even more mileage from your bench routine if you throw in some full body exercises that get your heart rate up and work other major muscle groups. Check out these 10 bench moves that get the job done.


1. Dumbbell triceps extension

Lie on the bench, feet on floor, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Raise dumbbells straight over your chest. Allow arms to drift back over your head slightly. Bend elbows and lower dumbbells toward the floor. Straighten elbows and raise dumbbells overhead again. (Note: If you feel more strain in your elbows than triceps, reach your arms farther behind your head.) 10 reps, 2 sets.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Danielle Cerullo)

2. Decline sit-ups

Angle the bench to a roughly 30- to 45-degree position. Lie with your feet at the high-end, hooking your heels over the back of the bench, or using a strap around the ankles for support. Keeping hands behind your head, do 3 sets of 20 sit-ups. (Note: If you find a full sit-up too difficult in this position, either lessen the bench angle, or do crunches instead.)

3. Step-ups

Stand facing the bench, about a foot away. Place your right foot on the bench and step up, raising your left knee high in front of you. Step down. Repeat 10 times on the right side, then 10 set-ups with your left leg. Do 3 sets.

4. Incline fly

Hinge bench so that the seat is flat and back is at a 45-degree angle. Sit with feet on floor and lean back, holding a dumbbell in either hand. Raise your arms straight front of your chest, then open them wide out to the sides, letting them pass the 90-degree angle if possible. Raise them back in front of your chest. 15 reps, 2 sets.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Victor Freitas)

5. Leg raises

Lie on a flat bench, hips and butt positioned at the edge of one end, feet on floor. Place hands over your head, gripping the other end of the bench for support, or under your lower back. Lift your feet and straighten legs out in front of you, so that they are suspended in the air and creating a straight line with the rest of your body. Slowly raise your legs to the ceiling (count to 5). Lower them back down. 10 reps, 2 sets.

6. Isometric hold fly

The beauty of dumbbells is their symmetry — weights perfectly balanced on either side of your grip. Holding the dumbbell at one end, however, adds a whole new layer challenge, engaging more muscles and testing your body’s balance as well as strength. For this move, lie back on the bench, feet on floor. Holding a dumbbell in either hand, with your grip all the way at one end of the weight, raise dumbbells above your chest with straight arms, then open them wide out to the sides. Raise arms again until they are above your chest. Bend elbows, and lower dumbbells to chest. 10 reps, 2 sets.

7. Incline bench press

Set the bench at a 45-degree incline. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and lift it off the rack. Lower to your chest with a controlled movement, then drive through your feet, engage your core, and press it toward the ceiling. (Note: Make sure to keep the barbell directly overhead, rather than drifting forward.)

8. One-arm rows

Holding a dumbbell in your left hand, stand at the left side of the bench and place your right knee and right hand on it (as if you are down on all fours, but just two limbs). Leaning forward so that your back is parallel to the floor, drop your left shoulder slightly, bend your left elbow, and imagine squeezing your shoulder blades together as you raise the dumbbell up to your chest. Lower. Do 10 reps on each side, 3 sets total.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Domagoj Ćosić)

9. Bench press

Ok, ok. We’re not going to stop you from performing the bench press. If you’re going to do it (and it’s a fine move, so don’t let us stop you), do it right: Lie on the bench, feet on floor, grabbing the bar with hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift bar out of rack and lower it toward your chest. Tuck elbows in at your sides. As soon as the bar touches your chest, engage your core and drive through your feet to raise the bar overhead. Do 10 reps, 3 sets.

10. Close-grip press

Same exercise as above, except place your hands just inside shoulder-width apart. This angle uses your triceps more, pectoral muscles less. 10 reps, 3 sets.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s why you might be gaining weight during summer months

Does your beach body seem to disappear as the summer progresses — covered in beer, braut, and sedentary fat? You’re not alone. While weight gain is seen as a winter sport, summer weight gain is much more common than people think. And like a thunderstorm on a sunny day at the beach, it sneaks up on parents and kids alike.

Two recent studies suggest that children lose weight during the school year, and gain weight in the summer due to increased consumption of sugary drinks and decrease structure when it comes to meals, activity, and sleep. It’s possible similar variables cause summer weight gain in adults. There’s evidence that people generally sleep less during the summer, due to increased daylight exposure and just being too hot to sleep comfortably, and sleep deprivation increases the production of cortisol — a stress hormone that drives sugar cravings, swelling, and overall weight gain. Making matters worse, adults tend to diet in preparation for the summer, which really prepares them to pack on the pounds.


“Summer weight gain is often simply the biological response to pre-summer attempts at weight loss,” health coach and fitness specialist Ragen Chastain explains. “That lose-gain cycle can be compressed with more extreme dieting. So that crash diet they sold you to get your summer body will actually be likely to give you your summer weight gain.”

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by i yunmai)

The lose-gain cycle Chastain is referring to is often seen in crash or yo-yo diets, or regimens designed for rapid weight loss that are rarely sustainable and often backfire. When people try to lose weight a month before vacation instead of gradually throughout the year, it depletes their metabolism in several ways. Calorie deprivation slows thermogenesis, the amount of energy the body spends digesting food, while increasing overall fatigue, which discourages exercise. Extreme dieting also leads to muscle breakdown, which means fewer calories burned both during physical activity and while resting. Likewise, depriving the body of nutrients further disrupts sleep, which takes a toll on a person’s metabolic rate, studies show. Once summer starts and these diets end, or just get cheated on a lot, an uptick of parties, barbecues, and vacations, and the all the high-calorie indulgences that come with them create a perfect storm for a summer belly. That’s why summer is surprisingly the perfect time to get fat.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Nik MacMillan)

While warm temperatures encourage physical activities, really hot ones have the opposite effect, and people opt for sedentary summer days blasting the AC. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends canceling outdoor exercise when the heat index is above 90 degrees, for anyone who works out regularly. For those who are not as fit, the ACSM suggests tapping out closer to 86 degrees and calling off any sport competitions or forms of extended activity at 82 degrees. That means in places with the highest heat indexes — which accounts for humidity as well as temperature — like Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, outdoor physical activity may not be a safe option for most of the season. Regardless of where they live, people are more likely to put off exercising outside in the summer than in the winter due to the weather, according to one study. Consumer trends data confirms that many people fill this time with more beer, ice cream, and hot dogs, only making matters worse.

That’s not to say that winter weight gain isn’t real. Research shows that people tend to pack on the pounds between October and January because of the holiday season, as well as the cold weather, which tends to decrease physical activity increase the urge to indulge. However, exposure to cold weather helps activate brown fat to heat the body, which in turn, burns other fat, and shivering burns calories further, so it’s not all bad.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Jakob Owens)

Still, if people are prone to gaining weight in the summer and winter, is everyone just getting fatter year-round? Not so. Spring, it turns out, is more conducive to healthy eating, exercise, and weight loss than any other season. Research shows that people are more likely to think about weight loss during winter and summer months, but the spring months are when they actually can do it. On average, people consume 86 fewer calories per day in the spring compared to the fall, are more likely to exercise outside, and engage in physical activity for longer periods of time. The best thing parents who don’t want to pack on the summer pounds can do is treat it like spring. Think of it as summer with a little more structure, sleep, and healthy food.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Korean War vet honored at Steelers football game

Korean War veteran Ed Portka, 90, was honored along with his stepson as the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Cincinnati Bengals on national television.

Former Maj. David Reeser, who commanded an Army diving company in Europe 28 years ago, accompanied his stepfather, a former first lieutenant, onto the field for the Steelers’ “Salute Our Heroes” recognition during a short break following the third quarter of the game.

“I’m excited about it,” Portka said about his upcoming recognition, just before the game, offering that he was “looking forward to it,” but a little hesitant.


Portka served as a platoon leader in an engineer unit under the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea. He was responsible for breaching minefields and other obstacles during offensive operations and installing minefields to protect U.S. defensive positions.

“We did a lot of dirty work,” Portka said. “It was specialized work.”

He said every chance they got, they detonated mines by firing their M-1 rifles at them rather than risking lives.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Second Lt. Ed Portka, prior to deploying to Korea with an engineering unit under the 1st Cavalry Division, where he was responsible for breaching minefields.

(U.S. Army photo)

Portka served in Korea from 1952-53. One of his memories was of meeting Gen. Matthew Ridgway, 8th Army commander, during a battlefield circulation, just after Portka’s platoon finished clearing a minefield near Pusan, Korea.

“He was down-to-earth,” Portka said of Ridgway.

The Korean War armistice agreement was signed on Portka’s 24th birthday, July 27, 1953, just before he redeployed home. He said it was quite a birthday present.

After the war, Portka was an architectural draftsman with George M. Ewing Company in Washington, D.C. He later managed the firm’s Philadelphia office and was the project manager for the design of Veterans Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reeser was stationed in Europe in the early 1990s, where he served as a platoon Leader and then as commander of a diving detachment. After leaving the military, he founded an engineering firm, Infrastructure Engineers, that performs underwater bridge inspections.

Reeser now lives in Florida and his stepfather in Atlanta, but said he returns to Pittsburgh every chance he gets to take his stepfather to Steeler games.

At the end of their recognition on the field, both veterans aggressively waved Pittsburgh Steeler “terrible towels.” The Steelers beat the Bengals 27-3.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The best and worst cities to be a football fan may not surprise you

Another football season is nearing its end and the excitement surrounding this season, the surprise Clemson win, the NFC Championship controversy, and the upcoming Super Bowl inspired the people over at WalletHub to do yet another study on the habits and happiness of your average Americans – this time, with a focus on the gridiron.


Keep in mind, this isn’t just about NFL football, but you will find familiar NFL franchise cities on the top of the list. It also includes NCAA football. Some 244 American cities were graded on 21 different metrics using a 100-point scale, with 100 being a perfectly favorable score. WalletHub included one professional team or one college team, and assigned weights to each category based on its popularity with fans. The weighted averages comprise the list and are grouped by city size.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

“Terrible.”

The top ten will likely not be a surprise to anyone. Pittsburgh, home of die-hard Steelers fans and the Panthers of the NCAA’s Atlantic Coast Conference, tops the list. That’s followed by the homes of the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Giants, Dolphins, Saints, and so on. The first time the home of a nationally-ranked college football team comes is at the end of the 30 cities where NFL franchises are housed.

At the top of the college football list of best cities for football fans sits another unsurprising winner.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Roll Tide.

Clemson, S.C., may have defeated the Crimson Tide for the BCS National Championship, but they’re in second place when it comes to fandom. As you scroll the list you’ll find the homes of the Florida State Seminoles, the LSU Tigers, and the Penn State Nittany Lions. What might surprise you is the high ranking for the North Dakota State Bison, Appalachian State Mountaineers, and the U.S. Military Academy’s Black Knights.

In case you were wondering, West Point, N.Y. sits at number 39 while Annapolis, Md. is all the way at number 123, sandwiched between the home of the Cal Poly Mustangs and the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is number 115.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

There’s always next year, Navy.

As for the bottom of the list, the lowest ranked NFL city is Cleveland, which is unsurprising considering they once dubbed the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium the “Factory of Sadness.” In terms of the NCAA, the biggest surprise at the bottom of the college football list is the low, low ranking for the homes of the Oregon State Beavers and the Purdue Boilermakers, who scrape the bottom of a list of 244.

Check out the full list in the WalletHub Infographic.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine
MIGHTY SPORTS

No-fail trial PT tests could help improve fitness scores for airmen

The top enlisted leader of the U.S. Air Force is making resiliency a top priority for the last year of his tenure, and part of his plan to promote strong and mindful airmen is to revamp how airmen approach the physical fitness assessment, commonly known as the PT test.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright is looking at new ways of approaching the PT test. One possibility under consideration is a no-fail trial PT test, that if passed, would count as the airman’s official score, Wright’s spokesman, Senior Master Sgt. Harry Kibbe, said.

“The intent is to relieve some of the anxiety, and hopefully this is one of the steps that can get [the Air Force] closer to a culture of fitness rather than a culture of fitness testing,” Kibbe told Miliary.com on Aug. 7, 2019. The news was first reported by Air Force Magazine.


Kibbe explained that, in the Air Force, an “excellent” composite score is equal to or greater than 90 points with all minimum components met. A satisfactory score is between 75 and 89.99 points. Anything below 75 is a failing score. If an airman scores 90 or above, he or she has a year before the next test. Those within the 75 to 89 category only have six months before they must take the next assessment.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(United States Air Force)

The current Air Force fitness test is gender and age-normed and combines a 1.5-mile run time with maximum pushup and sit-up repetitions within one minute.

“In order to try to relieve some of the anxiety that airmen are having when they’re getting close to their due date, we’re going to allow them to take a ‘diagnostic test,'” he said.

It can be taken anytime in the year-long or six-month window, though not after.

“They’re going to take that diagnostic test and if they pass it, as long as they’re doing it through the official testing system … their clock would reset,” Kibbe said. “If they don’t pass it, but they’re still current, there will not be any punitive actions.”

If an airman fails the pre-test, he or she still has time to work on “what they need to work on” to improve for the next PT assessment, he said.

Kibbe said the Air Force is in the process of developing the policy, but stressed it’s still “months away” from any potential implementation.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine
A Day in the Life

(U.S. Air Force photo by Jamie Pitcher)

There may also be a change to the tape test, Kibbe said. The tape test, which measures body fat based on waist circumference, has drawn criticism over the years as an ineffective way to assess body composition due to differences in body type and musculature.

Officials are “looking at incorporating an equation,” Kibbe said. “To find out your fitness index for the abdominal circumference, they’re looking at adding into an equation your waist measurement, your height and your run time to get an overall cardiovascular fitness index, or a number that more accurately represents how you’re doing.”

The waist maximums remain 39 inches for men and 35.5 inches for women.

There are outliers when it comes to waist measurement, though, including very tall men and women and those with big builds. Kibbe said the Air Force is still weighing what the cutoffs for the proposed equation method would be.

“The science is telling us that we do need to keep a measurement of the waist because [it] is an accurate predictor of health,” he said.

For any changes to PT, Kibbe said Wright is making sure the service “gets it right rather than fast.”

“He’s more than comfortable to handing this off to the next [CMSAF] knowing it has been set up for success,” Kibbe said.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Golf made my friend a better Marine

We all know that Marines win our nation’s battles, and their discipline under pressure is a matter of life or death. However, and as weird as it may seem, there is a lot that the driving range and the fairway can teach us about winning battles. I know because I recently joined my friend Marine Major Ben Ortiz and his fellow golf warrior, Erik Anders Lang, for a round at the Desert Winds golf course on Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms.


10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Major Ben Ortiz or, ‘Bennie Boy’ as I call him, have known each other since our first days at the Naval Academy. I already know what you’re thinking… of course, two Academy grads and officers are golfers. But literally, nothing could be further from the truth. Golf was never supposed to be part of either of our lives.

“Seriously, dude? You play golf, now?” I ask a little sarcastically as Bennie and I walk to the clubhouse.

Bennie is a Mustang (an officer who was enlisted first), and he grew up in a neighborhood outside of Chicago where even the mention of golf could get you ridiculed for life or worse. After joining the Marines he deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan where he’s been a kind of intelligence officer that grunts love and terrorists hate. So when he asked me to play golf with him, I immediately started to question his mental state.

“Dude, you have no idea. Golf has made me a better Marine. More focused…lethal.” Bennie smiles as he justifies why we are on a golf course at 0730.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Major Ortiz tees off with focus

As we approach the clubhouse, I meet a squad of Marines who have been recruited to play with us this morning, but we are also joined by a true golf warrior, Erik Anders Lang. Erik is a bit of an anomaly himself. He never picked up a club until his thirties, and now he travels the world for his series Adventures In Golf. At first, I am a little wary that Erik, who looks a little like he just rolled out of bed, can compete with the Marines on their home turf. But after watching Erik tee off with a nearly 350-yard drive down the center of the first hole, I realize that I am not only watching a true golfer but a sniper.

As Bennie, Erik, and I walk the desert course we begin to chat about the game and the Marine Corps. At each hole, I realize the golfers are fighting the terrain, the weather and even their own subconscious, an enemy more elusive than the adversaries Bennie and other Marines face abroad. As we near the end of the course, Bennie begins to explain his theory a little more.

“Intel is all about collecting and analyzing information and then turning it into something useful for the Grunts. A lot of people think that bad intel is a result of bad information, but there is a second and even more important component, the analyst. If I am distracted or unfocused, I can be the weak link. Golf, and the battle on each hole, has taught me about mental and physical discipline.”

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Major Ortiz (4th from left) and Erik Lang (center) after a round of golf.

Erik smiles and nods in agreement. He knows the mental strength it takes to master the club. After a quick competition on the driving range, which Erik (the sniper) wins, we sit down in the chow hall for an After Action of the morning’s performance. Bennie has changed out of his golf clothes and into cammies, and Erik begins to explain to us how Tiger Woods inspired him to pick up a club.

“Not everyone is perfect in golf,” Erik starts. “He’s human, he’s obviously made mistakes, but if you watch carefully you can see how he processes the course and the ball with each shot.”

Erik’s got a point. Now, I am pretty sure that when Tiger Woods stepped onto the 18th green, poised to win the 2019 Masters, there was almost nothing going through his mind other than the basics of putting. In the seconds before Tiger’s final stroke, there was no time for self-doubt, fear or even distractions from the thousands standing around him and the millions watching all across the globe. With one quick putt, Tiger was back on top of the world and his pure calmness, poise, and discipline under such pressure is something we all can admire, especially Marines like me.

But unlike Tiger, Marines must use these same attributes for something much bigger than a green jacket. Now, I begin to see what both Bennie and Erik are stressing to me. Golf is a sport of discipline and focus which can extend beyond the course and onto the most stressful battlefields abroad.

Bennie now speaks to the group before we roll out for the day.

“I hope that other Marines will realize that the course is much more than a game. It’s about training too.”

I think Bennie’s onto something that both Erik Lang and Tiger Woods already know: maybe we can all be better Marines if we spend a little time on the course.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Major Ortiz (left) and the Author (right) after our round of golf. Bennie’s war face is the same from Quantico.

popular

7 cool things that happen during the Army-Navy Game

Every November the halls of the Pentagon are torn apart in one of the biggest and oldest rivalries in college sports: the Army-Navy Game. While the outcome of the game may no longer affect who will win the College Football National Championship, it will affect the interpersonal relationships within the Department of Defense for days, maybe weeks after. It also may affect who gets the biggest prize of all, The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy and a trip to the White House to have it presented personally by the President of the United States.

So yeah, it’s about a lot more than pride.

The game is a spectacle, full of more than 100 years of traditions, pranks, and the best military showmanship the two service academies can muster.


Spirit videos

Ranging from the highly-polished, well-produced masterpieces like the video above to simple iPhone-shot music videos, West Pointers and Annapolis midshipmen shoot, edit, and publish numerous videos about how their school is going to beat the other school, how their school is superior to the other school, and how their culture is more fun. It’s not just students and staff, either. All over the world, troops and graduates make their own videos and upload them to YouTube, DVIDS, and anywhere else someone might see their work of art.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

The prisoner exchange

For one semester every year, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy choose select members of their classes to attend the rival school. At the beginning of the annual Army-Navy Game, these students are returned to their proper academy. The swap at the beginning of the game is known as “The Prisoner Exchange.”

The march on

If you’re into watching military formations on the march as a military band plays on, be sure to catch the pre-game events before the Army-Navy kickoff. One of these events is called “The March On,” and features the entire student bodies of both service academies marching in formation across the open field. It’s really quite a sight.

Military hardware

The Army-Navy Game always starts with a huge show of military power, either in the form of Blue Angels flyovers, Army helicopters, the Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team, the Navy’s Blue Angels, or who-knows-what-else. This pre-game display is always an awesome sight.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

New uniforms

Every year, both Army and Navy take the field in their newest digs, ones designed to honor a part of their individual histories or traditions. Past uniforms have honored Army World War II Paratroopers, the 10th Mountain Division, and types of Navy ships.

Presidential traditions

When the Commander-In-Chief is present at the Army-Navy Game, he has traditions of his own he needs to follow. Of course, the POTUS is the person in charge and can do whatever he wants, but is always expected to cross the field at the 50-yard-line at halftime and watch the game from the other side, a tradition dating back to President Woodrow Wilson.

Honoring the fallen

No matter who wins or who loses, both teams will not leave the field without singing both schools’ alma maters. The winners go to the losing team’s fans and sing to them, taking the sting out of such a rivalry loss (at least a little bit). Then the two teams will sing the winners’ song.

That’s sportsmanship.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Competing in pain, Navy veteran captures medals in Golden Age Games

Navy Veteran Angela Walker is competing in the National Veterans Golden Age Games for the third time. She’s in five activities in the ongoing VA sports event in Anchorage, Alaska.

At the same time, Walker admits that participating in the Golden Age Games isn’t easy. She’s been in a wheelchair for six years and has chronic pain throughout her body. Even a sport like archery, where one has to pull the bow and hold the arrow, triggers pain from her naval down, she says.

Yet, she perseveres, knowing there’s a therapeutic component to the games. One of the best things about the games is that “you learn how to turn off the pain a little bit and dial it down while you’re competing,” as she put it.


“I’m never without pain,” Walker says. “I can’t remember the last time I haven’t had pain all day. (It) makes it really challenging to play. But you have to push through in order to play. You might see the tears coming down. But I don’t like to quit unless I absolutely have to. It happens with every sport. So it’s kind of like, should I go to the games or not go to the games? I want to win, and I want to play, and I don’t want to quit.”

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Angela Walker competes in horseshoes at the 2019 National Golden Age Games.

She finds it encouraging and inspiring to be among other veterans who are in wheelchairs. She’s competing in the wheelchair division of air rifle, horseshoes, boccia, bowling and shuffleboard.

“I’m motivated because everybody is doing their best using whatever skills and strength they have to win and to have a good time,” she says. “We’re all aware of what’s going on with our bodies. But doing my first Golden Age Games [in 2017] just let me know that, `Hey, you don’t have to just sit at home. You can do other things.’ So I’m taking my body to the limit in trying to do all of these different sports.”

Her determination is paying off. Competing in the 60 to 64 age category at this year’s games, she’s thus far won gold medals in boccia and horseshoes. She also earned three medals at both the 2017 Golden Age Games in Biloxi, Mississippi, and at the 2018 Golden Age Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Walker’s success at the 2018 games qualified her for the National Senior Games in Albuquerque from June 14 to June 25. The foundation for the games selected her to receive the Hurford Memorial Award that provides some financial assistance to attend. In the nationwide event, she’ll test her skills in the wheelchair division of bowling and horseshoes.

If not for a chance encounter with another veteran who competes in wheelchair sports, Marine Corps Veteran Johnny Baylark, Walker may not be competing. The two met several years ago at Naval Station Great Lakes outside of Chicago. Baylark encouraged Walker to come out for the VA sports event.

Johnny Baylark: More than a Miracle

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“I was looking for a parking space, I thought he was getting out, and I was going to take his space,” Walker remembers. “We both left our vehicles. He approached me and said, `Hey, you’re in a wheelchair. You should do bowling.’ I was like, `Bowling, I don’t know about bowling.’ But it made me think. So I talked to my doctor and he agreed that I should get involved.”

Walker has since tried to influence other veterans to take part in the National Veterans Golden Age Games. She volunteers as a motivational speaker and sings regularly at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Center in Illinois and at veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion. An accomplished singer, Walker has won gold medals at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Competition, another VA-sponsored event.

In front of a waving Red, White, and Blue, she gracefully sang the “The Star Spangled Banner” before the start of June 7, 2019’s horseshoe event. At one point, Daniel Dela Cruz, coordinator of the horseshoe competition, remarked to Walker that “this is harder than it looks. It’s not easy.”

Walker knows all about that. But it seems that nothing will derail her drive to compete.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The most amazing charity work done by NFL players

It’s a well-known and well-reported fact that an NFL athlete makes a pretty penny… billions of them, to be precise. People train their whole lives for a shot at the big time. Sometimes, when they get there, they’re barely 22 years old or younger. Sometimes, they fall hard. But other times, they their sudden fortune into good fortune for those around them.


That’s especially true of sports personalities. Big-ticket players enter a city’s franchise team and become entrenched in the city’s culture, even though they may not hail from that city originally. The people embrace them and, when times get rough, these players turn around and offer assistance and comfort to those in need.

JJ Watt, Houston Texans

JJ Watt, a Wisconsin native who played with the Badgers in his college years, is kind of an intense guy in everything he does. This helps the Texans defensively on the field and it helps Texans in general off the field.

The defensive player raised some million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts across Texas, a sizable chunk of the cost of rebuilding. The JJ Watt Foundation has raised millions to fund after-school athletics in the state and Watt personally intervenes to take care of burdened Texas families – like those of the Santa Fe High School shooting victims.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz was raised in North Dakota and played football for ND State but the Eagles quarterback can often be found elsewhere. With other Eagles players, he helped raise half a million dollars to build a sports complex in ravaged areas of Haiti and his Audience Of One Foundation operates a food truck that can be seen on the streets of Philadelphia, handing out food to those in need. In true food truck fashion, the truck’s name is “Thy Kingdom Crumb.”

When he’s not building in the developing world or handing out food, he’s running a series of summer camps to give youth in urban areas a true outdoor experience.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos

Brandon Marshall, a Las Vegas native who attended UNLV, was one of many NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem protests. But rather than just make a statement for the cameras, Marshall decided to take action off the field as well. After he took his first knee on Sept. 8, 2016, Marshall met with Denver police chief Robert White to facilitate dialogue between urban communities and the Denver police.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Michael Thomas and The First Step, founded by community philanthropist, Scott Van Duzer, a focuses on making genuine, lasting connections between kids and local law enforcement.

Michael Thomas, New York Giants

Whenever a list of the NFL’s most charitable players is written, Giants safety Michael Thomas has to make the list. Though he doesn’t necessarily operate his own foundation, he is a prolific volunteer in the Florida area and beyond (until 2018, he was with the Miami Dolphins).

The Houston native assisted in raising money to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, he helps young kinds interact with community leaders and local law enforcement through a program called “First Step,” he’s an active Big Brother and a volunteer for Food for the Hungry.

“The best thing you can give to these kids in these communities is time,” he told Points of Light, “show that you actually care.”

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

That’s the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees, an Austin, Texas native who played for Purdue in Indiana and was originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers, has forgotten none of those places. And he certainly hasn’t forgotten about New Orleans… or anywhere else, for that matter. He founded the Dream Brees Foundation in 2003 to support cancer victims, in memory of his wife’s aunt, who died of cancer. Brees and his organization have raised million to support those programs.

He donates millions to hurricane victims, including those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Sandy, and of course, Katrina. He also helps fund the Purdue football team and, through Operation Kids, helped rebuild and restore youth athletic programs, parks, and playgrounds, and neighborhood revitalization programs throughout New Orleans. He even routinely visits deployed US troops on tour with the USO.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Eli Manning, New York Giants

Eli is definitely elite among generous athletes. He was named to Forbes 2012 Most Generous Athletes list for a sizable donation to his alma mater’s, University of Mississippi, sports program, named one of the the top philanthropists under age 40 in 2015, and even funds an operational clinic for children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Co-Winner also matched donations for Hackensack University Medical Center’s “Tackle Childhood Cancer” initiative, which ended up raising .5 million.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers

Sherman, the Stanford-educated cornerback, founded Blanket Coverage – The Richard Sherman Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to channeling its resources to “ensure that as many children as possible are provided with proper school supplies and adequate clothing.”

He doesn’t stop at clothing. He also works with Microsoft to bring surface computer labs to underfunded high schools in places like his native Compton, Calif. and has affected more than 10,000 students in Los Angeles alone.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why NFL referees no longer use pistols to call the end of a quarter

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

Anyone who’s ever been to a major sporting event can tell you the noise on the field level can be a deafening wall of sound. But communication on the field is important, and everyone involved needs to know how much time is left in the game. 

If you need any evidence of this, please refer to any close postseason game ever played. 

From the earliest days of American football until as late as 1994, referees on the field used a starter pistol to call the ends of quarters and of games.

When the leagues that became the NFL first started in 1920, there was no official standard for calling plays dead, ending quarters, or any other action taken by an officiating crew. Horns and whistles were used as often as anything else. These were soon standardized to whistles for the plays, pistols for the quarters, and eventually flags to call penalties. 

For much of the NFL’s early years, league officials keeping the official time would fire a starting pistol to signal the end of every quarter. The scoreboard clock was not the official game clock. But everyone could hear the crack of the shot and the refs would announce the end of the quarter or game. 

There’s no one reason why the league no longer uses the pistol, but suffice to say, it’s unnecessary.

An NFL referee signaling the start of a new quarter. Refs no longer use pistols.

In the NFL as we know it today, after the merger between the American Football League and the National Football League in 1970, the scoreboard became the official game clock – which was the league standard in the AFL (now the AFC). 

But though everyone could clearly see the time on the field, the refs still kept firing at the end of the quarter. The officiating crew also keeps the official time as a backup. 

As the late 1960s turned into the early 1970s, a wave of aircraft hijackings changed the rules of air travel. Referees were no longer allowed to travel with even a starter pistol, which could not fire live ammunition unless heavily modified. Refs had to borrow the home team’s starting gun.

If the home team didn’t have a starting gun, they didn’t use one, which could lead to confusion on the field. Standardization is as important in football as it is on the battlefield. 

Then, there were a series of incidents that wreaked havoc on the players, coaches and even the referees themselves. The sports blog FootballZebras recalled a number of accounts from the biographies of early NFL referees that describe a handful of these events in detail. 

One ref used the pistol to silence an angry Bill Belichick. Another accidentally fired the gun while it was still in his back pocket, causing a burn on his posterior. During one game, President Richard Nixon was in attendance and the use of the starting pistol caused extreme anxiety among the judges, who were afraid of Secret Service retaliation.  

So while there are many, many good reasons for refs not to fire a gunshot into the air at NFL games, the most important reason is that it’s just not necessary.

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Green Beret tests electric dirt bike

The CAB Motorworks’ Eagle electric bike was designed to maintain efficiency while reducing noise and pollution. Designed to move over any terrain, these bikes come standard with an inverted 8-inch front fork and tuned 9.5-inch rear downhill inspired suspension. The Eagle has the highest power to weight motor on the market but is still able to reach speeds of 50 mph with the use of proprietary cooling techniques. The bike also has over 160 ft-lbs of torque which boosts acceleration. With its state-of-the-art battery technology, the Eagle can go about 100 miles with no pedaling when ridden conservatively at about 20 mph on flat ground. An integrated active braking system, DOT motorcycle wheels and tires, and a comprehensive heat control system are just a few of the other features you will find on the Eagle electric bike.


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Mike Glover of FieldCraft Survival put the CAB Motorworks’ Eagle electric bike through the paces in some of Southern California’s hilly terrain. Utilizing trails meant for jeeps and trucks, Glover set out with nothing but a bug out bag and some water. Without even using the pedals, Glover immediately noticed the bike’s ample speed and acceleration. After 45 minutes of hard riding, he put the bike in front of the thermals to see if it displayed an increased thermal signature. Most of the bike showed up as cold compared to the environment, with the hottest spots on the bike being the front brake rotors and the rear hub motor. After about 20 minutes of hard riding, Glover took the bike onto a more aggressive trail with no issues.

In the end, Glover walked away impressed with its capabilities. From the torque to the low noise signature, and handling steep and aggressive terrain with ease, this bike crosses off a lot of boxes from recreation to survival purposes.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

There’s more to Army-Navy Game day than just football

Not everyone is into football — or sports. But when the cadets of West Point’s U.S. Military Academy meet the midshipmen of Annapolis’ U.S. Naval Academy in Philadelphia, they aren’t always playing football.


In a room just off the main hallway from where the press is set up to interview celebrities and military VIPs visiting the big game, a debate rages on: Should the United States implement a policy of nuclear non-first use?

The West Point team calmly lays out exact information from reputable sources to support its argument.

Unclear policy leads to unnecessary risk,” says Cadet Carter McKaughan “the US government should implement a policy against nuclear first use.

Debate teams from the two service academies are meeting each other head-on to argue the finer points of this question. Of course, in the spirit of the debate, the views expressed don’t necessarily represent the views of the speakers, the school, or the Department of Defense.

Just like the rhetoric for the football game, the rhetoric in the debate competition is heated, but respectful. The Annapolis team argues that West Point’s nuclear non-first use policy proposal will only lead to an increased need for conventional forces and that a nuclear option will be more efficient.

What has been sustainable for 73 years will continue to be sustainable,” Midshipman William Lewis argues. “Such a policy is not justified today… First-use is 73-0 in preventing great power conflict.

The debate has three parts. Each team gets two six-minute speeches to lay out their most pertinent points. The opposition gets two minutes of cross-examination questions. Back and forth, back and forth, for just under an hour.

Russia doesn’t want to face economic ruin to get Estonia,” says Cadet Tommy Hall. “First-use nuclear policy doesn’t deter them. Mutually-assured destruction keeps countries like China and the United States from a nuclear exchange, not policy.
10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

Midshipmen and Cadet debate nuclear first-use policy.

Each side gets a five-minute rebuttal, and even the audience gets a chance to ask questions. Midshipman Nicholas Gutierrez cracks his knuckles before he begins his six-minute speech. He talks about how the nuclear deterrent and first-strike policy actually prevents armed conflict.

A first-use policy not only works, it’s the best thing we’ve had in place to save lives in all of human history,” he says.

Admittedly, it didn’t look good for Navy for much of the debate. The Army team was well-spoken and calmly laid out their salient points. In the closing minutes of the debate, Navy came out with a five-minute rebuttal that was passionate and rebuked all of Army’s points.

Like a last-minute drive down the field in the fourth quarter, Navy made its stand. Both teams were impressive in their rhetoric and passion on the subject, but Navy won the day.

The Army-Navy Debate will likely never have the sponsorships and merchandising of the Army-Navy Game. We may never see debate swag or a pair of seasoned debaters providing color commentary. But if you ever want to see the quality of education the future leaders of the U.S. military are getting at West Point an Annapolis, it’s worth a trip to the room just off the main hallway.

You just might learn something.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Try these 10 quad exercises for strong, muscular legs

The quad workout should be a staple workout for men — up there with abs, biceps, triceps, and pecs. From a functional perspective, they are the main thing standing between you and a knee or hip injury. The stronger your quads, the better they will absorb the load from any kind of impact activity, like running or a pickup game of hoops. From a performance standpoint, the stronger your quad muscles are, the more power and speed you will have when you bike, run, or do any kind of plyometric move like box jumps. They also provide the necessary support when you do overhead presses, Olympic lifts, and give your kid a piggyback ride. And then there is the aesthetic factor. A ripped upper body with scrawny legs looks unbalanced, to say the least.


The best quad workouts hit four individual muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Each one plays a unique role in bending and flexing your knee and hip joints, but they also all work together to power you through your day.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Scott Webb)

There’s no hard and fast rule about when to do a legs workout. Some like to add it to arms day; others prefer to stagger the two. If you play any rec sports, you’re probably giving your legs some kind of workout every time you hit the field or court. The most important thing is that your legs feel rested before you hit the weights so be sure to take a recovery day between workouts. Follow this 10-move, 20-minute program to be sure you’re giving your legs the love they deserve.

1. Barbell squat

Using a weight suitable for 8-10 reps, unrack the barbell and place it behind your neck on your shoulders, holding it with an overhand grip (palms forward). Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Allow your chest to lean forward slightly, back flat, as you bend your knees, aiming to get knees over toes. Straighten back to standing. Do 8-10 reps, 2 sets.

2. Weighted lunges

Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, stand with feet parallel, arms by your sides. Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing with a bent knee. Bend your right knee until your leg forms a right angle, knee over toes, and back left knee hovers just above the ground. Push off right foot and return to standing. Do 10 lunges on the right side, then 10 lunges on the left side. 2 sets total.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Sergio Pedemonte)

3. Leg lifts

Lie on your back, legs straight out in front of you. Place a 10-15 pound weighted ankle cuff on your right leg. Keeping your back flat and legs straight, lift your right leg about a foot off the floor. Lower back down but don’t let it touch the ground. Immediately lift again. Do 15 reps on your right legs, then switch the weight to left side and do 15 reps on the left side. Repeat on both sides.

4. Bavarian split squat

Stand with your back to a bench, about a foot away. Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, lift your right leg behind you, knee bent, and rest your right toes on the bench. Bend your left knee over your left toes, letting your right knee drop toward the floor. Straighten up again. Do 12 reps then switch sides. 2 sets.

5. Wall sit

Stand with your back to a wall, about a foot away. Bend knees and let your back sink against the wall, pressing into it with your spine as you lower yourself down into a “sitting” position. (Your legs should form a right angle with your knees over your toes.) Hold for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Release.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Jelmer Assink)

6. Step-ups

Face a bench with a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand. Step up onto the bench with your right leg, allowing your left leg to swing through until it is raised in front of you, knee bent. Step back down with your left leg first. Perform 10 step-ups on the right side, then 10 on the left. 2 sets.

7. Single-leg squat-sits

Stand with your back to a bench, about a foot away. Holding a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand, lift your left leg in front of you. Bend your right knee and sink back and down to the bench until your butt just touches the seat. Immediately engage your quad and return to standing, without letting your left leg touch the floor. 8 reps on the right, switch sides and repeat. 2 sets.

8. Box jump

Stand facing a bench or box about two feet off the floor. Bend your knees and let your arms drift behind you. Explosively push through the floor, jump, and tuck your knees as you spring up onto the box, landing on both feet. Step back down. 15 jumps.

10 ways to switch up your bench press routine

(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

9. Kettlebell lateral lunges

Holding a heavy kettlebell by the handle with both hands, stand with your feet together, legs straight. Take a wide step to the right, landing with a bent right knee and straight left leg. Bend deep to the ground, then push through your right foot and return to standing. Repeat on left side for one full rep. 10 reps, 2 sets.

10. Stair sprint

Find yourself a set of stairs, and race to the top, jog to the bottom, for 60 seconds, lifting knees as high as you can and moving your feet as fast as they will go.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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