Manning Up: The Military Workout
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Military-style workouts are one of the most torturous yet rewarding regimes you can put your body through. They differ to traditional gym workouts by working the whole body, as you jump from one strenuous routine to the next, rather than focusing on core muscle groups and relaxing others. The idea is to push your body to its very limits so it will be sufficiently prepared to pull you through the physical hardships of combat. The workouts typically involve calisthenic exercises, which mean they require no extraneous equipment to perform them. Push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks often part of the routine, but what distinguishes a military style work-out from gym-based affairs is the intensity of the regime. Light aerobics it ain’t, although it is an equally efficient means to burn body fat and calories. It is also a lot more enjoyable than a monotonous muscle-group focused gym work out as you get to indulge in a variety of exercises within a short space of time.
You should aim to do five to minutes of warm up exercises, so you stretch all your muscle groups in preparation for the torment you are soon going to inflict upon them.
On Your Feet Solider: Running and Marching
The epicentre of any respectable military workout is running. It is crucial that a solider be proficient in covering lengthy distances across rugged terrain. If he cannot force his body to suffer such extensive hardships, his weakness may very well cost him his life. It is not uncommon for military training sessions to involve 5k marches and the benchmark physical fitness test (PFT) utilized by the army has a timed 1mile run as one of its core components. The Marine Core goes even further, using a nausea-inducing 3 mile timed run as a way of sifting out the wheat from the chaff. You should aim to include a timed running element in your daily exertions so you can gradually trim off valuable seconds over the course of several months and build up your overall stamina in the process.
Ups and Downs: Push-ups, Military Style
Push ups are one of the quickest and most efficient ways to build your upper body strength. They are also a highly popular workout in the American army. New recruits to the American Navy Seals are encouraged to perform push-ups five times a day at a shudder-inducing rate of several hundred a day. You are unlikely to want to offload those kind of figures to begin with but if you want to perform your push-ups in the style of a true military diehard, you will need to ensure you keep your knees off the floor and that your body holds a straight line so that your nose, chest, hips and knees are on a steady equilibrium
To get your push-up routine up and running, you should endeavour to complete 100 push ups on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays in as few sets as possible, whilst still incorporating some general cardio-vascular training, such as running, into your regime. Then, on the days in-between, you should also aim to complete 200 push-ups, only this time you should complete them throughout the day at your own pace. So if you desire, you can do them in easy sets of ten stretched out over several hours. This will give your body a slight break and eradicate the risk of overdoing it and damaging your muscles, which still keeping it taut enough to remain strong and deal with the intensive pressure of the “on” days.
You should repeat this cycle of intense days and more “leisurely” affairs for 10 days. Then rest and don’t do any upper body exercises at all for three days. Finally, on the 14th day, test yourself by seeing how many push-ups you can now perform compared to your previous best effort. You should find that there has been a significant increase due to the rigours of your ten day schedule. The push up cycle described should not be undertaken any more than once a month, as it puts such severe pressure on core muscle groups that you can leave yourself at risk to serious injury. You can also vary the types of push ups you perform by adapting a position that leaves your hands further apart than usual, which will specifically work the chest muscles harder, or by keeping your hands closer together, which will focus attention on the shoulders and the triceps.
Reach for the Burn: Pull-Ups
Military style pull-ups focus on strengthening the bicep muscles and are one of the most draining and difficult of all military exercises. You can now purchase pull up machines to practice the exercise although a strategically fitted bar in your home will do the trick just as well. To begin, you should grip the pull up bar with your hands placed apart, spanning the breadth from shoulder to shoulder, and with your palms facing away from you. Now pull yourself up until your chin reaches over the height of the bar. You should finish the exercise by slowly moving back to the hanging position. If pull-ups prove too taxing an ordeal to take on, you can try half pull-ups or “negatives”. In this exercise, all you need to do is pull your chin over the bar either by standing on something of an appropriate height or having a spotter lift you. Once you are over the bar, gradually lower yourself all the way back down. Let your arms hang when fully stretched and try to keep your feet up and battle against gravity for about 5 seconds. This will help strengthen up your arms so they become more attuned to supporting your body’s weight.
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