An In The Trenches Approach To Fitness
Many of the world's finest military personnel have access to the most up to date fitness equipment and the latest cutting edge advances in sport science to ensure that they are in optimal condition. That being said, anybody that has served will know that getting a workout in isn't always that easy. When out on the ground or on a mission, access to dumbbells and barbells can be limited. Some of you reading this will be saying to yourselves, that was an understatement and I hear you guys. I remember being on missions where we had nothing but a couple of buckets filled with cement and a bar in between them, but more often than not we had absolutely nothing at all. This is why push-ups and star jumps are so loved in the military.
There was a time in every soldier's life when push-ups and star jumps were the most dreaded words you could hear coming out of the drill sergeant's mouth. But you later learn that there was always a method to his madness, those hundreds and thousands of push-ups, star jumps and laps of the barracks square were all to make you a bigger, better soldier. A lean, mean fighting machine, if you all will excuse the corny phrase.
What's An Operational Soldier To Do?
So now that you are no longer a recruit, you are sent to your respective unit and who knows, you may be on operational duty in some foreign land, far from the luxuries afforded to you when working at brigade, battalion or even company level. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, working as a platoon, or in some cases operating as a section of 8 or so, you are lucky to have a bar of soap, let alone weights to workout with. So you have to improvise, adapt and overcome. And what better way to do this than to hit it, with all you detested during recruit training - you've guessed it - star jumps, push-ups and burpees, all the weight-free resistance exercises you can imagine are utilized here to keep you, not only in shape, but also to keep you from going insane.
Below I have outlined some exercises I have used when on operational duty throughout my military career. All of which are taking advantage of your own bodyweight and the laws of physics!
Below I will outline a typical in the trenches workout, but remember you can design your own workout with any exercise you want. The important thing to remember is that when working out in this fashion, keep to the ideal of circuit training, you are going to try and hit the whole body in each session, and when designing your own custom workout use the following template. Upper Body - Middle - Lower Body
Chest - Pushups - 15 Reps
Adopt the push-up position, your feet can be together or straddled. The important point to note is that, your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all in line. Lower yourself down until the elbow makes a 90 degree angle before pressing up to the start position. This is one rep.
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Pushups.
Abs - Crunches - 15 Reps
Lying on the ground, knees bent up towards the torso; raise the shoulder blades off the ground tensing the abdominals maximally before returning to the start position.
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Crunches.
Legs - Step Ups - 15 Reps (each leg)
Using an empty ammunition box (or anything else that was lying around), step up onto the box using a left, right, right left alternation. As you step, ensure that the abdominals are kept tight, focus on trying to draw the belly button toward the spine.
Barbell Step Ups
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Barbell Step Ups.
Back - Pullups - 15 Reps
Anything can be used a makeshift chinning bar, just be sure that it can support your bodyweight. An overhand grip should be used here, and hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width. On the "pull up" phase of the movement the emphasis should be on focused on contracting the lats. Pull-up fast, and then on the negative phase lower the body down slowly, maximizing the amount of muscle fibers recruited.
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Pullups.
Abs - Hanging Leg Raises - 15 Reps
Again hanging from the chin bar with the hands slightly wider than the shoulders, keeping the feet together tense the abdominals, focusing on drawing the belly button towards the spine raise the knees until the thighs are parallel to the ground, return to the start position slowly under control so as to avoid a swinging motion. Advanced trainers can keep the knees extended throughout this movement.
Hanging Leg Raise
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Hanging Leg Raise.
Legs - Squats - 15 Reps
Take a sandbag or medicine ball, hold at chest level keeping the back straight. Feet should be shoulder width apart. Squat down until the thighs are parallel with the ground, return to the start position in an explosive manner going up onto your toes!
Barbell Full Squat
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Barbell Full Squat.
Shoulders - Bodyweight Shoulder Press - 15 Reps
This exercise is for advanced trainers, you will need to find a wall or tree if you do not have a training partner. The starting position is like a handstand, you lower yourself towards the ground until the head is approx 1 inch above the ground before pressing out to an elbows locked position. This is ONE rep. alternatively an exercise band can be used and one can perform standing shoulder press.
Bodyweight Shoulder Press
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Bodyweight Shoulder Press.
Biceps - Close Reverse Grip Pull-Ups - 15 Reps
With an underhand grip, place the hands narrower than shoulder width (approx six inches apart). The concentric phase of the movement, the pull up, should be fast, pause at the top for a second before slowly returning the start position. The swinging of the legs should be avoided.
Close Reverse Grip Pull-Ups
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Close Reverse Grip Pull-Ups.
Triceps - Bench Dips - 15 Reps
Using the ammunition box for support, lean back placing the hands on the box. Keeping the stomach tight and the back erect, dip down until you feel a good stretch in the triceps before extending upward until triceps are fully flexed.
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Bench Dips.
Hitting this circuit between 3-and-5 times will not only get your muscles pumped like you have just been through the mill at your local Gold's, but by keeping it fast paced you will also elevate your metabolic rate transforming your body into a fat burning furnace. Workout like this will keep you in tip-top shape while out on operational duties, and for you civilian folk, this is a great routine for getting yourself into shape in the comfort of your own home.
If this routine good enough to keep those who risk their lives to protect all of us living in western society fighting fit, it's good enough for us here living out our day-to-day lives. Give it a try and see if you have what it takes!
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