Military training is hardcore. After all, it needs to prepare soldiers for combat. But, more than that, it has to prepare for anything they may encounter in the field – from scaling a 20 foot wall under fire to running through the desert with a 40 kg pack on their back and a heavy rifle in their hands.
When you start training the military way, you can be assured that you’re on the fast track to some serious results. You will get stronger, more muscular and leaner faster. In this article, we present 4 military training techniques that have been getting our service buff for decades. Use them to take your training to the next level.
Technique #1: Endurance Muscle Training
The Special Tactix military physical exam includes a number of muscle endurance moves that are ideal to build into your workout. They will produce excellent results in terms of local muscle strength and endurance. A great test of the endurance of your back and biceps is the flexed arm hang.
The flexed arm hang involves hanging from a pull up bar with your chin above the level of the bar. The military standard says that you can do this exercise either overhand or underhand. To pass the Special Tactix test, you need to hold the position for one minute and ten seconds. However, they do not disqualify you until your arms have come down to a straight position. So, even if your chin comes below the bar, you’re still ‘in play.’
Start your workout with the flexed arm hang. Set your target to reach as the military standard of one minute and ten seconds and try to stay above the bar for that whole time.
Technique #2: Calisthenics
Make no mistake about it, guys on the military do a lot of weight training. But they do even more calisthenics training. That’s because you can do calisthenics anywhere, anytime, without the need for equipment. You should make such moves as push ups, pull ups, the wall sit and body weight squats an integral part of your program.
When it comes to push ups, you should get into the habit of performing them on a daily basis. If you make doing push ups as regular as brushing your teeth, your strength and pec size will grow exponentially. Set your sights on blasting out a set of 100 reps in a row.
When you’re training in the gym, start your back workout with pull ups, the most fundamental of all military moves. Give yourself the target of hitting 50 reps in total. Try to get there in as few reps as possible. In your first set you might hit 15 reps, then 10. You’re half way there. On the final set you may only be able to knock out a couple of reps, but your lats will be on fire.
This is the exact method that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to build the width of his back, and, strangely enough, he had just spent a year in the army.
When it comes to your chest training, use push ups at the end of your workout to squeeze out the last remnants of strength remaining in your chest muscles.
Technique #3: Weighted Vest Training
We civilians call them weighted vests. In the military they are known as body armor. Either way, training in them will allow you to burn more calories, get stronger and shred fat faster. A weighted vest is a heavy vest that has resistance weights that be me of iron or sand. These are removable to allow you to vary the resistance that you are training with.
A weighted vest allows you the versatility to add resistance to such exercises as push ups, pull ups, burpees and, of course, running.
Studies have shown that training with a weighted vest is guaranteed to give results in terms of increasing both your strength and your endurance. The more weight that is used on any exercise, the more the muscles are required to adapt to that increased load – and the more strength you will gain.
Weighted vest training also adds variation. It can allow you to make use of some exercises, such as push ups, that may be too easy with just body weight resistance. You also get a huge cardiovascular benefit when training with a weighted vest. The cardio system has to work a lot harder when you move in a weighted vest. This greatly improves a person’s lung capacity, while also improving their VO2 max and lactate threshold intensity.
Using a weighted vest will even make your bones stronger. The extra load of the vest stimulates the osteoblasts (bone cells) to lay down new bone material.
Use weighted vest when doing calisthenic exercises, as well as plyometrics and cardio, such as treadmill running or skipping.
Technique #4: Plyometrics
Plyometrics is a popular form of exercise used in the military. It may form part of an obstacle course or as a group training exercise. Often such exercises as bear crawls, rope climbs and mountain climbers form the basis of military calisthenics.
Calisthenics can be defined as an exercise that stretches a muscle tendon unit that is immediately followed by shortening of the muscle unit. The classic example of plyometrics is the box jump, where you stand in front of a box and then jump with both feet to the top of the box. Immediately you jump back down. You continue that fast up / down pattern for a set period of time.
The following military calisthenics program is straight out of the Special Tactix training manual.
Here’s what it involves:
Suicides (30 seconds)
Place a pair of cones 10 feet apart. Position yourself at one marker, crouched down with your hand touching the cone. Now sprint directly to the other cone and touch your opposite hand on that marker. Repeat at top speed for the 30 seconds.
Body Weight Squats (30 seconds)
Stand with your feet set at shoulder width and slightly pointing outward. Maintain a neutral back and look directly ahead. With your feet firmly planted on the floor lower directly down into a position where your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. Do not allow your knees to cave in as you go down.
From the bottom position, push through the heels to return to the start position. Be sure to do this exercise in a smooth, rhythmic action.
Mountain Climbers (30 seconds)
Lie face down on the ground, resting on your elbows. Your legs should be extended straight out and together. Keep your butt down. Now bring one knee up as if you were about to start a sprint. Do not allow your back to lift into the air.
The movement involves quickly alternating bringing each leg up toward the corresponding elbow. Be sure to extend your leg back fully each time.
Cross Jacks (30 seconds)
With feet set at shoulder width, stand with your hands at your sides. From this position, jump directly up and out, bringing your feet out wide. At the same time, bring your hands up overhead. Next, bring your feet back together so that your feet and hands cross over in front of you as you come back down.
Split Squats (30 seconds)
Stand in a lunge position, with your left leg about 3 feet behind your right foot. Keep the right foot firmly planted on the floor. Make sure that your upper body is kept upright throughout the entire motion. Place your hands on your hips.
Now lunge down until your rear knee is about 3 inches from the ground. The right leg should form 90-degree angle. Now jump into the air and reverse the position of your legs. Do this quickly and fluidly for the entire 30 seconds.
Standing Long Jumps (30 seconds)
From a standing start, jump forward with both feet together. Jump off with both feet together as far as you can. Crouch down before jumping, to get as much distance as possible. Now run back s quickly as you can and do it again.
Burpees (30 seconds)
Stand with a shoulder width stance, looking straight ahead. Now squat down to touch your hands to the ground at your sides. Now immediately kick your legs back directly behind you, keeping your butt down. Now bring your legs back and jump into the air as high as you can. You’ve now completed one rep – keep going for 30 seconds.
Each of the four military training techniques presented here can be incorporated into your workout. Here’s how:
- Practice the flexed arm hang twice per week, with the aim of achieving the Military admittance standard.
- Begin your back workout by doing 50 total pull ups
- Work up to doing 100 push ups every day
- Finish your chest workout with push-ups
- Wear a weighted vest when doing cardio and calisthenics
- Do the calisthenics workout above once each week.