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Body weight workouts are an important part of military physical fitness.
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Each branch of the US military has a physical fitness program unique to the duties of its personnel. Body weight workouts are common among ground combat and special forces units like the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. These calisthenic-style workouts are designed to be performed solo and without any equipment, so that they can be kept up in the field under a variety of conditions.
US Army Fitness Program
The US Army fitness program includes exercises that develop core and hip stability, strength and mobility, and aerobic endurance. The strength and mobility regimen consists of three phases of calisthenic conditioning drills that become progressively more challenging as the soldier becomes fitter. Conditioning Drill 1 consists of ten exercises that focus primarily on developing motor skills. Drill 2 progresses to a series of three exercises geared toward building upper-body strength, endurance and mobility. Drill 3 consists of five complex exercises that challenge motor skills and increase intensity. In each of the three drills, the exercises are to be performed in the specific sequence listed.
Marine Corps Fitness Training
The Marine Corps has implemented a combat-focused High Intensity Tactical Training program that focuses much more on aerobic endurance and power and specific combat-like movement patterns. Short distance sprint and footwork drills are heavily focused on, with plyometric and traditional calisthenic exercises rounding out the exercise menu. The HITT program is intended to supplement a more traditional conditioning program that marines are expected to keep up on their own. Marines can use the USMC's online physical readiness guide to design their own individual HITT workouts, and commanders can use the site to plan group workouts for their units.
Navy SEAL Workouts
Navy SEAL workouts are designed around a balanced training system that develops strength, endurance and power among all muscle groups equally. Calisthenic body weight exercises are an important component of this regimen. A typical SEAL body weight workout consists of jumping jacks, squat thrusts, a variety of pushups and pull-ups, a number of core exercises, squats and calf raises. For a 30-minute workout, the SEAL will perform between one and three exercises for each muscle group, completing one to three sets of six to10 repetitions per exercise, if building strength is the goal, and more than 10 repetitions if muscular endurance is the goal.
DIY Military-Inspired Workout
You can easily adapt these military body weight workouts into your own boot camp-style workout at home. For the upper body, include pushups with a variety of hand positions, triceps body dips, and pull-ups or chin-ups. To work the core, balance traditional abdominal situps and crunches with lower back exercises like the Superman and bird dog, and hip exercises like donkey kicks and side-lying leg lifts. Target the thighs and gluteals with squats, lunges and good mornings, and work your lower legs by performing calf raises. You can ramp up the overall intensity and calorie burn of your workout by including plyometrics and whole-body exercises like jumping jacks, squat thrusts and mountain climbers.