Ready to get into the best shape of your life? A military style workout routine is the way to go. Soldiers who undergo basic training boot camps are in top physical condition and every branch of military service has proven that boot camp workouts are the fastest and most effective approach for getting new recruits into shape in a relatively short time.
The American Council on Exercise supports the science, and found that a typical 45-minute boot camp session burns 450-600 calories. Boot camp style exercises increase your heart rate from 75% to as high as 93%, with the high-intensity exercises alternating with low-intensity movements and a blend of aerobic and muscle strengthening movements.
Military style training programs increase strength, endurance, and agility, everything your body needs to stay in fighting condition. These military workouts are built around a series of basic bodyweight movements and exercises including:
- Jumping Jacks – Side straddle hops or jumping jacks are a part of every military service. They are an excellent warm up movement and can be inserted into a program every time you need to elevate the heart rate quickly. They work most muscle groups of your body and you can easily adjust the intensity by speeding up or slowing down.
- Mountain Climbers – Mountain climbers are an effective dynamic core exercise that increases your heart rate and fat burning. Another excellent warm up movement, include this exercise near the beginning of your workout and then again any time you need to bring your heart rate back up. Start in the push up position, leave one leg extended as you bring one knee forward and then rapidly alternate knees forward, left, right, left, right. You can adjust intensity and difficulty by increasing the speed.
- Pull ups – The pull up is a part of every Marine Corps training program. It is an excellent exercise to strengthen your upper body, especially your arms and back. This is a functional strength exercise included in combat training to simulate climbing ropes and pulling your body up rough terrain. If you workout at home, you can find an inexpensive adjustable bar that fits in a doorframe.
- Push ups – Push ups are a familiar part of every branch of military service boot camp. The push up will help build your chest, shoulders, triceps, and your core as your abdominals must act as a stabilizer for this movement. Focus on keeping your body in a generally straight line when performing your push ups with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lower your body down slowly until your chest touches the floor and then push up explosively to develop power and strength. If you struggle to complete 5 push ups, do as many as you can and then drop to the kneeling push up and continue. There are a variety of hand grips and widths you can use for push ups as you get more advanced. Closer hand grips will work your triceps and center chest more intensely to build the backs of your arms.
- Squats – Bodyweight squats work every muscle group in your lower body, glutes, quads and hamstrings. Squats also engage and strengthen those core muscles that support your spine. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your arms across your chest or with hands on hips. Now sit back as if there is a low chair behind you and lower your butt into a deep squatting position. If you lean too far forward you will be unbalanced and start to feel the weight on your toes and balls of your feet. Keep your weight back on your heels and push from your glutes when coming back to the starting position AFTER pausing briefly at the lowest position. Repeat slowly, up, down, up and down until time is up or you can’t do any more.
- Walking Lunges – Another great thigh and hamstring exercise, start standing with feet together and hands on your hips. Step off with your left foot (lunge forward) like a fencer with a sword, your left knee should be over your left ankle and your right knee should be near but not touching the floor behind you. Pause briefly and then, from this position, lunge with your right foot. Pause, lunge, pause and lunge. You will be travelling across the room as you do these.
- Sit ups or Crunches – Depending on your chosen service, each includes either a situp or crunch component. Sit Ups require a partner or anchoring your feet under a heavy barbell or furniture. A military sit up requires your back reach a complete upright position and then touch the floor for each repetition. The safest way to perform these exercises is with your arms crossed and hands on your shoulders. If you must, place your hands next to the side of your head but don’t pull your head and neck as you may injure your cervical spine.
- One Mile Run – Still have energy and calories to burn? Start your stopwatch and run 1-2 miles. Running for time versus distance is also a part of every military fitness program.
Putting it all together – your military bodyweight workout at home:
- Stick to the basics: push ups, pull ups, sit ups, and run.
- Train with a partner for the challenge and accountability.
- Train first thing in the morning, nothing beats a sunrise boot camp.
Be consistent, don’t skip sessions. Once you start making excuses it becomes too easy to skip your workouts and you will not reach your fitness goals.
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