I have a passion for compound movements, complexes — multiple exercises with a specific weight — and functional workouts. Here’s a workout that is as close to a “total package” as I could get using a minimum number of exercises. You can do this one even if you’re a beginner — simply choose appropriate weights, repetitions and sets.
The workout consists of a total body lift; three lifts that hit the back, shoulders, and legs; a bodyweight exercise that helps the core and upper body; and a cardio exercise that also can help improve the run portion of your PT test. Modify, if needed, from the standard six rounds. One round is six reps of all six exercises. Rest as needed between rounds.
This is the king of lifts not only for the principal muscles involved but also the stabilizer muscles that are used. Those with a good level of fitness can choose between 165 and 225 pounds. Everyone else should downsize. Technique is important, and there are dozens of good Internet videos on this lift.
With the weight on the ground, choose one of three grips — overhand, underhand, or a combination (the best for heavy weight) — to grasp the bar. Make sure that you hinge forward at the hips, your back is flat, head up and knees bent in 3/4 squat.
First — and this is important — lift with the legs, bringing the bar up along the shins. As it approaches the tops of the thighs, drive the hips forward and straighten the back. The bar will come to rest around your waist.
Start the descent by using your legs — not your back — to lower the weight. Your back will hinge forward naturally. Weight touches the floor. Reset your initial posture and repeat.
Bent-over row (above left)
The focus is on the rear deltoids, traps, rhomboids and lats. Use a barbell at 55 percent of your body weight, or modify down as needed.
Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulders, back flat at 45 degrees.
Contract your core, and lift the weight to your navel. Try to make your shoulder blades touch. Lower the weight and repeat.
Push press (above right)
After the final rep of the bent-over row, go straight into this exercise using the same weight.
Bring weight to your chest.
Start with small squat, and using the momentum as you come up, drive the weight upward until your arms are extended overhead.
Lower to chest and repeat.
In my experience, these hit the legs even harder than squats. Keep same weight as previous lifts.
With the weight at your chest, lunge forward with your right leg (back knee should touch the ground), then return to standing position.
Lunge forward with left leg, then return to standing. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Alternately, carry the weight across your shoulders as shown.
These hit the lats and core stabilizers. I prefer the overhand grip with hands wider than shoulders. Some clients have experienced quicker progress
on pullup numbers by exploding up to the bar. It goes without saying that there is no kipping here.
Hang with arms fully extended.
Engage your back and lat muscles, and pull up until your chin is over the bar.
Go back to full extension and repeat.
Whatever your mile pace is, take five to eight seconds off the 1/4-mile time for this run. For example, if you run a 10-minute mile, that’s 2:30 for the quarter. Set a pace that gives you a 2:22 to 2:25. You only do one per round. Using a treadmill, set it at one degree up.
Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas has been our Military Muscle columnist since 2007. He’s the director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. He’s his base’s lead trainer, a wounded warrior program facilitator and the Navy nutrition counselor there. His special emphasis is on fitness for the military retired population. Find his Military Muscle columns here.