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Military Muscle columns Posts

Military Muscle | Mobility boosters using resistance bands and a medicine ball

Military Muscle | Mobility boosters using resistance bands and a medicine ball

No athlete competes in a single plane or walks in a stiff, straight line. Hip and spine mobility play a large part in any athletic competition — or simply enjoying an afternoon hike in the woods. Five exercises to improve movement:

Bridge with a reach-across

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees.
  • Perform a normal bridge, raising your hips and keeping shoulders on the ground, forming a plane from your chest to your knees.
  • Extend your right arm up and across your body toward a point on the left. As you extend, also rotate your trunk toward the left. Hold for a two-count and return to neutral bridge. Repeat on the left side.

Military Muscle | Cardio blast combines 6-minute sets on a mix of machines

Military Muscle | Cardio blast combines 6-minute sets on a mix of machines

Sometimes you need a day of cardio without the weights (free or machine). But the workout I have planned for this article is not the LSD (long, slow, dumb) style of treadmill, bike, recumbent or even outdoor workout that you may be envisioning.

This workout is packed with six-minute sprints on different types of machines — some more evil than others. I have also kept my favorite outdoor cardio set just in case you wanted to keep it old school.

1. Take a long look at your gym floor and then select four to five cardio machines that require different muscle groups. Examples include treadmill, indoor rower, step mill or VersaClimber, elliptical, outdoor running, swimming, bike, etc.

2. Plan on spending six minutes at 85 percent effort on each. A good rule of thumb is that you should feel like you’re at eight on your one-to-10 scale of perceived effort.

Military Muscle | Deadlifts are the universal go-to for muscle-building. Get the max benefit with good form & variations

Military Muscle | Deadlifts are the universal go-to for muscle-building. Get the max benefit with good form & variations

The deadlift is considered to be the best “total body” lift there is. It hits almost all the muscles — legs, glutes, back, shoulders, etc. — and is at the top of the charts for developing overall strength.

It’s also one of the easiest to do incorrectly. Many lifters in the gym don’t get close enough to the bar, and when they reach down to grip it, their back is out of alignment. First check point (repeated below) is to look down and see that the bar crosses over the balls of your feet.

Here’s what you need to do:

Military Muscle: Jacobs Ladder won't let you loaf like other machines

Military Muscle: Jacobs Ladder won't let you loaf like other machines

Just so we’re on the same page, this column isn’t about the 1990 Tim Robbins thriller, or the Biblical Jacob’s dream of a ladder joining heaven and earth, nor about the rope ladder with wooden rungs that can be used to get from a large ship to smaller craft. And it’s definitely not about the device by which an electric arc travels up two metal rods.

The Jacobs Ladder I’m referring to is a cardiovascular device, 65 inches high by 31 inches wide, with a closed loop of maple wood ladder rungs. It works similarly to a treadmill on a 40-degree incline — but you provide the power. A digital readout shows elapsed time, feet climbed, rate of climb, calorie burn and heart rate (with a chest strap).

You have a choice of holding onto the handles along the side of the machine or grasping the wooden ladder rungs and using a hand-over-hand method to simulate a climbing action. My personal preference is grasping the handles on the sides. I admit I feel a bit more in control (which is probably why I should challenge my stabilator muscles more by grasping the rungs).

I took a trip to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to look at the fitness center devoted to spec-ops training and found one section that had 10 Jacobs Ladders set up in two rows of five facing each other. They were situated near two rows of Concept2 indoor rowers.

I knew these guys were serious.

Military Muscle | Weight vest amps up simple exercises cheaply

Military Muscle | Weight vest amps up simple exercises cheaply

I look for fitness equipment that’s inexpensive, simple to use, portable, allows for a wide range of applications and allows you to maintain a fitness level commensurate with your age and goals.

Over the past five years, the TRX suspension trainer, stability balls, resistance bands and jump ropes all have appeared in this column.

Now we come to the weight vest.

We use weight vests every day at my gym in Pensacola, Fla., and we don’t practice age discrimination. A 77-year-old woman will put on a 12-pound vest for modified horizontal pullups with the TRX straps alongside an active-duty man who is doing step-ups on an 18-inch box with a 50-pound vest.

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