The military has been “whipping” people into shape since there were only swords and spears to fight with. The military’s fitness programs are often geared towards the ability to march, run, and carry weight. Fitness training in the service exists to prepare a Soldier to withstand the physical demands of combat. With that being said, some of the best workouts on Earth are “Army Workouts”! To train like our men and women of the Armed Services is a great way to get and stay in shape. The list of activities below is recommended by Hot Ground Gym®, other representatives of various branches of military service, and is perfect for those who want to be as physically fit as our country’s Soldiers.
What Is a Military Style Workout?
We’re not talking about “drop and give me 20”. We’re talking about the way men and women workout while in the armed forces. The honest answer here is military fitness training in most every branch of service consists of physical training (PT) sessions that involve running, circuit training, marching, individual workouts, or some other crazy session that your leader(s) thought of that day, an example is 6 mile hike with 80lbs of gear, and YOUR GAS MASK!
What makes this type of workout different is the mindset behind the training, the specific exercises and tasks executed, and the social bonding that occurs during the session. Which if recreated in the “civilian world” honestly and humbly, can be called “Military Style Fitness”. This type of fun and engaging workout can be found in our Force Fit™ class.
11 Military Training Exercises
The physical exercises selected by the military as part of a unit fitness training session, mostly involve manipulating your own body weight. Some of these exercises are as old as recorded time, others are newer, being added in the last half-century. Below is a good list of military full body workout exercises.
Most synonymous with Army boot camp as a tool of strength and punishment alike. The Push-Up is by far the most famous military exercise. It is accomplished by starting laying flat on the ground, on your stomach. Hands are placed on the ground palm down on each side of your upper rib cage, and your feet are together. You then push up from the earth till your arms are straight, then you return down to the earth. Some things to keep in mind here, make sure your elbows stay tucked back not flaring out, keep your back as straight as possible, and keep your knees and hips off the ground when you go up. Now, if a regular push up is too difficult, you can make it easier by doing them on your knees until you have the strength to do them from your toes. This exercise should be a part of everyone's at home military fitness training regiment.
Sit-Ups are one of our personal favorites. This exercise is in more military physical fitness evaluations than the push up. The sit up is a core strengthening exercise that is accomplished by starting laying down on your back with your arms crossed over your chest and your knees together and bent almost 90 degrees. From there you sit up touching your arms to your legs and then go back down. You can complete without your feet being held, or with someone or something holding your feet down. Having your feet held makes it easier. This exercise can be modified several different ways, and is a great way to strengthen those core muscles.
The Burpee is a real killer of an exercise. This is usually a four-part exercise, although there are several different variations. You start from standing, part 1 is squatting straight down low and slightly forward placing your hands on the ground. Part 2 is kicking your feet back so you are in a push up position. Part 3 is bringing your feet back to a low squatting position, and part 4 is jumping up in the air and clapping, counting, and/or chanting. The Burpee is a great addition to a military workout routine.
Lunges are a great leg strengthening exercise that also develops balance and dexterity. There are many variations of the lunge, and all are great. To accomplish a lunge you will start with your feet together, then with one leg step out with a decent but not too far step, then complete a squat with the front leg stopping when that leg’s knee is around 90 degrees, then step back or forward, then repeat with that leg or the other. Any good “Army fit training class” will definitely have lunges in it at some point. We love lunges in our Hot Ground Gym®'s Force Fit™ class.
It is among the greatest tests of your overall fitness level. Doesn’t matter what branch of the military you are in, running is some part of your life. Running is as old as time, and humans have hated and loved it for centuries. It is considered one of the hardest military fitness exercises to get good at. The trick is, you make goals to get better at it. 1 mile first, then 2 miles. Then up to 10 miles if you want. Just keep making achievable goals, then keep making them a little harder. That will improve your running quickly. Don’t over complicate this, just start putting “feet to pavement” as they say, and let your determination pull you through the miles. Adding running to your fitness routine in some way or another is a great idea.
The Pull-Up is a Marine Corps favorite and is on their Physical Fitness Test. This is the ultimate test of your upper body strength. The exercise has several different variations, but the gist of it is, you start out by hanging on a bar or a pipe by your hands. Then all you have to do is pull yourself up, get your chin over the bar, then go back down, then repeat. This is a difficult exercise to accomplish well, and will take some time to get good at. If you are new to pull ups, start working in this military fitness exercise today! It will grow your upper body strength leaps and bounds. All Soldiers should have this exercise in their routine.
Swimming is one the best military full body exercises that soldiers can do. While there are some minimal requirements to meet in a couple military branches, typically swimming regularly as a training session is reserved for more specialized units, and units that are on the water regularly. Swimming itself should be incorporated into your training regiment a couple times a year at a minimum. It’s simple, in order to get better at swimming, you have to get in the water and practice. Seeking professional instruction for a short period of time will greatly increase your ability if you are new to swimming. Work on it off-and-on throughout a year or do it as often as you want, whatever floats your boat.
Ahh, the old sitty-standy. Squats are another awesome military style fitness exercise that works on strengthening your legs. Doing a squat well, and being able to do many of them, will definitely give your fitness a “leg up”. Not just that, for the military, your legs must be strong because they carry you and your heavy gear everywhere. This exercise can be accomplished with weight or no weight. Let’s talk about the no weight version, a.k.a. the Air Squat. You start first with your feet shoulder width apart ensuring your toes are on the same “imaginary line”. From there you sit your bottom back and down till your knees are at or around 90 degrees, count 1 Mississippi then stand up. Repeat that for as many times as desired for a great leg strengthening military fit workout.
#9 “Ruck Marching”
Undoubtedly the oldest form of military fitness conditioning, the forced march. Also known as the “Ruck March”, the “hike” or as Marines know it, the “hump”. Marching for miles with at least 30lbs on your back as a fitness training exercise is done by every single conventional warfighting unit in the military. Back in the day it was the only fitness they had. The average soldier would have to walk 10 or more miles just to get the fight, and were expected to arrive there with the strength and energy to fight. Gnarly, to say the least.
If you want to ruck march, you start with your ruck or pack. Fill a comfortable backpack (preferably with a chest strap) with water for you to drink and several other items until it weighs at least 20 pounds. Then you walk. Do a couple or 3 miles first. Then gradually increase the distance as you become more accustomed to the feeling. Make sure you leave some time in between marches to let your feet heal up. We would not be surprised if your feet get trashed the first few times you march with weight over several miles. A few blisters never killed anyone, but if you get them, make sure to let them heal before marching again. Ruck Marching is one of the most adventurous military-inspired workouts that someone could participate in.
Every good military workout routine either ends or begins with stretching. Besides increasing flexibility which has so many health benefits, stretching also works to prevent injuries during training. As a rule, start with the head and neck, and work down to the feet, stretching each large muscle on your way. Spend the time to stretch your muscles, it will make your body stronger, quicker, and will help relieve pain.
#11 Rope Climb
A true military workout challenge. Rope climbing is a dying art. You rarely ever see it in schools anymore, and you only see it occasionally in military fitness training. Just like pull ups, rope climbing is a huge test of your upper body strength. There are several methods of rope climbing including the wrap around, the J hook, the S wrap, the Butterfly, and the Pinch methods. In military boot camp we were taught the wrap around and s wrap methods. We teach these methods in our Force Fit™ Military-Style Fitness Class, we would love to teach you how to climb a rope!
In conclusion, military workouts are a great way to get in shape, stay in shape, meet new people, learn new skills, and build physical confidence in people. Look into attending military fitness boot camps, that would be a great place to start. Whether you are training to fight, or just as a hobby, you would be making a good choice to incorporate Military and Army workouts into your weekly fitness regiment. We would be happy to shed some more light on the topic if desired. Just reach out to us, and even better yet, come train with us here at Hot Ground Gym®. Thanks for reading.