While training soldiers, the military is intentional with every aspect of their program design, especially that of fitness routines they use to physically and mentally train their soldiers. Although you may not be a soldier, your fitness program can benefit from military thinking. Here are 6 things you can learn from military fitness routines:
1. You Don’t Need a Top-Notch Gym to Get in Shape
There are no state-of-the-art gyms on base. During boot camp, soldiers must make do with what they have. They run. They do push-ups. They scale obstacle courses. They practice combat drills in heavy gear – when it comes down to it, getting fit is about finding a way to do the work. Never sit and wait for the perfect moment to start your fitness routine. Instead, take the moment and make it perfect!
2. Social Pressure Affects Performance
Because soldiers are trained to act as a single mind, group cohesion is important. There are many times when a soldier would rather give up or back off. Often times, it is only peer pressure that gives a soldier the drive to persevere. Finding training partners that depend on you will get you farther than willpower alone. Find a training buddy (or better yet, a training group) and do the work together.
3. Cardio is Important
Soldiers run, a lot. Although it’s long been acknowledged that having a strong heart is the foundation of true fitness, many people slack on building an aerobic base for their fitness. Be sure to put in 45 minutes at a decent pace on most days. It helps to find an activity you enjoy that will keep your heart rate up. Running need not be limited to just the treadmill!
4. Bodyweight Training Works
Many people are tempted to start lifting heavy weights, but it’s important to learn how to move your own body through space before moving external weights through space. Bodyweight training gives your joints time to adjust to strength training while also increasing your athleticism. Experienced lifters can also benefit from incorporating bodyweight training into their programs. Try replacing a typical lift with a bodyweight alternative. For example, instead of squatting heavy try building up to pistol squats. Your mobility will increase, your body will be shocked by the new type of movement, and your squat will benefit in the long run.
5. You’re Not Just Training the Body
The most important muscle for life-long fitness is the perseverance muscle. The only way to get the perseverance muscle stronger is by persevering. Drill sergeants know that physical suffering leads to mental toughness. In fact, the mental toughness is really what the instructors are after. Plan on having a fit for lifestyle for life, and view your workouts as training your perseverance muscle to make it happen.
6. Discipline Your Breathing
Those who have studied military history degree programs know the history of military cadences, or chanting, in the military. Soldiers often chant in unison while jogging long distances. Sometimes this is done in terrible weather with heavy gear on. Among other things, these chants are designed to keep a steady breathing rhythm. Instead of huffing and puffing, disciplined breathing will feed your body oxygen at a consistent rate over time. This consistency allows you to perform better for longer. Be mindful to take deep breaths at a steady pace while exercising. Try going 4-4-4. Breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds. Doing this periodically will give you more stamina.
In military training, fitness can be a matter of life and death. In your normal life, fitness should also be taken seriously and its importance should be emphasized enough for the benefit of our well-being. It’s important to be healthy and strong – give these lessons from military training a go to be the strongest version of yourself
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.
*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.
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