Being a soldier in the army is no cake walk. You are thrust into situations which will test your body, mind, and spirit. Your ability to carry yourself and execute your task is crucial in the fluid operation of the team. Regardless of your job function within the army, you are a soldier first and foremost, trained to work within the team.
To prepare yourself for national service, there are a multitude of exercise regimes and workouts to assist in conditioning the body. This may include strength training, endurance, and cardiovascular training which are all designed to keep you at peak performance. During your service, you will be made to participate in PT or personal training sessions to keep you at your fit best. Enough talk, soldier; put on your personal training gear and grab your pack as we go through 10 workouts you have to be good at in the army.
The lunge is a lower body exercise that targets the legs; more specifically the quadriceps, buttocks, and hamstrings. The movement is quite simple - stand tall with your back straight, engage your core, and then move one leg forward with your feet shoulder width apart. With your balance in check, performing a successful lunge involves lowering your body down until your rear knee touches the floor, and the forward thigh is parallel to the ground.
Few tips to remember: your forward knee is not to go past your toes, and always drive up from the heel. If your thighs are burning you’re doing well!
9. Sit Ups
This simple exercise aims to blast your core and your lower back. The sit-up is a staple addition to the military exercise set as it assists in strengthening your abdominals and lower back. This enables you to create a solid foundation for carrying heavy items and stabilizing your body as you move. The exercise is executed by laying flat on your back then bending your knees and bringing your feet towards you. With your hands on your thighs, flex your core and rise till your wrists touch your knees, before lowering. It’s painful but achieves results due to the increased stress it puts on your muscles.
The humble squat is a heavy exercise that people execute to build up their lower body muscles, specifically the buttocks and the hamstrings. With strong legs, the soldier can carry heavier equipment and have greater endurance. The squat will also condition the lower back and core as these 2 muscles fight to stabilize the top of the body. A successful squat involves the soldier having their feet splayed at 45-degree angles shoulder width apart. From there the back is kept straight as the body is lowered down by bending at the knees (ensuring the knees don’t go past the toes). Once the thighs are parallel to the ground, the body is driven upwards through the heels until the soldier is standing again.
The key points to remember are to ensure the knees don't go past the toes, the back is kept straight, and the heels are flat on the ground and used when driving upwards. Once bodyweight squats are mastered, weights can be used to achieve more of a workout.
7. Long Distance Hiking
You may not think it, but long-distance hiking or marching uses a lot of your body’s muscles. There are times where soldiers are not able to get transport and must rely on their own two feet to get them from point A to point B. Coupled with the many strength exercises explained on this list, the best way to train for hiking is just going out and doing it. With a small weight on your back, going for a walk down the road or through a national park is a sure fire way to condition your body.
Tips to assist would be to ensure you have water, good hiking boots, and letting someone know your location and what time you will roughly be heading back (for safety's sake).
The dreaded B-word: the harbinger of death and the bane of all soldiers' existence - the burpee. This full body exercise targets the lower and upper body in amazing ways. Incorporating the push-up, half squat and jump, this is a guaranteed way to make your heart rate spike, burning fat and building muscle. The exercise involves the soldier first in an upright position. Next, the body is lowered to a crouch and the hands are placed shoulder width apart on the floor. Once on the floor, the feet are kicked out to the push-up position. The solder performs a push-up and proceeds to jump their feet in again to a crouch. The final action is a jump and a clap to the top. Used for conditioning and punishment (otherwise known as retraining), it was and is still a frustrating but effective exercise.
5. Interval Running
Have you ever bolted for the bus or train and then stopped? Running in quick, sustained bursts is a necessity when being a soldier. Not only is crucial when a soldier needs to execute fire and movement, but it also allows them to become a harder target to hit. To avoid being shot and to close the gap between enemies; soldiers are taught to run in sprints to cover, rest and return fire, only to rise and sprint again. The best way to improve on sprints is to set a percentage of effort to a recovery time. The soldier would run to their percentage of effort (say, 80% of max effort) and then ease off into a jog to recover. The recovery time is short to encourage growth and endurance and the sprint is repeated.
4. Military Press
The ability to lift things above your head something that must be mastered. There may be tactical situations where soldiers will need to carry things such as supplies and even people. The military press is a compound exercise that activates many muscle groups; triceps, shoulders, core, and even legs. The exercise involves the soldier raising a torsion bar to their chest with the elbows tucked back and the bar resting on their chest. While engaging the core, the bar is raised up above the head in a straight up motion using the shoulders and chest to drive up. When the bar is at the top the shoulder pushes that bit more to extend the range of motion. The bar is then lowered to the original position.
An underrated skill, swimming has an important role to play in fitness, especially with the army. It allows soldiers to pass water crossings and provides a full body workout, improving strength, conditioning, and the cardiovascular system. Even better, it is a low impact exercise as there is no strike or impact on the body (unlike something like running, for example). Most armies teach the survival stroke and treading water whilst in uniform with equipment, enhancing a soldiers ability to stay afloat and fight another day.
The push-up is probably one of the most iconic exercises associated with the army. It hits the entire body, but focuses on the upper and core. The push up is conducted with the soldier first laying on their chest and placing their hands and feet shoulder-width apart. From there, they will proceed to engage the core and raise their body using their arms till fully extended. Once at the top, the body is lowered, and the cycle is repeated. This exercise targets the triceps, pectorals, and core mainly; building up that upper body strength for lifting and carrying gear.
1. The Mind
The least thought about, but the most important thing that a soldier needs to condition is their own mind. It is said that the mind will quit well before the body, so effectively conditioning the mental state of a soldier is paramount in order to be able to perform even in the most arduous of conditions. Training the mind can take the form of placing soldiers under extreme stress such as long exercises, or throwing them into uncomfortable situations. Soldiers can also practice situational awareness by keeping check of their surroundings. Knowing what is in the soldier's vicinity will allow them to be calmer and keep collected.