Military fitness training is, first and foremost, warrior fitness and focuses on four key components. Each of these components is necessary to develop a total, well-trained and prepared warrior:
- Physical training creates strength and stamina,
- Emotional and mental training instills desire, follow through and motivation.
- Technical training brings in knowledge and skill of execution.
Basic combat fitness is functional and begins with pre-exercises that prepare the body. These conditioning drills and exercises can be performed anywhere, require no equipment, can be used with large or small groups, and are adaptable to individual fitness levels.
For your warm-up, begin at the head and move down the body:
- Turn your head left and right, floor to ceiling, right and left; next, do head circles.
- Do shoulder rotations to the front and to the back, with arms relaxed to the sides of the body.
- Make loose fists and rotate wrists forward and backward.
- Twist the torso to the left and right, allowing the arms to freely swing around the body.
- Place both hands at the small of the back and gently rotate the hips in each direction.
- Place both hands on the knees and make gentle knee circles in each direction.
- Place one foot on point and rotate the ankle, first in one then the other direction; switch feet and repeat.
Perform the following exercises to cadence (six to 10 reps), timed (45 seconds per exercise with 15 seconds of active rest for four rounds; rest one minute between rounds) or at will (complete 100 reps total—20 per exercise at your own pace).
Diagonal Squat Thrust (4-count movement)
Starting Position: Standing
Squat and place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Thrust the feet and legs diagonally backward to the left to high plank position. Maintain an engaged core and keep the body rigid from head to heels, with feet at a 45-degree angle to the hands. Jump back in to the squat position, return to full standing (starting position) and repeat, alternating right and left, for six repetitions. To modify, thrust straight back for count 2 or step back each foot to assume plank position.
Left and Right Push-up (4-count movement)
Starting Position: High plank, with feet together and thumbs touching
Move your right hand to the right and lower your body low to the ground while keep your core fully engaged. Raise your body (push up) while moving the right hand back to the starting position. Repeat this move on the left side; continue to alternate right and left.
Alternating High and Low Plank (2-count movement)
Starting Position: High plank, with wrists directly below shoulders, core engaged and body rigid
Take the right forearm down to a low plank and then bring the left forearm down to low plank. Press the right palm into the ground and return to high plank and then repeat with the left palm. Repeat high and low plank movements with minimal body shifting (some is necessary).
Low Plank Hip Tap (4-count movement)
Starting Position: Low plank with feet together
Maintain a low-plank position and twist the torso to the left, tapping the right side of the hip on floor. Return to low plank and then twist the torso to the right, tapping the left side of hip on floor under body. Return to low plank and repeat. This movement works well with cadence or at will. Try to keep your heels together and keep the upper-body shifting to a minimum.
High Plank Cross-body Knee to Opposite Elbow (4-count movement)
Starting Position: High plank with feet a comfortable-distance apart
Keep the core engaged and a firm high-plank position as you bring the right knee to the left elbow, shifting the body slightly forward. Rotate the right hip toward the floor, with the foot, knee and ankle at a45-degree angle, hovering just above the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. This exercise is ideally performed at cadence to ensure proper execution and purposeful movement.
Note: When these exercises are performed as a circuit or at cadence, run in place, slow march/step kick or perform side straddle step/power jacks or jumping jacks between each exercise.
Finish your workout with the following conditioning exercises, which are performed while lying supine on a mat.
1. Cross the ankles, interlace the fingers and fully extend the body, inhaling and holding for a count of three; exhale, relax and repeat four times.
2. Extend the right arm out, perpendicular to the body. Bring the right knee across body, using the left hand to hold it in place. Count to 10 and release. Repeat on the other side.
3. Bring the right arm across the chest and hold it with the left hand for eight counts. Release and repeat with the left arm.
4. Bring both knees to the chest and roll slightly side to side to release the low back.
5. Lie completely relaxed, palms up, if desired, eyes closed. Allow the body to completely relax for a full minute.