Military Muscle columns

I have a passion for compound movements, complexes — multiple exercises with a specific weight — and functional workouts. Here’s a workout that is as close to a “total package” as I could get using a minimum number of exercises. You can do this one even if you’re a beginner — simply choose appropriate weights, repetitions and sets.

The workout consists of a total body lift; three lifts that hit the back, shoulders, and legs; a bodyweight exercise that helps the core and upper body; and a cardio exercise that also can help improve the run portion of your PT test. Modify, if needed, from the standard six rounds. One round is six reps of all six exercises. Rest as needed between rounds.



This is the king of lifts not only for the principal muscles involved but also the stabilizer muscles that are used. Those with a good level of fitness can choose between 165 and 225 pounds. Everyone else should downsize. Technique is important, and there are dozens of good Internet videos on this lift.

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OFF swimming workout_500

This workout focuses on making you a stronger swimmer. But by doing the exercises — and eating a healthy diet — it will improve your look, too. These six exercises work the body from feet to shoulders. (Triathletes will agree there needs to be a seventh exercise on how to survive the trampling that occurs during the swim portion of a race.) Do 10 reps on everything, and dream of the nice warm days ahead while working on these exercises.

Tate press

You can really feel your triceps flex on this one; also hits the forearms and wrists.

Lie on your back on a flat bench with two dumbbells, in the vertical position, resting on your chest and touching each other. Palms are facing your feet, and knuckles are pointed towards each other.

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The ab muscles are a primary component of your core, linking movement of the upper and lower body. At Level 1 are the external obliques; Level 2 has the internal obliques; and Level 3 has the transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis (the much loved six-pack). The abs handle curling forward, bending to the sides, rotating right and left, and stabilizing the low back and trunk. Think running, any sport activity, any type of physical training, and combat — the whole package. Here are six exercises that do a better job than situps and crunches while saving the cumulative wear on the lower spine.


The gold standard for core strength, nothing is better. You must be strict and stop anytime your hips drop from level. Increase hold time for the progression.

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I always look to develop combination exercises that get you two or even three moves for the price of one.

This shoulder workout gives you six for one.

With this workout, you need to start with light weights — not only to make it through the number of repetitions but also to ensure that your technique remains good.

This is not for the faint of heart. You move from one exercise to the next in a smooth flow without rest: When you’ve done all six once, that’s one rep. Then, without rest, start over. The first time you try this, make your goal six reps, for one total set.

When you can do one set comfortably, take a one-minute rest and go for a second set. After two sets, experiment with heavier dumbbells and more reps — eight reps with heavier weights for strength or 12 to 15 reps with lighter weights for endurance.

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runner_burpee combo_1000

Many runners believe that to be better runners, they need to run more, run longer, run faster — and that strength training will only make them tight, sap their flexibility and raise their risk of pulled muscles and injuries.

Not true. Strength training improves your running, lowering the risk of injury, both running- and nonrunning-related.

Running is basically a repetitive event involving motion that is fairly straightforward, front to back. So the muscles used in lateral or twisting motions — and there are many — may be weaker than they should be. In that situation, a game of racquetball on a cold winter day could put your run program on hold.

The bottom line: Stronger muscles are more powerful muscles, and more power can help you run faster over the same distance with less effort.

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Mile marker_500

The New Year is here, and there’s one thing you can be absolutely sure of: A huge number of folks are going to promise themselves as well as many other people that they will be turning up their fat-burning engine to the max and that there will be no more Mr./Ms. “Softy,” “Couch Potato,” or “Always Have An Excuse.”

Yes, everyone will be shocked to see the new you.

Let me offer some lessons learned from watching New Year’s commandos crash and burn more often than not. If you follow these tips in your quest, you’ll boost your chances of success.

1. Set your mind for the long term.

If you’re the type to make New Year’s fitness resolutions to begin with, that usually means your fitness level is not at the top of the chart. So know this: You cannot — cannot — safely reach your goals in mere days — or even weeks.

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Farmers Walk

Here are some exercises that you may not have seen in the gym that will give your arms a complete workout.

They all go a bit beyond the standard biceps, triceps and forearm exercises. There are hundreds of fitness references that show not only these but other exercises you may want to consider. Pick a weight where you struggle on reps 9 and 10.

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Bar Hold

If you study the folks in the gym, you’ll notice that very few, if any, are working on their forearms. A complete arm workout should always include forearms, the principal functions of which are to help flex the elbow when the hand is in a thumbs-up, palms-in position; extend the wrist up and to the side; and flex the wrist down and to the side.

The following are four essential exercises for the forearm muscles. Perform 10 reps except where noted.

Hammer curl (above left)

This curl is done with dumbbells. I find that you can use a heavier weight for hammer curls than straight biceps curls. You can execute this with both dumbbells at the same time or alternate them.

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Milmuscle curls

There’s no denying that when you look around the gym, most guys are working their biceps, flexing in the wall mirrors as they walk to the next exercise station. In virtually everyone’s mind, “guns” can never be big enough.

The central mission of the biceps is elbow flexion regardless of arm position. These three exercises will get all aspects of the biceps involved and produce maximum results. Flexion strength numbers below demonstrate power available — you get more power with arms up high than at your sides.

If the arm is above the shoulder (chin-ups, palms facing in), arm flexion strength is 184 pounds.


If the arm is level with the shoulder (horizontal preacher curl), arm flexion strength is 146 pounds.

If the arm is at the side (standard curl), arm flexion strength is 115 pounds.

A few exercises for bigger — and more importantly, stronger — biceps:

Standing alternating dumbbell curls

A huge bang for the buck, this exercise is excellent for emphasizing the biceps in all its actions and involves the short head, the long head, the brachioradialis (the muscle that extends partway down the forearm), the front deltoids and just touches the upper pectorals. Pick a weight that will have you struggling just a bit on reps 9 and 10.

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Working out with a partner has a ton of upsides and only one small downside — the opportunity to get distracted while talking about other things.

A few of the upsides:

Motivation. Challenge each other to push through the rough spots.

Competition. Challenge each other on reps, weight or speed (if both partners are fairly equal).

Spotting. Help out when technique starts to falter.

Managing time. Keep the workout focused.

It is important to have a partner with similar goals, dedication and work ethic. A good partnership can absolutely be male/female.

Here are two workouts that I have my clients do in a partner environment.

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