Muscular strength and endurance are important components to meeting the physical demands required to being a member of the United States military. At the core of the military’s workouts are pushups and situps, and both exercises are included in the initial and annual fitness tests. You can follow the military’s training principles and get in shape whether or not you’re a service member.
Schedule and Components
Complete your pushup and situp workout three days per week and on nonconsecutive day. Each military-style workout features a warmup, the actual workout activity and a cool-down. A 15-minute dynamic warmup prepares your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems for activity. The U.S. Army recommends beginning with some light cardio and then completing warm-up activities that target the core, such as the bent-leg raise, side bridge and back bridge. The cool-down lasts about 10 minutes and consists of light walking and static stretching, which involve holding stretches for 20 seconds each.
After you’re properly warmed up, you’ll move onto the actual workout activity, which will include both pushups and situps. The workout will be organized in a superset structure, meaning you’ll bump from one exercise immediately into the next. Fitness professional Stew Smith of Military.com recommends a workout consisting of traditional pushups, traditional situps, wide pushups, reverse crunches, close-grip pushups and double-crunches. Complete each of these exercises back-to-back, doing 10 repetitions of each. Go through the circuit five times so that you do a total of 150 repetitions of both pushups and situps.
Mastering the technique of the different pushups will help ensure that your training is both effective and safe. To complete the pushup, lie on your stomach on the floor and position your hands so that they’re directly underneath your shoulders. Lift up onto your hands and toes and contract your abs so your trunk doesn’t sag to the floor. Bend your elbows to lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and then straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Wide pushups are similar, except that your hands are positioned a couple inches outside each of your shoulders. Close-grip pushups involve setting your hands next to each other so that they’re positioned directly under the center of your chest.
The situp is ideally performed with a partner to hold your feet down. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Interlock your fingers and place your hands behind your head. Lift your upper body until it has reached a vertical position and then control your torso back to the floor. The reverse crunch involves keeping your upper body on the floor and instead lifting your hips up off the floor. Double crunch combines both the situp and reverse crunch. With your hands interlocked behind your head, simultaneously lift your shoulders and your hips off the floor.