You are strong, but are you strong enough to make it in the military?

When I joined the military right out of college, I knew basic training would be tough. But I never imagined just how physically demanding it would be. Only a few weeks after I put on my Army uniform, my body felt broken from endless amounts of push-ups, sit-ups, running and ruck marches. I neglected the physical preparation needed to be at my best, but I was thankful I had the mental strength to push past the fatigue and discomfort and not give up.

Military training is physically and mentally demanding. There is no time to rest when you’re faced with the pressure to perform. Upper-body, lower-body and core strength are central requirements needed to perform daily tasks as a soldier — like climbing up hills and carrying oversized equipment that weighs almost as much as you do. If I had to do it all over again, I would have prepared much differently with training similar to this military-inspired workout that I’m excited to share with you.

Complete four rounds of the following circuit for a total time of 20 minutes!

Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift

Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift

Set two kettlebells at the midpoint outside of each foot. Hinge at your hips and start in a conventional deadlift position while keeping your chest high and neck neutral with your spine.

Grab the handles of each kettlebell and stand up in one fluid motion, making sure to keep all your weight pressed into your heels. Once fully erect, slowly return to the starting position.

Push-Up

Push-Up

Get down on all fours and place your hands just outside your shoulders. Raise your knees off the ground and assume an upright plank position. Your elbows should be slightly flared out at a 45-degree angle. Lower your body down until your chest nearly touches the floor while maintaining a flat back and tight core. Once complete, pause and raise your body back up.

Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat

Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with a zero- to 30-degree foot flare. Keep the kettlebell close to the upper portion of your chest and your elbows tucked in.

Sink down into the squat, keeping your chest high and core tight. Make sure to push your knees out and keep your weight in your heels. Once you hit parallel or just below, stand back up and squeeze your glutes at the top.

If possible, use a 35-pound kettlebell, which is the load required to carry in a standard 12-mile ruck march.

Push Press

Push Press

Stand holding a pair of dumbbells just outside your shoulders, with your arms bent and palms facing each other. Slightly dip your knees and then explosively push up with your legs as you press the weights straight over your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

Sandbag Walking Lunge

Sandbag Walking Lunge

Start by hoisting the sandbag on your back and wrap each arm around either side to hold it in place on your shoulders and behind your neck.

Take a large step forward, dropping your hips down and creating a 90-degree angle. Your back leg should slightly hover above the ground. Then push up with your front leg and bring your back leg forward to the next lunge position. 

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Ready to reach new heights? Then obstacle courses are calling your name.

The Ultimate Ninja Warrior Workout (; 1:20)

If you’re looking to up your game at the gym, you can attend a new fitness class or hire a new trainer — but if you really want to challenge yourself, then ninja warrior training (NWT) is sure to deliver those next-level results.

“Ninja warrior training offers women an incredible workout that is both fun and effective, but that is not the real reason it has grown in popularity in recent years,” says Julie Lohre, IFBB fitness pro, a season six contestant on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and a former Oxygen cover model.

“The real reason is that NWT taps into that badass superhero we all have living deep inside of us,” Lohre says. “It tests our strength, flexibility, endurance, balance and nerves. By comparison, it makes the usual three sets of eight reps look tedious and bland.”

Benefits of Ninja Warrior Training

Between the popularity of the show itself and the rise of obstacle-course races like Spartan Race and mud runs — which allow everyday Janes to test their skills — a whole new breed of female athletes are rising to the challenge.

“NWT is so effective because it incorporates multi-planar movements that build power, muscle and stability while burning body fat,” says Lohre, who is also a certified personal trainer and owner of FitBody.com. “The movements use your whole body, rather than single muscle groups, so the number of calories you burn during a session is significantly higher than with straight strength training or cardio. In fact, with a typical NWT workout, you can burn upward of 400-plus calories in 30 minutes.”

Just like with the high-intensity interval training exercises you’re probably already doing, the key to this type of workout is alternating exercises that build strength with ones that elevate your heart rate. Lohre says that when done correctly, NWT can help women get stronger, improve their balance and run faster.

“In short, the better you are on the obstacle course, the better you will be at life,” she says.

How to Get Started

While you might be on fire to get on the course, Lohre suggests keeping the following in mind:

1. Baby steps. Some of the movements are high-impact and you might need to tailor those if you have any physical limitations. Start small, working your way up beginning with the easiest obstacles first.

2. Learn by example. A good NWT class will include an instructor who demonstrates all the movements and coaches you through the use of apparatus — such as trampolines and salmon ladders (a pull-up-style ladder you ascend by moving its only rung upward).

3. Practice makes perfect. It is also important to note that the kind of strength and agility needed to complete some of the most challenging NWT obstacles takes years to develop. Break down complex movements as you get started.

4. Get equipped. Rips are par for the course. If you want to get serious about this kind of training without tearing up your hands, invest in a good set of grips. You’ll also want to buy lightweight gym shoes that have excellent grip and enough support for modest-height drops.

5. Keep moving. With NWT and obstacle courses, you are trying to beat the clock. Keep rest times to a minimum.

6. Focus on form. Don’t compromise form to make it over an obstacle. The surest way to get injured is to ignore good form and throw your body into a movement with bad body mechanics.

Try It Yourself

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If you don’t have an NWT class nearby, Lohre created the following workout, which can be completed in any gym or at the park. After completing a good warm-up and dynamic stretch, use a stopwatch to complete the following exercises at a brisk (but safe) pace for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds. The workout should take about 35 minutes to accomplish.

  • Leaping Lateral Squat
  • Bear Crawl
  • Hanging Leg Lift or Knee Raise
  • Alternating Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Up
  • Stability-Ball Curl-In
  • Burpee Over Barbell
  • Box or Ring Dip
  • Elevated Push-Up

Rest for two full minutes before beginning the circuit again. Repeat the full circuit three times.

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Warm weather may be in the rearview, but fall is giving us every reason to get outside and sweat.

Photo Credit: rxphotography

Fall. When the summer humidity lifts, the sun is bright, the air is crisp, and there is no better time to take your workout outside. The track is not just for running. With minimal equipment, you can get your sweat on and #getoutside. Instead of simply going for a run on a sunny fall day, you can have a safe area to do some resistance training and get sweaty.

Equipment needed: Dumbbell or kettlebell (any weight you feel comfortable with) and a jump rope.

Warm-up: Begin with an easy jog for a few laps around the track.

Perform the following circuit for a challenging track workout:

  • 400-Meter Run
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings
  • 30 Double-Unders/60 Single-Unders*
  • 10 Overhead Walking Lunges
  • 400-Meter Run*
  • 10 Kettlebell Swings
  • 30 Double-Unders/60 Single-Unders*
  • 10 Front Rack Walking Lunges (each leg)
  • 400-Meter Run
  • 10 Goblet Squats
  • 30 Double-Unders/60 Single-Unders*
  • 30 Russian Twists
  • 15 Burpees Over Kettlebell/Dumbbell
  • 400-Meter Run
Photo Credit: rxphotography

*Double-under with a jump rope two passes for every one jump/single-under one pass for every jump or traditional jump rope. Alternate between running and jumping rope between each round.

Use your kettlebell or dumbbell to perform these exercises around the track:

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Veteran “skipper” Kim Corbin shares the story of Ro Gammond, a seasoned runner who plans to skip an entire half marathon in honor of her 70th birthday.

Kim “Skipper” Corbin and her skipping group in San Francisco. 

When we’re kids, we skip when we play and we skip down the sidewalk without giving it a second thought. So why do the majority of us stop skipping as adults?

It’s been more than 20 years since a friend spontaneously broke into a skip and invited me to join along on a Friday night in San Francisco. It was the first time I had skipped since childhood, and the experience was so exhilarating that I started organizing group skipping events and created a website called iSkip.com with the intention of starting a worldwide skipping craze.

As it turned out, there were hundreds of people from all over the world who had already been skipping for years, whether for fitness or just for fun. ISkip.com has been celebrating their accomplishments while encouraging ever-increasing numbers of adults to put a skip in their step ever since. So you can imagine my delight when 69-year-old Ro Gammond from Richmond, Virginia, contacted me to share her intention of skipping a half marathon to celebrate the fact that she’ll be turning 70 this fall.

“I’ve already completed marathons, half marathons, an ultra and a triathlon, and I’ve also been an age group winner, so I couldn’t think of anything that would be a new challenge to celebrate entering a new decade,” Gammond says. “I thought about running 70 miles, but that idea still centered around running, and I wanted to do something different. Then one day out of the blue, it hit me! I would skip a half marathon!”

Ro Gammond, 69, showing off her skipping form.

Gammond registered for the Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon, which is taking place on November 18, 2018, in Virginia, and headed to the internet to research skipping for fitness. She quickly found iSkip.com and contacted me in search of long-distance skipping advice.

A long-distance skipper I am not, so I turned to Ashrita Furman, who set the first Guinness World Record for skipping the fastest marathon in 2003, and the handful of other skippers I have met through the years who skip for more than 5 miles at a time. I sent Gammond their input.

I also sent her the results of a recent research study at East Carolina University that compared skipping to running. The study found that skipping burns 20 percent more calories than running at the same speed for the same time and that skipping has reduced knee loads compared to running, which may help reduce the rate of running injuries if people run a little less and skip a little more.

Gammond started training in earnest shortly after we connected. “Since the race is in November, I’m currently working on my training schedule for endurance and speed,” Gammond says. “I’m using an interval method where I skip for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. Once the weather cools down and as the half marathon gets closer, I will adjust those interval lengths accordingly.”

I recently had a chance to check in with Gammond to see how her training is coming along, and while she said skipping is a lot harder than she realized, she was still committed to her half-marathon mission. She’s really enjoying how different skipping is from running and can hardly wait for all the fun that race day is sure to bring.

Gammond’s zest for life and enthusiasm about her skipping challenge inspires me to no end. She’s a powerful example of how it’s never too late to break out of our routine to try something new. I hope you’ll join me in cheering her on from the virtual sidelines. Skip on, Ro! Go! Go! Go!

Looking for a new fitness challenge of your own? Ready to give skipping a try? Here are a few skip tips, whether you are skipping hand in hand with your kids down the sidewalk, skipping on the treadmill, or skipping for miles and miles at a time.

Stay low and go slow

Resist the urge to bounce high into the air. Low-to-the-ground skips, during which your feet barely leave the ground, are much more efficient. Keeping your arm movements to a minimum will also help.

Take it easy

There is no need to skip for miles right away. Instead, try blending short skipping intervals into walking and/or running routines, especially when you’re first starting out. You also can blend walking and skipping by walking two steps, skipping two steps, walking two steps, skipping two steps, and so on.

Don’t worry. Be happy

The most important thing to remember is that skipping is fun and uplifting by nature. The very best measure of a good skipping workout is not distance, speed or loft. Rather, it’s the quality of presence, freedom and/or glee experienced in each moment that has the power to turn a good skip into a great one.

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Take advantage of the warm, end-of-summer weather with this pool-based routine.

The kids are back to school, Labor Day has passed and pumpkin lattes are already making their seasonal appearance. But, according to your local weather forecast, it’s still very much so summer outside. This never-ending heat can take a toll on your workout mojo and make it hard to find your stride.

So what’s a girl to do? Don’t sweat it. A pool-based exercise program is the perfect workout solution for these dog days of summer. And after you’re done, you’ll have no guilt about lounging on a raft and soaking up some rays.

Water Ways

Not only are water workouts a refreshing option, but they also offer plenty of other benefits.

“A water-based workout promotes weight loss, increased flexibility and range of motion, and better balance and posture. It also strengthens muscles and builds stamina,” says Gretchen Spiridopoulos, an AFAA-certified personal trainer who holds water certifications from WaterArt, the National Exercise Trainers Association and the Aquatic Exercise Association, and she also works as a water aerobics instructor at Hilton Head Health. “It even protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.”

Spiridopoulos lists other benefits, including the following:

  • Extra resistance. Think of any land aerobic or workout class and imagine doing the same routine in the water. The benefits are magnified because of the water’s density, so you are actually working against the water.
  • Posture pleasing. Water is liberating. As soon as you walk into a pool, the water is helping to hold you erect and immediately you feel the benefit to your posture.
  • Less pressure. The impact of moves in water is so much less than on land, keeping your joints happy.
  • Feel good. Like all forms of exercise, water workouts also release endorphins, which assist oxygen flow to your muscles and help regulate your breathing.
  • Few restrictions. Water workouts work for everyone, from expectant moms to seniors and also those who are significantly overweight. That’s why so many rehabilitation programs are done in the water. Plus, water workouts may even prevent many injuries in the first place.
  • Cross-training. As conditioning workouts in the water can be designed to work the entire body or specific segments, many professional athletes incorporate water workouts into their workout regimen.

For those who cannot swim or have a fear of the water, Spiridopoulos advises starting in very shallow water and getting used to moving in different depths over time. “Anyone new to water aerobics should just be mindful of the properties of water,” she says. “The deeper the water, the less your body weighs. For those with injuries, advise your instructor or therapist so that modifications may be made.”

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Sample Workout

Warm Up Into Cardio:

  • Jog across the pool without your arms assisting, forward and backward.
  • Jog across the pool with “breaststroke arms,” forward and backward.

  • Jump hurdles across the pool.

  • Do straight leg kicks with alternating straight arms — done like a toy soldier with no bounce and/or as a Rockette!

  • Cross-country ski forward with straight arms, pushing your palms back, legs straight (but knees relaxed), feet flat (eight times).

  • Reverse direction, skiing backward with your palms pushing forward (eight times). Repeat twice.

  • Do jumping jacks with your arms pushing out and in (turn palms), legs straight but knees relaxed.

  • Take the jacks sideways across the pool (doubles the resistance).

  • Do jumping jacks into frog jacks.

  • Do jumping jacks into tucks (knees into chest between each jack landing).

With Noodles:

  • While jogging, push the noodle down in front of your body with both hands on the noodle shoulder-distance apart. Tuck-jump and touch your toes with the noodle.
  • Holding the noodle by the ends and using straight arms, push out and pull in beneath the water. Add jacks.
  • Holding the noodle by the ends, cross-country ski and twist torso.
  • High-kick your legs to touch the opposite end of the noodle, and low-kick your legs while pushing the noodle down to your opposite inner ankle.
  • Put the noodle behind your back and under your arms.
  • Crunches: Pull your legs up until they are straight out in front of your body. Tread your hands under your knees, which forces you to lean forward a bit. Then lift your feet up and let them go back down to water level. Use your core; do not lie back. Several iterations of these crunches include crossed ankles, feet shoulder-distance apart, slowly marching one foot at a time. Try to do at least 100 crunches.

With Water Weights:

  • While jogging, push weights down on your outer thighs, leaning into the pushdown (oblique work). Cross-punch (12 times) and add a cross-kick (24 times).
  • Holding weights down on your outer thighs, perform splits (suspended in water). Go at high speed, then stop midsplit for balance work, continue again.
  • Holding weights down in the water in front of your shoulders, perform a plank (body in a straight line, legs straight, pelvis pushed forward, toes gripping the floor) and do push-ups (12 times), then mountain climbers (20 times).
  • Then swing weights back while swinging your legs forward, ending on your back, then swing the weights forward and end on your tummy. Keep your arms and legs straight and core in tight. Repeat 10 times.

Cool-Down (10 minutes)

  • Plank: Hold weights together on top of the water, hands on top, arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder height, toes gripping the floor. Squeeze your entire core as you stand up slowly, maintaining a straight body (three times).
  • Suntan/Superman: Keep weights out to your sides at your shoulders, lie on your back (suntan), pull your knees in to your chest, tuck and roll to your tummy (Superman). Repeat twice.
  • While floating on your back: With weights out at your shoulders, pull both knees into your chest, then take both knees to the right and look over your left shoulder and hold for eight counts. Repeat on left.
  • Stretching: End with calf, hamstring, quad, biceps and triceps, and oblique stretches.

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Here’s a basic breakdown of high-intensity interval training for the newcomer.

Have you heard people talking about their latest “hit” workout and wondered whether it was some new kind of boxing class? Actually, the term is HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training. This style of training means alternating short periods of intense aerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out on a fun workout that yields quick results.

“In my opinion, HIIT is currently the most popular workout,” says Tiffany Smith, a certified personal trainer who is passionate about a holistic approach to healthy living and splits her time between Los Angeles and Kauai. “You can get an amazing workout in just 30 to 50 minutes! My clients see fat loss quicker and stay motivated because the workout can be short and sweet.”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT training has been shown to improve blood pressure, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol profiles while lowering abdominal fat and bodyweight without losing muscle mass.

The best part? Almost anyone can do it. “I have clients who range from early 20s to late 60s. They all love it and have seen great results,” Smith says.

Ready to give it a try? Smith shares five tips for HIIT newbies:

  1. Start small with a 10- to 15-minute workout, and work your way up.
  2. Try a class for guidance on correct form and extra motivation. While a HIIT class can be intimidating for beginners because of the high energy and quick bursts, just take it slow and ease your way in.
  3. Modify if needed. If you try to push beyond your means, you’ll either wind up injured or too sore to try it again. With every workout, you will gain more strength and endurance, and you will eventually be able to jump more, run faster, do push-ups that aren’t on your knees, etc. 
  4. Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you need to catch your breath, take a break. 
  5. Start with two times a week for a month, then increase to three times a week and so on. 

HIIT workouts can vary greatly to help deter boredom and focus on different muscle groups. “My favorite thing about HIIT workouts is you can really get creative and literally use any piece of equipment or nothing at all, and you can do it at home, at a park or in the gym,” Smith says. “My final tip is to have fun!”

Smith’s At-Home HIIT Workout 

Equipment:

  • Set of light and heavy weights or just your bodyweight (If you have a circle resistance band or booty band, that’s a bonus!)
  • Furniture (chair, couch, ottoman)
  • A timer or interval timer app (Set timer for 50 seconds on and 10 seconds of rest for each exercise.) 

Round 1: Use a booty band, resistance band, light weights or just bodyweight. The band goes above your knees.

  1. Perform walking squats side to side.
  2. Hold a squat and press your knees out, really squeezing your glutes and pressing into your heels.
  3. Perform squat jumps in and out (with legs hip width and legs wide), pressing into your heels.
  4. Execute a plank with alternating leg lifts.

Round 2: Add weights if you’re more advanced.

  1. Perform lunge jumps, really making them explosive.
  2. Do burpee squat jumps (plank and then land in a squat and squat jump). 
  3. Perform mountain climbers.
  4. Do push-ups (option — feet elevated on furniture).   

Round 3: Use heavier weights if you’re feeling strong.

  1. Hold a low lunge, then do biceps curls to shoulder presses.
  2. Perform triceps kickbacks, switching legs, slightly bent over.
  3. Do plank alternating rows (modification can be on knees).
  4. Perform alternating oblique roll-ups, lying on your back, reaching opposite hand to opposite foot, lifting your entire upper body off the floor.   

Repeat this entire workout three to four times for a 40- to 50-minute workout.   

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Jump to increase your fat-burning potential.

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Do you remember jumping rope as a kid? Do you remember how much fun you had — not to mention how you could jump for what seemed like forever and never get tired? Fast-forward to today. Skipping is an inexpensive, super-effective, fat-burning exercise that most people can do just about anywhere. And we now have more options available to us — to take our “childhood love” to the next level.

For anyone who’s up for the challenge, you may want to consider Crossropes. These cool jump ropes come with adjustable weighted handles that allow you to increase your intensity as you get stronger, and they help you sculpt out a stronger, leaner and more athletic physique. You not only will get a great overall conditioning workout, but you also will improve your cardiovascular health. So go ahead, grab your ropes and jump on in!

Jump Rope Tip: Always try to skip on a padded surface and have proper shoes to protect your joints!

Beginner: 

If you are a beginner or just getting back into skipping, start with a regular speed rope that is not weighted.

Intermediate: 

If you are at an intermediate level, you are comfortable with skipping. Allow yourself to grab a weighted rope such as Crossrope. Start off at the lowest weight to test out your ability and tolerance level as you are skipping.

Advanced: 

If you are an advanced skipper, grab your weighted Crossrope and see what weight suits you best. Make sure you increase the weighted handles every three to six weeks to continue to challenge yourself and increase your strength. 

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Ever feel charged up after a run? Recent studies tell us why.

Ever feel charged up after a run? Besides bombarding you with those feel-good endorphins, recent research found that running mitigated the negative impact of chronic stress on the part of the brain in charge of learning and memory. 

Stress weakens your neural connections, which over time impacts memory. But when stressed subjects exercised, those connections remained intact. 

Another study published in Cell Metabolism found that those same brain-benefiting mechanisms also helped strengthen the immune system and amped fat metabolism: Exercise reduces the chemicals associated with depression and mental illness and converts them into other chemicals that act positively in the body, turning white fat cells into energy-burning brown cells and enhancing the ability of immune cells to combat inflammation.

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Sculpt your physique and experience game-changing results by incorporating a plyometric box.

We can all benefit from including a plyometric box into our workouts. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike know that a plyo box can help with conditioning, explosiveness, coordination, strength and overall power. I could say more, but I’m sure you all get the picture. It’s a great piece of equipment. 

Perform the following exercises in a circuit to feel the burn and achieve a challenging workout! 

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