You do not have to be an athlete to be in good physical condition. In fact, many athletes who specialize in a few elements of fitness and are masters at them can be quite bad at others.
For instance, if you ask Michael Phelps to do speed and agility work on land, you will see that he spends most of his time in the water. Not being an athlete actually gives you a clean palette to work with. You can build a solid foundation of all the elements of fitness that you will use in a tactical profession. These are:
- Muscle stamina
Here is an email from a young man who wants to serve, but lacks an athletic history because he had to work during high school.
Stew -- I was never an athlete in school or before, other than playing kickball with neighborhood kids. I had a job after school every day, so that limited me. With that, I am not in great shape. Not overweight but not fit, either. Any advice? I think I lack the ability to stay motivated with fitness programs, as I have never stuck with one before. Any assistance with both the physical and mental side of training? Josh
Josh -- great questions. I have always said that you do not need to be an athlete to be in shape. Also, the main reason I recommend people doing athletics is because it helps become better team players. Working after school is also a great life experience. You likely are working to help the family (team) and deal with co-workers and managers, which also can be a team experience. So I would not worry about that at all.
About the Mental Side
I heard a great saying the other day: "Don't listen to yourself. Talk to yourself." You have to heed that inner voice, saying it's time to get up and train. You need to know that, with a job in the military, your fitness could one day be a determining factor between your living or dying, your teammate living or not, or someone you are trying to rescue not making it or not. So take it that seriously.
Train like your buddy's life depends on it.
That is my internal dialogue I have in my head when not motivated to train. Eventually, your first-day motivation has to evolve into persistence. Persistence evolves into habits. Your habits evolve into discipline.
This is all about developing mental toughness.
About the Physical Side
Think about getting to your training. To get accepted into the Army, you have to pass the Army physical fitness test (APFT), which is made up of
- Two-mile run
You have the answers to the test already, so go practice and score well above the minimum standards. Here are some related articles to assist you:
Push-ups: You have to get good at push-ups, which is a standard upper-body exercise of all branches of service. Adding pull-ups into the mix is a good idea to develop the upper body fully. See the PT progression series link and add weights as well.
Rucking: You also need to build up to this event. In the Army, you will carry 40-50 or more pounds on your back and go for miles. Be prepared for rucking with practice and lifting to strengthen your back and legs.
I hope this helps you get your mind right so you can get your body moving if you want to serve in the Army. You can do this. You just have to want to.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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