13594.jpg

A Better Boot Camp?

Alt Text

a better bootcamp

Title Text

A Better Boot Camp?
Boot camp workouts have surged in popularity among the non-military set: In 2009, the American Council on Exercise listed boot camp training as one of the top trends in exercise and physical fitness.  Now, the New York Times reports that boot camp itself—real Army basic combat training—is changing. Should your boot camp reboot?

First, a look at what's changing and why. The New York Times reported that the new fitness regimen includes exercises you might do in Pilates or yoga class. Millions of plain old sit-ups are out, while planks and other core exercises that hit the lower back as well as abs are in (OK, there are still some sit-ups, but they're not the only thing). And the long-distance run has been decreased, there's a focus on stretching, and full-body health has taken a central focus. The ultimate goal? To reduce injuries and prepare young soldiers for success overseas in difficult terrain, like Afghanistan.

If your boot camp workout instructor keeps pace with the Army's changes, it's good for you, too, even if the toughest terrain you'll be encountering is the stairs at the mall. And it's especially good if you're new to working out. "The new fitness regimen is dealing with the problems of these young folks not having a fitness background by involving more stretching and more varied exercises," says Carol Kerr, an Army Public Affairs Officer for the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute. You'll know that your local boot camp instructor is in step with the Army program when you see a focus on long-term results, not short-term exhaustion. Not feeling super sore in one area the morning after your workout? That's a good indication that you're getting a well-rounded, varied sweat session.

Here's what else the Army is doing that your boot camp instructor would be smart to pick up on, too:

Focus on the core, not just the abs. "Instead of just focusing on sit-ups," says Shawn Kwak PhD, deputy director of the Executive Fitness Program for the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute, "we like to focus on general core strengthening."

"Eighteen-year-olds who have never done a sit-up in their lives—they need to build their abdominal and their back strength. That is what's important," says Kerr. What does that mean for you? Try more plankson your knees or toes—and side planks. And feel free to borrow from Pilates: the hundreds help increase your core muscles using steady breathing and slow motions. Once you increase your core strength, standard sit-ups and pushups won't stress or kill your back and abs.

Mix it up. "[Training] is not just one thing. You want to do everything in combination so you can target different muscle groups," says Kerr. That means planks, bridges, cardio, bicycles and more. "You want to try and keep the muscles working but in different ways," says Kerr.

Instead of repeating one exercise that targets your glutes, try three or four. Mix in, say, lunges, squats and dead lifts. Your muscles (and your rear) will be thanking you for mixing things up.

Don't underestimate the power of your body weight. "[The ideal is] regimens they can do regularly with and without equipment, with the flexibility to do so at any place and any time," says Kwak. "A lot of people's excuse for not going to the gym is that it's too far or they don't have time. With this, there's no excuse." Leg lifts, squats, and step exercises like step-ups get the job done without any special equipment. Use the stairs in your house as a personal bench to save money while toning your legs.

Add agility training. Boosting your agility will provide a strong, sturdy foundation for motor skill functions and athleticism. Increased quickness will reduce injury, enabling your muscles to adapt to the boosted variety in your workout.

There are loads of different exercises to boost your speed and increase your agility. Our top picks? Try shuttle runs—run 25 yards as fast as you can, turn around and do it again six times—a simple way to add high intensity to your circuit. Not in the mood for sprints? Hit the stairs with some stadium running. Fall is the perfect time to get up, get out and hit your local high school field, college stadium or neighborhood park.

Don't forget to stretch. Stretching is a vital part of every exercise routine, according to Kwak. He suggests:

  • Stretch all major muscle groups equally
  • Stretch when your body is warm, such as after aerobic exercise or sufficient warm up
  • Breathe slowly, rhythmically, and evenly as you hold each stretch
  • Maintain proper form while you lean
Shorten your run. As with sit-ups, it's important not to get in over your head when you run. If you've never run more than a half mile, build your distance by trying a mile jog followed by 20-minute brisk walk. Or, try SHAPE's 5K training program, which gets you moving faster thanks to frequent, planned, walking breaks.

The bonus benefit of this new approach is that you're more likely to keep it up. "Thirty years of doing sit-ups every day is really boring," joked Kerr. "If I knew years ago that I could incorporate yoga, Pilates, and other kinds of approaches—I probably would have kept at it a little better than I did."

"Not only does this new approach make it easier to ease into a fitness program consisting of stretching strength training and aerobic activity," says Dee Connelly, a telehealth nurse at Army Physical Fitness Research Institute. "But it also makes it easier to maintain. You want variety. You want to keep it forever."

Boot camp workouts have surged in popularity among the non-military set: In 2009, the American Council on Exercise listed boot camp training as one of the top trends in exercise and physical fitness.  Now, the New York Times reports that boot camp itself—real Army basic combat training—is changing. Should your boot camp reboot?

First, a look at what's changing and why. The New York Times reported that the new fitness regimen includes exercises you might do in Pilates or yoga class. Millions of plain old sit-ups are out, while planks and other core exercises that hit the lower back as well as abs are in (OK, there are still some sit-ups, but they're not the only thing). And the long-distance run has been decreased, there's a focus on stretching, and full-body health has taken a central focus. The ultimate goal? To reduce injuries and prepare young soldiers for success overseas in difficult terrain, like Afghanistan.

If your boot camp workout instructor keeps pace with the Army's changes, it's good for you, too, even if the toughest terrain you'll be encountering is the stairs at the mall. And it's especially good if you're new to working out. "The new fitness regimen is dealing with the problems of these young folks not having a fitness background by involving more stretching and more varied exercises," says Carol Kerr, an Army Public Affairs Officer for the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute. You'll know that your local boot camp instructor is in step with the Army program when you see a focus on long-term results, not short-term exhaustion. Not feeling super sore in one area the morning after your workout? That's a good indication that you're getting a well-rounded, varied sweat session.

Here's what else the Army is doing that your boot camp instructor would be smart to pick up on, too:

Focus on the core, not just the abs. "Instead of just focusing on sit-ups," says Shawn Kwak PhD, deputy director of the Executive Fitness Program for the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute, "we like to focus on general core strengthening."

"Eighteen-year-olds who have never done a sit-up in their lives—they need to build their abdominal and their back strength. That is what's important," says Kerr. What does that mean for you? Try more plankson your knees or toes—and side planks. And feel free to borrow from Pilates: the hundreds help increase your core muscles using steady breathing and slow motions. Once you increase your core strength, standard sit-ups and pushups won't stress or kill your back and abs.

Mix it up. "[Training] is not just one thing. You want to do everything in combination so you can target different muscle groups," says Kerr. That means planks, bridges, cardio, bicycles and more. "You want to try and keep the muscles working but in different ways," says Kerr.

Instead of repeating one exercise that targets your glutes, try three or four. Mix in, say, lunges, squats and dead lifts. Your muscles (and your rear) will be thanking you for mixing things up.

Don't underestimate the power of your body weight. "[The ideal is] regimens they can do regularly with and without equipment, with the flexibility to do so at any place and any time," says Kwak. "A lot of people's excuse for not going to the gym is that it's too far or they don't have time. With this, there's no excuse." Leg lifts, squats, and step exercises like step-ups get the job done without any special equipment. Use the stairs in your house as a personal bench to save money while toning your legs.

Add agility training. Boosting your agility will provide a strong, sturdy foundation for motor skill functions and athleticism. Increased quickness will reduce injury, enabling your muscles to adapt to the boosted variety in your workout.

There are loads of different exercises to boost your speed and increase your agility. Our top picks? Try shuttle runs—run 25 yards as fast as you can, turn around and do it again six times—a simple way to add high intensity to your circuit. Not in the mood for sprints? Hit the stairs with some stadium running. Fall is the perfect time to get up, get out and hit your local high school field, college stadium or neighborhood park.

Don't forget to stretch. Stretching is a vital part of every exercise routine, according to Kwak. He suggests:

  • Stretch all major muscle groups equally
  • Stretch when your body is warm, such as after aerobic exercise or sufficient warm up
  • Breathe slowly, rhythmically, and evenly as you hold each stretch
  • Maintain proper form while you lean
Shorten your run. As with sit-ups, it's important not to get in over your head when you run. If you've never run more than a half mile, build your distance by trying a mile jog followed by 20-minute brisk walk. Or, try SHAPE's 5K training program, which gets you moving faster thanks to frequent, planned, walking breaks.

The bonus benefit of this new approach is that you're more likely to keep it up. "Thirty years of doing sit-ups every day is really boring," joked Kerr. "If I knew years ago that I could incorporate yoga, Pilates, and other kinds of approaches—I probably would have kept at it a little better than I did."

"Not only does this new approach make it easier to ease into a fitness program consisting of stretching strength training and aerobic activity," says Dee Connelly, a telehealth nurse at Army Physical Fitness Research Institute. "But it also makes it easier to maintain. You want variety. You want to keep it forever."



Comments
comments powered by Disqus