Build Speed and Agility - New Fitness Testing in Military and Police

Build Speed and Agility – New Fitness Testing in Military and Police by Stew Smith

A few of the events in the Tactical Fitness Test highlighted in my new book Tactical Fitness include sprints, shuttle runs, and agility tests. More fitness programs in the military and police as well as special operation groups of both are focusing more on speed and agility than longer distance runs. Continue reading

Weight Gain and Bulking Up Tips from Stew Smith

How Do I Gain Weight? by Stew Smith

 

Weight gain is something that isn’t easy to do and you probably know this already. People who cannot gain weight usually have a high metabolism, which makes gaining so hard. The key to weight gain is to do everything BIG. You have to eat big and lift big, in order to get big. This is your new motto!

A lot of people think weightlifting is the key to gaining weight. It is an extremely important part, but the other thing that is just as important is your food intake. Some people gain weight by eating more calories and only doing calisthenics. Some also experience weight gain and weight maintenance while training for marathons by adding a lot more calories and a basic weight training routine. So it is not the cardio that kills your muscle – it is the lack of refueling your muscles after you workout. This requires you to eat both larger portions of protein and complex carbohydrate rich foods. Here is a free sample weight gain plan for you to download.


Try these 5 simple steps to help you gain weight:

1. Count how many calories you eat in a normal day. Don’t change anything, just eat like you normally would and count how many calories you consumed. This is extremely important, so try to be as exact as possible. Also, weigh yourself. If you are not gaining weight or losing weight, this number is your baseline caloric intake with exercise.

2. Starting the day after you counted calories, eat 500 calories more than you normally do. For example, let’s say that the day you counted calories you counted 2000 as your baseline. For the rest of the week, you would now eat 2500 calories a day. Instead of eating 3 big meals a day or eating all day all the time, spread those calories out over 5-6 smaller meals. Eat one meal every 2 and a half to 3 hours. To get big, you have to eat big! Remember that. Adding more peanuts, almonds, even milkshakes will help you add great protein and healthy fats (in the nuts) and many calories with little effort.

3. Weightlifting! Get in the gym and lift! This is another important step to gaining weight, so make sure you are doing it correctly. If you do not have weights, go with a TRX, pullups, and dips since together they are the heavy exercises in the calisthenics world.  Adding body-weight squats or holding dumbbells in your hands while squatting / lunging is an easy way to add weight to your resistance muscle building routine. For more of Stew’s ideas on this, read Multi-Joint Dumbbell Exercises.

4. At the end of the week, weigh yourself again. You’ll notice you are gaining just after one week! Now, don’t expect to see a 10 pound increase. Gaining anymore than 1 or 2 pounds a week is unhealthy and means you are putting on way too much fat or water weight. So look for 1 or 2 pound gains at the end of the week. You can be gaining 5 to 8 pounds in a month, so be patient.

5. It’s important to remember that, at some point, you will stop seeing weight gain. When that happens you will have to eat even more. So, when you stop gaining for at least 2 weeks, it means it is time to start eating an extra 250 calories a day. Every time you see you haven’t gained weight for at least 2 weeks, add an extra 250 calories until you have reached your goal. Then it is even more important to keep working out. Do not just eat to get big, work out to get big too!

 

Even more tips for gaining weight (These are extremely important for success!)

Stay away from too much fat! Even though weight gain is your goal, you don’t want to be getting all your calories from fatty foods, thus gaining fat. Get rid of the chips and candy. No more fast food, nothing fried. Stick to high protein and high carb / low fat foods like tuna fish (and other seafood), chicken breast, turkey, ham, lean meats, fruits and fresh vegetables.

— WATER! Drink plenty of water! Drink around a gallon a day, more if you can. Yes, that is a lot of water, but it is water that will allow you to gain weight. Just make sure you sip it through the day and do not consume quarts during meals. That will take up space in your stomach. Below is a list of foods you should eat to gain weight.

 

Foods that will assist with weight gain:

Whole or 2% milk
Salad dressing
Cheese
Raisin Bran cereal
Crackers
Peanut butter and jelly
Bagel
Prime rib
Ice cream
Ham steak
Nuts (peanuts, almonds, etc.)
Potatoes
Bananas
Milkshakes
Mayonnaise
Burgers
Oatmeal
Croissant
Club sandwiches
Cream based soup
Protein drinks
Carrots
Beans and peas
Steak
Chicken
Fish

Eat these and add additional helpings if you are trying to boost your caloric intake to 2500-3000 calories per day in order to gain weight — even more if you are very active with your workouts.

 

 

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout. Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT, and many other military, law enforcement, and fire fighter professions. He is currently the Special Ops Team Coach at the US Naval Academy that prepares future candidates for SEAL, EOD, and MARSOC training and runs a non-profit called Heroes of Tomorrow where he trains people seeking tactical professions for free.

Adding Balance Exercises to Your Workouts

Watch this excellent video by former Navy SEAL and fitness book author Stew Smith, to learn tips on how to add exercises into your workout that will improve your balance.

 

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout. Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT, and many other military, law enforcement, and fire fighter professions. He is currently the Special Ops Team Coach at the US Naval Academy that prepares future candidates for SEAL, EOD, and MARSOC training and runs a non-profit called Heroes of Tomorrow where he trains people seeking tactical professions for free.

Balance Your Pushups: Tips from Stew Smith

Balance Out Your Pushup Workouts by Stew Smith

People who exercise and those who do not, often neglect the upper back and rear shoulder muscles. Life has a way of bowing your upper back and rolling your shoulders forward. In technical terms, we are basically “internally rotated” within the shoulder girdle. Many things in life “internally rotate” us such as driving, sitting at a computer, playing video games, texting, carrying backpacks, bench pressing, pushups, situps and many more exercises and daily life events. So posture is critical to performance and our confidence. Perfect Posture is possible by adding in a few daily exercises for only a few minutes.

Basically, every “push” workout you do should be balanced out with a “pull” type of workout. You can do pull-ups to help balance out your pushups as well as supplemental daily exercises like the following:

 

Upper back exercise #1 – (Reverse pushups) – Lie on your stomach in the down pushup position. Lift your hands off the floor 2-3 inches instead of pushing the floor. This will strengthen your upper back muscles that balance out the chest muscles. Do 20-30 reps. Rear deltoids and rhomboids are the muscles used.

 

revpush2

 

Upper back exercise #2 – (Birds) Lie on your stomach with your arms spread to the height of your shoulders. Lift both arms off the floor until your shoulder blades “pinch” and place them slowly in the down position. Repeat for 20-30 repetitions mimicking a bird flying.

 

birds1

 

This simple 3-4 minute program will help you keep your spine in proper alignment and fortify your delicate shoulder girdle. If you neglect these smaller muscles of the upper back and rear shoulder, all it will take is a fun toss of a football, baseball, or over head smash of a volleyball and your rotator cuff muscles will be talking to you immediately.

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout. Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT, and many other military, law enforcement, and fire fighter professions. He is currently the Special Ops Team Coach at the US Naval Academy that prepares future candidates for SEAL, EOD, and MARSOC training and runs a non-profit called Heroes of Tomorrow where he trains people seeking tactical professions for free.

Former Navy SEAL Stew Smith Shares Tips to Avoid Muscle Cramps when Running

Watch this excellent video by former Navy SEAL and fitness book author Stew Smith, to learn tips to prevent muscle cramps when running.

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout. Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT, and many other military, law enforcement, and fire fighter professions. He is currently the Special Ops Team Coach at the US Naval Academy that prepares future candidates for SEAL, EOD, and MARSOC training and runs a non-profit called Heroes of Tomorrow where he trains people seeking tactical professions for free.

Get Ripped and See Those Washboard Abs

Washboard Abs, Six Pack Abs – Are They Possible? by Stew Smith

 

Yes, we all have six packs / eight packs even. They are just usually covered by a layer of fat. Having a flat stomach or washboard abs is not just accomplished by working out daily, it has to become an all-encompassing lifestyle. The key components are healthy and lean diet, cardiovascular / resistance training, and abdominal exercises. If a movie star stomach is your goal, you must realize that to achieve your goal you have to first concentrate on what you eat, not how many situps you do in a day. Of course, as with any fitness and health goal nutrition and exercise are always the main ingredient.

 

#1 Healthy Diet — Feed your body right to build those abs

The most important factor in acquiring washboard abs is eating a healthy diet. Here is a list of recommended healthy ways to help you lose a few inches:  (low carbs = no sugar)

— Drink at least three liters of water per day (100 ounces).

— Eat vegetables and fruits each day for workout energy and lean proteins for recovery / calories.

— Eliminate fried foods and cheese.

— Eliminate processed sugar (for example: sodas, cookies, candy).

— Eliminate fatty red meat – only lean meats (1-2 times weekly).

Diets like the Atkins diet and other high protein diets may help at first. To get rid of that last 10-15 pounds, it is recommended to lower calories to a range of 1500-2000 calories a day and to exercise rigorously both with core exercises and cardio work.

 

#2 Cardiovascular Exercise / Resistance Exercise — Burn off extra calories

Washboard abs, getting lean, and losing weight are all tied into a consistent cardiovascular workout program. You should do 30-45 minutes of activities like walking, running, biking, or swimming daily 4-5 times per week. It takes about four weeks before you start to see the physical benefits or your diet and exercise program. You will see almost immediate results in your energy level, overall mental alertness when exercising daily. Start off slowly if you have not trained with much intensity in the past several years. A good way to get started is to walk or run with the following six weeks program if you have been running / walking regularly.

 

Week #1 – Walk/run  1 mile a day for 5 days a week

Week #2 – Walk/run  1.5 miles a day for 5 days a week

Week #3 – Non-impact week  bike or swim for 20-30 minutes a day

Week #4 – Walk/run  1.5-2 miles a day for 5 days a week

Week #5 – Walk/run  2.5 miles a day for 4-5 days a week

Week #6 – Walk/run  3 miles a day for 3-4 days a week

 

Note: Week #3 is non-impact due to high number of injuries that occur to legs (knees, shins, feet, hips) during the third week of beginning a walking or running program.

Runners who are just starting out can find a 10-week beginner running plan of action here.

 

#3 The Ab Exercises  – You have to build ab muscles to see them!

Even if your ab muscles are still hidden under fat – start now!

The Ten-second Crunch is probably one of the best beginning exercises for firming up the belly. Simply lie on your back and lift your shoulder blades off the floor and hold for ten seconds. Repeat this at least for ten repetitions. Try repeating the 10 seconds crunch for 10 repetitions morning and night for starters. Also, stretch and flex your lower back for a few minutes after each set in order to balance the muscles that support your torso. However, a variety of abdominal exercises will help build the muscles under the fat. Now lose the fat by watching your diet and cardio vascular exercise and you will soon see the muscles!

 

Below are some beginning and intermediate abdominal exercises:

Hanging knee-ups — Bring your knees as high as you can as you hang from a pullup bar.

Advanced Crunch — (Legs up) – Lie on your back with your feet straight in the air. Keep your legs straight up in the air for the advanced crunches. Cross your hands over your chest and bring your elbows to your knees by flexing your stomach. (Do not do if you have previous lower back injury place feet on the floor instead)

Reverse Crunch — In the same position as the regular crunch, lift your knees and butt toward your elbows. Leave your head and upper body flat on the ground. Only move your legs and butt. (Do not do if you have previous lower back injury)

Double Crunch — Add the regular and reverse crunch together in one motion. You will feel this one twice as fast

Right Elbow to Left Knee — Cross your left leg over your right leg. Flex your stomach and twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee.

Left Elbow to Right Knee —  Same as above just switch sides. Cross your right leg over your leg. Flex your stomach and twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee.

Hip rollers — This exercise will help you build your abs, back, and hips to help with long ocean swims and balance out the hip flexors exercises. Twist to both sides keeping your shoulders on the floor and stay in the bent knee position when rotating left and right.

 

Note: Anytime you work your abs, you should also exercise your lower back to build balance in your torso. Below are two lower back exercises to incorporate into your ab work:

Lower Back Exercise — Lie on your stomach with your arms extended over your head. Lift your right arm and your left leg off the ground at the same time and repeat for specified number of repetitions. Switch arms/legs and repeat.

Lower Back Exercise (Swimmers) — Lie on your stomach and lift your feet and knees off the floor by flutter kicking repeatedly as if you were swimming freestyle.

 

Here are some advanced abdominal exercises:

Do not attempt to do these ab exercises if you are a beginner! These exercises are not healthy for weak or injured backs. If you cannot do the above swimmer exercises for 1:00 do not attempt these exercises.

Situps — Lie on your back with your arms crossed over your chest, keeping your knees slightly bent. Raise your upper body off the floor by contracting your abdominal muscles. Touch your elbows to your thighs and repeat.

Half Situps — With your hands on your hips, lift your torso off the ground higher than a crunch but not as high as a full situp. Your middle/lower back will be on the floor still at the up position.

Flutterkicks — Place your hands under your hips. Lift your legs 6 inches off the floor and begin walking, raising each leg approximately 36 inches off the ground. Keep your legs straight and moving. This is a four count exercise.

Leg levers — Lift your feet 6 inches off the floor. Raising both legs approximately 36 inches off the ground, keep your legs straight and off the floor until specified number of repetitions are complete.

Scissors —  Lay on your back. Lift your feet 6 inches off the floor. Open and close both legs approximately 36 inches apart, keep your legs straight and off the floor until specified number of repetitions are complete.

Atomic situps — Lift your feet 6 inches off the floor as if you were doing a leg lever. Pull your knees toward your chest while simultaneously lifting your upper body off the floor. This is a mix between the situp and the leg lever.

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout. Stew has trained thousands of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, SWAT, FBI, ERT, and many other military, law enforcement, and fire fighter professions. He is currently the Special Ops Team Coach at the US Naval Academy that prepares future candidates for SEAL, EOD, and MARSOC training and runs a non-profit called Heroes of Tomorrow where he trains people seeking tactical professions for free.

 

Stew Smith's Tips for Breathing Technique During Exercise

Learning to breathe during exercise has benefits such as preventing dizziness during activity, improving athletic performance, and increasing fat burning.

 

What is proper breathing while running?

Many experts will say that to fully oxygenate the muscles and clear the body of carbon dioxide you should breathe a 3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio; full inhales and full exhales. This means you inhale on the LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes and exhale fully on the RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes. This pattern is not that hard to turn into a habit, but it may require you to slow your pace down for a few runs to master the technique. You will notice a lower heart rate as you are able to get more oxygen in and more importantly push all the carbon dioxide out of your body. You may notice that you naturally drop to a 2:1 ratio when you are really pushing it to the finish. That is OK.  But realize it is difficult to maintain a pace that requires you to breathe at a 2:1 ratio. The carbon dioxide in your body will increase if your breathing patterns are short and hurried. This will increase your heart rate and lactic acid production, and decrease your endurance in any cardiovascular event (running, swimming, biking, etc.)

 

What about breathing and training/lifting?

Proper breathing during exercises where you exert yourself — such as lifting, pushing, or pulling — is much easier to remember and control than the 3:2 ratio during running long distance. To put it simply: always exhale on exertion. For example, when you are pushing a bench press off your chest, you exhale on the push and inhale as you bring it slowly to your chest. When you are doing a pullup, you exhale on the pulling up motion and inhale on the way down. Breathing during exertion is important in preventing internal injury such as hernia, blood vessel strain, and high blood pressure. Because weight lifting and and other types of training can be potentially harmful when done incorrectly, it is advised to get clearance from a doctor before performing too much – too soon. To decrease that pressure, focus on breathing deep all the time — during workouts and in your daily activities.

 

How does more oxygen help to burn more fat?

Oxygen + Water = Fat burn

 

Basically, the body needs water and increased oxygen to burn fat as an energy source. The water intake should be anywhere from a half gallon for women and up to one gallon a day for men. The increased oxygen consumption will assist with the other part of the equation.

As you add more water and oxygen to your system, your body will be able to use the retained water for excretion, prompting almost immediate weight loss of retained water and toxins. This is not the same as sitting in a sauna and sweating which actually dehydrates you. Adding water will re-hydrate you and enable the body to burn more fat (as long as you increase your oxygen intake by doing some form of exercise). Walking, swimming, biking, jogging, calisthenics, and even yard work can help with working your cardiovascular system.

Try the deep breathing rhythm during running or working out and see for yourself how you will perform at a lower heart rate and have more energy for a strong finish.

 

STEWART SMITH, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books including The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, The Special Ops Workout, Maximum Fitness, and The S.W.A.T. Workout.