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Fitness

Pull Your Weight

Prepare for one of the most critical movements on the battlefield
Raphael Ruiz, owner of fitness company aXis, is a Tampa, FL–based trainer who has worked with special operations forces, Olympians and professional athletes. Photo by Chris Harrison; illustrations by Jason Lee
Raphael Ruiz, owner of fitness company aXis, is a Tampa, FL–based trainer who has worked with special operations forces, Olympians and professional athletes. Photo by Chris Harrison; illustrations by Jason Lee

One of the most important yet often overlooked movements for the warrior is the pulling action. Lifting objects, moving yourself to another point by crawling or climbing, and bringing something closer to you are all priorities for all war fighters, even more so than pushing actions. Your lats and the muscles around your shoulder blades and spine are all key components in this movement. You won’t be able to gauge the weakness of these muscles just by looking in the mirror. But you will realize this quickly on the battlefield, because every tactical action begins with posture and the spine. This workout, for which you’ll need a sport cord, will strengthen the muscles you need to pull again and again. 

HORIZONTAL PULL

Get into an elevated plank position by doing the following: First, position the cord’s suspension straps so that the handles are hanging a few feet above the ground. If you don’t have suspension straps, then you can use the bar on the Smith machine to pull up on. Then hold on to the straps and rest your feet on a chair or step-up box. Once your arms are completely straight and relaxed, you’re in position and ready to begin. Raise your right leg up, attempting to bring it up to a 90-degree angle. Hold that position while you retract/pinch your shoulder blades together. Then, pull your chest up toward the straps, while focusing on keeping your hands apart. The height of the pull is less significant than keeping a straight posture. Perform 10 reps per leg.

SPORT CORD STANDING ROW

Stand so that you are holding the sport cord in your right hand, with your arm outstretched, and you’re facing perpendicular to the anchor point of the cord. Rotate toward the anchor point, keeping your feet in the same position and your midsection tight. Then, pull the cord in toward your shoulder to form a 90-degree angle, and perform a controlled press overhead with the right arm. The resistance should be light to moderate. Perform 10 reps per arm.

BARBELL PULL

Start with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart and a wide, asymmetrical grip on the barbell (one hand over and one hand under the bar). Deadlift the barbell up to a standing position. Then, while keeping your head, neck and back in line, hinge at the hip and drive your butt back to stretch the hamstrings. Lastly, hold this position and perform a barbell row by pulling the barbell up toward the midsection. Start with an empty 45-pound barbell and gradually increase the weight without overloading the spine. Perform 10 reps per asymmetrical (over/under) grip.

When all exercises are completed, rest for two minutes. Then perform all three two more times.

Warning: Always seek the advice and guidance of a qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have before commencing a fitness program. This article should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. The exercises presented are for suggestion only. Participate at your own risk. Stop if you feel faint or short of breath.

Raphael Ruiz, owner of fitness company aXis, is a Tampa, FL–based trainer who has worked with special operations forces, Olympians and professional athletes including Deion Sanders, Gary Sheffield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Click here to read previous articles in this workout series. 


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