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Fitness

A Workout That Will Step Up Your Speed

Three exercises to improve your quickness and acceleration downrange
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

The best way Soldiers can be physically prepared for a mission is to train how they fight. GX is here to help you do just that. This article is the first in a five-part series by professional trainer Raphael Ruiz that’s designed to target certain movements that Soldiers commonly use in combat, strengthening the muscles associated with those movements. Each installment, which can stand alone as a singular workout, will focus on one specific movement—and when all five workouts are combined, they create a total fitness package.

In this piece, we focus on the step-up movement. One of the most neglected areas by many Soldiers, this enables a Soldier to traverse stairs quickly or sprint for cover from enemy fire. The demands that the step-up places on the core differ greatly from other primal movements such as squats and lunges. This workout will improve the body’s ability to handle stress and torque on the core muscle groups while moving in a certain direction (i.e., up stairs or away from fire).

SWINGING GATE TO FORWARD LUNGE

While holding a barbell positioned behind your shoulders, raise your left leg at a 90-degree angle. Slowly swing your leg open and closed like a gate without moving the barbell. Then use that same leg to step out into a long lunge, allowing the quad of your extended leg and your hip flexor to stretch. Concentrate on your lead glute and stand up tall and confident. Return to the start position and then switch legs. Perform three sets of five reps per leg, alternating between right and left. Start with an empty barbell and increase the weight gradually if all 10 reps are performed without challenge.

SQUAT PRESS TO STRADDLE STEP-UP

Position yourself in a wide stance with each leg straddling a step-up bench. Squat down and keep your knees slightly bent while you perform a shoulder press with two dumbbells. Then step up onto the bench, using your left leg first. Concentrate on controlling the lateral movement of the hips and spine as you complete the step-up. Carefully step down and return to the squat position. Perform three sets of five reps per leg, alternating between right and left. Start conservatively with 10 pounds and gradually increase if all 10 reps are performed without challenge.

CHOPPING LATERAL LUNGE IN PLACE TO STEP-UP

Stand up straight in front of a step-up bench and hold a dumbbell in your left hand, resting at shoulder level. Step out with your right foot into a side lunge and bring the dumbbell down between the legs. Make sure to keep your alignment and spine strong during the movement. Next, bring yourself back to the starting position, upright with the dumbbell at shoulder level, and then step with your right leg onto the bench. Follow by bringing your left leg up in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Perform three sets of five reps per leg, alternating between right and left. A good starting weight is between 15 and 20 pounds.

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.

 


 

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