The 8 Best Military Athlete Exercises for Functional Training

By Reggie Roberts on June, 16 2021
Military
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Reggie Roberts

Reggie Roberts served in U.S. Active Duty Army from 1996 to 1999 as a 92Y Supply Specialist and decorated Unit Armorer. Reggie now works as the Senior Military Advisor for the College of Exercise Science. Reggie's goal is to help soldiers, veterans, and military spouses get the most out of their benefits and provide support throughout their journey to reaching their goals.

Do you use military athlete exercises in your workouts? If your clients are focused on functional full-body strength and resistance training, this is a good place to look. A military-inspired fitness regimen activates a number of different muscle groups to maximize results in the arms, legs, core and other areas. More importantly, these exercises are based on functional movement, helping clients not only get stronger, but move with greater efficiency. 

The following exercises are ideal for strength and resistance training, but also offer cardio benefits. Challenge their strength with a focus on functional training with these military athlete exercises. 

Keep Reading: Use Your Skills as a Military Athlete to Build a Fitness Business

Want to Further Your Education? Learn About Benefits for Military Service Members

Decline Crunches

Targeted Muscles: abdominals, obliques, back, pectorals, hip flexors

 

Weights or Equipment Needed: bench or stability ball

How to Do It: If performing this exercise on a bench, adjust the decline at 15 to 30 degrees. The client will lie on the bench in supine position with feet secured as shown in the video. If performing this exercise on a stability ball, place it beneath the natural curve of your lower back, then supine on the ball, with the client’s feet firmly planted on the ground. 

Both hands are placed behind the head with elbows tucked in. Cue your client to keep their lower back flush against the bench or stability ball and use their abdominals to lift the shoulders and upper back about four inches. Hold the position for two seconds, then lower down to complete one rep.

 

Pull-Up Leg Raises

Targeted Muscles: abdominals, obliques, quadriceps, inner thighs, shoulders

 

Weights or Equipment: pull-up bar

How to Do It: The client grabs onto a pull-up bar with their hands about shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from them. Cue them to keep their torso stable and use their abdominals to raise their legs about 90 degrees in front of the body. Slowly return both legs back to the start position to complete one rep.    

 

Bent Dumbbell Rows

Targeted Muscles: biceps, forearms, shoulders, back

 

Weights or Equipment: 2 dumbbells

How to Do It: With a dumbbell in each hand, the client hinges at the hips to reach a 45 degree bend. With their back straight and abdominals tight, they’ll bend their elbows and lift the dumbbells to a parallel height with your shoulders, squeezing the shoulder blades as they do. Cue them to keep the wrists aligned, back stable, and legs still while holding the top position for two second. Lowering to the start completes one rep.     

 

Burpee Box Jumps

Targeted Muscles: abdominals, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes

 

Weights or Equipment: sturdy box, crate or stool

How To Do It: The client will start standing in front of the box or crate with their feet about shoulder-width apart and arms at their sides. From standing, they’ll perform a burpee followed by jumping onto the box or crate in front, landing on top with both feet flat. Returning to start completes one rep.

 

Shoulder Presses

Targeted Muscles: shoulders, pectorals, back, abdominals 

 

Weights or Equipment: 2 dumbbells

How to Do It: The client will hold a dumbbell in each hand, standing with their feet shoulder-width apart. With their core tight, they’ll lift the weights so their elbows are shoulder height and both palms are facing out. Cue the client to use their shoulders to raise the dumbbells above their head and toward one another in a slow, controlled motion. Return to start to complete the rep.

 

Marine Corps Push-Ups

Targeted Muscles: pectorals, shoulders, triceps, back, hip flexors, abdominals

 

Weights or Equipment: None

How to Do It: The client starts in a plank position with their hands flat on the ground and wrists aligned beneath their shoulders. Cue them to tuck both elbows close to their ribs on each side so each elbow is close to the body and facing behind them. With abdominals engaged, and back in a straight line, they’ll bend at the elbows to lower their chest as close to the ground as possible. Aftering holding the lowered position for two seconds they’ll return to start to complete the rep.

 

Supine Tricep Extensions

Targeted Muscles: triceps, forearms, shoulders, abdominals

 

Weights or Equipment: bench (optional) and 1 dumbbell

How to Do It: The client will sit on a bench with their back in a straight line, feet planted securely and abdominals tight. Holding one dumbbell, they extend their arms overhead so the weight is now above their head. They’ll bend their elbows and release the weight down behind their head so the elbows reach a 90-degree angle. The client will return the weight to above their head to complete one rep.

 

Straight Arm Sit-Ups

Targeted Muscles: abdominals, obliques, shoulders, hip flexors, quadriceps

 

Weights or Equipment: medicine ball

How to Do It: Lying supine on the ground, the client will hold a medicine ball straight in the air, knees bent and feet firmly planted on the ground. Using their abdominals they’ll lift the whole upper body off the ground into a seated position, raising the medicine ball overhead as they do. The client will return to the supine position to complete one rep.

 

Use These Military Athlete Exercises

Focus on function and form by weaving these military athlete exercises into your clients’ training sessions. While simple, each one is effective and targets a variety of muscle groups, allowing you to create results while keeping the focus on movement and overall strength and ability.

Want to Further Your Education? Learn About Benefits for Military Service Members

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Reggie Roberts

Reggie Roberts served in U.S. Active Duty Army from 1996 to 1999 as a 92Y Supply Specialist and decorated Unit Armorer. Reggie now works as the Senior Military Advisor for the College of Exercise Science. Reggie's goal is to help soldiers, veterans, and military spouses get the most out of their benefits and provide support throughout their journey to reaching their goals.

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