Right after boot camp might well have been the fittest you’ve ever been. All the pain was worth it because you were filled with pride in what your body could do when you put your mind to it.
Ben Reale, an ultramarathoner who served as a Marine Corps officer, wants us to take ourselves back to that time. Now an Atlanta-based personal trainer and nutrition coach, he tells AARP Veteran Report, “As veterans, we are typically type A personalities and want to do everything all at once or everything 110 percent.”
The most important thing is to start. “Maybe it’s just getting outside and hiking or going for a walk,” he advises.
Reale has devised a series of “throwback” exercises, which he shares with us here. They don’t require any equipment — or a sergeant major yelling at you.
Building spine strength is important as you age. The Superman can get you there.
Lie on your stomach, reach your arms forward and lift your legs off the ground. Beware of extending too high, which could exacerbate back issues.
- Make it harder: Reach higher or hold it longer. Lift the opposite arm and leg higher in an alternating pattern.
- Make it easier: Take more breaks, or don’t go as high.
The Glute Bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent, and squeeze your butt, pushing your hips into the air, and then return to the ground. “In the military, these are done primarily with bodyweight, [and] also maybe with a sandbag or kettlebell over the hips,” Reale says.
- Make it harder: Use a single leg for support.
- Make it easier: Don’t pause at the top — come right back down.
Squats are the ultimate example of “functional fitness” — exercises we all need in our daily lives. Reale remembers doing around 50 air squats between runs or obstacle courses when he was in the Marines.
Position your legs shoulder width apart and bend your knees, keeping your eyes and chest up. Sit back as low as you can without leaning forward, preventing the knees from popping out over the toes. Then return to standing.
- Make it harder: Hold a weight or any heavy object.
- Make it easier: Hold on to a bar, pole or counter for balance.