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Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Physical Fitness

New One Shot One Kill materials now available online

New program materials for the One Shot One Kill (OSOK) performance enhancement program are now available on HPRC’s website!

One Shot One Kill: Want to learn how the elite warrior accomplishes optimal performance time after time, under the most challenging conditions? The HPRC now has new program materials for the One Shot One Kill (OSOK) performance enhancement program online for you to use and download—by yourself or with your unit! One Shot One Kill (Integrative Platform version) is a “warrior-centric” performance enhancement program that warriors can set up and manage on their own. OSOK-IP is designed to enhance performance, hardiness, and resilience. By building on the skills that Warfighters already possess, OSOK aims to translate good Warfighter qualities to outstanding ones. OSOK-IP comes in two versions:

OSOK-IP Solo is a step-by-step integrative training plan, with supplemental materials, that enables the individual Warfighter to pursue this method of Total Fitness on his or her own and reach the optimal level of performance in almost all areas of life.

OSOK-IP Train the Trainer enables your unit to train as a group by selecting one member to learn and present OSOK-IP to the rest of the unit. This section of the website has the full curriculum available to download and even customize OSOK-IP content for your own military culture and unit.

We look forward to your feedback, too. Check out OSOK and let us know what you think!

Back in motion: Can swinging a kettlebell improve back and shoulder pain?

Exercises with strength-training equipment known as kettlebells may provide relief from back, shoulder, and neck pain.

Kettlebells have been used in Europe for years in strength training, and now they’ve become a popular workout tool here in the United States too. The benefit of kettlebells is that they provide the user a wider range of motion than dumbbells do. Kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once, making them a great option for getting a whole-body workout in a short time.

Interestingly, the January 26 edition of the New York Times Health Section reported on a Danish study that suggests kettlebell exercises are a promising musculoskeletal therapy for low-grade back and neck pain.

The study involved middle-aged women with low-grade back, shoulder, and neck pain who were randomly assigned to either a regular kettlebell workout or a general-exercise control group. The study did not include those with chronic pain.

According to the Times article, at the end of the study, the group that did the kettlebell exercises reported less pain, as well as improved strength in the trunk and core muscles, compared with the control group. Overall, the study showed exercising with kettlebells reduced lower-back pain by 57% and neck and shoulder pain by 46%.

For those with core-muscle instability or weak core muscles, kettlebells can be a great way to strengthen those muscles (back, abdominal, glutes, quads, hamstrings) and improve posture. However, along with exercise it is imperative to stretch the hamstrings, since this tends to be a major contributor to lower back pain or discomfort.

It’s important to start slow when using kettlebells and seek professional guidance. Like any other exercise equipment, if used improperly, kettlebells can cause serious injury, and their swinging motion can be difficult to control.

How dangerous is too much training?

Too much training with not enough down time and less-than-optimum nutrition can lead to “overtraining” needing weeks or even months of recuperation.

Getting in the best shape of your life requires you to push your training regime to the limit. However, without appropriate rest periods and diet, this can lead to serious conditions known as “non-functional overreaching” (NFO) and “overtraining syndrome” (OTS). What occurs is that your performance begins to decline, even though you are training as hard as ever, and you start to feel tired and “stale.” Read HPRC’s Overview “Overtraining—what happens when you do too much” to learn about the serious implications of these conditions for Warfighters.

Working out with babies

An Army base in Germany includes babies in their workouts!

At the U.S. Army Garrison in Kaiserslautern (Germany), the base is trying to find more ways to include families in physical fitness. They are providing classes— called “Binkies and Babes” —that spouses can do with their babies. These classes are great ways for spouses to workout with their young children, socialize with other military families, and get a great individual workout!

Overseas military families can sometimes find it difficult to both exercise and manage child care. This is one way overseas bases are moving towards Total Family Fitness. Renee Champagne, the Fitness Coordinator for the Army bases in Germany (and a military spouse herself), sees how “working out and staying physically fit may help a spouse cope during a deployment… which in turn could provide peace of mind to the military member downrange.”

For more information, see the article and video on Stars and Stripes.

Add stretching to your fitness warm-up

Although the value of stretching prior to physical exercise is still in question, the consensus seems to be that it is a good idea to include some—done correctly.

The scientific jury is still out on whether stretching prior to vigorous activity really helps prevent training-related injuries, but the scales tip in favor of doing some as part of your warm-up, just in case. HPRC has just added an in-depth review of the research literature and now offers information to help you decide the best way for you to incorporate stretching into your own fitness program. Check our our new Question from the Field, “Stretching during warm-up,” which also offers a link to even more detailed information.

Announcing Family Physical Fitness on HPRC

HPRC's Family & Relationships section has a new area on family physical fitness. See what it has for you and your family!

Warfighters have specific physical activity requirements, but their spouses, children, parents, and other loved ones also have physical fitness requirements for their own individual and family missions. HPRC's family section has a new area that summarizes recent guidelines for physical activity for U.S. adults, and children, and identifies military resources, interactive tools, and exercise workouts and videos. Check it out here!

Physical activity can boost quality sleep

A new study suggests that exercising at least 150 minutes a week can help people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day.

Besides keeping you healthy and fit, exercise has another important benefit. According to a news release from Oregon State University, a study conducted on more than 2,600 men and women between ages 18 to 85 found that individuals who exercise for 150 minutes a week at a moderate to vigorous level experience a 65% improvement in sleep quality. In addition, active people experienced less daytime sleepiness than those who are inactive. These findings appeared to be across the board—subjects experienced better sleep regardless of age, weight, and other health habits. For many, regular physical activity can be an effective, non-pharmaceutical alternative to improving sleep and concentration levels during waking hours.

The study, which was published in the December 2011 issue of Mental Health and Physical Activity, adds more evidence to the amazing body of research that demonstrates the importance of exercise for overall health.

Running to exercise

Running is one of the easiest forms of aerobic exercise, which strengthens your heart and improves your overall health.

Running is a great exercise to help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Running improves your cardiovascular system by strengthening your heart muscle and improving your circulation. As your heart muscle becomes stronger, your heart can pump more blood more easily. This helps deliver more oxygen to fuel your working muscles and remove byproducts such as carbon dioxide.

Workouts you can do at home during the holidays

You can fit in these workouts at your home through the holiday season to keep you on track.

With the holiday season upon us, finding time for our usual workouts can sometimes be difficult. Two great physical fitness resources are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Each has online workouts that you can try for free.

For a total body workout that you can do at home with free weights, try this total body workout from ACE that includes videos of the warm-up, the workout, and the cool-down. For a total body workout without additional equipment, try this at-home workout.

If you have less time, try this Basic Bodyweight Strength Training Program from ACSM.

Fit in these workouts in at home through the holiday season to keep you on track.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

This martial art relies on technique and balance to overcome an opponent, but it will also tone and build muscle without the use of weights.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu—or BJJ—focuses on ground fighting techniques, also known as grappling. You can start your training at a level appropriate to your physical fitness, but ultimately you will find that your endurance increases as your opponent also learns the techniques designed to dominate. Although BJJ requires little to no physical strength—mainly technique and balance—you will find that your muscle tone and mass increase gradually without requiring weight training.

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