Military Muscle: Basic and Strong

Military Muscle: Basic and Strong
by Michael Klamut

The United States Military. What comes to mind when you hear or talk about the Armed Forces? Dedication? Strength? Commitment? Power? Sacrifice? Aren’t these all characteristics we use on a daily basis, in our pursuit of a fit and healthy lifestyle? I believe it is. I would like to say thank you to all of our armed service veterans. As a United States Air Force veteran myself, I know and understand the needs of these special men and women who have sacrificed so much while serving and protecting this great country. I also would like to take time to thank all of the military families who have lent their support, encouragement, and love to our vets; because without it, it would only make life rougher for our men and women in uniform. Please thank a veteran whenever you can, they are the reason we can live the life we live.

The sole purpose of this article is to educate people on how they can train like the military in the comfort of their own home without ever having to sign up for basic training. People are always amazed at how well conditioned the military is, considering most of the fitness standards and workouts consist mainly of the use of one’s own bodyweight. The military has evolved into using other methods for training; such as strength training with weights, the use of Kettlebells, Spinning, CrossFit, and TRX. However, if you were to enlist and enter basic training tomorrow, you would be tested on all skills involving your own body weight, consisting of mainly push-ups, sit-ups/crunches, and some sort of timed distance run.

Let’s take a look at the basic fundamental movements the military uses to keep their personnel in tip top shape.


The basic push-up is an exercise that any person can do. There are many modifications to the push-up which will help develop different parts of the chest and arms. One should master the basic push-up before venturing off into the other variations of this exercise. The push-up works many muscles in the body, and when dissected, one can see that push-ups are beneficial for your entire body. Push-ups can strengthen your fingers, hands, biceps, triceps, shoulders, forearms, upper and lower back, and even your abdominal muscles. Push-ups can also build endurance (when performed in large quantities), support muscle growth (depending on the number of reps, and speed at which they are being performed) and prevent injury. A push-up can help prevent injury by completing them before a workout to help warm-up the body and muscles before they are put through a more aggressive form of training. As a result, you will be able to stay “Injury Free” longer and less likely to strain your muscles.

The muscles used in executing a push-up are as follows:

Pectoralis Major:

These are the two large muscles of the chest. They are the primary pushing muscles of the upper body. When you perform a proper push-up, the Pectoralis Major performs most of the work, with some help from the Triceps.


The muscle group on the back of the upper arm is the Triceps. The Triceps are an integral part of the pushing motion of the arm. The Triceps make up about two-thirds of the upper arm. They share the workload with the Pectoralis Major when completing a push-up.


These are the shoulder muscles, which aid the Pectoralis Major in the raising and lowering motions of a push-up. The Deltoids are significantly a weaker muscle group, but are a major player in every motion your shoulder makes.

Serratus Anterior:

This muscle group is located underneath the armpits on the sides of the chest. This muscle group is commonly referred to as the “Wings” because they give the appearance of a wide back and shoulder region. This muscle group aids in pulling the shoulder blade forward and around the rib cage during the movement of the push-up.


This is the narrow muscle that runs from the shoulder blade to the Biceps. This group pulls the upper arm forward and against the upper body. This movement is needed to perform a proper push-up.


Sit-ups help develop and define the abdominal muscles. Since sit-ups work your core muscles and lower back, activities such as lifting, running and any other physical movement should greatly improve. A regular routine of sit-ups/crunches and proper diet can help in flattening the abdominal area and give you that “Six Pack” look you’ve worked so hard for.

The muscles used in executing a Sit-up are as follows:

Rectus Abdominis:

The Rectus Abdominis is the abdominal muscle wall that connects to the lower rib cage and to the hips. When these muscles are strengthened and built up, they create the “Six-Pack” appearance. This muscle group is also designed to tilt the rib cage and pelvis toward each other. As with all abdominal exercises, the sit-up or crunch should be performed with the back slightly rounded at all times to help protect the spine. The contraction of this movement employs the Rectus Abdominis.

External Obliques:

The External Obliques also attach the rib cage and the pelvis, however; these muscles also connect to both sides of the Rectus Abdominis. The primary function of this muscle group is to aid the body with twisting back and forth, and for tilting the rib cage from side to side.

Tensor Fasciae Latae:

This muscle group attaches from the hips and to the anterior proximal part of the femur. These muscles allow the body to bend at the hips. Their function is to lift the body toward the thighs during a sit-up.

Rectus Femoris:

The Rectus Femoris is used to straighten the leg at the knee. This muscle crosses the hips and attaches to the pelvis; therefore aiding the Tensor Fascia Latae in flexing the hips.


Some people run for the fun of it, and others run because they are aware of all the health benefits that are associated with it. Some of these benefits are: weight loss, improving the quality of bone health, positive cardiovascular health, and last but not least, a stress reliever. Running is a great form of exercise because it requires a high level of energy to perform. The amount of energy needed to run is so great, that it requires the body to burn more calories compared to “less” demanding cardiovascular exercises. Running is known for improving cardiovascular health, by lowering blood pressure and helping the arteries maintain their elasticity; therefore lowering your risk for heart attacks and strokes. Running also aids in slowing down the aging process. Bone and muscle growth both respond to the physical demands we put on them, meaning, that as we stimulate our muscles and bones, they remain strong and do not weaken as fast with age. Running also helps alleviate stress, and can help an individual stay focused. So in a nut shell, everyone can improve their health, prevent cardiovascular disease, lose weight, relieve stress, and improve your mental and physical quality of life with the help of running.

Listed here are the U.S. Military’s physical fitness standards for all branches of the armed services. Please refer to each branch’s website for a comparison and grading scale, to see how you stack up against each service’s requirements. Challenge yourself, and see if you can hang with some of Uncle Sam’s finest:

U.S. Army

– Physical Fitness test taken twice a year
– 2 minutes of push-ups
– 2 minutes of sit-ups
– Timed 2 mile run

U.S. Marine Corps

– 2 minutes of crunches

– Untimed pull-up test

Males- (# of pull-ups you can perform before dropping from the bar)

Females – (take the flexed arm hang test instead of pull-ups, score is based on how long the marine hangs from the bar with proper elbow flexion).

– Timed 3 mile run

U.S. Navy

– 2 minutes of push-ups

– 2 minutes of sit-ups

– Timed 1.5 mile run

U.S. Air Force

– 1 minute of push-ups

– 1 minute of sit-ups

– Timed 1.5 mile run

– If Scoring falls in “Excellent” or “Good” the fitness test is only required to be taken once per year. Scoring in “Marginal” or “Poor” requires the test to be taken every 3 months, along with attending a health and fitness program.

U.S. Coast Guard

– Physical fitness requirements vary based on specific jobs and duties.

All members must pass:

– 2 minutes of push-ups
– 2 minutes of sit-ups
– Sit and reach test
– Timed 1.5 mile run
– 12 minute swim

So there you have it. None of these exercises are special, but it’s the diligence and principles the military uses that gives them great results. Some common knowledge about the military is that they train in the morning, and of course; training is MANDATORY! Early morning workouts help raise your metabolic rate and allow you to burn fat all day long. There are NO EXCUSES in the military. This is why they are so disciplined and achieve the results they do. If you set goals and never work towards fulfilling them, they will ALWAYS be out of reach and will NEVER be accomplished.

These men and women have many priorities to keep. Not only to the government, but to their families and themselves as well. Let’s not forget they are normal people just like us, trying to balance crazy schedules that life throws at them. All of the exercises performed are FREE, so there are no excuses about buying fancy gym equipment or paying membership dues. The military can train in any environment at any time. If they can do it, so can you. You have to be focused, diligent, and motivated to fit workouts into your busy schedule. Make it a way of life, and I promise you only great things can come from this. All of our uniformed men and women set the example every day. Is there really any greater role model than them? Thank a veteran today, they deserve it. Until next time…

…Stay Strong, Stay True,

Michael Klamut
2011 Lean Body Challenge Grand Champion
United States Air Force Veteran (1997-2001)

About the Author
Michael Klamut was the 2011 Lean Body Challenge Grand Champion. Mike is a United States Air Force veteran who works as a Radiologic Technologist (X-Ray Tech) during the day, and is a busy husband and father of two during the night. Mike entered his first bodybuilding competition and took 1st place in his Novice weight class (Middleweight) and Novice Overall. He takes great pride in helping others with their fitness goals and hopes to inspire and motivate everyone he comes into contact with. Mike is looking forward to helping all Labrada Nutrition fans reach their personal goal(s) and hopes to help them conquer any obstacle(s) that stands in their way.

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