From a military fitness perspective, getting into ‘military shape’ is more than just a regular workout routine. Not only do you have to think about building strength and endurance, but also mental toughness. It is essential to be mentally (as well as physically) tough to be able to make it in the military.
You do not need to join the military to want to be in military shape. It is simply setting a standard for yourself before training. However, to train effectively, you need appropriate gear (i.e. clothing and equipment). Each piece of gear is going to have a direct impact on your fitness goals. In this article, we will briefly go over three essential things you need to have.
1. Training Equipment
When you are trying to get into military shape, you need to have some basic military gear to get started. The idea is to recreate what you would normally have to do in basic training or even in some military situations.
Some gear you will find people training to get into military shape are sandbags and tactical vests. Sandbags are good for functional strength training, mimicking real-life movement situations (such as lifting and carrying) and improving grip strength. They challenge your stability and endurance, enabling a full-body style workout.
A tactical vest with a plate carrier is another advanced piece of equipment. It adds extra weight to your body during workouts, increasing the intensity of exercises; for example running, push-ups/press-ups, and squats. Depending on the style of tactical vest it can (somewhat) simulate carrying webbing or a daysack/rucksack.
Weights of different sizes and weights can be important for building muscle strength and endurance.
2. The Apparel
Just as in other types of workouts, you need to have the right apparel (or clothing) in addition to military style gear. It is important to wear the right clothing for the various weather conditions so you are comfortable as well as safe.
In hot and humid conditions, it is essential to wear lightweight and breathable fabrics. Materials like polyester or nylon are ideal as they wick moisture away from the body, helping to keep you dry. These fabrics also dry quickly, so you are less likely to be uncomfortable from wearing sweat-soaked/damp clothing.
Cold weather requires layers to help maintain body heat. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep sweat away from your skin. Add an insulating layer, like fleece, to retain body heat. Your outer layer should be wind and water-resistant to protect against the elements.
3. The Right Footwear
Finally, the right type of footwear can make or break your workout routine. The right type of shoes or boots can provide the necessary support, cushioning, and stability needed during various exercises.
Choose footwear that is designed for the type of activity you will be performing. Running shoes, for example, are built to absorb the impact of forward motion and are ideal for cardio exercises. For weightlifting, look for shoes with a flat and stable sole to ensure a firm grip and balance.
Footwear that provides arch support and cushioning is also important no matter the exercise you are performing. This helps distribute weight more evenly, reducing the stress on your feet and joints. How much cushioning you need will vary based on, for example, your body characteristics, type of workout, and the intensity.