High Resolution

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again when we take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate how we want to improve ourselves in the upcoming year. For most of us, there are two things at the top of that list: losing weight and getting in shape. Don’t rush out there and spend money on an expensive gym membership that you’ll never use (and don’t even need).

Last month I introduced you to former Air Force Combat Air Controller turned US Special Forces trainer Mark Lauren. His area of expertise is developing strength and general fitness programs using only your body weight for resistance. This is how I stay in shape these days. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra room in my house to load with thousands of dollars worth of equipment that I’ll use once and then turn into an expensive clothes rack (admit it, we’re all guilty of this).

On active duty and especially during deployments, we did what Mark teaches;  use what you have in your immediate surrounding to stay in shape. Pushups cost nothing. Put your feet on a bench or on your buddy’s back (assuming they are on all fours) if you need more resistance. As Mark reminds us, “You are your own gym.” 

I’ll be reveiwing one of his novice circuit training routines with you. Disclaimer: You’re all adults; use your best discretion before beginning any exercise plan. If you think you should talk to your doctor first, do that.

Let’s get going. Image from YouTube and Mark Lauren

Let’s Get at It

Today, we’ll be doing four exercises that will be done back to back. There will be four rotations of each exercise. Each one will be done for 20 seconds, followed by a ten-second break. But hey, reality check. If you need a longer break, take one. If you need a cup of coffee and a smoke break between sets, that’s up to you. Who am I to judge? You do you. The important thing is to get moving and get into the habit of doing something physical every day.

Mark says to do as many reps as you can with good form. “Good form” is important because it uses the muscle sets we intend to strengthen. Poor form is cheating, and cheating sucks.

Dynamic Squats

This is a mid-section and lower body exercise designed to attack the muscle groups highlighted below in red.

At a certain age, we can all use a bit of work in this area. Image from YouTube and Mark Lauren

I’m not going to write out word for word how to do these. The best way to learn is to check out the video below. Mark runs you through the dynamic squats from 0:53 seconds to about 1 minute and 28 seconds in. Stay light on your feet, and do not twist your knees while doing these.

The Military Press

These are not pushups, although you start in the pushup position.

An excellent exercise for the upper back as well as working your core. Image from YouTube and Mark Lauren.

You want to ensure your butt is high in the air and you push back just enough to feel some stretching in your hamstrings. Late reminder: It’s probably a good idea to warm up a bit by stretching before doing any kind of exercise. The video segment for this exercise starts at about 1:32 seconds into the video and ends around the 2:18 second mark.

Fast Swimmers

Great for the glutes. And, honestly, who doesn’t want killer glutes? Only a few months until swimwear season here in most of the US.

With this one, you also get a bit of a burn in your shoulders. Image from YouTube and Mark Lauren

Don’t forget to alternate your arms and legs on the opposite side of the body as you do this one (check out the video). And be sure to keep your head and neck straight and stare at the ground. That way, you avoid overstraining your neck muscles. Mark goes over this exercise from about the 2:22 second point until about the 3:00 minute mark.

Mountain Climbers

Oh, yes. I fondly remember these from high school PE class. They are an excellent total body exercise.

Shoulders, thighs, glutes, core…this one does it all. Image from YouTube and Mark Lauren.

Again, start in the “front leaning rest” (pushup) position, and don’t forget to cross your knees over to the opposite elbow. This is what works to tighten those core muscles. Check out from 3:09 to 3:38 in the video.

Follow Along

Now that he demonstrated how to do each exercise correctly, the remainder of the video is working out along with him (if you choose to do so). I think it’s great that he offers these videos for free because you can truly get some significant benefits from them in a relatively short amount of time, especially if you are a beginner.

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In the video, keep a close eye on his form. He is a stickler for doing each repetition correctly, one after the other after the other. No sloppiness there.

The big takeaway here is that you don’t need a home gym to start getting into shape. All you need is a bit of discipline and an area of clear space on the floor just slightly larger than your body.

Here’s wishing you all great health and fitness for 2023.

Stay Strong!

A million thanks to SOF veteran Mark Lauren for sharing his routine with us.