Exercising in the theatre of War

Exercising in the theatre of War

I was 19 when I first enlisted into the army and the journey I experience was both exciting and challenging to say the least. For 3 years, I trained for an operation theatre and in 2008 I finally got to chance to go to Afghanistan.

Preparing for this was both physically and mentally challenging, cross fit was just about to explode on the fitness scene and I wish I had the chance to start my physical journey before I want to war.

I’ve always trained in big compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, shoulder press and bench press, these are the fundamentals of a good starting base.

My next challenge was keeping fighting fit whilst on operations in the middle east. Little did I know that I was already doing this with workouts such as Cindy Simple Body weight exercise with a 5,10,15 complex. I hardly had time to work out but 20 mins of simple WOD kept me going.

Nutrition was key I was carrying heavy equipment and engaged in contact with the Taliban for up to 6 hours at any time. Also of central importance was hydration as it was reaching 40 degrees in md day heat and 90% of the time the water I had to drink was hot -  but after months we grew to like it.

I always worked with a phrase in mind – EVERY WHERE IS A GYM. Well in Afghanistan we made the best of what we had.

I have had experiences that most will never get to see but thankfully I am still here and am striving to earn a degree in sports rehabilitation.

Finally, I would like to take my time a give thanks to those brave men and women that did not come home and made the ultimate sacrifice to give their life so people today can live theirs. God bless the servicemen and women there are still there serving queen and country.

 My minds telling me no, but my coach is telling me go

 My minds telling me no, but my coach is telling me go

 How to change your mindset to push through the tough workouts:           

 Few years ago I decided to become quad-bike instructor. I remember thisas near deathexperience. The Seniorinstructor dragged me through the forest up hill, down hill and through all sorts of obstacles..I pictured myself being crushed by the quad- bike rolling down the hill.. At this point instructor stopped and said these memorable and awfully obvious words: ‘Quad bike is able to drive everywhere -the only restriction is your mind’. It was like a strike of the lightning. The change in my performance was immediate. Why?

 I understood that everything depends on me.

We often block our own potential by not even trying. Your brain loves comfort zone .No wonder that instead of doing 100 burpees it will choose sofa&pizza. But in the long run- will it really make you feel good?

To cut to the chase:  you come in to the box for the session. On the white board you see the worst  ever WOD scenario, everything that you are afraid of.

Let’s stop here for a moment. What happens in your head? Panic attack, stress ,resignation maybe?

Stay calm. Cut the flow of negative inner dialogue .Control the situation.

1. Know your limits:

Choose your level -the  one that is still a challenge but will allow you to sustain high intensity &good technique with  the full range of motion.

2. Remember that it was your choice to come to the box, you’re doing this for yourself to become more fit & confident person.

3. Always listen to your coach - my personal favourite!

Your coach will always push you towards-having your skill level in mind. If you’re advanced he will push you towards RX, if you’re beginner he will keep you on high intensity on scaled version of WOD.

4. From the physical point of view (psychological as well) you always have backup energy storage ’ just waiting to be released by your mind.

You feel extremely tired. Barbell becomes heavier and heavier. The mind vs body battle is on:I can’t do it. I’m exhausted. It’s too difficult etc..And suddenly you hear the voice:  YOU CAN DO IT! KEEP MOVING! ONE MORE! COME ON! Coach and your mates cheering you on, believing in your abilities.  I’m are not alone. It’s not that bad. If they can do it I can. BOOM. Your potential is released  and comfort zone boundary is moved once again. It really doesn’t hurt much more if:  you try to row bit faster, the breaks between reps are little bit shorter.

Focus on the task, on each movement, on your breathing.

Useful tip: Example: You have 100 push press to do. Don’t focus on the number. Plan the WOD as it is only 5 times 20. Sounds better? Keep up the pace and believe in yourself.

‘Worst ever WOD ‘ is over. You’re lying on the floor ,out of breath but really proud of yourself. Invincible. After all : it wasn’t that difficult or impossible.

 It was a matter of attitude.








What Type of pusher upper are you?

What Type of pusher upper are you?

Push-ups, great exercise for upper body strength. You might find loads of examples and different types of this body weight exercise - wide push-ups, close push-ups, from side to side ,low push-ups, push-ups with clap, elevated push-ups, hand stand, weighted , and many more! Like with every exercise you can have good or poor technique. Probably you thinking now …push-ups - it’s simple what I can do wrong with this. But it’s really easy to perform push-ups in bad way.

Let’s talk about push-ups common faults.


Insufficient depth - Full Range Of Motion means chest contact floor.

Incomplete lock-out

Top of push-up, elbows must be straight.


Sagging in the middle/snaking- If the athlete does not maintain core tension, his hips will sag, and his lower back hyper-extend . Body line must be straight from ankle to shoulder trough ROM.


Piked the hips-Hips are partially flexed to take the load of the arms. Once again straight body line - squeeze your butt!

Elbow winger

Elbows flare out-Elbows come too far away from the body, internally rotation the shoulder and possibly causingimpingement and pain. -Screw your hands in to the ground!

Elbows point in

-Elbows collapsing in toward the body indicate insufficient scapular stabilisation. Interestingly, it can also occur due to too much scapular retraction! -Shoulder back and down!


Head tilt back- Might cause lower back pain! - Straight Line from top of your head to ankles!

If you are not strong enough, you can try Box Push-ups. Good progression before push-ups, easy to learn and practice everywhere. It’s just the matter of time when you come from 30 inches box to floor level. Once on the ground -good set up position- To perform a standard push-up set up with your hands on the ground ahead of you, set about shoulder- width. Feet are together, with a slight pike in the hips. Squeeze your butt and abs to lock your body in straight line from ankle to shoulderand bring your shoulders forward over your hands. Remember - shoulders back and down.

Drive your elbows close to the rib cage until your chest will brush the ground. Abs and glutes should be locked in, shoulders packed, forearms vertical. Than push straight in to the ground until your elbows are fully extend.

It’s doesn’t matter what level of push up are you perform. Just remember to engage your core and hold nice straight line trough full ROM! Good luck !  

What should you be lifting?

What should you be lifting?

What should you be lifting?

Want to know your current level? What your strengths and weaknesses are? I've created a spreadsheet to give you complete details on where you're at and where you should be. Using multiple data sources and my limited Excel skills I've created a document that allows you to enter your age, gender(please Enter specifically as 'Male' or 'Female', bodyweight, Squat and Deadlift 1RM numbers and it will give you some serious data. Enter all data into the parameters boxes to the side of the document.

The first column will tell you what numbers you should be lifting for every exercise based on your current heaviest lift (either Back Squat or Deadlift). The Remaining columns give you numbers and skill levels for all lifts.

Bodyweight exercise weight include bodyweight. For Example if your bodyweight is 80kg and the number stated for your pull up is 50kg this means you should be able to do a pull up with around 30kg of assistance. If the number is greater than your bodyweight it means you should be able to do with weight added.

This document will allow you to work out your strengths and weaknesses and give you some clear direction for goals etc. Please let me know how you get on with it.