How to Master the Two Most Important Exercises for Basic Training

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How to improve your score on sit-up tests.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Qujuan Baptiste, assigned to Army Sustainment Command, performs sit-ups during the Army physical fitness test portion of the 2017 Army Materiel Command's Best Warrior Competition July 16, 2017, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade/U.S. Army photo)

There are many exercises you can do to prepare for basic training, but none more important than the push-up and sit-up. In this article, I will show you how to increase your push-up and sit-up count with a simple routine that will take you only a few minutes a day.

How to Increase Your Push-ups 400%

In basic training, you're going to have to do a lot of push-ups so you're going to want to get your push-up count as high as possible before you ever meet your drill sergeants. You can increase your push-up count considerably with this quick and easy routine. The first thing you will want to do is some jumping jacks to warm up your body. If you can do 25 to 30, then you're off to a great start.

Once your body is warmed up, you're going to want to do diamond push-ups to exhaustion. That means until you literally cannot push yourself up anymore. A diamond push-up is when your hands are on the ground and your hands form a diamond shape.

After those are completed, wait 30 seconds. Now, do a normal push-up where your hands are shoulder width apart. Again, you're going to exhaustion.

Now you need to do wide-grip push-ups. Your hands are going to be even farther apart than the normal grip, of course. Between each of the diamond, normal and wide-grip push-ups, take a 30-second break before working to exhaustion.

All of those exercises should be done in one set. Do three sets of those exercises every other day, and if you don't feel sore after doing those three exercises, do four sets, five sets, six sets and so on.

Here's a tip when you're doing diamond push-ups: You're working fast-twitch muscle fibers in your triceps. When you're doing wide-grip push-ups, you're working your slow-twitch muscle fibers in your chest. You're building up your chest, arms and triceps in one workout. After these workouts, you will be ready for basic training. 

How to Increase Your Sit-ups 400%

You definitely are going to be doing a lot of sit-ups in basic training, so here is a great routine.

First, get in the sit-up position. In order to do sit-ups, it is best to have someone holding your feet. For the sit-up, your fingers should be interlocked behind your head.

For the routine, simply go halfway up and halfway down until exhaustion. This builds a certain part of your muscles in your stomach. Once you have reached exhaustion, wait a few minutes, and then do upper-half crunches. Do that until exhaustion, and that's one set.

Now you've got the lower and upper half of your ab muscles worked. You want to do those exercises three times every day. Abs are a little different than other muscle groups, because you can work them every day. It doesn't require as much muscle recovery time as your other muscle groups. So if you feel like you can do those exercises again the very next day, go ahead unless you are sore. Don't work out when you're sore.

Next week, you might want to increase the routine to four sets. You are replicating the exact movement that you are going to be doing at basic training, so that also helps with muscle memory retention.

This article was written by Sgt. Michael Volkin, author of the Ultimate Basic Training series of books.

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