I have noticed that many who are obsessed with going to the gym are not always interested in working out in a manner that is most beneficial to them. They seem to be more concerned with their appearance and image which is why they hit the gym. If you are into that crap, that is fine. Just understand if you are looking to gain true raw power and strength, and if you are interested in also gaining mental toughness, then you may want to look into more natural workouts.
I want to give you an example and how natural workouts benefited me as a Marine. Growing up I would often tag along with friend who was a career mason. His work specialized in building block walls, tearing out concrete or asphalt driveways, pouring driveways, building brick or cement patios and things of this nature. This work was not done with machinery. Shovels, picks, sledge hammers and wheelbarrows were the trick of the trade. The constant bending over and lifting heavy objects and the constant digging or moving wheelbarrows filled with concrete or dirt ended up being the best mental and physical preparation I could of asked for.
This type of work naturally built my arms, forearms, hands, legs, feet, and back muscles. Without ever stepping foot in a gym and without ever playing high school sports, because of these natural workouts I was often able to out perform many recruits and Marines who were visibly muscular when it came to things such as hikes, obstacle courses, circuit courses, rope climbing, and events of this nature.
It’s no secret that boot camp and most combat jobs such as infantry require a lot of mental strength and toughness and they will often measure your strength in areas such as, pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, dragging, and grasping. Working out in a natural manner will often make a huge impact in these key areas., so do not be afraid to give these types of workouts a shot.
So how can you work out in a more natural manner? Here are some examples and some tips about natural workouts:
- Shoveling snow is an excellent natural workout, especially when you move the same snow from one place to the other for long periods of time. This duty will build your mental toughness and it will build your strength and power in the obvious locations throughout your body. Going for a nice long walk in deep snow will also work wonders for you.
- Digging ditches or trenches and then filling them back up over and over is an outstanding natural workout. Or if you have a large pile of dirt or sand, shoveling it from one place to the other will work wonders for you. Filling and moving sandbags is also good to do.
- Hikes of any distance will help you in many ways. Read the Hikes/Humps page of this blog for more info about this method.
- Climbing walls, trees, ropes, monkey bars and things of this nature will work wonders for you.
- Flipping large tires or dragging weighted smaller tires is a great natural workout. If you don’t have access to a large tire to flip over and over, try to find a regular car tire and fill it with something solid. Tie a rope to it and try dragging it around for a while. You don’t even need a tire. You can use a sled or a piece of flat wood. The point is you want to drag something for set distances back and forth.
- Chopping/splitting firewood is a great natural workout. If you use steel wedges, a sledge hammer and an axe to split your logs, this will accomplish a lot both mentally and physically.
- Swimming, and cycling are great natural workouts.
Just get creative and do things that are done without having to go to a gym or are done without the aid of any fitness equipment. Use the environment you live in to create natural workouts. There are hundreds of things you can do to make you tough from the inside out. Remember, natural toughness is much better for you while in the Marines than being able to bench press 225 pounds, as an example. No one in the USMC really cares how much you can bench press or squat. What they do care about is how long can you drag a heavy load for, or how much weight can you pull up and over a wall or some other obstacle.
I know many of you have this image of a huge muscular Marine who is a bad ass. Just understand that this type of physique is not required to perform well as a Marine and in some cases being this way can slow you down. Think about it: If being huge and muscular made you a better Marine, don’t you think the USMC would stress this during boot camp and all throughout your USMC career?
There is a reason the Marine Corps added the Combat Fitness Test (CFT) to its requirements and natural workouts are a great way to prepare for this. It’s not always about how fast you can run or how many pull-ups you can do, so remember this when preparing for the Marine Corps, especially those of you who wish to serve in the combat side of the USMC.