Alternative PT Ideas for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers

Today, I want to share some Alternative PT Ideas for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers.  I know that staying in shape is a HUGE challenge for many ARNG and USAR Soldiers.  Look across any unit and you will find close to 20% or more of the Soldiers fail either the HT/WT or APFT, or both.  Yes, the obesity epidemic has even hit the Army.

To be quite frank with you, I’m sick of it.  I know what’s it like to have to work extra hard to stay in shape and keep those unwanted pounds off.   And today I’m going to share some simple ideas that you can do on your own and during drill weekend to stay in shape.

Of course, the obvious answer is simply to say “work out 4-5 times a week” and “do plenty of running, push-ups, and sit-ups.”  And while that might be great advice, I also know that most people WILL NOT do that.

So I want to share some alternatives for this group of people that DON’T go to the gym 4-5 times a week.  I hope you find the information helpful.

During Drill Weekend

During drill weekend, you should do some type of exercise.  Not only will it help you stay healthy, but it will also set a good example for your subordinates.  If your unit has organized PT, consider yourself lucky.  Chances are they don’t.  If that’s the case, here are a few PT Ideas you can do during drill weekend to stay in shape.

  1. Exercise Before or After Drill Weekend with a Few Peers – Find a small group of three to five people and work out with them before or after drill weekend.  Do circuit training, go for a jog, etc.
  2. 10 Push-up Game – You could make a simple game like making everyone do 10 push-ups when they walk through a certain door, or when someone says a certain word.  Have this apply to everyone.  It would be easy to do 50-200 push-ups per day using a game.  And best of all it wouldn’t interfere with the other scheduled training.
  3. PT Contest – We did a PT Olympics in my unit while I was a Company Commander.  This is when the platoons would compete against each other to win the Commander’s Cup.  It was great for physical fitness and morale.
  4. Exercise at Every Formation – Every time your unit has some type of formation, add in a small amount of PT at the end, such as flutter kicks, push-ups or sit-ups.  It only has to take 30-60 seconds.

If you are the leader of the unit, I HIGHLY suggest you incorporate PT into ALL of your training events.  And even if you’re not the person in charge, you can still do some of the things I mentioned above.

Outside of Drill Weekend

If you’re like most people in the ARNG and USAR, you’re busy living life, holding down a job, spending time with your family, and doing your military responsibilities.

So what I want to do is just share some creative PT Ideas that you can do on your own and incorporate into your daily schedule. I know that not all of these will apply to you, but some will.  Take the ones that do and incorporate them into your daily life.

  1. Bike to Work – Depending on how far you live from work and what traffic is like, this might be a great option.  Not only will it save you money in gas, but it will also give you some good exercise and fresh air.
  2. Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator – Depending upon the office building you work at, make it a point to always take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walking those stairs will help a lot.
  3. Find a Gym Buddy – I’ve found that one good way to stay in shape is to have a gym buddy; someone you can be accountable to.  Let’s face it, when you have someone to work out with, you’re more likely to keep working out.
  4. Join a Running Club – Most towns have at least one running club.  Join one of these clubs and attend the events when you can.  You will make new friends and you will have fun.  Plus, you will become a better runner.
  5. Wear a Pedometer – You can buy a pedometer for less than $10 and keep track of how many steps you take each day.  Make a game out of it and see if you can take more steps each day than you did the day before.  Keep a log of how many steps you do each day, week, month and year.
  6. Park Far Away from Your Office – Most people look for the parking spot closest to their office.  I encourage you to do the opposite.  Find the parking spot in the parking lot the farthest away from your office and park there.  The adding walking will do you some good.
  7. Home Work Out Programs – There are tons of home work out programs, like Insanity and P90X.  Consider doing some of these programs on your own.  You will get stronger and improve your stamina, fitness and improve your PT Score as well.
  8. 50-50 Club – Make it a point to do 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups every day, no matter what.  You could do these at lunch, when you wake up, or before you go to bed each night.
  9. Work Out During Lunch – If you get a 30-60 minute lunch at your day job, you could do some PT during lunch.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that PT is and always will be an individual responsibility.  It’s up to you to stay in shape so you can pass the APFT and HT/WT.  By following some of these PT Ideas you should be well on your way.

What are your thoughts?  What are your favorite PT Ideas for ARNG and USAR Soldiers?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “Alternative PT Ideas for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers”

  1. My favorite ideas on the list are definitely the 10 push-up rule for entering certain doors or for saying certain words. It's fun and easy PT.
    I also like the competition aspect of your other idea. You could pit different sections against each other and not only build physical readiness, but also unit camaraderie .

    As for off drill, that is a tougher issue. The idea I saw with the easiest implementation and quickest results was the 50/50 club. It's a great way to shape up your muscle mass and a quick and easy way into an exercise program.

  2. All of these are good ideas. I like the ones about parking far from the front door to your office (or the mall, or the restaurant, or where-ever you happen to be.) Another tip is to always return the shopping cart to the front door of where-ever have been shopping, rather than park it at the nearest cart deposit, or just be lazy and leave it at your car and drive off.

    For me, wearing a pedometer has been the best strategy. The feedback is completely private: I do not have to tell anyone about what I have or have not accomplished in a day, or even that I am wearing the thing. Yet, the accountability is right there on my wrist for me to see all day, if I so choose, and it provides constant feedback. It also points out to me what I do that is actually strenuous (and I had not realized it) and what I do that is not.

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