Gym Lust: See Where Soldiers Sweat

Dec 12 / Build Muscle

Ever wonder how—and where—a soldier trains for combat on the battlefield? Men's Health contributing writer Pete Wayner ventured back to Fort Drum, a U.S. Army post in upstate New York where he musclemorphosis.com, to take a peek at the post's new Mountain Functional Fitness Facility. Watch this video and read Wayner's story to see what goes on inside a state-of-the-art military gym. [[video:28466]] The brand-new Mountain Functional Fitness Facility smells like sweat and rubber. Hardcore music reverberates through the building. It’s a lot like other gyms, but without dead-eyed treadmillers ...

Ever wonder how—and where—a soldier trains for combat on the battlefield? Men's Health contributing writer Pete Wayner ventured back to Fort Drum, a U.S. Army post in upstate New York where he musclemorphosis.com, to take a peek at the post's new Mountain Functional Fitness Facility. Watch this video and read Wayner's story to see what goes on inside a state-of-the-art military gym.

[[video:28466]]

The brand-new Mountain Functional Fitness Facility smells like sweat and rubber. Hardcore music reverberates through the building. It’s a lot like other gyms, but without dead-eyed treadmillers plodding toward a New Year’s resolution that’ll fizzle before February.

Something’s different. Excitement and urgency hangs in the air, as though the men and women are lifting, running, and sweating for their lives.

Many of them are.

Fort Drum in upstate New York is home to the 10th Mountain Division, one of the Army’s most-deployed units. In the coming weeks, elements from two brigades, as many as 4,000 soldiers, will go back to Afghanistan.

Last year, Brig. Gen. Rich Clarke and others at the post assessed how to prepare soldiers stateside with what they need in combat. “A soldier can’t be just a marathoner or just the tight end or just the quarterback,” he says. “All those require specificity in training. Our soldiers have to be jacks of all trades.”

To that end, the MFFF—all 22,000 square feet of it—opened in November, with the objective to focus on strength, agility, and self-defense training.

Inside the gym, an Astro Turf surface contains 25-meter sprint lanes, Jacob’s Ladders, Woodway Force treadmills, and other machines that, instead of electric motors, use a soldier’s own momentum to create resistance against a brake or tether. All the energy exerted comes from the soldier, not the machine.

A cardio and strength-training room offers kettlebells, free weights, ropes and a cargo net for climbing, and a TRX station for suspension training. Finally, a combatives room surrounded by mirrored and matted walls holds a boxing ring, punching and speed bags, and a wide padded floor for groups to practice takedowns and self-defense moves with fake weapons.

Clarke says a soldier’s ability to train every aspect of the mind and body at the same time is vital for battle.

“It’s hitting all components for speed, agility, raw power and strength,” Clarke says. “If the soldier has to do a dead sprint coming off the helicopter because he’s getting shot at or if he has to make a long slow trek up a mountain at 10,000 feet . . . he can do it all.”

Soldiers are encouraged to assemble personal workouts using different parts of the MFFF. “The intent here, whether you’re a military soldier, a civilian, or a family member is to train body movements—not body parts,” says Maj. Robert Montz, Chief Occupational Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Fort Drum.

Instead of training isolated body parts, functional fitness is about conditioning your body as a series of systems to handle daily life, Montz says. The method is diversifying your workout to cover strength, power, agility, speed and endurance.

“Instead of doing isolated preacher curls where you’re just focusing on the bicep, how can we incorporate that bicep into utilizing the core, utilizing the legs to simulate an activity you use day in and day out,” Montz says.

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