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Shin Splints, Blisters, and PT [Merged]


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I've been getting a few pms and e-mails from you li'l civvies, FNG's and Cherries, asking advice about how to deal with Shin Splints, Blisters and how to improve your PT. (Hence the title. See how this flows?) So, in the interest of, well, me, really, I've stuck most of it here.
I live with shin splints. Always will. No reason you should, though. (Unless you want to be the incredibly hard, good-looking, and macho he-man that I am.) Shin splints is the name given to pain experienced at the front of the lower leg. The most common cause is inflammation of the periostium of the tibia. (Yeah, I can pronounce it, screw you!) Your tibia is the front bone in your lower leg (Your 'shin bone.' Which is connected to...) The periostium is the muscular sheath that surrounds that bone. The injury comes from overuse of that muscle, and can be caused by running on hard surfaces, running up the toes or "ball" of your foot or by an activity where a lot of jumping is involved. If you "over pronate" then you are also more susceptible to this injury. Over pronation is a common problem that is caused by too great an angle of medial (middle of body) roll of one or both your feet. Your foot rolls inward putting undue stress on the knee and hip and can cause them to become misaligned. Good running shoes will correct most over pronation problems but you may need to have orthotic devices designed for your shoes. This is actually a lot more common than we've realized in the past, and is especially prevalent amongst athletes, so you non-infantry types that suffer from the sort of delusion that marathons are fun may want to listen up here.

Symptoms of shin splints usually include :
-Tenderness over the inside of the shin
-Lower leg pain.
-Occasionally, edema (swelling) will be present.
-Lumps/bumps/nodules over the bony prominence of the shin (the front of your lower leg).
-Pain when you move your toes or foot bending them in a downward position.
-A redness over the inside of the shin.

What can I do about it?
-Rest them.
-Apply ice in early stages. RICE is the doctor approved method for recovery. RICE works (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Ice your shins for a couple minutes every night and elevate them above your heart while watching TV or sleeping.
-Get better fitting shoes or orthotic inserts. Age does matter, just not your age. When's the last time you bought a pair of running shoes? And I do mean running shoes. Not cross trainers, not basketball shoes, RUNNING shoes. If they're over 6 months old, you're probably due for a new pair. Oh, and despite what your girlfriend tells you, SIZE matters. When you buy the running shoes, make sure they're the right size. Don't measure size with a Brannock Device (the metal measuring device at shoe stores). You must go off of feel, not written size. Different manufacturers have different standards for size. Remember, your feet expand from the pounding when you run, so you need the size to accommodate for it. The rule of thumb is to keep trying on bigger and bigger sizes until the shoes feel like clown feet, then go back down a 1/2 size and you have the correct size. Trust me it works. 
-Utilize other non weight-bearing exercises to strengthen the surrounding musculature.
-Apply heat after the initial acute stage, particularly prior to heavy exercise.
-Take an OTC (over the counter) NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like Motrin.
-Properly stretch prior to, and especially following, exercise. The best way to stretch your calf is to stand with your toes on a curb or wall, and your heel on the street and lean into it. Another way is to get into a push up position, then, keeping your knees lock straight, walk your hands closer to your feet until your heels almost touch the ground. Hold this for 10-30 seconds and slowly let it out. Repeat.
Now, kneel with your feet together, toes pointed out, and sit on your heels. Hold this for 10-30 seconds and slowly let it out. Repeat.
- Change the surface you're running on. Concrete (side walks) is the hardest and worst for your legs, knees, etc. Asphalt (roads) is a close second. The best is a soft surface like grass or sand. Consider changing your route to a softer area. Or just run along the grass beside the road/sidewalk. Whenever possible, try to find grassy or dirt paths. Not only are they easier on your body, they're usually more visually stimulating.
-Change your cardio routine. You can still do Cardio everyday (or every second day) as you like. Just minimize the impact cardio. Instead of running, get on an elliptical trainer. Take a bike ride once a week. Swim. Anything that lets you get the heart rate up without pounding on your shins until your body has a chance to stretch the calves out again and reduce the swelling in your shins.

The usual full recovery time for this injury is two to four weeks.

From personal experience - don't be a hard *** if ya don't need to be. I got shin splints on the inside of my calves back in Basic. I sucked it up until Basic was over, and I was in Battle School. At that point, I couldn't put any weight on my leg without it feeling like someone was taking a spiked rolling pin to my shin so I went to the UMS. Found out I had stress fractures in my legs and had been running on them for a few months. From what I understand the muscles in your lower leg can get broken down and become so weak that they transfer all the weight onto the bone. I ended up being re-coursed and stuck in Holding Platoon for months. Whenever possible, take a day or two off when ya first get shin splints. It's a lot better than having to take 8 weeks off because you got a broken tibia.

You're going to get blisters eventually. There's no easy way out. The best way to prevent them is to keep on marching, in order to form thick callus on your soles and heels. Your feet need to be as tough a saddle leather to do the job. It takes quite a few miles of marching and quite a few blisters to get them that way. Over the long haul, trying to prevent yourself from EVER getting a blister is like arguing with a woman - it doesn't do you any good, and you end up worse off than before.

Blisters come from two contributing factors. Dampness and friction. Minimize (or better, eliminate) friction and moisture and you minimize your chances of blisters.
Moisture comes from external (rain, swamp, etc) and internal (sweat) sources. There are ways to minimize each of those. Unfortunately, sometimes the methods to counter-act the one source, work against you being able to counter-act the second. For example, Gore-Tex socks. Foot powder is your friend. You can never carry enough socks. You cannot change socks often enough. If you're out of foot powder, antiperspirant on the soles of your feet works. It's a tip I learned from an SF medic. I thought he was screwing me around, until I watched him do it. It works. Gold Bond medicated foot powder is still the best bet.
Friction comes from walking (not much you can do about that. Unless you're smart enough to find a job where you weapon caries you, instead of vice versa) and from your foot sliding around in your boot (you CAN do something about that). Wear two pairs of socks. I wear the issued desert sock inside a properly cushioned white sports sock on a particularly nasty-sounding ruck march. Works every time. They cushion, the allow moisture to wick away, and there is less movement as they are snug enough that they don't rub or ball up. Make sure you have boots that FIT. They have to be broken in and fitted to your foot properly.

Training (road marching) toughens your feet to increase your resistance to blisters through calluses. There are tricks to help accelerate the toughening process as well.

You have to be careful with mole skin. The adhesive on the mole skin is not enough to keep the patch on your feet. Mole skin is for AFTER the march. I know some guys who try to wear it before a march. They always pay. I've seen guys use moleskin improperly. It always came off during the march, ended up being a ball of crap in their boot, and actually made their feet worse than if they wouldn't have used it at all.
Do NOT wear band aids! I don't know where this crazy crap came from, but don't do it. Band aids come right off and ball up in your boots, so not only will you have the pounding of the pavement to worry about, but also a balled-up band aid in between the foot and the boot. It won't be a pleasant experience. I promise you.

Some peoples feet react to and take the abuse of the march differently than others. And I've seen experienced troops get blisters. A buddy of mine had his entire sole come right off his foot. Most repulsive thing I've ever seen. All of the callus just sloughed off and took the skin with it. It happens.

Bottom line: Cowboy up. Just powder your feet and put on fresh socks when they give you a break.

I don't claim to be a master anything (maybe baiter), but I can offer a few tips on PT.

Diet: Eat six smaller meals a day, not three big ones. Keep your meals 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fats. Don't eat after 20:00 hours. If you must nosh after 8:00 pm, eat popcorn. Drink lots of water. A lot of the time, your body thinks it's hungry, but it's not. It's thirsty. Whenever you think you're hungry, try drinking some water. You may very well find that you're no longer hungry after.

On water: the human body only absorbs .5 litre an hour. Guzzling down a quart isn't gonna do you any good. You're only gonna piss it out, and actually lose hydration. The best method is to keep some water handy and drink it throughout the day. Keep your caffeine intake down. 4 cups of coffee a day, max. Less, if you drink tea and pop as well.

Supplements: Don't go throwing away a lot of cash on supplements. Get a good multi-vitamin; take some anti-oxidants if you like, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C; if you're a guy, take some zinc and magnesium. These two minerals will cause your body to produce more testosterone, up to 40% more. Don't go buying the pro-hormones Androstendiol, Androstendione, etc. These have been shown to actually increase your body's estrogen. To help your body recover faster, you can take creatine monohydrate. This will cause water molecules to bond to your muscle cells more efficiently. You will gain a fast 7-12 pounds in a week, but it's all water retention. However, it can work against you if you're trying to improve your cardio. The extra weight can be a pain in the knees. Also, if you decide to take creatine, drink more water than usual.

Okay, now the physical training part:
Find your resting heart-rate. Now double it for 20 minutes a day. That's all it takes to lose flab. Doubling your resting heart-rate for 20 minutes a day. Are you gonna tell me you don't have 20 minutes in your day?

Don't get hung up on weight. It doesn't matter if you lose weight or gain weight, really. What matters is how much blubber you're packing. That's what's gonna kill ya. The fat on your frame, and the fat in your arteries. Do you really care if you weigh 300 pounds or 30 pounds, if you feel great, and look fab-u-lous?! Of course not. And, once you begin to work out, you're going to gain weight. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. So don't get your panties in a twist.

Studies show that a weight-training program, combined with a cardio program will cause you to lose the most fat and gain the most muscle, in the shortest time. Gaining muscle is the goal, because it raises the metabolism, even when you're resting. Your body will burn fat tissue to feed the muscle tissue, even while you're sitting on your gluteus maximus stuffing your yappeus maximus.

If you can't find enough time in your day to both work out with weights and do an aerobic workout, sacrifice the run. Studies have proven now that a proper weight resistance workout is almost as effective in improving the cardio-vascular system as a cardio workout. And weight training does more to gain muscular strength, muscle mass (thus raising your metabolism, thus burning fat more efficiently), tendon/ligament strength, bone strength, and flexibility/agility/coordination. Weight training is the better workout. If you plan it properly, you can get just as much aerobic value as anaerobic. (What was that? Some dumbass in the back just say “But I don't wanna get muscle-bound"?) You can't. If you're doing the movements properly, with a full range of motion, you are getting a stretch with every repetition. If you can't get a full range of motion, you're using too much weight. Drop the poundage and concentrate on proper form. Feel the stretch. Lou Ferigno, at 300 pounds, could do the full splits.)

Speaking of stretching, I know some of the old-school types out there have some weird and wonderful stretches that involve a lot of bouncing, or they like to stretch before working out or going for a run. Don't. (Oops! I mean, don't stretch hard. Stretch, but don't strain.) Stretching before a workout is like stretching a cold retainer band. It's gonna tear and snap. Stretch after warming up. Do something active for a couple of minutes, then stretch. But definitely stretch after a workout. Don't bounce when you stretch. Period. Every stretch is a slow movement. Take it to the point of stretching, not to pain. Pain is bad when you stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. For those who simply can't take that much time, at least hold it for 10 seconds. Stretch for at least 10 minutes. It would be better to stretch for a half hour every day. Do it while watching TV.

Ah, the fairer sex, I just heard the delicate bell-like tone of a damsel saying something about not wanting to lift weights because she “doesn't want to look like a man." Sweetheart, you can't. Unless you're some kind of genetic freak, or are taking some serious doses of steroids, you simply cannot put on enough pounds to look like a man. It requires major testosterone to get that “she-male" look that champion female bodybuilders get. Their bodies can't produce that much, so they get it from needles and pills. You won't get that look. If you want to know what you'll most likely look like from a healthy weight training program, see pictures of Rachel McLish. >Drool.< If you want to “tone up" or “firm up" or whatever the heck the new terms are, you wanna lift weights.

Now, on to lifting. Use free weights as much as possible. Machines are great for finishing movements, and isolation exercises. But, to gain strength, you need free weights. And use big, compound movements. These are the ones that strengthen more than one body part. They involve the stabilizer muscles. That's why push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and other body-weight resistance callisthenics are great for strength training. They involve so many muscle groups. The big compound movements are the likes of bench press, squats, dead lifts, bent-over rows, and cleans-and-jerks. And don't work the same muscle group for more than 40 minutes, or you enter into a catabolic state. That's where the body begins to feed off the muscle instead of the fat tissue.

If you decide you wanna do it right, and combine weight resistance training with aerobic workouts, do your cardio (running, stair-master, etc) after your weight training. Do the resistance workout first. Otherwise, you'll be too spent to get a proper workout. Cardio is simple, put one foot in front of the other. Now repeat. But weight training can be hazardous if you're new (or stupid like me. “Sure! Throw some more plates on there! Nah, I don't need a spotter. OW!"). So it's best to do the cardio after. You don't need to keep running the same distances and trying to lessen the time. You need to incorporate speed training, hill training, and distance training to develop a sound running base. Try just doing wind sprints or Fartleks every few runs. I guarantee you'll see your endurance increase, and your running times decrease. 

That's about all I can think of right now. I hope these are some help to somebody out there.

oops! Forgot a supplement that's out there. Ephedrine. Okay, I have used the old ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin stack. I don't recommend it to anyone, because it is dangerous. I have a heart condition (mild murmur) but, through research, and trial and error, I know the best dosage for me to use. It is an effective fat-burner. It does generate a lot of energy before a work out. But I advise against it. That means all those over the counter products as well (Xenedrine, etc). Just don't mess with it folks. Especially you young 'uns out there. This crap kills kids.

I don't know why I'm bothering to do this. After all if you're so damned lazy, you can't do the research, then you won't do the PT either.

Oh, yeah, and for (Well you know who you are, so I won't embarass you further) Sex and PT. Those old myths from your football coach in high school are just that: myths. It doesn't 'drain' you. In fact, steady sexual activity increases your testosterone production. Which improves your fitness and recuperation. So, now you have another excuse to use when you try and get into Betty and Veronica's cheerleader skirts. Good luck with that.
Also for those that don't know about it, Exertional Compartment Syndrome (google that if you what info, I am to tired right now to describe it) in the lower legs is another problem that people who do alot of running/walking/marching can suffer.  Many people confuse it with shin splints, mostly cause they don't know what ECS is.  It can be very serious, and in my case required surgery to fix it.
Plantar Fasciitis is another issue with feet.  Different treatments include physio, chiro (yes chiro), accupuncture (really hurts but worked for me), rest, and chortisone (last resort).  Can be prevented with orthotics.  I haven't had any problems since.
I hate running. No, I mean I REALLY hate running. Hate it with the intensity of a billion burning stars. So I have to use simple tricks to keep my ass going. It's easy at work, I have to keep up with the company or platoon. On days we're not running in formation, I can run with a buddy who's a better runner than I am. It's harder on Leave, though. On Leave, I run early in the morning, or late in the evening when it's dark. I listen to the night sounds, and watch the stars, I run with a Discman, and anything else that distracts me from feeling like I'm about to expire. I forget about the pain, and lose track of time, and before I know it, I've run farther and longer than before. I run trails, or up roads that if you ran out a ways, you're out there. You have to get back somehow, so why not run back? After all, if you walk, it'll take hours.
One way I keep it fun (well, okay, running is never fun) is by running in/through wooded areas. I enjoy the trees, the wildlife (early in the morning), sometimes you meet another runner or someone walking their dog, but mostly it's just you and Momma Nature. Plus, there's no cement trails in the woods, so it's easier on the body.
However, if you know you're going somewhere it's gonna be hot, you can't run at night when it's cool. Practice running in the heat. It's called acclimatizing. You will get used to it if you practice. Running at night won't help. The heat will kick your ass. Run in the sun and the heat. Start slow, start small. Short runs. Wear sunscreen and a hat (not a sombrero, but something to keep the sun from frying your brain.) Don't forget to hydrate. Drink water constantly the entire day prior and ensure you eat normal meals at normal intervals. Bottom line is to keep water in your body so it can cool itself down during the run. Keeping in mind, of course that the body can only absorb so much. Don't go guzzling litres at a time. Don't hydrate 15 minutes prior to a run, either. That'll give you cramps or induce vomiting. Also make sure to do a good cool-down after running hard in the heat and make sure you keep your head above your heart until you regain a closer-to-normal heart rate.
Run hills often. Push hard on the uphill part, slow down on the down slope. Don't look down when running uphill. Keep your head high. Imagine a rope tied to your chest, and the other end tied to a car. Your chest should be 'pulling' you up the hill. Keep your head up and you'll breathe easier. Look down, and you constrict your breathing. No breath, no energy. Pretty straightforward, no? Running down hill on a slight grade will teach your body to kick your feet forward farther and create muscle memory. This gets your body used to moving at that higher speed without smoking yourself. Helps develop proper form.
When turning corners, make a wide arc. That means taking more steps, but at least you won't be making any of that braking action when you cut corners squarely. The braking action can kill your momentum, and sap your strength. Think of an airplane banking, and try to emulate it (I don't recommend sticking your arms out, and making the 'brrrmm' noises unless you're alone, or enjoy making people nervous like I do.)
When running on Leave, or even in formation when the weak are falling out, strive to overtake the next guy in front of you. On that note, its better to overtake when the other guy's weakest. Like when going uphill where he's in no condition to maintain a lead. If you try to overtake downhill, you're in for a race leaving both of you tired. By beating him, you boost your own confidence. Also, it works to improve you cardio, because you are putting more effort than you would otherwise. Finish strong. Sprint the last half kilometre.
Interval running is hands down the best way to improve your run time. Can't beat windsprints and Fartleks. If you are going to be doing sprints, it is essential that you either stretch beforehand, but after you have at least run a bit slowly to warm up. If you are going to be running distance, it is not necessary to stretch beforehand - but it is essential to stretch after your run. In fact studies have shown that for distance runners, stretching beforehand can actually lead to injuries because the muscles get too relaxed and the tendons and ligaments around the knees and ankles can move around more than they should, providing inadequate support for the distance runner. (Now you youngsters keep in mind that by 'distance' I mean DISTANCE. A kilometre is not distance. 10 kms is the beginning of distance.)
Economy of motion is very important for proper form. Do not swing your arms side to side, or pump them like mad unless you're sprinting. Relax as much as possible. The entire body above the waist should be relaxed, right down to the fingertips. There's no need to make fists. The elbows should be bent, but still relaxed. The feet should just skim above the ground, almost grazing the dirt. Try to take longer strides. This'll allow you to gain greater distance while exerting less energy. The more you extend your legs, the less time they have to be on the ground exerting energy at the same speed. Run from your hips, not your knees. Extend the stride from the hips.
Establish a breathing rhythm. Developing a good breathing rhythm can help a lot.
Don't over think it, though, your body will find what works best for it. When you're sucking wind out your arse, don't focus on breathing in. Focus on exhaling. The body will inhale on it's own, and will take in the amount of air it needs. Using this method, my legs get tired before my lungs ever do. (My heart, on the other hand is trying to explode, and take my spleen with it.)
Thank you very much paracowboy.

This info is great.

Just a question, when I do cardio my heart rate is around 180. I trust most info on this site, but someone at work mentioned that anything above 140 is burning muscle and not flabb - how correct is this?

My resting HR is 85 which doubled would be 170.
Hmm yeah I forgot to meantion about my heart rate as well.

My resting heart rate is 55, so double would be 110, but when Im doing
heavy exercise my heart jumps to about 125-135. Does that mean Im more fit, or less fit?
For heart rates, use the following formula:

200 - (your age) = max heart rate.

Max HR - 30 = min HR.

Anything in between is your cardio trg zone. Anything above your max is dangerous;
Below your minimum, you burn fat but don't train your cardio.

Good posts Paracowboy... work hard, play hard. Have a good one Trooper !!!
thanks for getting my back, Jungle.
Sorry 'bout that troops, I dropped the ball.

For more good info on fitness check out crossfit.com, and for good info on all-around Army-type training check out GET SELECTED FOR SPECIAL FORCES at www.warrior-mentor.com.  This guy is the real deal and is much respected on several other websites.
Mike F. said:
I thought it was 220 - (age)=Max Heart Rate
I believe the 220 figure is used by athletes. For the rest of us mortals, 200 is the correct figure to use...
220 - age is the most usual way to calculate maximum heart rate, but this is very dependant on a lot of other factors. Age, fitness level, cardiac condition, etc. I have a really low resting heart rate, too. Lucky us. It means we're quite healthy. And yes, this also means that our maximum heart rate can be more than three times our resting rate. I was once told my target rate should be 150, but I found this too low. I aim for 170 to 180 and am quite comfortable at this rate. I can't carry on a conversation (which always seemed like ridiculous advice, to me), but I can keep at this rate for a while and finish my runs feeling good, if a bit tired for a little while after. Recovery time is also a good indication of all over fitness level.

Sit-ups, Chin-ups, Push-ups, other '-ups
The standard is - Starting position: feet flat on the ground, knees bent at a 90 degree angle, shoulder blades touching the ground, hands at the sides of your head slightly cupping the ears (NOT behind the head with fingers laced!). A partner will hold your feet for you. Bring the upper body towards the knees, by curling at the waist, until the elbows touch the tops of the knees. Lower until shoulder blades touch the ground again. That's one. Now repeat. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the ground, ensure your shoulder blades touch on every 'down', your elbows touch the tops of your knees on every 'up', your ass doesn't leave the ground (no 'bouncing') and your fingers never leave the sides of your head.
To improve - foistly, start doing your sit-ups without anything securing your feet, but willpower. Simply perform your standard sit-up, but with no bar or partner to hold your feet down. If you can do 33 like this, when your feet are secured you'll pump out 50. Now, start adding weight. Hold a plate across your chest, and do sit-ups. Keep your form strict.
Incline boards are found in every gym, and are easy to make. Start doing your weighted sit-ups on an incline, thereby increasing gravity's effects. Do leg-raises, both while hanging from a bar and while laying on the ground. They help improve the hip flexors, which you need to perform proper sit-ups. On a bar, work on bringing the entire leg up until they are at a 90 degree angle. Now, start gripping a dumbbell between your feet. Do crunches. These isolate the abdominals. Focus on feeling the abdominals 'curl' the upper body towards the pelvis. Work the lower back. Perform hyper-extensions, good-mornings, and the like. Also, hit the obliques. The abdominals are more of a girdle, than anything else. They are all inter-connected and you need a strong lower back in order to have a strong stomach and vicey voisy.  Find a Swiss ball and any one of a dozen mid-section/core workouts using one. Marvellous device to torture yourself with.
To stretch the abdominals, lay on your front and slowly raise your shoulders up until your entire upper body is off the ground. It looks like the Yoga movement 'the cobra'. Your waist and legs remain in contact with the ground, but your head and shoulders are upright.

All right, there's been some questions as to what is a chin-up and what is a pull-up. Simply put, chin-ups are done with the palms facing you, pull-ups are done with the palms facing away. Actually, the difference between a pull-up and a chin-up is more than the positions of the palms. Chin-ups almost isolate the biceps, while pull-ups share the workload between your lats, rear deltoids and biceps. Pull-ups are more difficult than chin-ups for most people. The pull-up, I believe, is the most important upper body exercise for soldiers. It's the best exercise for your back. It's application goes beyond Airborne. You need concentric force to snatch/lift heavy objects, climb mountains, pull yourself onto a rooftop, etc. Also, doing chin-ups on  bar is more difficult than doing them on a board, as you do at CPC. The board provides leverage. So if given the choice, use a bar.
Of course, your weight may be a limiting factor. The heavier you are, the more difficult it is to pull your body up (that's physics, son! You can argue with me, but you can't argue with figures!) If you can't do a single pull/chin up, you can do negatives or assisted pull-ups first. Negative pull-ups are done by raising your body to the 'up' position by any means, then lowering yourself under control to the 'down' position. Assisted pull-ups are done with either the help of a partner who aids you through the sticking points, a machine that employs counter-weight, or by placing a bench under the bar, and using your own feet to assist you. There are also at least two different machines in most gyms that will help strengthen the body for chin-ups: the cable pull-down and the Hammer Strength lat pull-down machines.
To improve your pull-ups, start adding weight. Get a belt, loop the chain around a weight, start pulling your ass up. The same result can be achieved by doing pull-ups whilst wearing your ruck. When you can do 5 pull-ups with 45 lbs hanging off you, you can do 10 pull-ups without.
Start doing your pull-ups with a fairly wide grip, almost double shoulder-width. The wider your grip, the more difficult the movement. As you reach failure, between sets start bringing your hands closer together. Now, when you can't do another pull-up, drop and switch your hands to a chin-up position. Start with your hands at shoulder-width, and bring them in as you fail. 
The proper performance of a pull-up is: grasp the bar with an overhand grasp, hang from the bar with the arms fully extended and no bend in the elbows, pull your body up until your chin breaks the plane of the bar (chin is above bar), lower. That's one. Chin-ups are performed in an almost identical manner, except that you grasp the bar with the palms facing you. Any bend in your elbows at the bottom and that one will not count. Any touching of your feet to the wall or supporting framework, and that one doesn't count. Failure of your chin to break the plane of the bar and that one doesn't count. Excessive kicking of the feet, or swinging at the waist, and it don't count. Do them right. It's incredibly demoralizing to hear “9...9...9...9...9." I imagine it's worse to hear “3...3...3...3...Dismount the bar. Report to the Course Warrant, tell him you are RTU'd". You want to be able to do them in strict form, with a distinct pause at the top and the bottom. It's best if you can maintain a sort of bored composure on your face.

It doesn't matter if you can do 10 or 1000. If your form isn't right, they don't count. Just because your chest hits the ground doesn't mean it's a good push-up. The standard for push-ups is that when you go down your elbows must be at a 90 degree angle (although I understand the civvies running PSP want you to touch your chest to the ground). In the 'up' position, your arms must be straight, with no bends in the elbows. Lay on your face, place your hands below your shoulders, keep your elbows snug to your sides, point your fingers forward, push up until the arms are fully extended, and then lower yourself so your elbow breaks a 90 degree angle. Repeat as necessary. This targets the pecs, shoulders, back, and of course triceps defining those muscles. All the while, you must be looking straight to your front. A typical thing to do when doing push-ups is to lower your head. Don't. Do your push-ups in front of a mirror both ways and you'll see what I mean. Your body must remain straight from the head to the heels. No lifting of your ass, no arching of the back, no drooping your stomach to the ground. Once you've begun, you cannot move your hands or feet. Bottom line, focus on proper form EVERY time you do push-ups.
There are a multitude of push-up variations. They all work the entire body to some extent, but certain variations hit certain body parts specifically more than others. For instance Airborne or triangle push-ups come into play when you want to focus on the triceps. You put your hands on the floor, so your index fingers and your thumbs form a triangle. You lower yourself until your pecs touch your hands, and push up keeping your elbows as tight against the side of your body as possible.
The wide push-up, is when you put your hands approximately 12 inches farther apart than you do your normal push-up. This still works your pecs, shoulders, and back. The only difference is you are using more pec muscle, developing that more than your triceps, back and shoulder. If you widen your stance by a good 12 inches, you won't have to go down quite as far, and you should be able to do more reps because you aren't putting so much work on your triceps. Instead, you're hitting the pectorals and the rear deltoids rather than the front deltoids as is more common with push-ups. Max out on regular push-ups then widen your stance and max out.
Another favourite push-up variation of mine is to keep one hand at the usual position (about 2 inches below the shoulder, elbow tight against the body) while placing the other level with the ear, and in line with the shoulder. Then I raise one leg about a foot off the ground. Now perform push-ups.
Perform push-ups using three chairs (one under each hand and one under the feet), or two blocks (one under each hand). Use these to ensure that, on the 'down' your chest is lower than your hands. This gives a complete range of motion to the push-up, and a good stretch to the pectorals. Try doing push-ups with one hand on a block, and the other on the ground. Use a Swiss ball (or a soccer ball) under the feet, forcing the body to hold itself still, and employing more secondary muscles. Try using a wobble board under either the feet or the hands. Try it with a ball under each hand.
Finally, we can't forget fingertip push-ups. Performed in any variation but instead of splaying the fingers and taking the weight on the palms, make a claw with each hand and push off the fingertips. This strengthens the grip and the forearm.
A lot of wannabes and new soldiers psych themselves out. You start thinking about "how many do I need to pass", and the simple 2 minute test becomes an epic struggle to achieve the minimum standard. You develop a 'finish line' mentality. “Just...gotta...make...finish...line!" Then, they end up having to do another lap around the parade square, or having to do another 25 push-ups, and they quit. They concentrate on the number, and that becomes the target, and if they have to exceed it, they fail. Worse, you create a 'minimum standard' mentality. You focus on reaching the minimum  standard, instead of on exceeding it. Let's say you need to achieve 33 push-ups in 2 minutes to pass. That's the number you get in your head. “Just...have...to...make...it...to...thiiiirty...threeee." Put that number out of your head, or it will create the wrong attitude. That attitude will stick with you for a long time, effectively sabotaging yourself. In time, as your body slowly adapts to the demands placed on it, you'll find yourself knocking out 33 in a row to start the test -"OK, good, now I passed" - and then thinking everything else is gravy. So even after you've improved passed the point of worrying about passing, the best you're going to do is be mediocre.
What you should be asking is, “What's the number I need to achieve in order to max this sumbitch out?" Focus on reaching the maximum standards. Look to achieve the highest possible score, in the shortest possible time. 90% of everything we do is mental. Ignore the doubts, put the right mentality in play, and the body will do what the mind demands of it. Don't even wonder about 'how far' or 'how many'. Just run until told to stop. Hump as much weight as far as told. Do as many push-ups as you can, then strive for two more. Then two more. Then two more. It's all in how you look at it. You can whine and snivel and tell yourself how hard it is, or you can laugh at how hard it is, enjoy the challenge, and become the man you like to pretend you are.
Your call.
"Don't get hung up on weight. It doesn't matter if you lose weight or gain weight, really. What matters is how much blubber you're packing. That's what's gonna kill ya. The fat on your frame, and the fat in your arteries. Do you really care if you weigh 300 pounds or 30 pounds, if you feel great, and look fab-u-lous?! Of course not. And, once you begin to work out, you're going to gain weight. Muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. So don't get your panties in a twist "

okay i have a question, other then eating healthy is there a good possibly a QUICK way to get that fat out of your arteries? i mean for almost 8 months 2 meals of mine a day (at the time i was only eating 3 meals a day) came from the cafeteria in my workplace... which was not healthy at all, im eating alot healthier now, and watching all the fats and keeping them down, same for colesterol so my question is,

if im not mistaken, they will slowly clear them selves up by eating healthy and excercise but is there a certain pill or excercise or anything that could help speed up the process and such?

Jaxson said:
okay i have a question, other then eating healthy is there a good possibly a QUICK way to get that fat out of your arteries? i mean for almost 8 months 2 meals of mine a day (at the time i was only eating 3 meals a day) came from the cafeteria in my workplace... which was not healthy at all, im eating alot healthier now, and watching all the fats and keeping them down, same for colesterol so my question is,

if im not mistaken, they will slowly clear them selves up by eating healthy and excercise but is there a certain pill or excercise or anything that could help speed up the process and such?


I was always under the impression, once it was there, it was there. I've watched medical shows where they literally slid tubes of plaque from someon'e arteries that had lived the "clean life" for quite a number of years. The implication was, you can clean up and extend things, but you can't repeal the things that have already taken place.
son of a ..... so yur saying im screwed unless i wanna go get some tubes shoved through my arteries?
Yep. That's the implication. You can slow it down, or stop the progress, but once it's happened, you can't change it.

Think of your drain pipes. Once they're clogged, they stay that way. Except you can't put drain cleaner through yours. You can stop the accumulation, but you can't revert the damage, no matter how much soy and tofu you ingest.
Jaxson, that question is a little out of my lane. But I think recceguy is correct. I believe that there is very little one can do about fat in the arteries, but I do not know. If it's that much of a concern to you, I'd suggest seeking out a medical professional.
The point of marching with a ruck is not to build your strength or endurance - you do better targeting PT (running, callisthenics, and weights) for that. The point of training with a ruck is to teach your body how to carry a ruck. It's called CONDITIONING for a reason. You do it so that your body is conditioned to it. If you try to walk or run with a ruck using the same body mechanics as you do without a ruck, you'll get hurt. The bottom line is that you'll carry heavy rucks for a long time in the Infantry. It may be on forced road marches. It may be in the field. You may have to run with a ruck. Your ruck may weigh 60 lbs, it may weigh 150 lbs. The weight will depend on your mission, but I can guarantee you'll be running with your ruck in the field at some point regardless of how heavy it is. That's just a fact, and all the army's official "No running in combat boots/no running with a ruck on" is bullshit. Plain and simple.
Take a marathon runner and make him swim a mile in a pool. He has the cardiovascular and muscular endurance to do it, but he doesn't have the technique. He'll be winded after one length. After practice though, his body gets used to the motions and becomes more efficient at it. Pretty soon he can swim the whole mile. Same thing with humping a ruck. The reason you do it is so your body can become efficient at it. You can't learn it in a book (or on a website). You just have to go out and do it. If your knees hurt then try less weight.
Don't get me wrong, it will always suck. It's weight on your back that wasn't really meant to be there. If you enjoy it, then you are not pushing it nearly hard enough. Ruck marching sucks. That is a universal truth. The only satisfying thing about a ruckmarch is dropping kit at the end. But if you train your body to do it, it will suck less and you'll be less likely to get stress fractures or other injuries from carrying a load your body doesn't know how to carry.

Carrying it:
Get'cher ruck up high on your back and tighten those straps. Get rid of the POS ruck the Army gives you, and get a '64 pattern ruck (the so-called 'jump ruck'). Get some A7A straps. Suck everything down tight. A tight load is a light load. Use your waist belt. Get the weight down onto your hips, and off of your shoulders. All the weight should rest on your hips. The shoulder straps are just there to keep the weight in close to your body. You do not want that weight pulling away from your body, believe me. If you like, you can tighten the waist belt, loosen the shoulder straps, until the pain is too much then tighten the shoulder straps and loosen the waist belt. And change again. It doesn't actually do any good, but it tricks your mind into thinking it helps. Practice is the only key. The only way you can get in shape to hump a ruck is by humpin' a ruck. You'll get used to it. After a couple hunnerd miles you'll start missing it.
I try to put the extra weight flat against, and centred across my shoulder blades, as high in the ruck as I can get, in the valise if possible. This is a lot more comfortable than having it way down in the bottom of the ruck, pulling you backwards. I always tried to put the heaviest stuff in between the frame and the valise, such as mortar rounds, sand bags, etc. Eventually though, when you get to BN, you're going to have your ruck packed with mission-essential kit . Expect to be carrying all the extra accessories that you're responsible for, rations, ammo, water, batteries, etc. Then, on top of that, you'll have your body armour attached to the outside of your ruck, which makes sort of an experiment in Physics, when you start to contemplate gravity and how much heavier something feels when it is strapped to your body, yet is still 3 feet away from your back. (Ya know, leverage, and such.)
Now, your pace: Well, the minimum standard is a 13 km ruckmarch completed in 2 hours, 26 minutes. On regular morning PT, you don't go quite as far, but you usually go much faster. On an advance to contact, you may go a little slower, but that just means that you're carrying that sumbitchin' weight on your back for that much longer. It just means, that at every halt, you're taking a knee and getting back up with that 60, or 80, or 120 lbs on your back. When humpin' cross-country you may go slower, but now you're goin' through woods so thick, you can barely squeeze that ruck through them. You're wadin' through swamps and rivers. You're twistin' your ankle at every second step, and slippin' down slopes. And the entire time, you'd best not make a damn sound, and you'd damn sure better be keepin' your head up and watching your arcs. You'd better be passin' the count up, and signals back.  It's easy on PT - put'cher head down and give 'er. It's a whole different world in the field with a Light Infantry Company.
Don't run. There is no need for you wannabe's to run with a ruck, yet. You won't do it in Basic, and it will just cause you to injure yourself, setting your training back. Ruck faster, or with someone else who is faster, till your body learns to carry the weight, and either take longer steps, or more of them.

Starting out:
Put sand bags in the ruck. Failing that, buy bags of kitty litter, top soil, or dry cement. Steer clear of free weights, especially dumbbells. Free weights and rocks hurt. While marching they'll eventually become unbalanced, shift, and the ruck march will quickly become a self-inflicted torture session. So not only are you in unbearable pain, but you also realize what a dumbass you are at the same time. It doesn't help motivation too much. For you wannabe's, stick with sandbags or the like. They'll mould themselves your back more easily, and make it easier for you to learn how to hump. No need to add extra misery by throwing in pointed items, or solid stuff that'll just dig in. Sand bags are easier to work with, too. You can get several with different weights, label them, and use them as needed.
35 pounds is fine right now for your first time rucking. Take it slow. Work your way up slowly but steadily. Your goal should be about 60 lbs. When you can hump a 60 lb ruck for a couple hours at a good pace, you're pretty well at standard. Anything Basic or Battle School throws your way will be fairly easy to cope with. Don't just ruck up and start humpin' either. Make sure you're wearing comfortable, broken-in footwear. Two pairs of socks, etc, all the little tips I passed on earlier in this thread. Now, start light, start slow, and start easy. Just a few klicks is good, say 3 or 4. Work your way up in weight and distance. For the love of Pete, don't run out and throw 100 lbs in a backpack and try to run for 5 klicks! Or even put 25 lbs in, and run. Baby steps. Start short, slow, and light, and work up to long, fast, and heavy. If you screw up, and are say, 10 klicks into your walk when you notice significant blistering, I hope you have a cell phone. You will screw up your feet for at least a week by walking back.

If it's pulling you backwards, you need to lean forward some. Maybe you need to re-arrange the weight load. You may have the heavier stuff to low, or too far out from the body. Either that, or start going with a little less weight. It's about giving yourself a workout, learning to hump, and conditioning the body, not looking cool while doing it. Trust me, there is no way to look cool when humpin' a ruck. LCF is low, almost negative. Humping a ruck sucks ass, always has, always will.
Relax the upper body completely. From your shoulders to your fingertips, relax your entire arm. Don't tense your shoulders. Let them relax. Once the shoulder straps have bitten far enough into your trapezius, you won't feel them anymore, anyway. Let your arms swing naturally, don't force them, unless you need to pick up speed. Swinging your arms makes many people faster. I have seen guys go faster when they picked up a weapon for the walk, because when they held it with both hands, they swung into the rhythm. Lean forward slightly, but not too far. Use that to generate 'momentum'. Let your feet skim the ground, and place your feet down, don't drive the heel in. Reach from the hips and let the legs carry you along. 
You need to train your body how to carry a ruck. Everything from the forward lean, to the position of your head, to how your carry your weapon, to how high you lift your feet, to how long your stride is - all of that falls into place over time. Miles and miles (and miles and miles and miles). At first it will hurt because you're putting your heels down too hard, or your stride is too long, or you're tensing your shoulders more than you need to - but after many miles of rucking it becomes more natural. You break your body in. You throw a ruck on your back and your body naturally assumes a rucking position. Your pace and gait changes to what it should be with a ruck on your back. Your motions become smoother so the ruck doesn't bounce as much.

Take care of your feet. They can make or break you. Nothing sucks more than having the desire to complete the mission and having your feet bleeding, cracked, and infected. Your feet serve to support you and your load, absorb shock, and to provide balance and forward motion. Your feet need to be tough, yet getting them there means they have to be protected, and cared for. This is achieved by rucking in well broken-in, but not broken-down boots, by monitoring your feet's status, and knowing how to care for them when problems arise.
Rotate different pairs of boots or running shoes from day to day. Make sure that the boots are comfortable, getting the proper insoles or orthotics as required. Sizing is also critical. Try on new boots with the socks you intend to wear. Get them slightly large, as most people's feet will swell a half size or so on extended walks. Socks are just as important. Wear new, clean, correctly sized socks. They will help absorb some of the punishment, and thin, ratty, old socks do little to assist in protecting your feet. (I know some of this is repeated, but it bears repeating, so listen up.) When breaking in your new boot or shoes, use them for shorter walks. They're going to hurt.
As you break in your boots, you will notice painful "hot spots" forming. Stop and treat them as soon as the pain becomes noticeable. Any hot spot areas starting to redden should be closely monitored, and moleskin applied as needed. An experienced Medic is probably the best source for advice. While rucking, you should plan on stopping for a break for five or ten minutes every hour or so. Do not waste that time sitting on your ruck. Take the ruck off, take your boots off, and examine your feet. If they look good, let them air out for a minute or so, powder them, and change socks. Once you have started to blister, you will lose training time waiting for them to heal. Do not let them get that bad.
Never ruck with wet feet. Even well-conditioned feet are vulnerable and soft after a good soaking. Do not try to combine training activities (like swimming and rucking), and carry a spare pair of boots and several pairs of socks to change into should the ones you are wearing become soaked. (Now this doesn't hold when you get Battalion. You WILL march with wet feet. Deal with it.)
Areas of your feet that get a lot of friction and contact will start to harden and calluses will form over time. This is a good thing. The dead material of the callus will absorb the friction and impact that would hurt the skin on your feet. Soon enough, your feet will become the leathery flippers that all infantrymen have. I've seen some guys hold lighters to their feet, the callus was so thick. Most people find that issue boots will cause calluses to form on the balls of the feet, the heel, and on the outside of the foot, depending on the contact points of the boots on your feet.
As you walk, the boots and your feet will develop a symbiotic relationship. The boots will soften and begin to flex where required, and the contact points on your feet will toughen up. Eventually, your boots will be almost as comfortable as a pair of slippers, and your feet will be tough as nails. You will need to keep your nails trimmed properly to prevent injury or damage. But that, and foot powder will be all the maintenance you will require. Even if you walk long distances in combat boots your feet will blister, however, and you may even lose feeling in your feet.