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Commited to caring in CAF: PTL offers perspective on how to develop a 'painless, strong PT plan'

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Neil B. Samson
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Pain, suffering and sacrifice are often the words associated with developing the correct physical training regimen. While those three words may carry some truth, having fun during your development and undertaking your personal PT program is the best way to enhance motivation, accountability, knowledge of appropriate fitness strategies, eating habits and cardiovascular activities. Most importantly, an enjoyable PT program serves to improve your overall well-being. I often say if I wasn't having fun over the past 10 years, I would have segregated myself to a short Air Force career littered with a trail of PT test failures, being overweight and with the health complications that come along with obesity.

Ten years later, more than 70 pounds lighter but unfortunately still the same height, I still have fun while experiencing the feeling of being fit and healthy. The development and undertaking of a strong physical fitness took a long time for me, but I always made sure the enjoyment factor was there.

Scott AFB is now my third consecutive base as the physical training leader, and I enjoy the reward of seeing the personal physical fitness growth of different personnel in my unit. As the PTL, I also encourage drafting a simple, feasible fitness plan regardless of what your fitness goals are. Following are guidelines to developing that ideal fitness plan:

Identify an ultimate objective
Develop a list with the ultimate objective of your fitness plan as well as some progress markers you will accomplish to get there. For instance, you can have one ultimate objective -- a score of 90 or higher on your next PT test. The progress markers en route to this objective can to be to enroll in a yoga class, run a 5-Kilometer race in a certain amount of time, or to take several practice PT tests before taking the official PT Test. You can also have more than one ultimate objective.

Find a physical activity that engages you
I will be the first to admit, performing push-ups, sit-ups and running in every workout session is a bit dull. To remedy this, find a physical activity that would interest you. Once you find one, incorporate this activity into your fitness regimen.

As one example, purchasing a bike would offer a low-impact, cardiovascular alternative to running. As another example, enrolling in a fitness class at the base or local gym that has a specific focus would provide group accountability, and offer coaching in the proper use of gym equipment.

Hiking is also a great activity. Hiking allows you to enjoy scenery, train your supporting muscles and enhance your core muscles depending on the type of terrain and how much weight you are carrying.

Life's ultimate inhibitor: You
We are each our own greatest inhibitor. People don't want to find new activities and new things if they think they're going to be bad at them or people are going to laugh at them. You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you've never done in order to be the best you can be.

Set a weekly fitness schedule with various activities
Decide the number of days and hours per week that you can dedicate to strength training, cardiovascular exercise and a physical activity you enjoy doing. A 2009 American College of Sports Medicine study recommends starting with two to three days per week of strength training. As general guidelines, dedicate an hour to strength training sessions, at least 90 minutes a week total devoted to cardiovascular exercise and commit to at least one day per week doing that designated activity you enjoy.

Eat properly
Consider ways to improve your eating habits by increasing water intake and reducing salt and sugar intake while adding more fruits and vegetables or protein shakes.

Rest, rest, rest
Commit to rest. At least one day during the week should be designated as a rest day. Throughout the week, go to bed at a reasonable time. Rest allows the body to rebuild and recovery from strength training. When the body fails to obtain adequate rest, excessive fatigue and injury usually occur.

Don't stress the short term downs
I realized things had changed a bit in the past 5 years namely, I got a life, as most of us do, and it had an annoying tendency to get in the way of my workouts. Travel, deadlines, friends, family, injury, illness, a weekend watching HBO's Sopranos-a-thon - each had threatened to derails my aerobic and strength improvements. I then learned that never let these short term downs derail the long-term ups. A 2007 Boulder Center for Sports Medicine have observed athletes who put in consistent work over a period of years, not months, display the best improvements.

A simple, feasible and enjoyable fitness regimen couple with a good diet and plenty of rest are always the best way to take physical training to the next level. When undertaking this ultimate plan, never ignore the mental aspect. Short-term obstacles and failures along the way should never limit long term gains and don't let others and especially yourself, stop you from doing new things. If you think of your whole fitness plan as a marathon and not a sprint, you will have less pain, suffering and sacrifice to endure.

(Note: This is the 12th in series of 24 stories for 2011 by Air Mobility Command Public Affairs highlighting the Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture through a "commitment of caring." Comprehensive Airman Fitness, or CAF, is built on "four pillars" of fitness -- physical, social, mental and spiritual fitness -- and five "Cs" -- caring, committing, communicating, connecting and celebrating. "Comprehensive Airman Fitness reflects our commitment to developing a holistic approach to caring for our people that equips, enables and empowers everyone to grow more physically, socially, mentally and spiritually fit," Gen. Raymond E. Johns, Jr., AMC commander said in June 2010 while addressing CAF to AMC wing commanders. "It's not another program, but rather, a means to enhance mission effectiveness by intentionally investing in one another.")