Strength Training Without Weights

This first part of our training programme involves exercises which need no special equipment and can be done anywhere. Sometimes the soldier finds himself in a remote area with limited resources or perhaps within the confines of a hotel room. He uses this programme to keep fit. I recommend that novices start here. This regime will exercise air the body and prepare you for more arduous programmes.

WARNING: Do you suffer from any of the following conditions?

High blood pressure

Heart disorders

Respiratory problems

Blood disorders

Muscle and bone problems


If the answer is yes, seek medical advice before attempting any exercise programme. The same advice should be followed by those over 40 years of age, pregnant women and those with a specific health problem.

We are going to split the exercises in this section into three types: aerobic, anaerobic and exercises to work the abdominal muscles. Obviously, maximum benefit is obtained by mixing these types of exercise in any one session. We always warm up and then we alternate between anaerobic/aerobic exercises and exercises to work the abdominal muscles. I cannot stress the importance of building strong abdominal muscles. Much of our strength, speed and power comes from these muscle groups and all too often they are overlooked. Become familiar with these basic exercises. follow the instructions carefully and try to do them properly.


An excellent exercise for the upper body and triceps.

Reach up and take a wide overhand grip on a bar situated high enough to just let your legs dangle off the floor.

Cross your legs and pull yourself up until your chin bone brushes the bar.

Lower until your arms are fully extended.


A good work-out of the thighs and upper leg muscles.

Place the hands behind the neck and move one leg forward, taking a longer stride than usual.

Bend the leading leg until the thigh is parallel with the ground.

Repeat the exercise using the other leg.

Parallel Dips

You will need two parallel bars raised about 1.2 m (4 ft) off the ground and placed approximately one shoulder width apart (you can improvise with furniture).

Grip both bars, cross your legs and raise your body off the ground by locking your arms.

Now lower your body until your elbows are . level with the bars, keeping your feet clear of the floor

Finally return to the start position.

A difficult exercise initially but well worth the effort to produce good results.


Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, one shoulder width apart. Keep the legs straight and pivot on your toes (Front Support Position).

Bend the arms and lower the body until it just brushes the floor. Now push down, straightening the arms, and raise the body back to the Front Support Position. Do not bend the torso.

Repeat the exercise with the arms wide apart and rest the body on the finger tips.

Lower the body until it almost touches the ground and hold for five seconds.

Calf Raises

Stand on a platform approximately 10cm (4 in) high (two stacked telephone directories would be ideal). Raise yourself onto the balls of your feet.

Raise one leg behind you, maintaining balance by holding onto a wall. Raise the body onto the toes before sinking down below the level of the platform.

This really tones the calf muscles! Repeat the exercise using the other leg.

Rear Scissors

This is an excellent exercise for the back muscles.

Lie on your stomach placing your hands under your hips for support.

Raise your legs off the floor keeping them straight and, using a circular motion, cross the right leg over the left leg.

Reverse Neck Roll

This exercise builds a strong neck which s essential for the martial arts. You might experience stiffness initially but do not give up on this vital exercise.

With your head on the ground, make a Wrestler’s Bridge with your hands on your thighs. Protect the top of your head with something soft (a broad cushion is ideal for this).

Now lean forward until your full body weight is taken by your head and neck..

Head Roll

CAUTION: The two neck exercises above should only be done under strict supervision. They are very demanding and should only be attempted if you have no history of neck or back problems. Build up slowly!

Kneel with knees slightly apart and then lean forward to place your forehead on the ground in front of you.

Place your hands on the back of your thighs and gradually roll forward until your body weight is placed onto your neck. Use a rolling motion to increase the pressure.


Alternative Neck Exercises

Try to do the full range of neck movements wearing a close fitting harness with weights attached. Stand up and bend forward for one set, raising and lowering your neck. Lie on a bench face up with your shoulders supporting your neck and head. Raise and lower your head slowly.

Aerobic Exercises Squat Thrusts

From the Front Support Position , snap your legs forward until your knees touch your elbows, then shoot both legs back to the Front Support Position.

A good exercise for the arms and legs, it gets the old pulse racing!


Starting again from the Front Support Position, bring your knees up to your elbows, but this time leap up as high as possible, before returning to the squat position and then shooting your legs backwards.

Burpees are a serious challenge for anyone.

Stride Jumps

Stand astride a box about 46 cm (18 in) high (a stool is ideal).

Jump up lightly bringing both feet together above the box and return to the astride position.

Alternative Stride Jumping

Using the same box or stool, jump up and down twice and on the third repetition jump clear of the box.

Land, keeping feet and knees together and repeat.


Use two boxes – one 46 cm (18 in) high and the other 91 cm (36 in) high.

Step onto the lower box with the left leg and the top box with the right leg and then move the left leg alongside. You should now have both feet on the top box. Now, step back onto the lower box and finally back onto the floor. If you do not have good, sturdy boxes, the stairs will do nicely. Do as many repetitions as you can. Practise alternating the leading leg; this is good for improving your co-ordination.


Stand with feet together in front of the 46-cm (18-in) box. Jump onto the box, landing with feet and knees together, using your arms to propel you.

Abdominal Exercises

The great exterior muscles of the abdomen, thorax and back, which are of interest to the keep-fit enthusiast, sportsman and martial artist, fall into several well-known groups. These muscles are attached to bone by white, fibrous, inelastic cords called tendons. Other structures called ligaments attach bone to bone or serve to support the internal organs. The greater pectoral muscles cover both sides of the chest running from either side of the breast-bone to the armpit. Below the pectorals, the external oblique muscle of the abdomen runs from the groin to cover the sides of the body, interweaving with anterior serratus muscles above the rib-cage. The internal and external oblique muscles help to rotate and flex the trunk. All of these muscles intermesh with the straight muscle of the abdomen which runs from the chest to the groin (noticeably flaccid in middle-aged spread and brewer’s belly but nicely rippled in body builders).

On the back, the great trapezius muscles cover the neck and ribs running from the midline of the body to the shoulders. These partly cover the two latissimus dorsi which run from the lower spine, across the ribs, to cover the sides of the body. Behind the shoulders, and in a triangle between the trapezius and the latissimus dorsi, are found the infraspinous muscles and the teres minor and teres major.

Thigh Hand Slide

Lie on your back.

Press your chin against your chest and place your hands on top of your thighs.

Now, slide your hands down along your thighs until you reach your knees, slowly raising your upper body clear of the ground by a least 10 cm (4 in).

Recover and then repeat the exercise.

The V Crunch

Lie once again on your back with your legs raised some 45 degrees off the ground.

With your hands inter-locked behind your neck, sit up and touch your knees with your forehead. A difficult exercise but an excellent one to check the progress of your abdominal muscles. Do not allow yourself to be defeated!


Lie on your back with your hands behind your head.

Bring both knees up together, at the same time raising your head to meet them over the torso. Keep your knees raised and stationary for as long as possible.

Finally, lower head and knees back to the floor.


Place your feet under a bar (or a piece of furniture) or perhaps you can persuade a companion to hold them.

Place your hands behind your head and, keeping legs straight, sit up.

Lower your body back to the floor.

You will feel the tension in the abdominal muscles as they work to raise your bodyl

Twisting Crunches

Lie on the floor with your hands behind your head.

This time, as you raise your legs and upper body, twist your torso so that your left elbow touches your right knee.

Bent Knee Sit-Ups

Again, lie on your back, with knees bent, feet on the ground and hands behind your neck.

Sit up, touching your chin to your knees.

Now finish the exercise by lowering your upper body until it is parallel with, but not touching, the floor.

Leg Raises

Lie flat on your back with legs together and hands behind your neck.

Raise your legs some 45 degrees off the ground. Try to keep your toes pointed.

Now lower your legs until they are just off the ground and repeat.

Straight Leg Raises

Lie flat with legs extended and place your hands, palms down, under your buttocks.

Keeping your legs straight and, pointing your toes, raise your legs until they are just beyond the vertical.

Lower and repeat the exercise but keep your feet off the ground between repetitions.

This exercise puts a lot of strain on the lower back but is one of the best work-outs for the straight muscle of the abdomen.

Programme One

Before we start, we must always remember to warm up and stretch those muscles. Remember, flexibility is very important. A loose body goes with a relaxed mind. Do not make the common mistake of eating prior to exercise. Personally, I prefer to get up early in the morning to do a work-out and then shower and eat breakfast.

Wear a T-shirt under a sweat vest, with shorts and jockey pants, swimming trunks or a jock-strap to support the genitals. A supportive bra is essential for women following this programme. Wear a tracksuit over the training gear. This can be removed when you warm up.
















Work as hard as possible and move straight on to the next exercise. Each group of three sets should take no more than two minutes to perform. After the first group, take a three-minute rest.

Do not progress on to the other programmes in this manual until you can do each set of exercises in under two minutes.


Just as it is very important to warm up before exercise, it is also important to ‘warm down1 after hard exercise. This ensures that the pulse rate and other body functions can gradually return to normal. During hard exercise, the circular bands of smooth muscle surrounding some veins are squeezed to help return blood to the heart. Another feature of the Venous return’ mechanism is the system of valves in larger veins which impedes backflow. During warming down, this venous return mechanism is kept operating to prevent dizziness and fainting. We really only appreciate this back-up system when it fails – for example when a soldier faints on parade. Another reason for warming down is that it ensures that the build-up of lactic acid is cleared from the muscles more efficiently. Warming down is very important in pregnancy and for women who have recently given birth, since changes in the body during pregnancy leave joints very susceptible to injury. These changes result from the release of relaxin, a hormone which loosens joints and connective tissue, particularly in the pelvis, in preparation for birth. These changes persist for some weeks after delivery.

Jog around the gym, shaking out the arms, shoulders and neck. Then stand, feet apart, and cycle the arms backwards and forwards for 10 repetitions in each direction. Stand with your feet apart and try to touch the floor in front, now stretching to touch the ground to the left and right. Repeat this last exercise for 10 repetitions and then breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth, until your breathing returns to normal. Now, as part of the warm-down, here are some stretching exercises to try.

Hamstring Stretch

Stand with your feet together and legs straight.

Bending forward at the waist and keeping your back straight, reach down in one smooth motion and grasp your ankles. o Stretch a little more, applying gentle pressure on the hamstrings. Return to the upright position. Do this to a count of four. Count to four as you bend forward, hold for four and count to four as you return to the upright position. Try 10 repetitions of this exercise.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the floor, legs straight out in front. • Bend forward and grasp your ankles, gently pulling forward to stretch the hamstrings.

Legs-Apart Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the floor with your legs as wide apart as possible. Keep your back straight and reach forward to grasp your left ankle. Hold for a count of four and then change to grasp the right ankle.

Seated Side Bend

Remain on the floor, legs spread as wide as possible. Raise your right arm over your head and lean as far to the left as possible. Now try and touch your left ankle.

Hold the ankle for a count of four and repeat the exercise on the other side. Do 10 repetitions of each.

Back Stretch

Sit on a table, close to an edge, with your companion holding your ankles and lean back so that your body clears the table and your head is lowered to the floor. Do 10 repetitions.

Walk around the gym for three laps, while silently assessing your performance. What were your strengths and weaknesses? If you find that you are cooling down too quickly, put on your sweat vest and track suit. Now relax with a nice warm shower!

You might have a few aches and pains but you can console yourself with these thoughts. As your heart and circulatory system become more efficient, the risks of heart disease and hypertension diminish. During exercise more blood flows through the muscles and internal organs, increasing their efficiency. Prolonged exercise builds muscle and burns calories. Your body and stamina will improve and you will feel more energetic and confident.

Programme Two

When you have mastered the first programme and can complete it in the times allowed, it is time to progress. Put as much effort into these exercises as possible, with only three minutes rest between each group of three sets.














Quadriceps Stretch

Inner Thigh Stretch

Remain seated and draw your legs towards you so that the soles of your feet touch.

Place your hands on your knees and gently force your knees down.

Again, do this to a count of four and do 10 repetitions of the exercise.

Stand with your right hand against a wall for support (or grasp the back of a chair).

Reach down and grasp your left foot at the instep and draw the heel towards the buttocks.

Hold for 30 seconds.

Slowly let go of your foot and repeat the exercise with your right leg.

Programme Three

This programme incorporates the previous two work-outs. This routine will take a lot of effort and some time to achieve. It alternates between anaerobic, aerobic and abdominal exercises and should be completed in less than six minutes.

























Additional Routine

Once you have completed Programme Three in the minimum target time of six minutes, add the following exercises to the basic regime for an even greater challenge!












The Military Assault Course

One of the finest overall fitness routines is the assault course. It demands constant changes of pace and exercises all the major muscle groups. It is excellent for the heart and lungs, building strength, speed, stamina and coordination.

You can build your own assault course on open ground or in a gym. The idea is to make a series of obstacles that constantly challenge you, like going under bars, climbing ropes and vaulting obstacles.

On an outdoor course you can make use of natural features such as the sides of hills, streams, gullies, trenches and so on. You should build obstacles that force you to jump over them or climb underneath them.

When faced with building an assault course indoors, you have to be imaginative. Put a bench on two chairs to crawl under or go over. Try rigging up a rope to climb. Bring out the parallel bars and negotiate these. Mark out two lines, 2 m (6Kft) apart, and pretend that it is a bottomless chasm.

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