Trevor and I went to high school together and we met on the cross-country team my freshman year. He was a fit dude then and he’s surely a fit dude now, the difference is that more than a decade later he’s now helping Army Rangers stay fit while on deployment, EPIC. He calls his program “Fitness in Austere Environments” or more simply “Man Strength”. The premise is to stay fit in harsh environments where you don’t have access to a gym. Imagine you’re a Special Forces dude in peak physical form as you head off for a deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan. How can you continue to stay in great shape if you can’t bring a gym with you to the Afghan mountainside? His program helps Rangers and other people stay in shape by using their simple tools they can find in their surroundings and easily modifying them for exercise: lifting tires, throwing rocks, doing burpees, lifting sandbags, endless squats/lunges, and other types of exercises. I’d describe it as if Cross-Fit and the World’s Strongest Man competitions had a baby together, it’d be Trevor Smith’s Austere Athletics Program. To quote Trevor’s new website, “If you aren’t training to be as strong as a berserk viking, and fast as greased lightning, you are wasting your time.”
I thought it would be great to investigate some of his workout routines for my month-long fitness experiment. So I emailed him and he sent me some of his YouTube videos where he’s training in his back yard in Norway so I adapted them for my workout on Kalalau Beach in Kauai, Hawaii. Kalalau is one of the most remote beaches in the world. It’s only accessible by boat or an 11 mile hike over a series of cliffs. So with absolutely no access to a gym or formal workout tools I thought this would be a great scenario to do some gymless training.
Based of his YouTube video I grabbed a rock of sufficient weight and did the workout below which lasted about 25 minutes:
- 5 minute warmup of arm circles, pushups, jumping jacks, and a few other moves to get my heart rate up and my body sweating
- Pushups x 25 – in his video he wears a backpack filled with sand, I simply did 25 pushups, if I hadn’t already carried 50lbs for two days I probably would have done the pushups with it on. This time, I decided to pass on the extra weight.
- Rock Squats x 15
- Lunges x 15 (each leg)
- Bent-Over Rows x 15
- Twist Toss x 9
- Burpees x 20 in ~60s
- Abs – Russian Twist (with a smaller rock)
- Abs – Put it on the Shelf (taken from P90X+ but done with a rock instead of weights).
Based off my high number of reps above, I certainly could have chosen a heavier rock, but not wanting to injure myself with a new workout before my 11 mile hike the next day, I decided to focus more on my form than my weight. Even though I could have done a heavier weight, my heart rate was still cruising with a min/max/average of 75/161/131. I was drenched in sweat and had a blast. I don’t quite yet feel like a berserk viking but I certainly felt the workout.
Note to self: when you’re done working out with your huge rock, make sure to put it somewhere safe instead of the middle of your campsite so people don’t trip on it in the middle of the night (sorry Sarah).
Here’s one of Trevor’s YouTube videos, I used most of his exercises except the sandbag ones: