a group of people completing a set of lunges



While any kind of training is better than no training, you’ll get better results from your time if you build your workouts around good quality exercises. In most cases, these are functional, compound exercises. This means they involve lots of muscle groups working together and closely replicate the activities for which you are training. 

For example, there is no point doing set after set of hip abductions when you want to improve your strength for running and jumping. And yet, a lot of exercisers are guilty of doing precisely that!

Get better results from your training by including these four essential exercises in your workouts.


Very few exercises can boast that they could literally save your life, but that can definitely be said about pull-ups. Working your forearms, biceps, and back, pull-ups transfer to things like rock and rope climbing and hoisting yourself over a wall. When things get desperate, being able to do these things could protect you from harm. 

Pull-ups are also a good indicator of strength compared to your weight – also known as relative strength. It’s great you can deadlift 500 lbs. but if you can’t if your bodyweight it could be argued that your strength is of little benefit outside of the powerlifting platform. 

Can’t do pull-ups? It could be because you are too heavy, too weak, or a little of both. Man or woman, young or old, you should be able to do at least a handful of pull-ups.

If you struggle with strict pull-ups, try scaling the pullup to work your way up to big numbers.


Like pull-ups, push-ups are a test of relative strength. They work your chest, shoulders, and triceps and your core and legs get in on the action too. Unlike the bench press, with push-ups, you have to move your body through space and use your muscles to maintain proper alignment. This means they won't just strengthen your muscles; they stimulate your nervous system too. Despite being considered more advanced, the bench press is a much less involving exercise. 

There is a good reason that push-ups are one of the cornerstones of military training – they offer a massive range of benefits.

Like the pull-ups, if you struggle to get high numbers try scaling the pushup to build strength.


Lunges are one of the most functional leg exercises you can do. You might be able to squat more weight, but a lot of the most challenging things that military life will throw at you happen one leg at a time.

Doing lunges will help identify and fix left-to-right leg strength imbalances, improve hip mobility, develop your balance, and increase coordination. They are also easier on your spine than squats, especially when performed with weight. Forward lunges, backward lunges, walking lunges, lunge jumps – they are all excellent lunging options.


Forget planks and crunches, if you want a strong core, L-sits are where it’s at. L-sits are not just an abs exercise, they also involve your arms and legs too. They are a true functional full-body exercise. Make this exercise harder by doing L-holds while hanging from a pull-up bar or, even more demanding, L-pull-ups.