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Since the widespread closure of gyms due to the pandemic, more and more of us have been turning to live-streamed, at-home workouts. Some of them have been led by athletes and fitness junkies at the height of their field, like tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, CrossFit legend Rich Froning, and shredded movie star Mark Wahlberg.
Today, outdoorsman and survivalist Bear Grylls just took on a particularly challenging workout: the pre-joining fitness test for the Royal Marines, designed to challenge an individuals’ strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. Led via video link by an active service member, Bear and his teenage son Jesse attempted to complete a remote version of the four-exercise circuit.
“There’s a strong link between the fitness needed for a soldier and the fitness needed for an adventurer,” says Bear. “For me, it’s about functional fitness, and being fit for purpose.”
They start off with a set of burpees comprising 20 reps. This exercise is included in the fitness test as it allows recruiters to assess a candidate’s flexibility when performing the full movement, as well as their stamina.
Next up, after a 10-second rest, is a set of 20 situps, performed with very specific form requirements: Bear and Jesse have to keep their knees squeezed together, creating muscle adduction which will then beneficial in rope-climbing exercises.
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They follow that with 20 pushups, ensuring that their arms are fully extended at the upper end of each rep, and finish off by testing the strength and stability of their core and posterior chain with a 60-second plank.
While Bear and Jesse only complete one circuit, the instructor, Ben, explains that usually candidates are required to do three of each set — and officers are expected to be able to do four. “I don’t know if I could do three rounds of that,” says a breathless Jesse after completing the abbreviated test.
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