Sponsored by our partner, Air Force Special Warfare
In this two-part series, we give you three workouts and a nutrition plan from two U.S. Air Force Airmen, Spartan Racers and obstacle elites to help you foster even more grit, strength and perseverance—no matter what. Use these workouts any time, anywhere to get fitter, faster.
Seasoned, invested Spartans know there’s a lot at stake in OCR. Training is not a weeks-long, or even months-long endeavor. It’s a lifestyle devoted to gritty long runs, brutal HIIT sessions, burpees and obstacle tactics. (Not to mention, prioritizing rest, recovery and nutrition like a freakin’ champ—or suffer the consequences of underperformance.)
On race day, you battle through miles of tough, unpredictable terrain—often in unforgivable weather—hauling your body over Tyrolean Traverses, chucking spears, crawling under barbed wire, clutching slippery monkey bars, and flipping 400-pound tires. Point is: what we do isn’t easy.
Similar to the pressures of OCR, U.S. men and women in Air Force Special Warfare leave it all on the line. But, staying fit is much more than a day job and hinges on much more than medals and merit. For these guys, it’s life and death.
“The toughest part of the job is remaining objective when you’re tired, stressed out and worried about making a mistake that will cost other people their lives,” says MSgt Layne Mayerstein, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician, and Special Warfare Recruiter out of Colorado Springs, CO. “Not that I don’t care about myself, but injuring or killing someone else because I made a mistake is the worst thing an EOD Tech can do.”
Meet the Airmen Who Crush It On and Off the Course
MSgt Mayerstein has worked for nearly 22 years as an EOD Specialist—basically, the U.S. Air Force bomb squad—and he takes staying in shape as seriously as we do. He’s a Newton running coach, TRX Group Trainer, Alpha Warrior Level-2 Coach, and now crushes Spartan Races (starting with Donghae in South Korea in 2019) to stay sharp.
Losing his fitness level is not an option. During lockdown, MSgt Mayerstein conquered a virtual race every week, from Spartan Sprints to an Ultra last May, and competed in the 2020 World Championships. “I love the really long races because there’s more to it than just being in shape,” he says. “You also have to be smart about fuel, where and when to push, choices about clothing and maneuvering through obstacles. It’s like being on an extended dismount and I love that.”
MSgt Mayerstein’s fellow Special Warfare Airmen, TSgt Matthew Wainwright, has worked for 18 years as a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) in the Air National Guard—responsible for calling in air strikes on the right targets at the right time. In addition to his service in the Air National Guard, he’s a full time deputy sheriff, a former certified personal trainer with ISSA, and runs 5K-15K races with 50-mile ultramarathons sprinkled in for good measure. He also tackled a Spartan Race in Georgia back in 2011, just a handful of years after we launched our first-ever OCR series.
The Demands of The Air Force ‘Day Job’
In the field, both MSgt Mayerstein and TSgt Wainwright wear military kits upward of 40 lbs, carrying additional packs between 70-90 lbs, which include gear specific to their jobs (like radios, extra battery packs, laser range finders, additional ammo, explosives, mine detection equipment), plus food and water for however long their missions take. “Now imagine you’re carrying all that and have to hike in terrain like you’ll see in Colorado,” says MSgt Mayerstein.
The demands of their day jobs take not only colossal physical chops but also mammoth mental strength. Quitting is out of the question. “For me, I normally think about what I’m losing if I quit,” says TSgt Wainwright. “If I’m in the fight of my life or trying to get to someone who needs help, if I quit because I’m tired mentally or physically, who am I actually quitting on? Of course, there’s myself, but there’s also the people that are relying on me. The people I’ve sworn to protect, my family who want me to make it back, and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms fighting beside me.”
Bottom line: mind-body fitness is fundamental to these guys—the elites of the elite in overcoming obstacles, from battlefields to race courses. So, to inspire you to crush OCR like a true champ, we tapped them for three top-tier workouts (via Alpha Warrior Programming) to train your obstacle fitness.
These total-body crushers are specifically designed to test the strength of every muscle group, push your mental fortitude beyond limits, and fuel your body’s ability to keep going, especially when you think you can’t. Because like the Air Force, we don’t believe in quitting. We only believe in getting stronger, faster, better. So grab your kettlebells, weighted vests and running shoes, and get stoked to hit it. AROO.
3 Brutal (But AWESOME) Total-Body Workouts from Air Force Elites
WORKOUT OF THE DAY #1: The Lionheart
Do this for time, capping at 50 minutes (men); 60 minutes (women). Complete the prescribed exercises in order.
- 1 Mile run
- 250 Flutter kicks
- 200 Push ups
- 150 Lunges
- 100 Russian KB swings at 24kg (men) / 16kg (women)
- 50 Burpee Chest-to-Bar pull ups
- 25 Handstand push ups*
- 1 Mile run
*PRO TIP: You can substitute the handstand pushups with hand-release push ups, wall walks, or A-Frame push ups.
WORKOUT OF THE DAY #2: Murder Your Face Off
Do this for time. Complete the prescribed exercises in order, wearing a plate carrier or weighted vest at 20 lbs (men) / 14 lbs (women) for the burpee rounds.
- 100 Burpees
- 5 Mile run*
- 100 Burpees
*PRO TIP: Ditch the weighted vest or plate carriers for the run. You can run with them, but it’s not recommended.
WORKOUT OF THE DAY #3: “SMMF” (A.K.A. Single-Movement Mind F*CK)
Do this for time, without music. Breathe through your nose and maintain count in your head. Wear a plate carrier or weighted vest at 20 lbs (men) / 14 lbs (women).
- 1000 Air squats*
*PRO TIP: Just. Keep. Going. And don’t forget to BREATHE.