After graduating high school in 2005, I gave college one semester and withdrew to join the Armed Forces. I had wanted to join the military since my early teens for personal satisfaction and to continue our family tradition. I went to a recruiting office and met with recruiters for the Marines and Navy. My mother begged me not to become a Marine, because of their tip-of-the-spear philosophy in war. Between how she felt and the encouragement of my cousin, who would end up enlisting with me, I ended up choosing to be a sailor instead of a soldier. It was mid-January ’06 when I signed my contract to leave for boot camp in early March; it gave me 2 1/2 months for training.

Chris Ivey showing his stuff—Spring 2009

Chris Ivey showing his stuff—Spring 2009

In high school I was active, athletic and weight-lifted frequently. However, since graduation I had rarely worked out. This meant I was going to start from scratch to become boot-camp ready. My plan of attack was to stick strictly to calisthenics; more specifically, running, pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups and dips. The high frequency and lightweight exercises were going to keep me lean, strong and quick. Perfect for the functional strength I would need. Also, at 6’2 and 180 lbs, I was not trying to lose any weight. In fact, I was trying to gain 5-10 lbs.

I joined the local gym, even though I did not use the machines, and found a secluded corner to do my push-ups in. I had a basic principle to my workouts: max out every day. Where as some may say to themselves, “I have to only do 100 push-ups before I can get out of here today,” I never put limitations on my exercises and would just do as many reps as possible in my gym session. I started off by doing as many sets of 30 push-ups as I could. In the first several days of working out, my sets were adding up to between 90 and 120 push-ups. I was also doing sit-ups, pull-ups and chin-ups at this time. Sit-ups were between 100 and 150—a 100 set and a 50 set. I would rotate my pull-ups and chin-ups between wide-grip to normal chin-ups and normal pull-ups; all in sets of 10. They were adding up to 30-40 overall reps. After my routine I would run a mile on the treadmill to cool down.

Chris Ivey in boot camp—2006

Chris Ivey in boot camp—2006

The first two weeks were pretty brutal. I was working out 4-5 times a week and was constantly sore, but by the second week I was seeing gains. The lightweight and high repetition workouts were great for definition, which was becoming evident. Gaining weight was not happening easily, but I was at least maintaining well. I kept at my simple routine and philosophy of maxing out.

After the second week, reps increased rapidly across the board. By my fifth week I was up to 400-600 push-ups in a session. The reps had slightly evolved: I would warm up with sets of 50 until I had finished 150 total. I was rotating my push-ups between close-grip, normal and wide-grip. My pull-ups and chin-ups were totaling 90 and 120. Sit-ups were ranging from 200 to 300. In terms of running, my least favorite activity, I was still doing between just one and two miles for my cool down. It was around this time that I hit a plateau, and increases in reps became pretty much non-existent. By now I also had gained 5 lbs.

Before I knew it, I was catching a plane with my cousin—we ended up going through boot camp together—and two other local recruits to Great Lakes, Illinois for Navy boot camp. I was very fit by now, but still a little anxious about what was to come. After arriving, we were put into divisions. My division was #151, comprised of 40 girls and 40 guys. We also had a brother division with the same proportions of girls and guys. We split the bunkroom with the guys from the other division and did nearly everything together. Read the rest of this entry »

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