Every year, Memorial Day is a time for Americans – especially members of the U.S. military – to commemorate the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending their country.
And for many active military and veterans, Memorial Day is also a time to honor the fallen soldiers by training them a little (or much) harder than normal.
So it only made sense that last Memorial Day the 101st Airborne Division of the Army (Air Assault) would challenge Erik Bartell to a fitness competition like no other.
Bartell is a former 101st Airborne soldier who became a starter trainer and a founding member of Bravo Sierra and Echelon. The 101st invited Bartell to raise a team of fitness icons to join them in the validation exercises from the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) while honoring our nation's fallen heroes.
Higher standards, fitter soldiers
The ACFT is introducing a new set of exercises and standards to replace the Army's outdated Basic Training Physical Fitness Test of pushups, situps, and a 2-mile run. The ACFT consists of six different events designed to improve “combat readiness of all soldiers”: a maximum 3-rep deadlift (MDL); a standing power throw for the distance with a medicine ball (SPT); Hand release push-ups (HRP); a weighted sprint drag carry (SDC); Leg lift (LTK) or plank (PLK); and a 2 mile run (2MR).
(For further explanation of the events and their specific purposes, see the US Army ACFT website.)
The 101st Airborne Competition consisted of several five-person teams – Bartell's team as well as others – made up of some of the fittest soldiers in the Army. The teams were doing the same workout at the same time and "running" to see who could finish all reps and distances first. The workout designed by Bartell was a mix of the popular (and strenuous) "Murph" Memorial Day WOD and variations of the above ACFT events.
"I did these (ACFT) exercises and converted them to a Murph format for Memorial Day," says Bartell. “This made it beneficial to have a team competition in the style of a 'relay'. But it is also a training that any fit person, whether military or civilian, can do on their own if they have basic equipment. "
The top class of energy drinks
The 101st Airborne Memorial Day Workout also featured Bravo Sierra's brand new Echelon energy drink, with Bartell's team playing as "Team Echelon". Although Bravo Sierra specializes in grooming products for men, Bartell and Co. received so many requests to create a “clean” energy drink specifically for hard-training soldiers that they could no longer ignore the demand.
Echelon comes in a tiny 8.4 oz can, but it contains tremendous performance enhancing effects with effective doses of proven ingredients like caffeine and amino acids, L-theanine, beta-alanine, citrulline, and arginine to give both a mental and physical boost to give.
However, creating this formula was not an easy task. “In the last two years we've developed this clean energy drink,” says Bartell, “and it has gone through at least 15 iterations. We tested Echelon with thousands of military personnel to deliver a kind of performance energy drink that was previously unheard of. "
Driven by passion, courage, and Echelon's innovative formula of performance-enhancing ingredients, the Memorial Day workout was a success – despite some small rainfall.
"The day was meant to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and there was a minute's silence before training," says Bartell. “In true Army fashion, it started raining as soon as training started. There is a saying in the military: 'If it doesn't rain, we don't train!' "
Your new pre-workout performance drink
Courtesy of Echelon Energy Drink
The all-new Echelon Energy Drink was created by and for members of the U.S. military to provide sustained energy, better focus, and improved performance for any demanding physical exertion or workout.
Do you want to prepare for a great workout today? Down an Echelon before your workout session. The ingredients create a sensory effect. When you taste the heat and your skin starts tingling, you know the drink is activated.
Ready for the 101st Airborne Workout Downstairs? Muscle & Fitness readers receive a time-limited 15% discount voucher code.MUSCLE 15“To order Echelon for this training.
A portion of every Echelon sale is donated directly to the Green Beret Foundation. The Green Beret Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization that provides assistance and assistance to members of the Special Forces community and their families.
Echelon will be officially launched on June 22, 2021. Learn more about the new Echelon Energy Drink and its mission to help members of the Green Beret community at drinkechelon.com.
101st Airborne Memorial Day Training
The workout was originally performed on May 31, 2021 and presented by @Echelon_USA and @greenberetfoundation
The following “murph” -style workout was performed by multiple teams from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) competing against each other and a team of fitness elite in the first annual Memorial Day military competition in 2021. The teams consisted of five each Members of the entire military division and the Echelon team, which was led by former Army officer Erik Bartell and also consisted of Demi Bagby, Michael Eckert, Robert Killian and Austen Alexander.
The competition was set up as a relay, in which each member had to perform all repetitions of all exercises (see below). The only benefit for the team was that team members could do reps for other team members, which revealed certain strengths. For example, Mike Eckert (chin-up world record holder) did additional pull-ups for others who were struggling.
If you are doing the routine on your own and are a seasoned trainee, do all the repetitions yourself as prescribed in as short a time as possible and rest as needed.
Warm up: Do five to 10 minutes of light exercise followed by a dynamic full body mobility exercise before completing the following routine.
- 1 mile run
- 50 pull-ups
- 100 meters of Farmer’s Carry
- 50 deadlifts
- 100 meter wind sprints
- 100 meter medicine ball throw relay
- 50 push-ups with hand release
- 1 mile run
- 1 mile run – Do these two runs at a manageable but challenging pace.
- Pull-ups – These can be done either kipping or strictly. If you need help, use a loop shaped resistance band. Rest as needed to get 50 reps.
- Peasant stretcher – These can be done with two heavy dumbbells or a weight hex / trap bar. Take short, jerky steps quickly, dropping the weight, and resting if necessary until you have walked 100 meters (or yards).
- Deadlift – These can be done with either an Olympic barbell or a hex / trap bar. Use a moderate weight – around 50-70% of your estimated 1RM – and rest as needed to achieve 50 reps. "We did 135 pounds across the board for both men and women to compensate for the body weight movements of the heavier participants so they could get some pace," says Erik Bartell of the Memorial Day workout.
- Wind sprints – Mark off 25 meters. Sprint to the 25 meter mark and back twice for a total of 100 meters, touching the ground every time you change direction.
- Medicine ball throw relay – Throw a medicine ball in front of you as far as you can with your hand (throw with maximum force), sprint towards it, pick it up and repeat the process. Do this until you reach the target distance (100 meters).
- Hand pushups – At the bottom of each rep, lift both hands off the floor for a moment with your chest on the floor. On your way to 50 reps, break as needed.
If you don't have all the prescribed equipment, this workout can be completed with just two kettlebells. Farmer’s carry and deadlifts are performed with kettlebells and medicine ball throws are replaced by 50 kettlebell vibrations.