08.27.12 8:45 AM ET
Prince Harry’s Fitness Secrets
Amidst all the furor over Harry’s naked photos, snapped in a Las Vegas hotel room, one vital facet of the story is being overlooked; namely, just how good is Harry’s body?
To use the London slang so beloved of Harry’s crew, that boy is hench; big, strong and not the kind of aristocrat you want to mess with.
Hell, he can even hold his own against Ryan Lochte in the pool. Wearing jeans.
So, how can we common folk get a body like hunky Harry?
Well, it ‘ain’t gonna be easy, soldier.
Harry’s rippling multipack torso is the product of several years of relentless punishment in British Army workouts (Harry is a captain in the Army Air Corps), and an indication of just how high a level of fitness is demanded of active soldiers is provided in the army’s Physical Training (PT) handbook, entitled, “The Official British Army Fitness Guide.”
The book details the basic weekly exercise regimen undertaken by a trained soldier in the British Army, technically known as fitness level 4 (which takes 16 weeks to build up to from a standing start).
A typical week looks a bit like this:
• Steady run for 30-40 minutes
• 2 sets of press-ups, as many as you can do in 45 seconds
• 4 sets of 15 squat thrusts
• 2 sets of sit-ups, as many as you can do in 45sec
• 4 x 15 dorsal raises (Lie face down on the floor with your hands at your temples and your shoulders relaxed. Take a deep breath in, lifting your chest off the floor. Hold briefly, then gently lower to the floor breathing out).
• 10-15 minute warm-up
• Alternate running soft, hard and then recovering, for intervals of 1,2 and 3 minutes (12min in total)
• 10-minute cool-down
• Rest day
• 10-minute warm-up
• Four cycles of circuit training, each cycle comprising 15-20 sets of the following exercises:
Twist sit-up (hands behind head and bring right elbow to left knee and then reverse)
Step-up with knee raise (Place a 12- to 24-inch-high step in front of you. Step up with your left foot, bringing your right leg forward and up and bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Repeat with other leg
Triceps dip (up and down between parallel bars, all weight on your arms)
Walking lunge (long steps, low to the ground, holding weights)
One-legged squat (lift one leg up, slowly lower yourself to the ground with your other leg)
• 10-minute cool-down
• Rest day
• Brisk walk for 30-40 minutes or go swimming, cycling or rowing for 25-35 min
One of the remarkable elements British military fitness training—whose principles have remained largely unchanged for over 200 years—is that most of it is carried out without the aid of weights, gym machines, or expensive equipment. Instead, as the above makes clear, the vast majority of exercises use the soldier's own body weight.
This has numerous advantages; it means that soldiers can maintain their fitness regimen when they are in the field or deployed away from base, it is less likely to result in injury and it costs nothing.
This is not to say that the military doesn’t have gyms available to them.
For, in addition to this background level of fitness, soldiers on active service (like Harry) frequently engage in gym work, especially weights and strength training exercises.
Endurance training is another key part of military PT, frequently taking the form of squad runs in full operational kit; uniform, including boots and a helmet, webbing, a backpack and the soldier’s personal weapon.
Assault courses—completed both individually and in squads—feature heavily in army training. Obstacles simulate battle conditions where soldiers may be required to cross water, climb walls and scramble under fences etc, and provide a sensational full-body work out.
Diet is also vital to building a body like hubba-hubba Harry’s; and forget the egg-white omlettes. Army diets typically comprise plenty of protein, full fat milk, eggs and other rich food. Alcohol is avoided during the week by the majority of soldiers.
Former royal marine Jonny Quinn, 32, who now runs an exercise school, Armed Force Fitness, that trains civilians according to military principles, says that the basic regimen, which is performed during PT, is just the start of what is expected from soldiers in terms of their physical fitness, however.
“Monday morning there is always a compulsory run to get rid of the cobwebs from the weekend, but you’d probably be expected to go to the gym of your own accord and do some light weights as well,” he says, by way of example.
“Every Wednesday afternoon there is organized sport, with football or rugby matches. Thursday they often have the fitness test to contend with.
"On Friday afternoon in the commandos we would often get a ‘Bergen tab’, where you get dropped off in full kit eight miles away from base, and it’s up to you how quick you get back. The quicker you get home, the sooner your weekend starts.
“Our motto was: train hard, fight easy. Most active soldiers are so fit that their resting heart rate would be 15 to 20 pulses a minute.”
He says that although soldiers often take three weeks' leave, it is not uncommon to go on a bender for two weeks but get back into training in week three.
“I notice if I have a heavy night out it takes three to four days to get back in shape. So in the last week off, most of the lads would take a few days off the drink, go for a few runs and hit the gym. No one wants to go in on Monday morning after three weeks off totally unfit.
“Harry’s a great character and ambassador for the army, and he is an Apache pilot, which is the highest profile job in military. Only the very few get through the course. Fair play, he has done it.
“He will definitely get a bollocking for this but he will take it in his stride. He is a royal, but he’s also a human being, a 27-year old lad.”
And a damn well-toned one at that.