In December 2018, simply earlier than Christmas, Timothy Cox sunk right into a chair in his quiet workplace, exhausted. The Military officer was drenched in sweat, his muscular tissues throbbing from high to backside. He tried to not dwell on the truth that hitting his objective would require months extra of this: the 5 a.m. exercises. Saturdays on the observe. Curbing the Sonic drive-in ice cream, his lone vice. His relaxation interval virtually over, he stood up, walked over to his white board, and scribbled a quantity: 600. The quantity didn’t simply signify perfection on the Military's lately revamped health check. Like a four-minute mile or a two-hour marathon, nobody knew if it have been even doable but. However Cox was decided. He regarded on the quantity once more, then he received again to work.
Between the place Cox, now 39 and a Main at U.S. Particular Operations Command in Virginia, was that December and the place he resulted in July 2019 as the primary soldier ever to document an ideal 600 rating on the brand new Military Fight Health Check (ACFT) required making some main adjustments to his routine. The earlier health analysis was a easy mixture of push-ups, sit-ups, and operating. The ACFT, launched in late 2018, ballooned to incorporate six totally different workout routines, together with a three-rep max deadlift, a standing med-ball throw, hand-release push-ups, a grueling sprint-drag-carry, an abs-burning leg tuck, and a two-mile run. “If I wish to do that factor,” Cox recollects considering, “I've to work on my push-ups.”
It is value noting that Cox wasn't precisely coming off the sofa. A former highschool state champion within the 800-meters (roughly a half-mile), he each ran observe and performed basketball for Division II McPherson School in his house state of Kansas. It’s uncommon that one athlete would compete in two such disparate sports activities, however Cox is one thing of an anomaly. At six toes, three inches, he’s taller than virtually any distance runner you are more likely to meet, and at his in-season weight of 180 kilos, he nonetheless had about 30 kilos on the few runners who matched his stature.
When observe ended and pre-season for basketball started, Cox would hit the burden room, guzzling protein and packing on weight to carry his personal within the paint, settling at 210 kilos earlier than the primary whistle. He did this yearly. Hollywood main males win Oscars after present process equally dramatic physique transformations, however for Cox, it was simply a part of his method to being a well-rounded athlete. “What I prided my profession on is being essentially the most full athlete I will be,” he says. “I need to have the ability to transfer massive quantities of weight, I wish to be quick, I wish to be agile.”
Grasp Sgt. Vin Stevens
So, about these pushups: Cox says that when he evaluated his preliminary ACFT outcomes—a near-perfect 587 of 600 factors—the hand-release push-ups have been his "weak spot." With the identical resolve he utilized to these school exercises, he attacked. First got here Tabata-style exercises. For 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, Cox would crank out as many hand-release push-ups as he may, 4 or 5 minutes complete, twice per week.
He additionally tailored a traditional observe exercise: 400-meter repeats. Historically, you’d hammer a lap at 5K to mile tempo, jogging a half-lap, or 200 meters, in between for restoration and finishing eight to 12 intervals. Cox says he would stroll the primary 100 meters of restoration, drop and rip 20 to 30 hand-release push-ups, after which stroll the subsequent hundred meters earlier than beginning the subsequent interval. Whereas his tempo of 85 to 87 seconds could be pedestrian for a mid-distance collegiate, “On the time I used to be well-removed from school,” he says, laughing. “It damage.”
That was all on high of his different exercises, which have been in depth: Six days per week, he’d wake at 5 a.m. to hit the gymnasium, pairing conventional muscle teams like again and biceps at some point, chest and triceps the subsequent. Legs had their very own day, and through each exercise, no matter muscle group, he’d add core and grip work. Then he'd go away the gymnasium to reach at his unit for six:15 a.m. bodily coaching, which he’d lead, and would possibly embrace operating, calisthenics, and extra.
Grasp Sgt. Vin Stevens
Saturday mornings, in the meantime, have been at all times spent on the observe, and true to his Christian religion, he rested Sunday. Past his newfound resistance to ice cream, Cox saved his weight loss program low in sugar and ate at house together with his spouse and kids. Previous to morning exercises, he’d at all times have a lightweight breakfast of oatmeal and bananas or toast and eggs with espresso.
Over the course of seven months, Cox noticed his efficiency steadily enhance, notching a 595 after which a 598 out of 600. Coming off a brief enterprise journey in July and with no warning, he was requested if he wished to take the check once more. There was no time to dither. “As soon as I received previous hand-release push-ups,” he says, “I knew I may do it, and that’s when the conclusion set in.”
For his accomplishment, the Military lauded him, and some military-centric publications got here calling. However by and huge, Cox’s life has continued on its regular trajectory. In July 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he was assigned to USSOC in Virginia, the place he now spends his time studying a brand new function and, sure, nonetheless getting in constant exercises, however with some modifications.
Base laws in response to the virus have meant that to place up iron, he’s needed to construct a house gymnasium, and his runs are solely solo. Group exercises include his spouse and 4 youngsters planking on the lounge ground with the music blaring. If he needed to, he says, he may nonetheless notch a high-500 rating within the ACFT, however perfection, for now, is again in 2019.
Cox can also be fast to credit score lots of his navy counterparts for his or her assist writing him into the U.S. Military document books. He mentions his unit’s bodily therapist, who launched him to foam rolling and a lacrosse ball. He thanks the nutritionist, the bodily trainers he consulted, and the push-up-machine buddies who helped him design his exercises. He thanks his spouse and the Military, his youngsters and his religion. Most significantly, he thanks the women and men with whom he served.
“Sure, quite a lot of it was alone,” Cox says of his coaching. "However most likely my greatest exercises have been after I had a soldier subsequent to me, pushing me to be one of the best. That aggressive spirit we had was contagious.”