Navy veteran and YouTuber Austen Alexander has taken on all kinds of physical challenges since leaving the service, including subjecting himself to an array of different military fitness tests. In his latest video, he puts himself through the U.S. Army’s airborne obstacle course. He is coached through this gauntlet by Michael Eckert, the U.S. Marine and former Ninja Warrior competitor who knows a thing or two about upper body strength: he broke the world record for most pullups in a single minute.
They start off with the easiest section of the obstacle course, a balance beam. “Seriously, if you have a slip up there, you’re going to break your testicles,” says Alexander. Then he tests his agility and speed with a series of four consecutive wall jumps, before reaching the third, “level hard” obstacle: an upper body assault course consisting of ropes, monkey bars, rings, cargo net, static bars, straightforward bars, and then a choice between a thick, log-like bar or a narrow, angled bar.
“30 yards of just pure grip strength,” says Alexander. Usually, if you drop, you’re required to start the entire thing from the beginning, but Eckert lifts that rule on this occasion.
Alexander makes a strong start, clearing the monkey bars, rings and the cargo net before dropping to the ground from fatigue. He gets right back up, climbing the static bars which go up like a pyramid before descending again. “This is where the mental game plays,” says Eckert. “Right now he is 15 feet in the air. If he gets tired, he does not want to let go at that height.”
Alexander drops again after this section, his hands bloodied, before jumping back up to complete the final leg of the course, finishing with a total time of 3:25.
“So much grip needed for that,” he says, showing the camera his torn-up hands. “I’m 240 pounds. That much weight on my hands, they did not like it… I don’t do this much upper body. But the grip is what was killing me. I think I could have pushed through if calluses didn’t rip off. But I feel good.”
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