Astronaut Flight Training for a Female Adult

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Space has captivated the thoughts of humanity since the beginning of time. We have charted stars, discovered planets, and for the past 70 years, we have flown through space. Every kid born after the 1960s has dreamed of growing up to be an astronaut. To be a part of the elite group of space ambassadors takes rigorous training and dedication. Not everyone will be given the chance to become an astronaut, but everyone can train like one using physical fitness programs designed specifically for space flight. Read on the learn about astronaut flight training for a female adult.

When Sally Ride, America’s first famed female astronaut, took off in the Challenger in 1982, she changed the game once again by opening up the world of space to women everywhere. She proved that while the road isn’t easy, there’s plenty of room in outer space for all of those who work hard enough to get there. In fact, before Sally Ride, there were 13 women who underwent the same rigorous training as the men that were originally trained for the Mercury 7 mission.

Sally Ride got her start in the space industry by replying to the newspaper ad, but the chances of that happening in this day and age are increasingly slim. After all, with Mars on the horizon, the competition is steeper than ever. If you are interested in becoming an astronaut, there are several qualifications you need to meet. Aside from graduating from a respected university, preferably with a degree in science and engineering, you will need to have some experience in related fields of space study and pass the intense physical examination.

In addition to sharp mental acuity, physical fitness is important for proper astronaut flight training because space flight can be incredibly strenuous. Space is an extreme environment that makes even the harshest places on Earth look cushy, so potential astronauts need to prepare for the worst. As the Behind the Scenes Training program published by NASA’s human spaceflight division says, “Anything astronauts do in space is practiced dozens of times on the ground.” They must practice proper upkeep and repair of equipment and what to do in any emergency situation. Astronaut flight training is intense because it combines the skills of Olympians, scientists, and politicians.

While some deceptive space movies might have you picturing military grade equipment that throws you around like a cheap fair ride, you can actually perform many exercises at home without any fancy equipment. There was even a NASA initiative to encourage children to train like an astronaut using activities with minimal equipment and financial commitment. Although being as fit as an astronaut will not happen overnight, with enough dedication, you can transform your physique to match that of these brilliant space pioneers.

Exercises

Using these exercises over a 12-week period can help you attain the physical requirements of an astronaut, but any adult female interested in a physical fitness program for spaceflight should realistically look into a specialized personal trainer. Sites like iTrainer can set you up with customized exercise plans and trainers.

Each of the following exercises is designed to engage the body and mind in activities ideal for astronaut flight training. If you have any persisting injuries or conditions, you should consult your physician to see if these exercises are safe for you. Modifications can and should be made to make this practice as safe as possible.

Jump rope – Jumping rope may seem juvenile, but it requires the joint mental dexterity and physical strength that space travel requires. It is a whole-body exercise that promotes heart health. By engaging the cardiovascular system, jumping rope can slim down excess fats and tone musculature. Some consider this exercise too abrasive for sensitive joints, but it is important to invest in strengthening these sensitive areas, like knees and ankles, to be considered fit enough for the rigors of space.

Straight jumps – For beginners, a standard jump is recommended. Start with the rope behind you and your feet together. Swing the rope forward over your head and jump at a comfortable pace; focus on maintaining a steady speed and not tripping. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

External-Internal jumps – These jumps are executed by alternating the rotation of your leg while you jump. Begin the straight jump with your feet hip-width apart and the rope behind you. As you swing it overhead, jump up and rotate from your hips to point your toes out and heels in. Jump again and reverse this by landing with your heels out and your toes pointed in. This move can broaden the range of your hip flexors in a manner similar to ballet and improve your overall coordination by forcing you to center yourself on constantly alternating footing.

Swimming – Swimming is one of the most important exercises for astronaut flight training because it is one of the only ways to simulate the changing levels of atmospheric resistance in space. There is no need to invest in an antigravity machine if you can make a few weekly visits to the community pool. According to the original Project Mercury Astronaut Training Program, swimming skill was used to provide “training in breathing control…and partial simulation of weightlessness.” Astronauts are required to swim at least 75 meters in their suits with their shoes on in order to prepare for emergency crash landings in open waters. The PBS special on candidate training listed that they were also required to tread water for long periods of time, which requires both mental and physical endurance. This fortitude can be built by swimming freestyle laps with intentional breathing regulation. Swimming will help lower your heart rate and increase your lung capacity while building bone strength, making it the ideal exercise for any female adult seeking space flight fitness.

Treading Water – Treading water stipulates keeping yourself afloat without touching the bottom of the pool. To practice treading water, swim to a depth where you cannot touch the bottom of the pool while standing with your head above water still. Once there, move your arms in circular motions and paddle your feet to keep your head out of the water. Like any water activity, this can be dangerous without supervision, so exercise with a friend if you are using a pool in a private residence or wait until a lifeguard is on duty at a public one.

Laps – Swimming laps is the cardio equivalent of running on a track without the added joint pain. Find out the length of your pool and calculate the number of laps needed for 25, 50, and 100 meters.

Weight Retrieval – Toss weighted items into the pool and practice diving in to retrieve them. The pressure adds resistance to the exercise, and the added intellectual aspect of rationing strength and breath makes it the perfect exercise for potential astronauts.

Weight and Core Training – Many astronauts can face muscle loss and bone deterioration due to the conditions of space. This can be particularly difficult for female adults who are already facing a natural reduction in muscle mass as they age. Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut and national hero, practiced weight training and dance long before her career in NASA and continued weight training as part of her astronaut career. According to a Harvard Medical study, the benefits of weight training are similar to those of swimming with comparable perks in bone health and lean muscle development. Lifting weights sculpts your frame to ideal proportions and when paired with core exercises can form a complete physique.

Squat, Curl, and Press – Use hand weights between 8 and 10 pounds or a different preferred weight increment to perform this exercise. Hold the weights in front of your chest with your elbows bent. With feet shoulder-width apart, lower your base into a squat and extend your arms in front of you. Next, push your legs into a standing position and then curl the weights up to your chest. Finally, press the weights up overhead. This is one rep.

Plank – Lie stomach-down on a soft space on the floor. With your feet slightly apart and your palms flat on the floor below you, press up into a plank position. Ideally, your body will form a straight line, with your spine forming a gentle angle from your shoulder blades, to your pelvis, to the floor. Engage your core muscles by imagining your belly button being pushed up from the floor by a magnet.

Wall Squat – Stand with your back to a wall while wearing slip-proof shoes. Lower into a squat with your knees pulled inward and thighs parallel to each other. Extend your arms out in front of you and breathe continuously through the exercise.

The 12-Week Plan

 

Week 1 – This first week begins with a taste of each exercise. Although it may seem too simple, really commit to perfecting the form of each exercise this week. Establish a solid base understanding of your body and its limitations and tendencies. Make an effort to do the daily exercises first thing in the morning and plan your swim times ahead so that way you do not get overbooked.

Daily

15 seconds plank (repeat twice)

15 seconds wall squat (repeat twice)

5 minutes jump rope, straight jump

2 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

50 meters freestyle swim (twice)

30 seconds tread water (repeat twice)

 

Week 2 – The second week can be difficult as you have residual soreness from the preceding week, so make sure to ice any sore muscles and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Daily

25 seconds plank (repeat twice)

25 seconds wall squat (repeat twice)

5 minutes jump rope, straight jump

5 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

50 meters freestyle swim (twice)

45 seconds tread water (repeat twice)

 

Week 3 – The third week is typically when people are most likely to give up on their goals, making it even more crucial for you to buckle down this week. The brain forms habits after 21 days of daily activity, meaning that at the end of this week, you will be performing these exercises as though they are second nature.

Daily

30 seconds plank (repeat twice)

30 seconds wall squat (repeat twice)

10 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

5 minutes jump rope, straight jump

5 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

50 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

1 minute tread water (repeat twice)

 

Week 4 – At this point in the exercise routine, you should begin to notice changes in how your body looks and feels. The daily cardio of the jump rope and the weekly swimming may result in a slimmer waistline at this stage before you begin to build new muscle.

Daily

30 seconds plank (repeat three times)

30 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

10 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

6 minutes jump rope, straight jump

6 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

50 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

1 minute tread water (repeat twice)

5 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 5 – At this point, the plank and wall squat should feel like second nature more than torture. Take time to appreciate how much you can feel your body rising to the challenges you set before it.

Daily

30 seconds plank (repeat three times)

30 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

15 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

6 minutes jump rope, straight jump

6 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

50 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

2 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

6 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 6 – At week six you still might not win in a wrestling match with Sally Ride or Mae Jemison, but they would surely be proud of the dedication you are showing. You are halfway there and still going strong. This week, you will be increasing many of the measurements and workout times, so expect to feel sore.

Daily

45 seconds plank (repeat three times)

45 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

15 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

6 minutes jump rope, straight jump

6 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

3 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

7 sets weight retrieval

Week 7 – Not much is changing here from week 6, but as you might be feeling soreness, it is okay to slow it down just a tad this week.

Daily

45 seconds plank (repeat three times)

45 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

15 reps squat, curl, & press (3 sets)

7 minutes jump rope, straight jump

7 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

4 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

8 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 8 – Don’t be surprised if at this point in the exercise routine, your friends and co-workers begin to notice the changes in your body. It typically takes a full two months for physical weight change to be registered by your peers even in a total body transformation like the space training exercises.

Daily

60 seconds plank (repeat three times)

60 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

20 reps squat, curl, and press (2 sets)

7 minutes jump rope, straight jump

7 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

5 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

8 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 9 – At nine weeks, you should be able to complete the full minute wall squat and plank with ease. Focus on your breathing and renew your attention to form this week.

Daily

60 seconds plank (repeat three times)

60 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

20 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

7 minutes jump rope, straight jump

7 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

7 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

9 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 10 – Week 10 is when you should truly take note of the weight gain from increased muscle toning. Don’t be surprised if you look at the scale and see an increase due to the new muscle you have been forming.

Daily

60 seconds plank (repeat three times)

60 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

25 reps squat, curl, and press (3 sets)

8 minutes jump rope, straight jump

8 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

8 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

9 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 11 – You are incredibly close to the aerospace fitness level and the peak fitness for any adult female.

Daily

60 seconds plank (repeat three times)

60 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

25 reps squat, curl, and press (4 sets)

8 minutes jump rope, straight jump

8 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

75 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

9 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

9 sets weight retrieval

 

Week 12 – After the completion of the 12th week, you should be able to complete all basic fitness requirements of NASA’s finest. This set of workouts can be continued for as long as you’d like.

Daily

60 seconds plank (repeat three times)

60 seconds wall squat (repeat three times)

25 reps squat, curl, and press (4 sets)

10 minutes jump rope, straight jump

10 minutes jump rope, external/internal jump

3 times per week

100 meters freestyle swim (three repetitions)

10 minutes tread water (repeat twice)

9 sets weight retrieval

 

Remember, everyone has the potential to transform their life. Famous women like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison showed us all what we can accomplish when we build our minds and master our bodies. Invest in yourself by exercising regularly and challenging yourself with routines like this or those custom designed for individual goals by persoanl fitness trainers found in the iTrainer Directory. Remember that getting to the moon didn’t happen overnight and neither will this, but with enough dedication, anything is possible.

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