Astronaut Flight Training for a Male Adult

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Astronaut flight training is designed to mimic the work environment in space. Many people have the mistaken impression that maneuvering in space is easy due to the near-zero-gravity atmosphere. However, genuine astronauts and training candidates have numerous bruises and physical reminders that bumping into inanimate objects in a weightless environment is painful and capable of causing severe injuries. To prepare for space, astronauts embark on intense physical training programs. Read on for astronaut flight training for a male adult.

Currently, astronauts are training for assignments to the International Space Station (ISS). Rotations at the ISS can last anywhere from three months to a year. While there, each astronaut works in every operation necessary at the ISS. Extravehicular activities are spacewalks conducted in heavy, unwieldy spacesuits typically for the purpose of repairs needed to keep the ISS running. While using small tools designed for the finely tuned repairs, the astronaut is wearing the equivalent of a baseball mitt to carry out the job.

While in space, astronauts practice high-intensity workouts six days a week, two-and-a-half hours at a time in an effort to minimize the losses they will sustain in cardiovascular function, muscle wasting and bone density loss.

Fitness specialists design individual exercise programs for each astronaut. To prepare you for the two-year candidate training program required, a 12-week astronaut flight training program has been designed. Due to the intense and varied training planned for your physical fitness program for spaceflight, consider iTrainer’s directory of personal trainers to match you with the optimal trainer capable of facilitating this astronaut flight training program designed for an adult male.

12-Week Astronaut Flight Training Program for Spaceflight Designed for Adult Males

Week 1 – Swim Laps

Your training will commence with the swimming pool-related activities necessary to prepare you for tests required during your first month of astronaut candidate training.

Goal: Complete all requirements for swimming laps.

Action: Your trainer will direct you to swim 10 lengths of the pool and back, or five laps, without stopping. Take a short break to drink water. Next, swim 10 laps without stopping, followed by a short break. Finally, swim 20 laps of the pool.

A useful tool for use while swimming and performing all other activities during training is the Apple Watch 3. Designed in part to wear while swimming, it is waterproof up to a water depth of 50 meters. The built-in Work Out app will track your swimming, bike, treadmill and high-intensity interval training.

Tracking your progress is an essential tool for your training program. By the end of the week, you will gradually increase the number of laps until you’re doing double what you started.

End your session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Whole body workout, muscle mass increase, cardio, agility, and strength.

Week 2 – Tread Water and Perform Survival Training

Goal: Complete Treading Water and Survival Training successfully

Action: Begin the session by swimming 10 laps for warm-up purposes. Take a short water break. Next, return to the pool and proceed to the deep end. Begin treading water for 10 minutes without stopping. When treading water, move your arms smoothly while cupping your hand loosely and making figure eights with your arms. Move your legs as if treading a bicycle. The purpose of treading water is to remain afloat as long as possible, so adjust your movements to the slowest pace that keeps you afloat.

After a short water break, swim another 10 laps before returning to the deep end 10 minutes continuously treading water. Repeat this rotation five times.

By the week’s end, double the number of laps as well as the time spent treading water. Repeat the rotation eight times.

End your session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Whole body workout, muscle mass increase, cardio, agility, strength, and endurance.

Week 3 – Simulate Wearing a Spacesuit

Goal: You will wear gear to simulate wearing a spacesuit during a spacewalk. Additionally, meeting your goal will prepare you for the swimming and treading-water requirements expected during your first month of candidate training.

Action: Donning clothing and tennis shoes provided by your trainer, begin your session by swimming 10 laps. Take a short water break. Return to the pool and swim to the deep end. Commence treading water for 10 minutes without touching the bottom or sides of the pool, and without stopping. After a short water break, swim another 10 laps before returning to the deep end where you will continuously tread water for 10 minutes. Repeat the rotation five times. Wear required clothing and tennis shoes during each water activity

By week’s end, double the number of laps as well as the time spent treading water. Repeat this rotation eight times, wearing the required clothing each time.

End your session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Whole body workout, muscle mass increase, cardio, agility, strength, endurance, and survival training.

Additionally, this offers the opportunity for space simulation training. Scientists at NASA discovered that water allows for closely mirroring the sensations of operating in the near-zero atmosphere of space. Subsequently, they discovered that wearing clothing and shoes while performing tasks allowed astronauts in training to experience how it would feel to complete those tasks while maneuvering in a spacesuit during a spacewalk.

Finally, this functions as a potentially life-saving survival training exercise for real-life scenarios.

Week 4 – Incorporate a Treadmill

This week’s training introduces a treadmill as an additional exercise device. Your treadmill needs to be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ideally, you should purchase your own treadmill. Further assistance is available to help you choose the right machine in this buyer’s guide to treadmills.

Goal: Treadmill training programmed for inclines, steady running, and interval drills will provide a safe training environment. Your trainer will keep variety a priority when programming your running exercises.

Astronauts battle boredom during their time in space. Lengthened mission times create the need for mental challenges. Modest variations incorporated into their training programs can provide large dividends to the astronaut’s increased mental outlook. Music can improve your mood and act to provide inspiration and rhythm to your routines. Your favorite music can easily be downloaded to your iPod so you can use it immediately with treadmill training.

Action: Interval, incline, and steady running is your training plan this week. Start with 60-minute routines.

By week’s end, inclines should be steeper and time increased to 120 minutes. End each session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Cardiovascular system, leg muscles, back muscles, hips

Week 5 – Incorporate Bike Training

Add stationary bike training. Undoubtedly, given the same reasons for owning a treadmill, the ideal program includes your own stationary exercise bicycle.

Goal: Your trainer will use variety when programming your stationary bike. It will include racing on flat surfaces, biking up inclines, and dodging obstacles going downhill. Interval training is included.

Action: Start with 60-minute bicycling routines. End the week with inclines increased, progressively harder obstacles to avoid on the downhill run, and faster flat racing.

In addition, your overall time should increase to 120 minutes. End each session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Cardio system, muscles in legs, back and hips, increases endurance.

Week 6: Exercise With a Ball

Astronauts develop agility, coordination, and spatial awareness by combining complex movements while off balance.

Goal: This exercise can be completed in one of two ways. Your trainer may incorporate both methods into your routine. One method uses a large ball on which to sit, and the second method requires using only one leg for balance.

Action: With your trainer acting as your partner, you will sit on a large balance ball while catching and throwing a small ball with your partner. Alternatively, you will throw and catch a ball with your partner while balancing on one leg.

Begin the week practicing this exercise 10 times in one-minute intervals. Spend 30 minutes on the treadmill or bike. Repeat this rotation four times.

The end of the week will bring improved balance. Gradually increase the catch-and-throw exercise to 20 times for two-minute intervals. Alternate balance exercises with bike or treadmill for 30 minutes. Repeat the rotation eight times. End each session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Balance, agility, coordination, response and reaction time, cardio system, arms, back, legs, and hips.

Week 7 – Go Rock Climbing

Rock climbing walls are great for use in preparing your body for a spacewalk. Coordination and development of the body’s core, trunk, lower arms, fingers, and back is crucial to complete astronaut training.

Goal: Use a rock climbing wall to practice pull-ups and squats.

Action: Using even a small rock climbing wall will help prepare you for the rigors of a spacewalk. Very little is necessary to begin practicing rock climbing. Your hands can easily become sweaty and slippery, so use a chalk bag. Your trainer will insist on an adequate foam crash pad for safety. Climbing or bouldering shoes are helpful, as they have small soles and fit snugly around the foot to minimize instability while rock climbing.

Start the week practicing rock climbing for 60 minutes a day. By week’s end, increase climbing gradually until reaching 120 to 180 minutes a day. End each session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

Note: If no safe rock climbing walls or sites exist nearby, you can substitute pull-ups and squats for a close approximation of this workout.

What this works: This is considered to be a full-body workout, including body core components. As it includes agility for fingers and toes, there are no muscles left unaffected.

Week 8: Combine Your Workouts

Continue full-body workouts and combine with agility and coordination exercises.

Goal: Alternate Rock Climbing with off-balance catch-and-throw exercises.

Action: Practice the rock climbing techniques for 30 minutes. Next, with your trainer as your partner, practice catching and throwing a ball while standing on one leg. Do this 25 times with each leg. Continue to alternate exercises for four rotations.

By week’s end, practice catch-and-throw standing on one leg for 50 times with each leg. Spend 30 minutes rock climbing and alternate for a total of six to eight rotations. End each session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Full-body workout, agility and coordination practice, and endurance.

Week 9: Incorporate Core Building Exercises

Core building exercises are considered the most indispensable exercises an astronaut can do to try to fight the effects of near-zero gravity.

Goal: Strengthen core muscles with a knee-to-elbow variation on classic push-ups.

Action: Begin in the classic position for a push-up, hands lined up with shoulders, and only hands and toes touching the ground. Next, bring your left knee up toward your right elbow. Hold this position for 60 seconds. Lower to beginning push-up position without touching the ground. Push back up to upright push-up position. Next, bringing your right knee toward your right elbow, hold the position for 60 seconds before lowering body. Repeat cycle 10 times with each side.

Spend 30 minutes exercising with the treadmill or bike. Repeat push-up routine with knee-to-elbow exercise. Continue to alternate exercise routines until completing five rotations of each exercise.

By week’s end, hold the knee toward elbow position for two minutes and repeat 15 times with both sides. Continue to alternate exercise with the bike or treadmill for 30 minutes until completing six to eight rotations. End your session with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Full-body workout, agility and coordination practice, Core building and endurance.

Week 10: Incorporate Forward Planks

Goal: Continue core strengthening with forward planks.

Action: Forward planks begin in the classic push-up position. Next, lower your arms until your weight is resting on your forearms. Align forearms with shoulders, and maintain a straight line to your toes. Hold this position for 60 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times.

Next, practice the knee-to-elbow push-up. Hold each side of knee-to-elbow push-up for 60 seconds. Repeat cycle 10 times with each side.

Exercise on the treadmill or bike for 30 minutes. Continue to alternate exercises until completing five rotations.

By week’s end, hold forward plank for 60 seconds, each side of knee-to-elbow position for 60 seconds, and repeat 15 times with both sides. Continue to alternate these exercises with the bike or treadmill for 30 minutes until completing six to eight rotations.

End your sessions with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Full-body workout, agility and coordination practice, core building and endurance.

Week 11: Maintain Your Bone Density

Maintaining your bone density is this week’s plan. In the near-zero gravity zone of space, bone density deteriorates at a rate of more than one percent per month. Contrast that with elderly people on Earth, who lose bone density at a rate of only one to one-and-a-half percent per year.

Goal: Build as much bone density as possible. Your trainer will provide kettlebell weighted according to your strength for this bone density building exercise.

Action: Begin by standing in an upright position. Moving properly, squat down, and use your leg muscles to lift the kettlebell until regaining an upright position. Next, squat down and then swing the kettlebell from between your legs until it is level with your chest. Hold that position for 60 seconds. Repeat five times.

Spend 30 minutes on the bike or treadmill exercises. Continue to alternate exercises until completing five rotations.

By week’s end, hold the kettlebell for two minutes and repeat rapidly eight times. Continue to alternate this exercise with the bike or treadmill for 30 minutes until completing six to eight rotations. End your sessions with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Increases bone density, strength, cardio system, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, back, legs, shoulders, arms.

Week 12 – Resume Core-Building Exercises

Goal: Resume core strengthening with lateral planks.

Action: Begin lateral planks in the push-up position. Rotate your body to one side while resting your weight on one forearm. Hold that position for 60 seconds, return to push-up position, and then rotate and repeat plank on the opposite side. Repeat 10 times on each side for five rotations.

Next, perform the forward plank and hold for 60 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Exercise on the treadmill or bike for 30 minutes. Continue to alternate exercises until completing five rotations.

By week’s end, hold forward plank for 60 seconds, hold lateral plank for 60 seconds on each side, and repeat 15 times with both sides. Continue to alternate this exercise with the bike or treadmill for 30 minutes until completing six to eight rotations.

End your sessions with hydration and a series of cool-down exercises.

What this works: Full-body workout, agility and coordination practice, core building, and endurance.

Congratulations on completing your 12-week program for astronaut flight training. Don’t stop your fantastic progress!

 

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