Astronaut Flight Training for a Male Senior

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Read on to learn about astronaut flight training for a male senior.

To be one of “Those daring young men in their flying machines” is the dream of many young boys. If you are a senior male, it is likely you grew up reading about Buck Rogers, or other heroes, and their adventures in space. 1959 was the pivotal year for space travel to become reality. The NASA astronaut program started that year, and its formation sparked the hopes and dreams of children and adults alike.

Dreams can be replaced somewhere along the way; however, it may not be too late if you’re still yearning to become an astronaut. NASA places no age-related limitations on potential candidates for their astronaut flight training program. Training to become an astronaut may still be a viable option for you. As a senior male, it is likely you already possess the required education.

Physically, you are in great shape. Jogging, workouts at the gym, and rock climbing have all left you in good condition, but to succeed in the space training program, you know that a higher level of conditioning is necessary. An expert trainer is a valuable source to help you make maximum improvement in a minimum period of time. For help in locating the right trainer near you, the iTrainer personal fitness directory has information about certified trainers in your area that can help you choose the best expert trainer for your needs.

Training with a personal fitness expert will give you, as a senior male, a fighting chance to compete with the young upstarts for the astronaut flight training selection program. NASA’s two-year program that precedes the selection process includes a physical fitness program for spaceflight that puts the U.S. Marine’s special training in the shade.

The following 12-week training program can help prepare your body for initiation into the physical fitness program for spaceflight candidates.

12 Week Astronaut Flight Training for a Male Senior for Spaceflight

Adding Depth to a Fitness Program – A Three Part Program, Weeks 1, 2, and 3

Week 1: Basic Hydration Rationale, Warmup and Cool-Down Routine, Stretches

Remember to stay hydrated at all times. That means drinking water before your workout, periodically throughout it before you get thirsty, and after completing the workout. It is also important to do a warmup routine as well as a routine for cooling down. Your trainer will provide you with the agenda.

Hydration and Warmup Skills:

Your trainer will begin with warmup exercises. Expect to jump rope, do jumping jacks, or simply jog in place to complete a full warmup session.

Specific Exercise for Added Depth:

Stretches are the order for today.

Instructions for Stretches:

Raise your arms over your head and clasp your hands together. Spread your feet until they are as far apart as the width of your shoulders. Lean to the right until you feel the muscles on your left side starting to tighten up. Repeat stretching movements to the left and leaning straight back.

Your trainer will act as a spotter if you lean too far back. Last, bend forward at the waist. Still holding your hands straight out and held together, you should feel the muscles stretch. Repeat pattern 10 times.

Your trainer will incorporate your current jogging routine with a warmup and cool-down session. Reviewing the iTrainer’s Running Guide may help tighten your jogging routine and provide an optimal workout. As the week progresses, expect the stretching to become more intense, with an increasing number of repetitions. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 2: Lunge Exercises

Hydration and Warmup Skills:

Your trainer will add the stretches from last week to jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, or jogging in place to complete a full warmup session.

Specific Exercise for Added Agility and Depth:

This will be a series of lunge exercises intended to assist with the agility and depth of your exercise program.

Instructions for Lunge Exercises:

Standing upright, you will put your right leg forward, as if taking a step, and let it bend at the knee. At the same time, you will hold your arms straight out as if pushing against an object. Allow your knee to bend down to a 45° angle. Your torso should follow your outstretched arms until it appears you are lunging forward. Drop your knee until it reaches the ground. Next, alternate this exercise putting your left foot forward. Your trainer may have you gradually increase the speed of your lunge exercises. Complete a series of 10 lunges with each leg.

Your trainer will incorporate your stretching and jogging routine with a warmup and cool-down session. As the week progresses, expect the lunges to become more intense, with an increasing number of repetitions. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 3: Pushups

Hydration and Warmup Skills:

Your trainer will add the lunge exercises from last week to the series of stretches, jumping rope, jumping jacks, or jogging in place to complete a full warmup session.

Specific Exercise for Added Coordination and Depth:

Your trainer will have you do a short series of pushups.

Instructions for Pushups:

You will begin lying face down on the ground with your toes pointed toward the ground. Next, you will lift your upper torso by placing your hands flat on the ground shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body straight and in line, you will bend your arms at the elbow and go as close to the ground as possible. Without allowing your body to touch the ground, you will push yourself back up until your elbows are back in alignment with your arms at a 90° angle. Try not to lock your arms, but ease into the next pushup until 10 are completed. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Purpose of Exercises During Weeks 1, 2, and 3

Astronauts must combine strength with endurance. Earth provides gravity to challenge your muscles and bones. Lack of gravity in space leaves bones and muscles with no challenging natural environment. Without gravity, the loss to bone and muscle mass can be debilitating. Astronauts rely on specialized training equipment to exercise under similar conditions of the environment on Earth.

Rediscover the Joys of Speed, Coordination, and Agility: A Three-Part Program, Weeks 4, 5, and 6

Week 4: Speed Sprints

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises to Increase Speed:

Your trainer will set a course designed for running on a flat surface. The length of the course will vary each time. Your goal is to sprint as fast as you can to finish each course.

Instructions for Speed-Building Sprints:

You will start the exercise by lying face down on the ground at the beginning of the course. Upon hearing the starting signal, immediately jump to your feet and sprint to the finish line, your goal being to complete the event as quickly as possible. After resting for one minute, repeat the exercise. Following the same instructions, repeat the course at least 10 times. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 5: Coordination and Speed Sprints

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises

Specific Exercises to Increase Coordination:

Your trainer will set a course designed for running on a flat surface. This course will include a variety of curves and corners to navigate in order to reach the finish line. The length of the course will vary each time.

Instructions for Coordination and Speed-Building Sprints:

You will start the exercise by lying face down on the ground at the beginning of the course. Upon hearing the starting signal, immediately jump to your feet and start navigating the course. Without bumping into course markers, you will need to navigate curves, corners, and turns laid out on the course.

Your goal is to sprint as fast as you can through the turns to finish each course with the quickest possible time. To track your time with your Apple Watch, learn how by using this guide from iTrainer Apple Watch Support.

After resting for one minute, repeat the exercise. Following the same instructions, repeat the course at least 10 times. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 6: Agility, Coordination, and Speed Sprints

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises to Increase Agility:

Your trainer will set a course with turns and corners for you to navigate in order to reach the finish line. In addition, your trainer will add traffic cones throughout the course; you must avoid hitting these cones. The number of traffic cones, turns, and corners and the length of the course will vary each time.

Instructions for Agility, Coordination, and Speed-Building Sprints:

You will start the exercise by lying face down on the ground at the beginning of the course. Upon hearing the starting signal, immediately jump to your feet and start navigating the course. While running at a sprint, you must weave in and out to avoid hitting traffic cones. In addition, you will need to navigate curves, corners, and turns laid out on the course without bumping into any course markers.

Your goal is to sprint as fast as possible, weaving between cones and navigating all corners and turns to finish each course with the quickest possible time. Following the same instructions, repeat the course at least 10 times. Your trainer will end with your usual cool-down routine.

Purpose of Exercises During Weeks 4, 5, and 6

Clearly, if you’re unable to move with agility, you risk upsetting the only coffee cart on board the spacecraft, potentially causing an international uproar. Astronauts must be highly coordinated and agile as they work in tight quarters.

Strengthen Through Core Building: A Three-Part Program, Weeks 7, 8, and 9

Week 7: Planks

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises to Build Core Muscles:

Planks are pushups with an attitude.

Instructions for Planks

Begin the plank by lying on the ground. Follow the process to get in the pushup position. Once in position, bend your elbows at a 90° angle, leaving your weight resting on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet, with your elbows positioned in line with your shoulders. Hold this position for two minutes.

Your trainer will have you do planks several times a day and will gradually increase the time spent holding the plank. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 8: Crunches

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises to Strengthen Core Muscles:

Crunches are like situps, only concentrated and tougher.

Instructions for Crunches:

Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your knees until your heels are close but not touching your buttocks. Lace your fingers behind your head, or bring your hands to your temples, making sure the palms are facing out. This will place your elbows at an approximate 45° angle from your body. Breathe in and out; during an exhale, quickly bring your shoulder blades off the ground to the point you feel intense pressure in your abdominal area. Hold that position for at least a two-second count. Slowly release the position, and then begin the next repetition right before your head and shoulders touch the ground.

Your trainer will gradually intensify this routine by increasing repetitions and crunch hold time. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 9: Hand-to-Heel Obliques

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises to Strengthen and Tone Core Muscles:

Hand-to-heel obliques work the side muscles, also referred to as love handles. Oblique muscles act as a lever, letting you bend and twist the core portion of your body.

Instructions for Proper Hand-to-Heel Oblique Workout Technique:

Start by lying flat on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Using your oblique and abdominal muscles, reach your right hand down to touch your right heel. Repeat the exercise, this time reaching with your left hand down to touch your left heel. Start with 10 repetitions on each side. Rest five minutes and then repeat. Do these three times for 30 reps on each side. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Purpose of Exercises During Weeks 7, 8, and 9

Astronauts depend upon core muscles to be able to move in space. Without gravity to depend on, they must rely on their core muscles to move equipment, perform research activities, and perform Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs), also known as spacewalks.

Swimming for Your Life: Weeks 10, 11, and 12

Week 10: Endurance Swimming

Your trainer will add swimming to your regular routine. Expect your trainer to incorporate short versions of exercises from previous weeks in addition to the swimming routine.

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises. Although this may seem strange for water-related activities, hydration is just as important before, during, and after swimming exercises.

Specific Exercises During Swimming:

Swimming laps builds endurance and lung capacity while strengthening muscles in arms, legs, oblique, and abdominal areas.

Instructions for Swimming Exercise:

Your trainer will direct you to swim the length of the pool and back, using the crawl stroke without stopping. Next, the distance will increase until reaching 10 lengths of the pool and back without stopping. Once your endurance has increased, expect the distance and number of laps to increase accordingly.

Your exercises will include repetitions of exercises practiced in the preceding weeks. Core strengthening is essential for your success. Agility, coordination, and speed need continual practice to maintain. Swimming is an added component. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 11: Endurance Water Survival Training

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises During Water Survival Training:

Your trainer will instruct you to tread water continuously for five minutes. This builds endurance, arm, and leg muscles.

Instructions for Water Survival Training:

Tread water with your arms, making smooth, even figure-eight movements, and cup your hands for maximum effect. Most people prefer doing a bicycle motion with their feet. Some prefer a scissors kick. Either one is acceptable if it keeps you afloat comfortably. The time spent treading water will steadily increase to 20 minutes or more. Your exercises will include repetitions of exercises practiced in the preceding weeks. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Week 12: Swimming and Treading Water With a Twist

Your trainer will begin with hydration and warmup exercises.

Specific Exercises During Swimming and Treading Water:

You will be swimming laps and treading water with weights and tennis shoes. This builds endurance and lung capacity and strengthens muscles in arms, legs, oblique, and abdominal areas. Furthermore, this simulates physical movements required while garbed in a spacesuit.

Your trainer will provide weights for your wrists, ankles, and waist and tennis shoes for your feet, simulating the weight and bulk of a spacesuit. Following your trainer’s instructions, you will swim the length of the pool and back. The laps will increase until swimming 10 complete laps is comfortable.

Next, your trainer will add the same equipment for use while treading water. You will start out treading water with weights and tennis shoes for five minutes. As you gain endurance, treading time will increase until you reach 20 minutes or more.

Your exercises will include repetitions of exercises practiced in the preceding weeks. This training session should end with your usual cool-down routine.

Purpose of Exercises in Weeks 10, 11, and 12

Water serves as a close way to simulate the near-weightless state experienced in a space station or shuttle environment. The addition of clothing gives candidates a chance to feel similarly awkward, limited movements they will experience upon wearing a spacesuit.

There is a very practical purpose behind the inclusion of the water component. Surprises are not fun when you start astronaut candidate training. You will be fully prepared when all candidates are required to pass a swimming test during the first month of training. According to NASA’s requirements, all candidates must pass three water-related exercises during their first month in training. These tests include swimming three lengths of a 25-meter pool without stopping, and the candidates then must swim three lengths of a 25-meter pool while wearing a flight suit and tennis shoes. In addition, all candidates must tread water continuously for 10 minutes while wearing a flight suit. This is all part of the physical fitness program for spaceflight.

Common-sense reasoning is the goal here. By conducting this test during the first month of training, anyone who is not a good swimmer, or not in optimal condition, is culled from the ranks.

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

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