Author: Christopher B Shaw

Christopher B Shaw

From the Academies to Leading the Armed Services

Attending a Military Service Academy represents a transformative educational experience that prepares men and women to lead in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard. These institutions provide a unique blend of rigorous academics, leadership training, character development and military experience. In this article, Christopher B. Shaw discusses the invaluable benefits that cadets and midshipman can gain from their time at a Military Service Academy which ultimately shapes them into exceptional leaders.

Leadership Development: Forging Tomorrow’s Leaders

Immersive Leadership Training

Military Service Academies are renowned for their immersive leadership programs. Midshipman and cadets are exposed to a structured environment where they learn to lead by example, foster teamwork, and make critical decisions under pressure. These experiences lay the foundation for the development of strong and capable leaders.

Mentorship and Role Models

Being surrounded by experienced military professionals and faculty members offers students invaluable mentorship opportunities. They have access to seasoned combat leaders who provide guidance, share their experiences, and instill essential leadership principles.

Academic Excellence: A Foundation of Knowledge and Skill

Rigorous Curriculum

Military Service Academies boast academically rigorous programs that encompass a broad range of disciplines, including mathematics, science, engineering, humanities, and leadership studies. The emphasis on academic excellence prepares students for the intellectual challenges they will face in their military careers.

Cutting-Edge Facilities and Resources

Midshipman and cadets benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, and extensive resources. These institutions are equipped with modern cyber operations centers, laboratories, libraries, and research centers, ensuring that students have access to the tools necessary to excel in their studies.

Character Development: Fostering Integrity and Honor

Emphasis on Ethical Conduct

Integrity and honor are core values instilled in students from day one. Military Service Academies cultivate a culture of ethical behavior, emphasizing the importance of honesty, accountability, and respect for others.

Physical and Mental Resilience

Cadets and midshipman undergo rigorous physical training and mental conditioning to develop resilience and fortitude. These experiences build mental toughness and physical stamina, enabling them to overcome challenges in their military careers.

Career Opportunities: A Launchpad for Success

Commissioning as Officers

Upon graduation, students serve as commissioned officers in the respective branches of the military. This distinction marks the beginning of their professional careers, where they assume leadership roles and make meaningful contributions to their chosen service branch.

Diverse Career Paths

Military Service Academies offer a multitude of career paths within the armed forces. Whether in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Space Force, graduates can specialize in a wide array of fields, from engineering and aviation to healthcare and intelligence. Graduates will fly fighter planes and helicopters, drive nuclear powered submarines and ships, lead Marine and SEAL warriors or conduct offensive and defense cyber operations in defense of the United States.

Conclusion: Transformative Education for Future Leaders

Attending a Military Service Academy is an unparalleled opportunity for young individuals aspiring to serve their country with distinction. The combination of leadership development, academic excellence, character building, and promising career prospects makes these institutions a springboard for success in the military. Through their experiences at a Military Service Academy, students not only receive a world-class education but also emerge as principled leaders ready to take on the challenges of an honorable military career.

Cross-Training for Gravel Riders: Building Strength and Flexibility

Christopher B Shaw

Gravel riding necessitates exceptional strength, flexibility, and fitness — even more so than pavement riding — to deal with unforgiving rutted roads that transform into arduous peanut butter paths when wet. However, gravel-specific fitness is something that’s often missing from a rider’s routine. And it’s about time that changed.

The rural tracks demand pushing a higher gear at a slightly reduced cadence to keep traction and torque over the unpredictable terrain, giving riders a total-body workout as they shift their weight, hover, and maintain proper positioning to keep their tires on the track. Thus, Christopher B. Shaw says that targeted fitness regimes must focus on upper body stamina, core stability, leg strength, and overall athleticism.

The Cross-Training Regime for Gravel Riders

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine, there are key moves that work best for gravel riders’ focuses. Since muscles adapt rapidly, the most important thing in any regime is variety. As such, the recommended template workout schedule below incorporates various moves and training styles to facilitate constant improvement.

Strength Training

Strength training improves endurance and power, while reducing the risk of injury. Suggested exercises target the core, legs, and upper body across bodyweight and weighted movements.

Exercise Sets x Reps Notes
Deadlift 4 x 6 The first two sets can be considered warm-up sets. The latter two should be working sets with heavy weights.
Single leg press 4 x 8 It boosts leg strength and reduces imbalances for improving low cadence bursts while on the track. When a leg press machine isn’t available, riders can do pistol squats instead.
Lat pull downs 3 x 6 Start light to perfect the form before pushing it.
Squats 4 x 6 A study found cyclists who squatted regularly improved their riding time to exhaustion at max aerobic power by 17.2% after two months.
Plank row 3 x 8 It’s a much-needed exercise for endurance gravel riders who want to reduce back and neck injuries. It also develops core strength, stamina, and upper-back strength required for long days on the track.
Colonel Chris Shaw Marine

Bodyweight Workouts

Exercise Sets x Reps Notes
Seated good mornings 3 x 10 Riders should focus on their breathing as they start — fill the stomach, brace, go down, push knees out, and head back up.
Dead bugs 3 x 20 (10 each side) Use bodyweight only before stepping it up with a medicine ball or a plate.
Pull-ups 3 x 6 Those who can’t get six in a row can pause before finishing the set.
Push-ups 3 x 6 They build strength in the triceps, shoulders, and chest, supporting riders on the handlebars.
Jump squat 4 x 10 It’s a must-do movement for explosive power, strengthening the quads and providing impact for bone strength.

Interval Training

Interval training involves alternating between recovery periods and high-intensity spurts. Gravel riders should do intervals on hilly terrain to emulate the demands of long rides or races, and never forget to stretch and cool down after any workout to promote recovery.

Military Service Forges Forever Friendships

Christopher B Shaw

Brief encounters that turn into life-long friendships. That’s just how it is in the military.

These military connections aren’t just short-term or temporary; for most service members, the friendships that they form while active in service become their lifeline. Colonel Chris Shaw, Marine, takes a look at profound friendships among military service members, how they are established, and why they continue long after the uniform is retired.

Beyond the Barracks: Unique Relationships

One might wonder how service members develop such deep connections with each other when they may train with one group of individuals, they may deploy with another group and may go to war with still another. What is even more profound is that the United States military is made of women and men from all over the country. The Marine Corps boasts that it recruits from every zip code in the United States. What that means is the bonds are created from every demographic that makes up our great nation – our cities, suburbs, rural areas from every region of the United States. Additionally, rotational deployments are common, meaning that members are expected to leave their current unit or command at one point or another.

Rotations can last from 3 to 6 years and are a typical occurrence across all branches of the service. Military members are used to the concept and doesn’t deter their friendships in any way. That’s because the deep, albeit brief relationships are woven from shared experiences, developed trust, unwavering support and at times extreme painful loses. For this reason, military members never truly abandon each other.

There is an unspoken code among those who serve – a promise that no friendship shall ever die. Relationships will never change and will only pick up from where they left off if given the opportunity to reunite.

More importantly, friends will understand and feel no resentment when the other doesn’t communicate or make efforts for the relationship.

But apart from this, what exactly makes a military friendship so unique?

Friends Acknowledge the Dangers of Their Situation

Service members universally acknowledge that life is short, as their life is a series of unpredictable and potentially dangerous events.

Combat zones. Terrorist groups. War.

No matter where he or she is, a service member is always in a situation that could potentially turn dangerous, and he knows that it’s the same for his comrades. This is what drives members to form friendships… fast. And allows them not to sweat the small stuff and opens them up to enjoying the good times.

Chris Shaw Marine

They Understand Each Other’s Struggles

Military members go through the many of the same struggles together. When they form a connection with someone, the shared experiences, sentiments, and hardships deepen the bond right away. Having someone who gets or goes through what they’re going through can make any situation much more bearable.

True Friends Cherish without Imposing High Expectations

Friends in the military don’t expect too much from each other. No explanation is necessary when one suddenly packs up to leave because the others understand it and have lived it themselves. They don’t expect a call every now and then, or a birthday greeting, or a Christmas card.

Friends understand that military life is hard and expectations won’t do their relationship any good.
These are the main reasons why service members value their friendships more. The bond is deeply rooted in shared experiences and values but with a no-frills, no-strings-attached approach.

These friendships have endured so much in a short span, that’s why they last a lifetime. It makes every conversation more impactful and every memory all the more unforgettable.

Service members are bound by the extraordinary friendships they have formed in service and forever changed for the better.