A Fitness Critique of the ISIS Terrorist Workout Video

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not just a bloody Islamist terror group currently massacring the Iraqi army; it's also the producer of a workout video. But is this the quality workout video that Middle Eastern radicals deserve?

  • Let's start with the positives: Air squats, tumbling, jumping over smoke, crawling under wire, crouch-walking holding bricks, hand-walking on monkey bars (not just for kids!)—all great examples of functional fitness. Squats with tires, pushups with tires, marching with tires, crawling with tires—great use of an underutilized training tool. Overhead squats with rifles—good stuff. Consider adding weight as your recruits progress (grenade launchers?). Lots of good training in basic hand to hand combat and self defense techniques—a proven way to help your students feel safer walking the mean streets at night. Team lifts with a heavy log, just like the Navy SEALS. Your boys will be ready to join the U.S. military before long!

Now for a few items of constructive criticism

  • The music is a little too downbeat: Haunting chants celebrating jihad are okay for your day off, but during a workout you're going to want something a little more up-tempo. Slayer?
  • You are working out in black robes and ski masks: You want light, comfortable workout gear that will keep you cool and allow for free movement. An example of the opposite of this would be black robes and ski masks.
  • When doing situps holding rifles, your feet are unsecured: Have your terrorists "buddy up" and hold each other's feet on alternating sets for better leverage.
  • Correcting people's workout technique by kicking them and hitting them with sticks: Have you tried, instead, positive reinforcement and constructive correction? Effective workouts are all about maintaining that PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.
  • Too much time spent sitting quietly listening to an imam: The portions of your workout video showing your troops running, jumping, and doing calisthenics are fine—but they're interspersed with seemingly interminable shots of all of them seated on the ground listening to a man preach about jihad. Try to limit your rest time between sets to one or two minutes. Otherwise, you'll never keep that heart rate consistently high.
  • Too much time spent training simulated kidnappings: I understand the need for practice, but are you putting the cart of technique before the horse of building a basic level of fitness? The strength and cardio gains you'll achieve from repeatedly pushing a handcuffed man into a car trunk will be minimal.
  • Your workout area is pretty dusty: If you must work out in the middle of a desert, try to work out in an enclosed area, or at least lay down some mats. That dust is really kicking up.
  • There are multiple open flames in your workout area: Is it necessary for the pit that your recruits jump over to be fiery? Is it necessary for the hoop that they tumble through to be flaming? Sure it looks dramatic, but it adds little to the actual workout. And frankly, I question its safety.
  • There are lots of guns in your workout area: Those aren't loaded, are they?

Overall, ISIS, you have my compliments. Your workout is much better than Barack Obama's.

[Image by Jim Cooke]