How This Astronaut Builds Muscle to Survive in Space –

Posted: September 20, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Faced with zero gravity, a young, healthy adult in space can lose up to 20 percent of their muscle mass in five to 11 days. Thats the hell that awaits U.S. Navy Lieutenant Jonny Kim, 36, who recently completed NASAs astronaut-candidacy training for his potential first trip to space.

To figure out how hell adapt, Kim spends workdays in the Johnson Space Centers zero-g simulator, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6.2-million-gallon pool. Underwater lies a mock-up of the International Space Station, which will be Kims home if hes sent to space. Training in the pool in his rigid spacesuit mimics the movement struggles of space.

Kim calls his water time a six-hour marathon. His life experience to this point has helped him prepare physically and psychologically. Previously he served as Navy SEAL in Iraq, raiding terrorist compounds. After that, he studied emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital as a Harvard Medical School graduate. Still, space is a new frontier. To train for NASA, he says, you have to make sure the pain, the suffering, and the fatigue is as close to real as possible so that there aren't any surprises in space."

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In his pressurized suit, even small hand motions, like making a fist, require serious muscle. Youre not walking on the space station. To get around, to do training exercises, and make repairs youre grabbing a truss and moving yourself hand over hand. The pressurized suit requires that every movement be extremely forceful," he says. Constantly using his hands to climb across handrails on the stations exterior is a unique way to build meaty guns. The muscles that get smoked the most are my forearms, he says.

Kim, who is 5'11" and weighs 175 pounds, is overcompensating on earth by rising at 3:30 each morning to work outwhich almost always includes farmers carries, a key grip-strength move. His other go-to: heavy barbell squats. Theres nothing more important than squatting for getting my whole-body strength up, says Kim. All things being equal, a stronger person will have an easier more successful time doing any task, even if the task isnt strength related.

Warm up. Then do 5 sets of 5 heavy back squats, resting at least two minutes between sets. Next grab the heaviest dumbbells that you can walk 100 feet with and perform five sets of farmers walks.

This story originally appeared in the Everyday Strength feature in the May 2020 issue of Mens Health.

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How This Astronaut Builds Muscle to Survive in Space -

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