Officer personifies Army Strong
April 7, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Many Soldiers personify Army Strong -- 1st Lt. Collin Mooney is but one as he takes that motto to heart in his daily duties leading from the front.
The tale of the tape shows this 24-year-old executive officer for 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery Advanced Individual Training is a solid 5'10", 245-pounds with a body fat of about 12 percent. If a body like that sounds like football material, that idea popped into his head while still in high school. Mooney got serious about lifting weights and working out to attract a college football scholarship. That dream, in part, developed because a close friend and workout partner two grades ahead of him accepted a scholarship to play offensive line for the University of Texas.
"We went to the same gym and began working out together. That started me lifting for football and learning how to lift," said Mooney.
Size does matter
Motivated by the goal to play college football "somewhere," he established the foundations of a workhorse mind set hitting the weights five days a week. Within a year he'd beefed up adding 40 pounds to his frame leaping from 175 to 215 pounds.
Even as his body transformed, his sights on where he'd like to play college ball shifted following his junior year of high school. During a summer visit to colleges and universities, Mooney pinpointed one institution to fulfill his college football plan -- the U.S. Military Academy.
Following high school graduation, he accepted an appointment to the academy and played varsity football for three years. The first two he was the bulldozer blocker paving the way for running backs to scoot through holes. His number was called only six times to rush the football and totaled 22 yards. Regardless of the results achieved on the football field, teammates recognized Mooney as one who worked as hard or harder than anyone else.
That effort paid off during his breakout season in 2008. Mooney's final go-round in a Black Knights' uniform would happen as part of a new offense, one that made him the featured runner. He responded with a school record 1,339 yards rushing for the season.
Workouts four days a week
After suiting up one last time to play in an East-West Shrine Game, Mooney changed uniforms to Army green. One thing that hasn't changed is his commitment to stay in optimum shape. Morning unit fitness training and afternoons in the gym are the engines that drive this commitment. Though he no longer lifts weights five days a week, his four-day-a-week schedule focuses on getting the most out of his morning and afternoon 90-minute sessions.
"What I do during workouts still applies to the Army, because all Soldiers need to be anaerobically and aerobically in shape," said Mooney. "Field artillery is a physical job, for example a 155 round weighs nearly 100 pounds, and that's just one of the heavy things in artillery that motivates me to stay strong."
He maintains his fitness not only for personal reasons but to inspire others within his sphere of influence.
"I'm supposed to lead by example," he said. "If I'm not strong, how can I expect a private or any Soldier to be strong'"
Anyone visiting Honeycutt Fitness Center would see Mooney armed with his detailed workout plan. It's full of wisdom and techniques he's gathered over the last eight years pumping iron. His other accessory is an MP3 player featuring everything from Eminem to rock, pop or electronic music. Music helps him tune into his workout and make good use of the time he's there.
"Working out is definitely something I have a good time doing. I've always enjoyed lifting, and it's a release from the stresses of life," he said.
The routine has focus
Workouts shift in phase from building endurance and conditioning to developing explosiveness and power. He changes his entire workout every four to six weeks to prevent his body from adapting to or recognizing a routine. This keeps his workouts fresh and optimizes additional gains.
An example of this is Mondays the focus is on lower body exercises, Tuesdays upper body. Both days Mooney works on developing power through heavier weights and lower repetitions. To some of these lifts he adds an addtional quirk -- either bands or chains to increase the resistance. He estimated a band he uses adds another 40 to 50 pounds to a lift.
"The main reason is it keeps the weight constant throughout the lift," said Mooney. "There's no downtime at the bottom of lift to take it easy."
Wednesdays are rest days, or what he calls active recovery. Look for him to play some basketball or some other sport. Back to the gym on Thursdays (lower body) and Fridays (upper body) it's endurance and conditioning time with lighter weights and mid-range repetitions.
Speaking of quirks, his endurance and conditioning days also feature what he calls his "weird stuff." These exercises focus on his hips, mobility and flexibility. One of these, a balancing exercise, found Mooney standing stationary on one leg on an inflatable cushion for a period of time.
Saturdays are his relax and rest days then Sundays he'll likely go for a very light workout such as doing some abdominal work or something he said "fends off boredom."
Diligent in his duties and his workouts, Mooney is also careful about the food he eats. While admitting that as a 20-something male occasionally he'll indulge and eat some junk food, he said he tries to eat as clean as possible. He starts his day with a high-protein breakfast, such as five eggs and turkey bacon. Then, throughout the day he's eating every two to three hours to keep his metabolism high with a couple protein shakes sandwiching a lunch of the previous night's leftovers. His afternoon shake goes down about 60-90 minutes prior to his workout, another follows once he leaves the gym. Dinner is around 6 p.m., and he's good for the night.
He encouraged others to give the gym a try. Whether or not they do leg lunges carrying a 100-pound dumbbells in each hand, as he does, the outcome of lifting has its rewards.
"A lot of people might think it's arduous, but once you get into it and start seeing the results, it becomes more fun and more of a routine you want to do," he said.