Thursday, October 21, 2021

Astronaut Michael López-Alegría shares the Axiom Space Ax-1 training

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This isn’t about biceps or abs, though. “You don’t need Olympic-athlete fitness to be an astronaut,” he says. “You just need to be healthy.” Still, he has to pass a battery of medical tests, and, 14 years after his last trip into space, he worries that he won’t be able to. So he started working with trainer Emiliano Ventura, who designs workouts for F1 race-car drivers.“Your cells break down, your body breaks down,” López-Alegría says. “Now it’s like ‘Geez, am I gonna pass this thing?’”
Shawn Hubbard

When he left NASA in 2012 after four spaceflights, López-Alegría thought he was done star-trekking. After years consulting for various space-industry firms, he joined Axiom Space, a company that has designs on space vacations and manufacturing, as an exec. He quickly discovered a problem: Few customers wanted to join a mission without someone who had been in space before. “We kind of looked around the room,” he says, ” and I was a guy who was still able to fly and I had been there and done that. This training makes it easier for astronauts when they return to earth, readying them to face the power of gravity again.

Shawn Hubbard But the training does more than that. López-Alegría and his crew will be aboard the ISS for about eight days, working through a packed schedule that includes a series of experiments, and that can lead to plenty of stress. He expects some crew members will meditate to stay calm. Others will stave off anxiety by attacking their workouts. “As you know,” he says, “some people crave and they have to have it.”

That’s all unnecessary inside the station.“It’s super easy to get around,” López-Alegría says. “You don’t stand up, even.” To offset that, he and his team will train daily on the ISS, splitting time between cardio and resistance-band work. Unlike dumbbells, bands still provide resistance in space. So to get in mission-ready shape, he embraced workouts like today’s session, a six-exercise, bands-only circuit. He does 20 reps of bird dogs on each side, then sits on his deck with his legs straight, wraps the band around his feet, and grasps its ends. He starts doing 20 reps of rows, strengthening mid-back, biceps, and forearms. Arm and grip strength and stamina serve astronauts during space walks. “You’re in a pressurized suit, which wants to maintain its ,” he says. “Think of a surgical glove that’s blown up and inflated. So in order to bend the fingers of the glove, you have to exert some force.” Things get even more challenging if he has to grab a wrench or other tool. “Grip strength is important,” he says, “and lower arms, upper arms, shoulders, chest.”

Band Camp The man leading the mission doesn’t crave it, but every single day he’s in space, he’ll train, too. “It’s all about preparing yourself for when you come back ,” he says. That process has already started.

Band Pull-Apart Forge upper-body strength with this 3-round circuit built from moves López-Alegría does often.
Shawn Hubbard

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