Stew Smith's Archive:

Stew Smith

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

To see more from Stew Smith, check out www.stewsmith.com

Check out his Fitness Store, check out Fitness Store

Top Ten List: Mental Toughness

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After this article, a friend of mine asked about what I thought the Top Ten List of traits for mental toughness would be.  After some thought and discussions with some successful, mentally tough people, we came up with this.

Mental Toughness – How do we obtain it?  Make it stronger?  Many young people ask these questions of me each day and I wish it was a simple answer.  I wish you could be mentally tough by figuring out a magic solution of phrases or training programs.  But it is not that simple.  Being mentally tough requires you to keep competing when your mind wants you to quit.  Humans have a “safety switch” in our brain that tells us to stop in order to prevent us from hurting ourselves.  We are natural born survivors built to conserve our energy, store food, and just simply live to survive another day.  There are times you can actually shut that part of your brain off.  When you do this, you realize your body is ten times stronger than your brain will let it be. Training programs in the Special Operations world helps you tap into this mindset, but often your life experiences and habits can build a mental toughness and resilience that no one can beat.

Pull-​​ups: Part Three — Going from 10 to 20+ Pull-​​ups

Navy SEALs Training

This article is part THREE of the three part series on Twenty Pull-​​ups for Women:

1) HOW to get your first pull-​​up,

2) Getting the USMC women’s maximum on the Pull-​​up Test,

3) Getting the USMC maximum on the Pull-​​up Test (20 reps) – this article.

Hitting 20+ Pull-​​ups

When you are able to reach the “double digit” zone of the pull-​​up repetition count, you can now start adding in more creative workouts that will change your strength foundation into a muscle stamina /​ endurance peak.  This transition from strength to muscle stamina is usually a sticking point with many Marines and other Special Ops candidates trying to ace a fitness test with 20–30 pull-​​ups.

Pull-​​ups: Part Two — Going from 1 to 10 Pull-​​ups

Little Known Hardgainer Supplement To Build Muscle

This article is part two of the three part series on Twenty Pull-​​ups for Women:

1) HOW to get your first pull-​​up,

2) Getting the USMC women’s maximum (8 reps; this article)

3) Getting the USMC male maximum (20 reps).

Adding Pull-​​up Repetitions — Turning Pull-​​ups into an Endurance Exercise (AKA: adding repetitions)

After you have reached the first and toughest hurdle of this journey—the first pull-up–this step is easy comparatively.  The basic training principles for how to succeed at pull-​​ups are the same as in the How to Get Your First Pull-​​up article—practice pull-​​ups often—but now we add another step to the equation to help you build up your endurance (muscle stamina).

Pull-​​ups: Three Part Series — From Zero to Twenty Reps

Why Bodyweight Exercises Rule!

I received one of the best email responses in over a decade of writing articles on tactical fitness and fitness testing this week.  In fact, it was such a good introduction to Major Posey (USMC) that I wanted to share the story of this Marine going from zero pull-​​ups to 20 pull-​​ups!

Major Posey writes:  I read your article where you spoke about young girls not being educated physically like they should and about how this is a societal issue.  I couldn’t agree more.  I stumbled across the same information in my research for my pull-​​up paper (Duped by The Frailty Myth).  So, I definitely agree it is a socialization and educational issue.

After I wrote a basic news /​ opinion piece on the USMC delaying the pull-​​up portion of the PFT for women, I realized I needed to focus more on education and TEACH methods to improve on pull-​​ups not just argue that women can do pull-​​ups if they just do them.  With the assistance of Major Misty Posey, we are creating a three part series on

1) HOW to get your first pull-​​up, (this article)

2) Getting the USMC women’s maximum pull-​​up (8 reps), (coming soon)

3) Getting the USMC maximum pull-​​ups (20 reps). (coming soon)

Rucking — Calories Burned?

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Here is a an interesting question concerning people who like to ruck for exercise as well as to keep them in tactical fighting shape. Whether the enemy is a terrorist in the mountains or a wild fire on a high desert plain, some people ruck for a living.  I have always wondered this question as well, especially when rucking is compared to normal walking or running for calorie burning numbers.  Here is the email question:

Stew, As a former 82nd Airborne Division officer/​paratrooper and current  firefighter/​paramedic, I love your workouts — thanks for all you do!  I have an app (cardio trainer) that I use to keep track of my mileage when I run or ruck. It also keeps track of calories burned but obviously it is not  the primary reason for my workouts. It is a fun motivator though. My  question is, do you know of any sort of calorie conversion for ruck marching?  The app tells me how many I burned for walking 5 miles (and I realize that is just an estimate, but I assume I burn a lot more calories carrying a 40 pound ruck the same distance. It would just be fun  to know how many?  

Coast Guard Diver Rating Created

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Coast Guard divers have been performing hundreds of diving missions each year for decades around the world in support of the multiple maritime missions of the Coast Guard.  Now, starting this year (2014), the Coast Guard created the Diver (DV) rating for qualified enlisted members.  Until now, divers in the Coast Guard had different rating professions and diving was a collateral duty.

Making it TO and THROUGH Training

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Many people confuse the training programs groups like active duty Special Ops perform to maintain their fitness levels for the demands of the profession with how they prepare for challenging schools like BUD/​S, SFAS /​ SFQC, and PJ training to name a few.

Here is a question to better describe a very common issue with candidate training program selection:

Stew, I have been watching some Youtube videos showing active duty special ops guys working out like SEALs, Rangers, SF, and others.  They are huge and lifting very heavy weights so I have been lifting more and doing less cardio.  Is this OK?  I am preparing for BUD/​S for the next year and trying to gain some muscle mass.

Tactical Fitness Ideas — Why Think and Exercise?

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Stew, I recently heard you talk about adding thinking games into your workouts.  What do you mean?  How is that helpful to me being a better SWAT operator?   John

Being able to think while stressed is a trait all tactical operators (military, special ops, police, fire, EMS) all need to be able to do their jobs.  I have been experimenting with workouts over the years and realized that by training the brain to think while physically tired /​ stressed can help you when life or death situations occur.  This can be a simple pyramid workout where you have to do math during your workout or more advanced workouts where you have to get creative and think your way through them.  Of course, you also need the required tactical training to help perform your job, but when things are not stressful in “real life” you can simulate it in training and even your workouts.

Mix TRX with PT, Weights, Kettlebells

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Every now and then, I get motivated by a workout week that I created.  This week I created a program that is centered around suspension training, but each day has a combination specialty that challenges you in a variety of ways.  You need variety to your workouts, but make sure the workouts you select are still specifically developed so you will still reach your goals.  Whether the goals are weight loss, military service, special ops preparation, or law enforcement, adding suspension training can enhance your overall workout experience.  Below are some fun and challenging sample workouts recently tested by our group:

Veterans in the Fitness Business

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1runptI often get emails from people young and old about getting prepared for military training, and also from veterans who want to be in the shape they used to be when they served in the military. Many are looking for veterans to help them get into “fighting shape”.  Here is a list of many former military officers and enlisted who train civilians to not only lose weight and get healthy, but prepare for military training too. If you are a veteran in the fitness business, send me a paragraph and link of what you do and I will add to this page.

Military Fitness programs are popular. In fact, many former military personnel of all ranks and services are now getting into the fitness business — myself included. Check out the list of veteran-​​owned fitness businesses around the country:

Boot Camp Fitness, Inc. — Created by former Army sergeant, Jay Johnson of Dallas TX, who has become the Official Fitness Trainer of The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (Enough said! THAT is a success story in the fitness business!). He has been featured on many television shows and magazine publications for his creative workouts that yield great results.

British Commando Fitness — British Army Commando “Sol” Sollerer has retired from the British Army, married an American, and has started his own fitness business in the Annapolis MD area.  Also working as an assistant boxing coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, Sol has planted roots in the US and helping active duty and future military candidates prepare for service.  Still competitive as well, Sol assists with the Heroes of Tomorrow program in Severna Park, MD giving the students a taste of how nice a drill instructor will be when they join.   He is also involved in high school /​ college team sport mental toughness and team building training.

Brad Haag of Haag’s Athletics provides online personal training and endurance coaching to anyone, anywhere in the world. As certified personal trainer, triathlon coach, and Naval security veteran Brad specializes in working with endurance athletes (triathletes, cyclists, runners) and “warrior class” athletes meaning individuals involved obstacle races, police, military, etc. If you have fitness goals that you want to achieve please contact Brad via the following link and he will certainly help you out. 
CPT SMASH FITNESS - Jess “Captain Smash” Howland graduated from Oregon State with a BSc in Exercise Science, got certified by the National Sport and Conditioning Association (NSCA-​​CSCS) to be a certified strength coach, and became one of the top selling personal trainers at Gold’s Gym. Over the past 13 years, Captain Smash was a member of the US Armed Forces, in the constant personal pursuit of optimal human performance. As a personal coach, his focus is on resistance training, running, sprinting, dragging and pushing heavy objects, cycling, hiking and all those other crazy activities that most people regard as insane.

Hostyle Conditioning - With the help and support of Curd Hos, Owner and Operator of the best training facility in Orleans, Ontario—Curd is helping CPT Smash take the youth strength coaching platform by storm, as well as developing ongoing programs for older adults to help increase the awesomeness within Ottawa, CA. The youth program engages kids as young as 9–13 years old in our bootcamp style training, that will help them move better, get stronger and enhance their overall level of conditioning far beyond what the other kids are able to achieve nowadays. The upper level athletes  (15–20+) are slotted into semi-​​private training sessions to really focus on certain performance goals for their sports in order to make them super tough athletes that are unstoppable on the field, ice or track!

ElijahSacra​.com - A 360 ° APPROACH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH AND WELLNESS TRAINING & EDUCATION.
Holistic Nutrition & Health Coach | Functional Movement Systems Professional | Personal Trainer |  Yoga Teacher Executive & Corporate Wellness Coach | Tactical Strength & Conditioning Facilitator | Personal Defense Instructor
Elijah is a United States Marine Corps Veteran, a career health and wellness practitioner, trainer, and educator.  He has worked extensively with private clients, teams, military and law enforcement, executives, and in corporate wellness.  His services are targeted to the beginner all the way to the elite athlete, in addition to special populations. These include amputees, the blind, cancer patients, and those who suffer from chronic illness and injuries.  Elijah’s philosophy and methodology is grounded in Postural Alignment, Breath Connection, Mindful Functional Movement, and Holistic Nutrition. Utilizing his knowledge of human performance, wellness, holistic nutrition, and health coaching as a blueprint, he guides his clients to achieve optimal wellness and become their own guru.

Extreme SEAL Experience - Former SEAL Don Shipley puts on a great training program complete with shooting, survival, mission planning training in the Chesapeake VA area.  See his youtube channel for great footage of the training they put on for civilians and wanna-be’s.

The Health Colonel – Bob Weinstein, LtColonel, USAR, (ret.) can be found on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, FL conducting early morning workouts with his students. Training many out of shape and overweight people per year, he also prepares young men and women for the physical demands of the military. If you are looking for a motivational/​health speaker, The Health Colonel is your man. He motivated me by telling me that “the United States has enemy soldiers within its borders — they kill more than 3,000 people a day, their names are cancer, heart disease, and stroke.” I immediately responded, “yeah and over 20 million people are being held hostage by diabetes in America.”

MMA in Bowie MD — head coach Charles Cherry - Coach Cherry is an Army veteran who wrestled on the All-​​Army team and is a current special agent w/​ DHS. Bowie MMA offers Cardio Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and boxing instruction in Bowie, Maryland. Veteran discounts are available.  

NavySEALs​.com, SEALFIT​.com, UnbeatableMind - Mark Divine has evolved into a fitness /​ mental toughness powerhouse.  His programs /​ store enable any fitness enthusiast, SpecWar candidate pick and choose what he needs to make himself better — mentally, physically, and more.  For gear, books, ebooks, training, hellweek simulation, etc.  

Owen Richardson — NeoLife:  Owen is an active Navy Reserve IS1 and promotes the neolife club products for two reasons: “When I was deployed to Iraq in 09–10, I saw you guys (SPECOPS) everyday with tons of energy. Last year I was talking with Chris (SEAL Team 8) and he told me this was the same vitamins they took day after day. I started on it without promoting for 3 months, once I saw the benefits personally, I started telling everyone about it.”  NeoLife has different products for different lifestyles, and at a reasonable price. A months supply of vitamins or weight loss shakes will run about $40

Platoon Fitness​.com – The folks at Platoon Fitness located in Philadelphia PA and throughout Pennsylvania and New York City was founded by Todd Scott, a Navy veteran.  They have been in business for over 10 years and have indoor and outdoor training facilities with over twenty fully certified trainers who train everyone from working men and women, stay at home Moms, and kids too.  They also offer franchising opportunities and training for instructors.

The Sergeants Program – Patrick Avon opened one of the first military group training businesses in the U.S. Patrick is a former Navy enlisted man who has created a military fitness empire in the DC/​Virginia area, catering mostly to overweight executives — he also gets several students per year who seek a career in the military. He has over 45 instructors in 35 locations, all certified with a nationally recognized program. He also has his own outdoor boot-​​camp certification program. Check out his site for his annual Jolly Fat Man’s run/​party.

The SEAL PT Course  – Jack Walston — former Navy SEAL in Houston TX and Central Park Manhattan NYC — has been doing SEAL PT for over a decade. He has weekly workout plans for locals as well as a SEAL Training/​Special Forces mini-​​camp that will test you to your limits. This program actually mimics many of the events experienced in Hell Week at SEAL Training, including a 24 hour non-​​stop period of training.

CrossFit Santa Monica was founded by Navy SEALs Kaj Larsen and Carter Gaffney, long time CrossFitters who know what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of physical and mental performance. All aspects of the CrossFit Santa Monica program were designed specifically to help our members achieve their health and fitness goals regardless of their level of experience. Whether you are a seasoned athlete that is looking to take your physical performance to the next level or if you are taking your first CrossFit class, there is a home for you at CrossFit Santa Monica.
CrossFit Xiphos (www​.crossfitxiphos​.com) is owned and operated by Darrin Ingram CW4 USA retired. CrossFit Xiphos is an out of the box minded crossfit affiliate and Spartan Group X training facility located in Huntsville, AL training everyone from school teachers, first responders, military to extreme endurance athletes. Darrin trains athletes locally at his facility and abroad through wilderness fitness camps and distant personal training.

SEALGrinderPT​.com - Brad McLeod, born in Thomasville, GA, grew up in Tallahassee, FL. He is a former Navy SEAL and graduated from SEAL training in BUD/​S class  132 against all odds.  Despite having no athletic background and having life long asthma Brad climbed his personal Mount Everest and made it through BUD/​S the second time and went through Hell Week  twice.
Training Philosophy for Spec Ops: Our philosophy on workouts is to try to keep as many functional movements as possible that have carry over to your day to day sport or occupation. SEAL grinder PT is dedicated to working out and improving your mind and body to unleash the inner warrior in you.   The grinder PT is a mixture of the same exercises that SEAL recruits perform on a daily basis at the BUD/​S training camp  in Coronado, California.  We are also throwing in a few CrossFit style drills, some exercises from SEALFit, Mountain Athlete, Gym Jones and a few others you may not have seen before.

SWAT Personal Training – Ron Holland (former USAF) out of Tucson AZ, created an outdoor and indoor fitness business in 1991 after a career in the military and police department. He has a one week in-​​residence boot camp where they create a military indoctrination environment (0500am wakeup!) He has recruits run, PT, eat a well balanced and nutritious chow, and hike 2 –12 miles in the Tucson area desert. Also water skills, aerobics, yoga, stretching, and other anti-​​aging programs are taught in a teamwork/​military style program. It is very informative and positive feedback and teamwork is highly encouraged.    

SEAL Team PT – Former Navy SEAL John McGuire has translated his experience into a one-​​of-​​a-​​kind, non-​​military fitness program, offering the dual benefit of world-​​class fitness and team-​​building to people of all ages and walks of life. Offered in the Richmond, Virginia area since 1998, SEAL Team PT has legions of satisfied, fit, and fulfilled graduates of all ages. To date, SEAL Team PT has graduated over 175 basic fitness classes, conducted more than 50 custom-​​tailored corporate team-​​building programs, and led more than 40 SEAL Teen and SEAL Pup classes for youth and children.

Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness (SFHW​.ORG)  is a community based 501© 3 nonprofit organization founded by US Marine Corps Veterans and a Holistic Health & Wellness Counselor in 2009. We provide holistic, and integrative health and wellness training and education to Wounded, Ill, and Injured service members and their caregivers within the active, reserve and veteran components.

StewSmith​.com – My website/​fitness business has evolved since 1998 when I resigned from the Navy. At first I had a fitness business with as many as 40–50 hours of group PT and personal training a week. Now, after writing everything down for years, I created programs that have helped thousands prepare for military, special forces, and law enforcement physical fitness tests. I still do some online training and local group training in the Baltimore/​Annapolis MD area, but my group workouts during the week and weekend are free to those who want to join me on my swims, runs, PT etc. Once on month, we test with a variety of PFTs and we also do quarterly Spec Ops Triathlons — Run, Swim, Ruck. These workouts now give me ideas which to write as I see issues, troubles, and ways around personal obstacles with a variety of students.  I figure if I am going to write about training — I need to train.

VO2MAXUSA​.com — With 24 years of fitness programming experience, Kevin Hite of VO2MAX,LLC is uniquely qualified to serve his community’s preventive health care needs. A former US Navy search and rescue swimmer with a B.S. in Health and Wellness (The Citadel, 1990) and member of The American College of Sports Medicine, Kevin offers health risk appraisals, fitness assessments, personal training and 24/​7 gym membership from his studio in Chapin, SC. 803.422.8584.

Products Invented by Vets — SEALS /​ SF Specifically:

The TRX - Fitness in a Bag! Former SEAL Randy Hetrick has created another device that is easy to carry and so versatile I still cannot name all the exercises you can do with this thing.  My latest count is over 200 exercises.  In an article, I compared his TRX to a Universal Weight Machine and for a 1/​10 of the price it easy outperforms the machine tenfold!  This is great for travelers as the straps are easy to pack and unfold in seconds.  See some of the videos on his site.

The Perfect Pushup and Pullup - My former SEAL buddy Alden Mills has created awesome fitness products that capture the most beloved and most hated exercises we do in the SEAL Teams and at BUD/​S.  The rotational motion of his products challenge the best pull-​​up and pushup performers.  In fact, his products cut my reps in half and after a few years of using the Perfect Pushup, they still work like new and continue to make my pushups tougher. Supplemented with some weights, the Perfect Pushup and Pull-​​up are great additions to a home weight room.

The Fit Deck - Former SEAL Phil Black is probably the real genius of the bunch to take an idea and turn it into a successful business.  When on a deployment or just bored, the SEALs as well as other military groups, do a workout with a deck of cards.  Usually it required some imagination:  face cards = 10 pushups, aces = 25 pushups /​ 25 abs, jokers = 50 reps of anything…BUT what Fit Deck does for you is take out the mystery and when you shuffle the deck and start to flip the cards you get told what you need to do.  Now he has Pull-​​up Decks, Kettlebell Decks, Navy SEAL Decks, Navy SEAL Audio Series on  Acing  BUDS, Combat Sports Decks and so many more — even some for kids.

Refactor Tactical - Army SF veterans create tactical gear that works.  Designed by the operator for the operator.  Check out the gear list and training videos.  Anything from bags, caps, survival bands, medical gear, fun t-​​shirts and more — you can find it on their store and talk with other operators on their blog.

Any of these make great gifts for your fitness guru in the family or those seeking a profession that requires some form of fitness test.

After a brief discussion with the veteran trainers, we all agreed upon a few things. We focus on teaching on a basic level of fitness, habit building, and just adding basic fitness as stretching, walking/​running, light PT, and drinking water to people’s lives. Let them see and feel the progress they are making. Take them as they advance and PT them harder, but you have to give them a plan that works.

The plan I have here works…it will help people lose up to 25lbs if they just following the simple directions:

1-​​  Stretch Daily! This is very important if beginning a fitness plan. See Stretch article. 
2 — Drink more water — up to a gallon a day
3 — Do something everyday for 45 days straight – even if that is just walk after dinner.
This FREE 45 day plan shows you how.
4 — Repeat above — do not worry about food intake yet, but if no results are seen in 3–4 weeks then focus on a food plan as mentioned in plan above.

Look up one of the above veterans and try a boot camp workout program this year.  If you know of another veteran operated fitness business that is not listed, please send the website address/​contact information and I will place it in an updated article archive so I have close to a comprehensive list. Please email me atStew@​stewsmith.​com with your questions.

Tactical Fitness: The Dirty Dozen Test

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I was recently asked by an Army veteran if there were other fitness tests out there to challenge/​ test people who want to be “Tactically Fit”. This particular veteran likes to stay as fit as he was while serving more than 10 years ago and still manages an above average Army PFT for age groups 20 years younger.   These are great health and fitness goals to ace a basic PFT, but is it really a Tactical Fitness Test?  No — See the multiple dimensions required in creating a foundation to be “tactically fit” in order to have the ability to perform some of the most dangerous jobs in the world — defending /​ protecting our country and communities.

Tactical Fitness is the new fitness genre and I personally define it as:  The ability to perform military, police, and fire fighter job related skills such as running, rucking, swimming, buddy rescue, equipment carry, requiring upper body and lower body strength and muscle endurance.  I have been wanting to make an all inclusive tactical fitness test for a while now.  The test below has no scientific study behind it, these are simply my opinions what tactical athletes should be able to do.  However, all these events are commonly used testing events used by many military, special ops teams, SWAT Teams, police and fire fighters.

These are the twelve events I call the Tactical Fitness Dirty Dozen that I pulled from various military, police, and fire fighting fitness tests to create an all inclusive fitness challenge for those of you who want to be ready for anything.  There is a grading system that is quite generous in basic pass /​ fail standards as well as a max point system of 100 points.

The events justification:

25# Pullup — Weighted pullups are required as most gear a tactical operator wears will weigh anywhere from 15-​​25lbs minus the back pack.  Minimum is 2 reps /​ maxing is 10 reps.  1 point for each rep for a total of 10 points and minimum of 2 reps.

Body Weight bench press — Upper body strength with combination of moving your body weight for multiple repetitions to test pushing power of the tactical athlete.  Minimum points for 5 reps (2 pts) and maximum (10) points for 15 reps.

Dead Lift (1.5x BW) — Can you lift more than your own body weight.  Practicing this event alone will help a tactical athlete learn proper lifting techniques and build a stronger foundation to move heavy weight when required.  1 rep P/​F but 2 points per rep until 5 reps for more points. Minimum points for 2 reps (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 5 reps.

Fireman carry — Can you rescue your buddy and carry for 100yds?  Pass /​ Fail criteria (5 pts pass)

400m sprint - Can you run fast (no gear)?  60 seconds max points /​ 80 seconds minimum standard.  Sometimes speed is essential.
Minimum points for 80 seconds (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 60 seconds.

300yd shuttle run - Can you run back and forth quickly (6 x 50m shuttle)?  60 seconds max /​ 80 seconds minimum standard.
Minimum points for 80 seconds (1 pt) and maximum (10) points for 60 seconds.

agilitytest

Illinois Agility Test — You will have to zig and zag while running at full speed, changing direction often.  Max points of (5) if completed under 15 seconds.  Deduct a point for every second slower than 15 seconds until 19 seconds(1 pt).  Slower than 19 seconds = fail.

Plank pose - Can you hold the plank pose for 1 minute minimum.  Get extra points for every minute after that and max out at 5 minutes.  1 point 1 minute. Add a points for each minute up to 5 minutes.  Max points 5 points.

3 mile timed run — The three mile timed run.  Can you run 3 miles without stopping?  Then you pass.  If you get 18 minutes you max the test and can pick up a few more points if you can keep it under 23 minutes.  10 points for 18 min /​ 1 point less for each 30 seconds until max point time of 23 minutes.

50 lbs ruck in under 1 hour (4 miles) - This is the minimum standard for Army rucking times.  Can you pace yourself at a perfect 15 min mile with 50lb back pack or weight vest.  No need to go too fast on this event.  It is about finishing on a steady pace.  No extra points for getting under 1 hour.  10 points pass or fail.

Swim - Can you swim?  -  If you cannot swim you are ineffective on 75 % of this planet.   Be an asset not a liability to your team, yourself, and your family.  This is a basic survival skill we all should know how to do.  5 Points for just knowing how to swim.

500m swim — Any stroke.  Swim 500m non-​​stop and you pass.  Get 500m in 6 min or less and max out the swim test.  You can get extra points until the 11th minute.  5 points for maxing the swim /​ 1 point less for every minutes until the 10th minute.

25m Life saving buddy tow  - Can you dive to the bottom of a pool (8-​​9ft) grab a unconscious buddy and tow him 25m to the other end of the pool?  Pass or fail — 5 points.

Here is a chart to make it easier to understand:

Exercise Pass /​ Fail Criteria
4 mile ruck (50lbs) 1 hour maximum time
25# Pullups max reps 2 – 10 reps
Bench press (bodyweight) Pass or fail 1 rep:  5 reps — 15 reps for extra points
Dead Lift (1.5x bodyweight) Pass or fail — 1 rep
(2–5 reps for extra pts)
Fireman Carry (P/​F) 100yds of equal bodyweight
400m sprint 60–80 seconds
Shuttle run 300yds 60–80 seconds
Plank pose (P/​F) 1 minute minimum /​ 5 min max
3 mile run (P/​F) 18 minutes to 23 minutes for extra points
IL Agility Test <15 secs to >19 sec
Swim – can you swim?
(P/​F)
Yes /​ no
Swim 500m timed 6 minutes – 11 minutes
Swim – Buddy Tow Pass/​fail – 25m rescue swim

Max points is 100 points if you ace everything.  You can still pass with as little as 40 points.  You must pass all events to pass the test. Give it a try and see where you stand.  Practice and your weaknesses and think your way through this test as you can arrange to best fit your optimal scoring potential.  The interesting thing about this test is you can arrange the events in any order you wish.  Get creative and develop your own strategy for better performance.  The test can be broken up into two sessions or challenge yourself and go for all events in one long testing session.

“The Dirty Dozen”  Tactical Fitness Test eBook is here.

 

Boot Camp Workouts — Misunderstood Term

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An interesting reply to a recent article on PFT Failures in the military, particularly the women and pullups story about the USMC standards, provoked some thought and a realization that maybe the term BOOT CAMP has been redefined over the years.  Here is a great question that discusses preparation prior to basic military training:

My nephew has recently joined the USMC and I saw that even before he went to boot camp, his recruiter worked with the kids regularly to physically prepare/​condition them even before actual boot camp.  My question is, are these women being tested before or right at basic training, or are they failing even after some sort of pre-​​conditioning +/​or remedial boot camp program?  Was my nephew’s recruiter unique in his pre-​​conditioning program? 

Nothing unique, as far as my experience shows, with recruiters (especially USMC recruiters) pre-​​training their candidates prior to basic training /​ boot camp.  The USMC is pretty good at it comparatively.  But it is a mix of society — mostly out of shape people in our society join each year. The military gets its share of these unfit recruits who attend Boot Camp like it is going to get them in shape /​ normal weight again.  Typically for men as well — you will have only 40–45% you are really exceeding the standards before training. Others are just meeting the minimums or below the standard.  Usually by the end of training, you will have 90 percent or more who are meeting the standards physically.  The problem is many of them are borderline pass /​ fail graduates which can be (and often is) a problem for that recruit /​ military member for the rest of their career.

I see the statistics that 40–45% of the women are passing or exceeding the standards with regard to pullups,  not that over half failed the standards at the END of basic.  Granted, that number should be higher in the passing zone and if given more time prior to Boot Camp they could have exceeded those minimum standards.  Women can do pullups — they just have to practice them.  Same for men.  I have seen many recruits (men) start off not being able to perform pullups too.  It is a time and practice issue more than anything.

I think the big problem with most people (men and women) who go to basic training think it will get them in shape. The term “boot camp” itself has become misinterpreted in society as a fitness class you take at a gym in order to get into shape.  In military training you need to be in shape PRIOR to going or you really do not stand much of a chance of completing near the preferred standards OR you risk getting injured.  Arriving in shape to military training (already meeting the standards) will allow you to use the workouts as a stress reliever.  This will enable you to learn your new job better too (shooting, moving, teamwork, sparring and other war fighting skills).

If you are thinking about serving this country. Do yourself a favor and show up having taken several fitness tests.  Prove to yourself that you can ace the standards in front of you.  You will be glad you did.

 

What Did You Do Today? January 2014

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Each month (or more often if this series is popular enough), I am going to post some fun workouts that I would recommend you trying if you are in the intermediate /​ advanced level fitness zone.  Here, we mix weights and calisthenics with some unconventional exercise options.  One of the new favorite unconventional exercises is the stair crawl — which is just an advanced version of the bear crawl where you crawl down head first a flight of steps and then change directions and crawl back up FEET first (this is the hard part).

So check out this fullbody workout circuit:

Repeat 3 times
Pushups 1 min
Pullups 1 min
Situps or abs of choice 1 min
Walking lunges 25 yards
Stair crawl UP /​ DOWN a flight of steps — NOTE:  If there are no steps to do this or your gym will not let you — simply bear crawl 25m or farmer walk carrying a 25–50 lb. weight.

Tactical Fitness Training /​ Testing Ideas

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Training large groups with varied fitness levels is one of the most challenging things to accomplish with success.  Success will be defined by the group’s increased fitness levels as well as not injuring people who maybe ill-​​prepared for new and challenging exercises.  Here is a great question from a new PT coordinator concerned with adding new ways to test the group in exercises /​events not common to the Air Force PFT.

My unit has placed me in charge of the PT program which is a combination of remedial PT failures as well as the top fitness levels on our base.  We are – for the most part – a competitive group and though we do focus on the PFT exercises so we stay on top of the test, I would like to change it up and add new fitness testing exercises to challenge our team. I recall you writing that there were about 10 to 12 exercises that have been deemed as acceptable (validated) for most military and police fitness tests. However, there will certainly be some naysayers who will be less than enthusiastic about fitness programming and evaluation on a department-​​wide basis – even if it is for fun.  I know you have a lot of experience in this area, so I wanted to see what your thoughts were on the best exercises /​ tasks for testing purposes.

Vegetarian and in the Army — Any Advice

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This week I received an email from a vegetarian who has been in the Army for a few years and is finding it difficult to keep his energy levels up without high doses of caffeine each day.

Stew, I am just reporting to my first duty station after almost two years of training and am a vegetarian.  Do you have any recommendations for being in the military and a vegetarian?  Steve

Steve — as a meat eater, I may not be the best person to ask this question, but I have a few books on the topic that I like.  I eat more fruits and vegetables than I do meat, so I appreciate the vegetarian ways of eating more natural foods.  I recently received a book from Lisa Montgomery — now there are many out there — but this is one I liked as I found I was able to eat many raw fruits and vegetables through the day and it help me with my energy.

USMC Pullups and Women

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Removing the Flexed Arm Hang and adding Pullups to the women’s fitness standards in the Marine Corps was an upgrade that was carefully considered, studied and implemented with support throughout the chain of command for the past couple of years.  However, recent events have forced the USMC to reconsider the start date of the new change.  When 55% of the female graduating class at boot camp failed the three pullup minimum, the January 1, 2014 implementation date has been postponed.

Why is this an issue?

Back to the Drawing Board — Help!

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Often injuries or illnesses occur and derail our fitness and progress made over many months and years of effort.  This can be extremely frustrating to any hard charging military or fitness buff. Getting back into it after several weeks or months of recovery time can be a shock to the system and a bruise to the ego if efforts and expectations are too high.  Here is an email from a British Army soldier needing help after an illness sidelined him for several months:

Stew - Well my fitness has gone completely!  I am serving in the British army, unfortunately just over five months ago I was struck with kidney stones.  The doctors immediately stopped me from doing all physical exercise until this week when they have finally given me the all clear to start again!  I was feeling completely wasted after a ten minute jog and struggled to complete a measly 10 mins on the static bike!  Could you please advise me as to whether any of your other programmes would help me in starting to get back to fitness, any help would be more than gratefully received!

Military /​ Gov Employees /​ Vets — Good Deal Sites

Military / Gov Employees / Vets - Good Deal Sites

If you are an active duty member or veteran who remembers the good deals at the PX or Exchanges on base, take a look at a few websites that offer great deals to military members, veterans, and government employees as well.  The websites cater to active duty as well as veterans who are looking for good deals on many of the brands you already use.  You can get everything from flowers delivered to family members to tactical gear at below market prices.  It really is like shopping at the base PX.  Plus you can view reviews of products used by like minded people.

I do not want to make this a free commercial for both of these sites, but I have recently joined both and enjoy clicking through all the options available to me for just about anything I need from cool tactical pants and sunglasses to running shoes at big discounts usually 15–20% but some reach 50+%.  It depends on what you are looking for, but it is a great way to buy fitness related gear!

So if you are looking for big deals online and you are military, a veteran or government service check these out:

What Are You Doing This Year? 2014

What Are You Doing This Year? 2014

Every year — it never fails — many engage to correct all of their wrong-​​doings, unhealthful habits, and other self-​​helping notions in the form of New Year RESOLUTIONS.  “Resolution” is one of the most over-​​used words during the end of December and January each year, but by February it is gone usually along with our energy to better ourselves. So, I recommend instead of making a resolution, set four quarterly goals to help you reach where you want to be next year at this time.  Take a look back at 365 days ago.  Seems like yesterday right?  Why not create a logical goal setting formula that will work for you with a little bit of effort and some good habit building skills?  Where people fail with their resolutions is that they try to fix too much at one time.  Stopping smoking, starting an exercise program, eating healthy foods in an effort to lose weight can be too much to take on all at once.  Try another approach to success.

Mental Toughness — Art or Science?

Mental Toughness - Art or Science?

Mental Toughness has been a topic of discussion and debate for generations as we humans try to define our lives.  What makes some people tougher than others?  More successful? More motivated? Calm in stressful situations?  What are the common traits of ordinary people doing extraordinary things?  Can mental toughness be measured?  Scientifically tested?

These are the questions I have been seeking answers to and the type of questions I get each day from young men and women preparing for challenging programs in the military, law enforcement, and fire-​​fighting professions.

There are some scientific studies performed trying to measure how people handle stress and why they graduate Special Operations programs like Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs.  Some of the most interesting and pertinent to this discussion were the ones done by Dr. Andy Morgan of Yale Medical School.