Archive for the ‘Navy Fitness’ Category

Top Ten List: Mental Toughness

buds seal training 3

 

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.

Here is a top ten list of common denominators in many people I know who have accomplished great things in their lives and continue to keep moving onto bigger and greater goals:

Daily Persistence /​ Focus – Never Stop!  Do what you have to do every day even when you are tired, feel lazy, etc.  It does not matter if it is physical training, studying for a test, working to a deadline, or just getting out of bed every day with a positive attitude – do it no matter what.  Make MOVING a habit.  You may find all you needed was a good meal and hydration to give you the energy required to stay focused and finish or start a new task.

No one becomes mentally tough overnight.  It takes a lifetime.  Some of the toughest people I have met in my life know they have some level of toughness, but still say they have to work at it every day.  In the Navy SEAL Creed, there is a line that says, “I have to earn it (the trident) every day.”

Stay Motivated:  Why do you put yourself through painful training, long hours working or studying?   You have to answer this question – not me.  It is no one’s job to motivate you, it is all SELF-​​MOTIVATION that keep you moving.  Have goals that you see each day getting closer and closer one step at a time into fruition.   Prepare mentally for the weeks, months, or even years required to get to where you want to be one day.

Have a quote that resonates with you – There are many great motivating quotes to get and keep you going.  Here are some of my favorites when I need that extra affirmation:

1 – “Mental Toughness is finding the fuel when the tank is empty.”  (My favorite – it sums up what mental toughness is in so many ways)

2 – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

3 – “If you are going through Hell – keep going.”

4 – “Never Quit.”

5 – “Go for it now – the future is promised to no one.”

This is basically a performance cue used by sports psychologists at every level of performance.  There are many, many more to find online.  Find one that works for you.  Find a poster /​ make a poster – see it every day.  Say it when you need it.

Train to Compete – Not Just Survive:  In relation to special ops training programs, athletic events, or even business — this is the biggest difference in those who graduate any special forces training or succeed and those who do not.  You should try be in the type of shape and mindset that will allow you to win or be in the top 10% of the class in nearly every event.  Too many of us, in general, just get by each day “putting in their time” and barely living.  Knowing that you are stuck in survival mode is a realization that can be the first step to learning how to change your life and compete for the first time in your life.  I developed this saying, shortly before I ran a marathon for the first and last time.  My goal was to finish a 26 mile run.  I saw a skinny kid from Africa warming up and I realized he was about to run the same race as I was but his goal was to drop a minute off his best time.  My goal was to survive the event.  Who has a better chance and finishing the race?  The kid who was in competition mode – not me.  I succeeded with my goal and was able to use the Complete – not just Survive quote many times that day and ever since in my life.

Dissociation Training:  There is a fine line between mental toughness and stupid, but when it is a life or death situation, there is no stupid method if it keeps you alive.  Basically, how much pain, discomfort, and even fear can you play with? That is an immeasurable element of success.  Dissociation refers to being able to take in instructors yelling at you, cold water freezing you, sand chaffing you, and exhaustion slowing you AND not let it get into your head.  There is a bit of “find your happy place” in these dissociation skills, but you still have to be focused on the mission at hand and not just be some zombie who cannot follow orders stuck in some Zen state.   Maybe it is just being SO FOCUSED on the mission at hand – nothing else matters.  That is why I put Daily Persistence and Focus as the #1 trait.

You can practice this skill with mundane, monotonous, long workouts like long runs, rucks, swims, high repetition pyramid PTs that can get pretty boring if you do not have an ability to think of something else besides counting reps, miles, and time.

Laugh:  Finding humor in what happens to you daily is one of the best ways to get through the daily grind.  Find humor in what challenges you.  You would be surprised when going through a stressful event how a humorous comment or action will lighten the mood and keep you focused on the task at hand.  In a group setting, finding humor and laughing can bond a team together like nothing else.  By yourself, you have to laugh as it will help change your mood, gather yourself and get over any negative thoughts you may be having at the time.

Know your Weakness – Make it a Strength:  You have to have a level of internal awareness and realize there will be things you are not naturally good at doing.  I have found that when working on my weaknesses that I have to check in and use a certain level of mental toughness to keep going than if working on something I was naturally good at doing.  For instance, prior to SEAL training, I was a powerlifting football player whose idea of long distance running was anything greater than 100 yards.  It took me years, to get my running times down to where I could actually compete or at least stay in the middle of the pack of my class when doing beach runs.  Running was something that I had to check in mentally each time I ran, where-​​as the calisthenics and swimming were not something that challenged me as much.  Even this day, running is something I have to focus on to “stay in the pack”.

Plan your Dive – Dive Your Plan:  In training, we learned how to “Dirt Dive”.  This is a simple walk-​​through of a mission where we take each phase of the mission step by step and discuss how we achieve the desired outcome.  Discussing and creating contingency plans is one of the outcomes that helps us to be flexible in case something goes wrong.  Create different routes for you to achieve your goal.  There may be 3–4 different ways to get from point A to point B.  Consider every possibility and don’t get discouraged if your original plan fails.  Move onto plan B or even plan C.  STAY FOCUSED ON THE END GOAL.

Big Goals with Sub-​​Goals:  We all want to be successful in what we do.  One event in my life that I knew was going to be a kick in the nuts was Hell Week – a 120+ hour evolution at SEAL training that requires everything out of you to complete.  You eat every six hours with little or no sleep breaks the entire week.  I knew if I broke up the week into twenty — 6 hour segments, it mentally seemed more obtainable that one 120+ hour /​ 5 day event.  Parallel this in the business world by keeping track of weekly, monthly, quarterly goals and the next thing you know your annual projections can also be obtained even if you have to change course to get there.

Stay Positive:   Positive thinking and planning goes a long way.  If it is not in the schedule or plan it does not exist so make sure you stay positive with your planning and actions.  You will always have negative thoughts and doubts that pop into your head every now and then.  A trick to quick having obtrusive negative thoughts is another trick called “Name it and Tame it”.   The next time a negative thought or doubt pops into your head or spoken by another on your team, give it a silly name like “dumbass”.  Then tell yourself out loud so you say it and hear it, “I can’t think about “dumbass” anymore.”  This may take a few rounds of practice, but it works to help you stay positive.  Naming a thought takes away its power and shows you that you have control of your fears and anxiety.  That is powerful.

That is the mental toughness top ten list that works for me and many people that I interviewed for this article.  I hope this list helps you.  By no means is mental toughness tips and attributes limited to my top ten list.  There are countless ways to build your mental toughness and resilience that will help you stay motivated, positive thinking, and handle stress /​ adversity throughout the rest of your life.

Hang in there – and never, never give up.

 

 

 

 

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.

Two Schools of Thought (weighted reps or high volume)

There are two schools of thought from going to 20+ pull-​​ups, but both require recovery days in between.
No more back to back to back days of pull-​​ups at this level is recommended.  You can try it with some results in the short term, but if you do 4–5 pull-​​up workouts in a week at weighted or high volume rep workouts, you will most likely see negative results.  Recovery is KEY TO YOUR GROWTH!

High Volume Workouts:

Now that you are able to push 50–100 reps of pull-​​ups in a single workout, this type of high volume workout requires recovery days and only performing pull-​​ups three days a week.  Personally, I recommend the three workouts below to be done on Mondays, Wednesday, and Saturday:

Push your base repetitions in your workouts with these three proven methods:

Monday:  PT Pyramid http://​military​-fitness​.military​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​7​/​p​t​-​p​r​o​g​r​e​s​s​i​o​n​-​s​e​r​i​e​s​-​1​-​t​h​e​-​p​y​r​a​m​i​d​.​h​tml

Wednesday:  PT Superset http://​military​-fitness​.military​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​7​/​p​t​-​p​r​o​g​r​e​s​s​i​o​n​-​s​e​r​i​e​s​-​2​-​s​u​p​e​r​-​s​e​t​s​.​h​tml

Saturday:  Max Rep Sets http://​military​-fitness​.military​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​7​/​p​t​-​p​r​o​g​r​e​s​s​i​o​n​-​s​e​r​i​e​s​-​3​-​m​a​x​-​r​e​p​-​s​e​t​s​-​w​o​r​k​o​u​t​s​.​h​tml

*I like to add another day of recovery in between the Super Set Wednesday and the Max Rep Set Saturday as you can better push your previous maximum repetitions each set with another non pull-​​up day of rest.  You can still do pushing, legs, core, running, rucking on your recovery and workout days however.

 

Weighted Pull-​​ups

Weighted pull-​​ups also work very well but you still want to push your previous max set repetitions some during the week.  I recommend only doing weighted pull-​​ups 1–2 times per week and cut your total pull-​​up workout repetitions by 50%.  Pick a weight that will enable you to still do at least 20–25 total reps in a weighted pull-​​up workout.

Eventually, you will have to go back to non-​​weighted pull-​​ups

Another Option:  Short Term Daily Pull-​​ups (10 days straight plus 3 days rest = day 14 test)

This works well but do not repeat over and over as negative results will appear within a month.  The Pull-​​up Push works best if your current maximum in under 15.   Many have mixed weighted days of pull-​​ups into this workout and just reduced their daily pull-​​up totals by 50% if using weights.  I would recommend only doing a few of the ten days of pull-​​ups with weights.

Pullup Push http://​www​.military​.com/​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​-​f​i​t​n​e​s​s​/​f​i​t​n​e​s​s​-​t​e​s​t​-​p​r​e​p​/​p​u​l​l​u​p​-​p​u​s​h​-​w​o​r​k​out

In conclusion, this three part program is designed to take you from ZERO to 20+ pull-​​ups.  It works if you stay determined with your pull-​​up workouts each week.  Once you get successful at 20+ pull-​​ups, now you want to get creative with your pull-​​up routines and mix in more tactical skills like fireman carries, bear crawls, body drags and stress.  See ideas below:

Running and PT Combinations:  http://​military​-fitness​.military​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​7​/​p​t​-​p​r​o​g​r​e​s​s​i​o​n​-​s​e​r​i​e​s​-​4​-​r​u​n​n​i​n​g​-​a​n​d​-​p​t​-​m​i​x​.​h​tml

Advanced Movements with Pull-​​up Workouts: http://​military​-fitness​.military​.com/​2​0​1​3​/​0​7​/​p​t​-​p​r​o​g​r​e​s​s​i​o​n​-​s​e​r​i​e​s​-​5​-​h​a​r​d​c​o​r​e​-​f​u​l​l​-​b​o​d​y​-​m​o​v​e​m​e​n​t​s​-​w​i​t​h​-​p​t​r​u​n​.​h​tml

Weight Loss and Pull-​​ups

Many may find that weight loss is also going to be beneficial to the pull-​​up progress.  Add in more cardio of running or rucking after your calisthenics and weight workouts to best simulate your fitness test as well as optimize your fat burning phase of a workout.

NOTE:  Also you may notice in this three stage progression series, we did not mention kipping pull-​​ups.  You cannot kip in the military fitness tests and if you do not have a solid pull-​​up foundation, you could easily injure yourself attempting kipping pull-​​ups. 

 

Are You a Captain America?

Captain America1

I consider my sister-​​in-​​law, Dana, a real sister to me.  She is kind, compassionate, fun, wonderfully opinionated and loves me unconditionally.  I always welcome her advice and recommendations and she has never steered me wrongly.  Last summer she said I must watch The Avengers movie.  What a fun ride!  It was cool to see so many of my favorite characters like Thor, Ironman, and the Hulk joining forces to fight evil.  The only challenge was that I knew nothing about Captain America.  Friday night, I finally watched the first Captain America movie and can’t wait to see the sequel that apparently was a blockbuster at this past weekend’s opener. What caught my attention was the desire this scrawny little guy had to serve his country and sacrifice for the greater good of mankind.  Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far to find those willing to raise their shields to protect our country.  From our incredible service men and women to every day difference-​​makers, we all have a little bit of Captain America in us.

Plyometrics and Vertical Jumps

Plyometrics became popular for Olympic-​​bound athletes. And many professional and elite athletes are familiar with workouts that include vertical jump training to improve their performance on the track or on the court. But you’re a soldier. Is it possible that plyometric training can provide some value for the military?

The short answer is yes. Let’s talk about what plyometrics is, and isn’t, and how you can use it to improve your performance on the battle field.

The Key to Avoiding Back Pain: It’s not What You Think

They key to the best workout plan is balance. You need just the right amount of push and pull and you need to protect your back. Avoiding back pain while working out is all about balancing the muscle groups your strengthening and stretching, and how often you are rotating those exercises.

The goal is to keep the muscles that support your back strong and flexible. And while most of us work our core, we either do too many of one type of exercise and not enough of the other (causing an imbalance that leads to back pain), or we think we are working one muscle group when we are actually working another and thus NOT getting the results we really want.

Coast Guard Diver Rating Created

Cgdivers

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.

Who can Apply for Coast Guard Diver?

The Dive Lockers are looking for experienced Coast Guard personnel.  You must be a qualified E-​​5 in the Coast Guard to transfer to the DV rating.   Also, other service member military divers from E-​​4 to CWO-​​4 can qualify for lateral transfers into the Coast Guard starting in 2015.   The “A” school for the DV rating is the  Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, FL.  The career pipeline for the CG Diver will start as successfully graduating from 2nd class Dive School as an E-​​5.  Upon further competency based promotion criteria, the CG Diver will attend 1st Class Diver school as an E-​​6/​E-​​7.  As an E-​​8 or above, talented personnel can become Master Diver qualified.

What do Coast Guard Divers Do?

Today, they sweep ports and waterways during coastal security missions; conduct salvage and recovery operations; inspect Coast Guard cutter hulls; survey coral reefs and environmental sensitive areas; repair, maintain and place of aids to navigation; conduct polar operations as well as conduct joint operations with United States and international military divers. — See more at:  Coast Guard Compass - Source

Making it TO and THROUGH Training

logstew

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.

The short answer to your question is YES.  This is fine.   But you want to arrange the workouts where you decrease your cardio /​ increase your weight training so you cycle through this type of training for 6–8 weeks — maybe 12 weeks if you have a year to train.  Where some special ops candidates make mistakes is they fail to drop the heavy weights and switch to higher repetition calisthenics to help with muscle stamina, and they fail to get good and running, rucking, and swimming at fast /​ high miles per week.  Many people have said, including myself, that they never once wished they had lifted more weights at BUDS — they wished they had run more or had swum more with fins.

For the past 15 years, I have been teaching /​ performing personally a winter weight lifting cycle that reduces repetitions and running distances to give the joints a recovery period from high reps and impact miles.  However, for BUD/​S candidates I recommend this is a great time to add in a progressive swimming with fins cycle for extra cardio work.  Add rucking in as well if your branch of service training specifically tests that skill too.   See related article about how to incorporate periodization though the year.

Making it TO training programs requires you to specifically train for a fitness test.  This has been where I have been specializing for over 15 years now.  Preparing people for tactical professions:

1runptPRE Training — Acing the fitness test /​ building a foundation of fitness so your body can handle the actual training (BUD/​S, SF, PJ, Fire, Police academies is the specific focus on training you must have.  This process can take 1–2 years depending on your starting fitness level or as little as 4–6 months depending on your athletic history.  Regardless, you do not want to go to ANY training program without having reaching near the maximum standards of the fitness requirements.  Otherwise, the likelihood of injury, failure, other delays are certain.  You have to “train for the training”.

 

Tactical Fitness and Special Ops Training

Prepare for the Duration - Specificity is ALSO required to get THROUGH the training after you have focused much of your exercise on making it TO the training.  If your training program requires graded 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile ocean swims, long runs and rucks, hundreds of reps of calisthenics (pushups, pullups, dips, squats, flutterkicks) several times a week, you need to practice those events and get your run /​ swim /​ ruck mile pace down to an acceptable level to insure success.

 

UTMlPics-190POST Training —  After the shock of Special Ops Selections, Training, other bootcamps, and acadmies, you have to now focus on the demands of the profession — both tactically and physically.  This is where the Teams, Ranger Battalions, and SF groups have advanced their programming by hiring actual strength /​ conditioning scientists /​ coaches to create functional programs /​ testing criteria to help make a better operator.  There are many elements to consider to creating, building, and maintaining a Special Operator foundation of tactical fitness:

- The constant needs of high repetition calisthenics, long miles of run, ruck, or swimming (or all the above) are decreased — now focus on speed, agility, balance, flexibility, strength, power, endurance, muscle stamina.

- This requires a series of training cycles to progress in each of these elements of the tactical athlete. Periodization is critical to the health and longevity of any athlete as the sports athlete has the luxury of pre-​​season, in-​​season maintenance, post-​​season recovery programming.  There is no off-​​season for the tactical athlete.

- TACTICAL athletes have to get more creative to adjust the workouts so they can actively pursue recovery even during times of interrupted sleeping patterns, fast /​ ineffective nutrition options.

- Recovery from stress is the key.   There has to be down times in your training cycles even if that recovery period is just moments of deep breathing /​ relaxing prior to sleep or cat-​​naps.  Learn how to adjust workouts to fit your seasonal demands of the profession creating programs so peaking and recovering are logical progressions for you.

Training hard for these programs is how to prepare obviously, but understanding the differences of the training required to ace the “entrance exam” or PFT /​ PST /​ PRTs depending on your branch of service to get TO the training is critical to your success.  The training required and fitness foundation needed to make it THROUGH the training will build off of the PFT scores and should advance with the specifics of the training required (PT, run, ruck, swim, logs, boats, etc).  Finally, the training you will need to perform the actual job of the tactical operator will differ tremendously and it should take you back to the days of sports training where you focused on speed, agility, balance, flexibility, strength, power, endurance, muscle stamina that helps you perform a specific skill at your optimal level.

PS:  Here is a related audio interview I did recently much about this subject:  AUDIO File

 

Tactical Fitness Ideas — Why Think and Exercise?

pyramid191

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.

For instance:  Here is a simple calisthenic pyramid that requires little or no equipment and can be done on a field with a set of monkey bars or pullup bars.   Calisthenics also can be a “gym free” workout routine and successful mix upper body (push /​ pull) with legs, abs, and fullbody movements – for instance:

Pullup /​ Burpee pyramid: 

Do 1 pullup — Run 20yd – do 1 burpee – run 20yds back to pullup bar
Do 2 pullups – run 20 yds – do 2 burpees – run 20yds back to pullup bar
continue until you fail…however – every FIVE sets you have to change your method of moving to /​ from pullup bar /​ burpee area.  For sets 6–10 add in lunges, fireman carries (with partner), farmer walks with heavy DB or KB or sand bag, bear crawls, low crawls, etc…
Once you reach set 10 – repeat in reverse order changing the method of to/​from every set.  There are many options of travel to and from your pullup area — so get creative and see what you can develop when the glycogen levels are low and the brain wants to stop working optimally.

This workout tires you physically but still requires you to think creatively and cognitively (math /​ numbers).  Why is this important?  Well in the Tactical Ops world where you are tired, hungry and stressed out – having the ability to still think is a skill that can be enhanced by adding these type of events to your day.

Why Burpee?  You can also do this with 8 Count Pushups – The “Burpee” and 8 count pushup are fullbody calisthenics exercises made popular recently.  They are tough and work everything just about:  chest, shoulders, triceps, hips, thigh, calves, core.  This is actually a very old exercise done on football /​ soccer fields for decades now brought to the gym floor.  We used to call them “Green Bays” or “whistle drill” on the football field in the 80’s.

You can get creative and add other exercises especially when travelling to and from the pullup /​ burpee area.  Does your brain work when tired?  Give this one a try or check out the standards PT Pyramid (pullups x 1, pushups x 2, situps x 5).

Get Insanely Hard Muscles with the 300 Rise of an Empire Workout

300-rise-of-an-empire-workout

Do you want to know how the hundreds of muscle bound bodies covering the screen in the movie 300 Rise of an Empire got so unbelievably ripped?  Well I did the research for you. Unfortunately the cast exercised for 3 hours a day under a very strict regime set forth by Gym Jones.  However, by researching the program I was able to take the core components of the regimen and create a powerful workout that anyone with one hour a day, a bit of determination and a desire to pack on serious muscle could do in their own gym.

2014-​​The Year of Fitness on the Go

pushxpro

Everyone’s busy nowadays; we’re lucky if we can find time to cook a healthy dinner for ourselves. Having an alternate plan for getting a great workout is vitally important to staying in great shape.  Our busy lives sometimes pull us away from the important things in life like healthy food and time in the gym.

I have assembled the top 5 portable fitness equipment to keep you healthy in 2014 (and beyond):

Tactical Fitness: The Dirty Dozen Test

military training and ptsd - 5

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

nutrition for runners

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.

 

How to Workout Like an Olympic Champion

Bodyweight exercises

How to Workout Like an Olympic Champion - The Full Body Workout You Need to Start Doing NOW

The winter Olympic games are among us and as we see one chiseled athlete after another competing at what they do best it makes me want to reiterate to the fitness community what it really takes to have well defined muscles and slim waistline. I see one fitness blogger after another writing workout plans that tell you do hit the weights and do three sets of legs on one day, and three sets of another body part on another day.  The truth is getting a chiseled body doesn’t come with spending 15 minutes working out one or two body parts a day in the gym. Aside from eating healthy, you need to stimulate all the muscles in your body 3 times a week. A full body workout is especially useful for you 8-​​5ers who sit in an office all day waiting for that time you get to go to the gym to release energy.  Follow my 3 day full body workout routine below to ensure you hit all the right muscle groups in the right sequence.

Tactical Fitness Training /​ Testing Ideas

Respiratory_muscle_training

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.

The Busy Dad and Busy Mom Workout

Stressed Father Feeding Little Daughter and Using Cell Phone

No matter what technological advances come out to make our lives more efficient and effective, we seem to have less and less free time in our daily lives.  With the daily responsibilities of being a parent, it seems nearly impossible to consistently make time for the gym.  But don’t worry; there are exercises you can fit into your existing day that can be surprisingly effective.  If you want to lose weight and have more defined muscles, fit the below routine into your daily schedule for 4 weeks.

Keep it Running: Nutrition Tips for Endurance

nutrition for runners

What Do Runner’s Eat? Whether you’re new to running or a competitive marathon athlete; endurance –based exercises like running require you to pay attention to your extra nutritional needs. If you don’t, you’ll notice changes in your body structure that may not be what you hoped for (like getting way too thin) or even worse, you’ll experience a lack of energy after your workout.

Although running may not seem as physically intense as weightlifting or martial arts; runners of all levels need to be pay close attention to vitamins and minerals as well as caloric intake. Your quality of nutrition will ensure optimal performance and help you avoid over training.

USMC Pullups and Women

womenpullup

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!

injuredman

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!

What’s a Vitamin Doing in BCAA?

bcaa

You’ve seen BCAA supplements on the health food shelf; you’ve read about the benefits of BCAA when training and you want the results these supplements claim to deliver. But how do you know which are the best BCAA supplements? They contain different ingredients so which option is the best for a highly active lifestyle?

Great questions! And you’ll get your answer here because not all supplements are created equal.

BCAA supplements (branch chain amino acids) can be combined in a power formula that includes Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Zinc, L-​​Leucine, L-​​Isoleucine, L-​​Valine, L-​​Glutamine. While each of these ingredients are beneficial to the body on its own, when combined in the proper dosage, they become a highly effective component in a fitness regimen, the world of body building, and the military training.

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.