Archive for the ‘Physical Fitness Testing’ Category
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:
TRX, Running, and Kettlebells:
Running Intervals: Run quarter miles at your goal paced mile time. So if you want to be able to run a 6 minute mile you would practice running your quarter miles in 90 seconds.
Repeat 10 times
run ¼ mile
– even sets KB swings (2,4,6,8,10th)
– odd sets TRX rollouts (1,3,5,7,9th)
For the amount of time it takes you to run each ¼ mile that is how long you have to do the KB swings / TRX rollouts
- Using a KB or dumbbell, squat with weight between your legs. Explode up with the legs and hips to get the weight over your head — keep arms straight.
- Stand with TRX handles on your forearms. Lower yourself into a plank pose. Lift hips / flex core to get to the standing position again. Do as many reps as you can for as long as it took you to run the 1/4 mile each set.
TRX, Weight Lifting, Moderate Cardio Mix:
Warmup cardio / stretch
Repeat 5 times
5 min cardio of choice
TRX squat rows 10
TRX atomic pushup max
Weighted Pullups max
bench press BW 5–15 reps
Dead lift – 5 reps
(1–1.5 x BW deadlift)
abs of choice 1 min
*BW = bodyweight
Run or bike – easy pace 15–20 min
TRX Atomic Pushups
TRX Squat / Rows
TRX PT / Speed Mix:
Warmup Pushups/Pullups + 50yd run pyramid:
1 pullup / 1 pushup, 50yd run,
2 pullups/2 pushups, 50yd run,
3 pullups /3 pushups. 50yd run
Stop at 10 / light stretch
Repeat 4 times
TRX Atomic Pushups max
TRX squats/rows 10
TRX rollouts 10–15
Speed Events / Tests:
End with Speed Tests: (optional)
IL agility test
rest 2 min
300yd shuttle run (6 x50yd shuttle)
rest 2 min
timed plank pose — can you do 5 min?
This combination of workouts can be done every other day to work your strength, speed / agility, steady endurance pace, muscle stamina, core strength, and more. Share some of your favorite workouts in the comments section and spread the wealth.
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):
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.
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?
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Training for Army Bootcamp requires mental preparation and physical preparation.
Even though most people don’t think about physical exercise providing any mental benefits…it does. Why? Because exercise allows you be physically prepared for your Army Bootcamp training. And, the more physically prepared you feel, the less mental stress you will experience. The less mental stress, the better you will be able to engage and focus in the “classroom” style learning as well as the “field” adaptations and problem solving you will encounter physically and mentally.
What’s Hell Week Training?
Five days and nights in maximum overdrive. It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s tough. And for most it’s their first real test of endurance. And, most don’t think they are ready. Or they do, until the boots hit the mud and a part of them just wants to cry to mama. Can you survive? Can you adapt? Can you reach the peak and push back against your minds natural resistance? Will you become a Marine?
The body has a way of adapting to physical stress but only when you give it what it requires to deal with that stress in the most healthy and positive way. You need the right food combinations and nutritional fortification. And that fortification of your body’s vital systems needs to begin long before Hell week. Long before the buzz cut. And long before your first inspection. That fortification, that Hell Week Training Diet needs to start the moment to get the urge to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
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?
The makers of the Insanity workout plan claim that it’s the wildest and most intense workout that anyone ever saw. Coming hot on the heels of the P90X program, it ushers in a new era of workouts. Men and women who previously thought they could only get the ripped abs and great arms they wanted in a gym can now tone up at home. Beachbody states that anyone can get in shape using the workout plan, but not everyone has the same experience.
The Insanity workout comes with ten discs. One of those discs is a fitness test that users take before using any of the workout plans. According to the manufacturer, this test lets users see how strong they are in different areas, and they can compare their strength and fitness to how they feel after using the program. Even those who do well on the fitness test might still have problems with the workout plans.
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!
Want to know how Hugh Jackman got so ripped for his movie Wolverine? Well, you can hire his extremely expensive fitness trainer Mike Ryan or you can build your own workout program based on advice from Mr. Ryan. If you don’t have Ryan on speed dial then read on.
Hugh Jackman really got cut for this movie. The keyword here is cut.
To look really great with your shirt off, adding muscle mass is only half the battle, in fact, less than half if you ask the ladies. An impressive looking body starts with well– defined muscles, so follow this Hugh Jackman workout program to get some impressive muscle definition.
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 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.
When I was 19, I could eat whatever I wanted and not worry about the intake of calories. Fast-forward a couple decades and those “glory days” are long over. However, losing weight isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Even common household items you have in your house right now can help you burn calories and lose weight without ever hearing the dreaded word “diet”. Below are a few of my favorite household items that can help you consume less calories.
Building up your running is a constant battle for many recruits especially when they are also trying to build muscle to handle the stress of PT, rucking, and other weighted events in military training. Maintaining running for USMC fitness tests can be challenging as well for active duty Marines especially when you are deployed and spending most of the day wearing your kit / ruck. Here is a question from a USMC recruit trying to prepare himself for faster USMC fitness standards on the run:
I am currently able to accomplish the USMC PFT with 19 pull ups, 87 sit ups, and my 3 mile time is 25:00 minutes. Do you have any information and ways to reduce the time on my run? I rigorously work out 5 times a week including cardio and strength training. Thank you for your time and assistance.
Learning how to balance tough Special Ops level training with injury prevention is a constant battle and a delicate balance between recovery, logical progressions, nutrition, hydration, and knowing when to put in 100%. Now that last part is a bit tricky because in Spec Ops training you need to give 100% all the time right? Well — not really — you have to know when to turn it on and when to back it down so you do not injure yourself. Here is an email from a 28 yr old trying to get the most of his last few months before the age limit no longer allows him to attend SEAL training:
“Stew, I am 28 and a SEAL candidate working hard everyday to prepare myself for what is to come. I am a former boxer and have found that when I do the sprints in your Navy SEAL Fitness book , I ache for a day and I am borderline pulling a hamstring. How do I do these workouts at my age and not hurt myself?”
Protein: Much More than Cow
Eating enough foods high in protein is critical for building muscle. Protein not only promotes muscle growth, it also ensures muscle recovery and allows you to manage your weight by allowing you to feel fuller, longer. Now, when most people think protein, they think bovine. But…don’t limit yourself to the dairy! There are so many more protein-rich foods to enjoy!
Eating protein rich meals after working out is required for gaining muscle mass. The quality protein you consume after that workout helps to repair the damage. Most people grab a whey protein drink, chocolate milk, and take BCAA supplements. It’s quick, easy and it works. As you read this article, you’ll learn which other foods are high in protein and help build muscle.
What’s so Special about Saw Palmetto?
You may have heard about the benefits of Saw Palmetto, a plant native to the southeast. It’s nothing special to look at yet has a long history of medicinal uses which include preventing urinary disorders in men and boosting libido.
Native Americans are the first know users of this plant by including the nutrient rich berries in their diet. Men should consider using saw palmetto as a preventative measure for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as enlargement of the prostate gland.