Archive for the ‘Spec Ops Fitness’ Category

Workout of the Week #16

hotshirtstew

It is testing focus month for us in August /​ September (1st week) so we tend to mix in fitness testing elements with workouts.  Here is one we did to help with PT and running:

PT Test:

Pullups max
Pushups 2 min
Situps 2 min
2 mile timed run

Repeat 5 times
hill runs or 1/​4 mile sprints
rest 100m walk

Run 2 miles of intervals: 
– easy half mile
– timed half mile
– easy half mile
– timed half mile

PT Test:
pullups max
pushups 2 min
situps 2 min

Top Reasons Why People Fail Special Ops

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I love getting email questions that require me to think and recall over the years some of my experiences to share.  These questions are from a future SOF candidate, who asks a simple question, “Why is the attrition rate so high?”  Here is his specifics:

I was curious Stew, why are the attrition rates for SOF so high? It seems that to get into any SOF training program you have to pass a physical examination to show you can handle training, academic tests, and reach a pretty high level of fitness. Therefore; all those who start should technically be able to complete the course? But of course most end up quitting. Through what means do trainees feel that the course isn’t for them? Or is it that people believe the workload isn’t worth the reward? Is it naive to think that because you only meet the minimums that you cannot succeed in the course? Is it more of a solid success-​​driven mentality requirement?

In my personal experience and after talking with recent graduates as well as failures from various SOF training programs that include:  BUD/​S, EOD, Ranger, Army SF, RECON, AFPJ, and various SWAT training programs, I have developed the following list of reasons why people do not make it through SOF training.  Let’s call this the Top Ten Reasons Why People Fail in Special Ops:

There are many ways to fail out or quit any of the Special Ops programs utilized by our military as well as city, state, and federal police departments.  But typically the biggest reason someone fails is the candidate is not prepared in some way.  Here is a list of reasons why most people do not make it through the various Special Ops training programs available:

Physical /​ Mental Toughness Failure: I have discussed this term “mental toughness” and tried to define it many ways, but it is critical in your success in any of these programs.  You have to understand that the physical challenge gets so overwhelming that you have to dig deep into your “how much you want it” pocket to find the fuel when the tank is empty.  It does not matter how great a runner, swimmer, lifter, shooter, etc…if you are not tough mentally — you will likely not make it through training. See related articles:  Top Ten List of Mental Toughness /​ Science of Mental Toughness.

Physical Reasons People Fail:

Running – Face it – it is a running man’s game out there.  You have to be a good runner with a solid foundation of long distance /​ fast paced running no matter what your size.  I have seen 220+ lbs men run 18 minute 3 mile runs and sub-​​200lb men fail.  If you cannot run well, you will be the first to leave typically – either by failing to keep up or by over-​​use injury caused by not being physically prepared to run.  I list this one near the top, because almost every graduate I talk to comes back and says, “I wish I had run more – it is a running man’s game.”

Swimming – You do not have to be a world class swimmer to ace even the toughest Spec Ops swimming programs including BUD/​S and AFPJs, but you have to be in good swimming condition, have solid technique, and be comfortable in the water.  Failing to swim well typically keeps you from getting INTO Spec Ops training, but one of the less likely events to fail during training.  Now the swimming skills – that is a different story.  See water confidence below.

size0Rucking – If you are training for the Army and Marines, you will be rucking.  The Special Ops world is the same.  Even at BUD/​S that used to start rucking once doing land warfare (3rd phase) are now rucking in every phase to prepare their graduates for future rucks in mountain /​ sandy regions of the world.  So start rucking if you have not started yet.  Finding how to wear your ruck, how to pace yourself for longer distances is as critical as conditioning yourself for endless rucking days.  Most people who fail rucks did not practice rucking, had weak legs and core strength to carry the ruck at a passing pace.  See - What is a Ruck article.

Lack of muscle stamina /​ endurance – It is great to be strong, but having the ability to move your body weight countless times up and down, over and under objects comes with specific training.  High repetition calisthenics is needed more than heavy weight training.  I am not saying you should not lift, in fact you should do both, but with a focus of muscle stamina not 1 rep max lifts.

Injury – Injuries happen sometimes due to lack of preparation for runs, rucks, swim, carrying boats /​ logs, sometimes it is an accident that could happen to anyone.  Sometimes it was not meant to be.  It is true but injuries happen to the best candidates.  If you have performed well to the point of your injury, you will likely be rolled and allowed to heal and join the next class.  However, if you are borderline failure or failed a few events (eventually passing) over the course of training and you get injured, you will likely be kicked out of training due to failure /​ performance combination.

Ocean /​ Land Navigation /​ Tactical Skills (physical /​ academic tests) – Some find it difficult to do proper ocean, land navigation or underwater navigation for that matter and fail tactical training tests.  There are several academic tests one must take when navigating land, ocean, sub-​​surface (SCUBA) as well as combat medical courses, dive physics, weapons system nomenclature and more.  All of which are stressful and many are oral /​ performance tests under duress.  The academic tests can also be tough to someone who is a poor student and the tactical tests can be stressful when placed under the clock and you have to perform to a certain standard.

Mental reasons why people fail:

11surfWater confidence – Like I said earlier, you do not have to be an All-​​American swimmer, but you have to not be scared of water and be able to move comfortably in any situation.  Drown-​​proofing, life-​​saving, underwater knot tying, SCUBA, underwater swimming are just a few of the skills a maritime Special Ops candidate will have to endure.  These claim many Special Ops candidates statistically and probably one of the biggest deterrents why some people choose not to attempt Special Ops programs that involve underwater operations.

training for military fitness 6Fear (water, darkness, claustrophobic, underwater at night, heights) – If you are a student at a Special Operations school, you will be introduced to many of your fears and forced to deal with them.  Many people fear cold, wet, and dark water forcing you to either successfully navigate through the fear and conquer it or the fear will conquer you.  I remember our first night swim (boogie man swim they called it), we had quitters that night and they were not even wet yet.  I personally never liked jumping out of airplanes, was near ill every jump. Many others and I shared the same feeling and somehow dealt with it until it became more natural to us and actually felt weird landing in an airplane.  What is your fear?

Instructor /​ Event Intimidation (aka mind-​​game) – Usually the instructors will make every pass/​fail event one of the toughest events ever that no one ever passes.  Having an instructor critique you constantly and making you pay physically for any errors or indiscretions is stressful and can get under your skin if you cannot handle negative feedback.  You will be told you are the worst student ever and it is up to you how to process that and come back stronger.

General Physical Discomfort (Cold, Hunger, Exhausted, Sleepy, Wet, Sandy) – This last one is borderline mental and physical.  Sometimes the thought of being cold or wet or both can cause people to quit while still dry.  Sometimes you just cannot handle being cold, wet, sandy, and being tired anymore and just want to call it quits.  This one is part mind-​​game and part physical pain /​ discomfort.  Spending days uncomfortable and tired will either make you stronger and appreciate those nice warm nights under a blanket, or completely break you mentally so you lose focus and cannot continue.

As you can see, there are many reason why people do not graduate Special Ops programs.  In fact, there are many more than these I just listed like not being a team player or mature enough to handle high levels of stress.  Though pre-​​screening of Special Ops candidates has advanced over the last few decades, the REAL TEST is the actual training course.  Testing to get TO the training will never insure someone gets THROUGH the training.   Though all Special Ops recruiters are getting better at picking those that have the highest potential for success, there is no test to date that can measure a candidate’s heart and will.  It is the Special Ops training course that does that.

Workout of the Week #15

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Here is a favorite combination workout we like to do once a week during late Summer /​ early Fall.  It is a combination workout of weight training, running, calisthenics, and swimming and/​or rucking.  Fullbody workout in it’s truest form:

Weight Room
Repeat 4 times
Weighted Pullups max
Dead lift 5 or tire flips
Hang clean 5
Flutterkicks 50
Fire man carry 25m or farmer walk 50m

Repeat 4 times
Run 1 mile timed
Max pushups 1 min
Max situps 1 min

Swim Workout
Swim 500m warmup — any stroke

Repeat 10 times
100m swim sprint
50m easy (CSS)
(no rest)

and /​ or ruck 30 minutes in place of swimming

Advice on Over-​​Training

overheadsquat

For years, I have written about and discussed the fine line between training for Special Ops type programs and over-​​training.  But until recently, I realized I forgot one very important piece of information:

TELL OTHERS AROUND YOU THE SYMPTOMS OF OVER-​​TRAINING.

Because, you will not notice it until it is too late (typically).  Even though, over-​​training is actually hard to do by just training — it is easy to see symptoms pop up occasionally when your recovery balance is off:  Not enough sleep, not eating or hydrating well, and too many crazy workouts in a week are just the things to push any training program into the over-​​reaching /​ over-​​training zone if not attended to.

Workout of the Week #14

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Workout of the Week #14:

This is a way to mix in running mile pace runs with PT Pyramid training:

Pt Pyramid /​ Mile Goal Paced Runs

Run 1 mile timed  

Do 10 sets of

Pullups x 1

Pushups x2

Abs x 3

(do ten sets of the pyramid of the three exercises in circuit fashion selecting your abdominal exercise of your choice — for example situps, crunches, flutterkicks, plank pose (per second) Sample Set 1:  pullups 1, pushups, 2, situps 3  each set progresses until set 10 = 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 30 situps.…

Workout of the Week #13

pullupup

This week is a combination workout that combines moderately heavy weights, cardio intervals, mixed with calisthenics.  Following the non-​​impact/​lift, you mix in a run /​ pt followed by a swim (or ruck for Army guys).

Also see links to previous 12 weeks of workouts of the week at the bottom of the page:

Favorite Workout Week #12

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This workout has turned out to be another all-​​time favorite mix of swimming, running, sprinting, crawling, carrying, and calisthenics.  See if you like this 90–120 minute workout mix:

Swim PT  (see video link)

Repeat 5 times 200m swim for time
Burpees for same time it takes to swim 200m

500m Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS video DESCRIPTION)

Part 2 of the workout:

Run /​ Pt Workout *(best done on a football field /​ track)

Jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
bear crawl 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile easy

Repeat 4 times
walking lunges 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
fireman carry 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Repeat 4 times
burpee jump 25m
25m easy jog
50m sprint
25m easy jog

jog 1/​2 mile

Check out more of our favorite workouts of the week on the Military​.com Fitness Blog.  Sign up for the newsletters for great up to date information on military news, events, and of course — cool workouts.

Favorite Workout Week #11: Last Week

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When the Spartan 300 Workout came out after a very popular movie with nothing but ripped up actors playing the Spartan Warriors, many people started doing this type of 300 total rep workout spread over six exercises of 50 reps each.  Here is just a sample of many combinations that are fun to add running to the max repetition circuit OR complete the 50 reps THEN rotate to the next exercise.

Spartan 300 Run /​ PT

1/​4 mile run at goal timed run pace (all runs)
Push press 50 (barbell 50% bodyweight)
1/​4 mile run
Kb swings 50
1/​4 mile run
Pullups 50
1/​4 mile run
Overhead weighted walking lunges 50/​leg (hold 25–40#DB)
1/​4 mile run
TRX Atomic Pushups 50 or weight vest pushups /​ bench press 135#
plank pose 2 min

 

You can either keep completing the reps for each exercise until you get 50 total then run.  OR if you want to run MORE, you can max rep set /​ run 1/​4 mile keep that exercise /​ run combo until you get 50 reps. Good Full Body Workout… Optional:  Cool down cardio 30 minutes of swim, bike, elliptical, easy.

Favorite Workout# 10: Last Week

pullupupOk — this workout is no joke and not for beginners.  This is one of our favorite combo circuits where we focus on the following type of exercise groups:  Upper body PUSH, Upper body PULL, Legs, Abs, and Full body Movements.  This one is a mix of a circuit and a max rep set of the pull, push, leg and the full body and abs are done to your wishes.

Pull, Push, Legs, Abs, Fullbody Max Reps Sets exercise circuit:

Max Reps sets of first 3 (Murph Workout*) — then “rest” with abs /​ full body each set:
Pull = pullups 100 reps
Push = pushups 200 rep
Legs = air squats 300 reps
Abs of choice 50
Fullbody exercise of choice:  options dead lift, hang clean, power clean, push press, KB swings, etc…Heavy or light moderate reps sets.  5–10 reps of these fullbody exercises.

Ask the MD — Becoming a Stronger Runner

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Military​.com Fitness is starting a new section where we reach out to various medical and science professionals to get advice on fitness, injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, nutrition, and many other topics that will help our readers. Many emails ask our writing team about running faster, running injuries, and how to prevent them.  I am pleased to introduce Dr. Michael Cassatt who is a former Navy corpsman and now a doctor of Sports Medicine .  Dr Cassatt answers our “How to prevent running injuries” question with the following explanation: Injuries in runners are common.  Injuries from the waist down can range from 1 in 4 runners, to 2 in 3 runners depending on training volume. Most of these injuries are preventable given a good training plan, quality running form, and a few specific exercises to help supporting muscle groups. There are a number of injuries that can occur from running including:

  •  Hip– Hip flexor tendinopathy, impingement, and bursitis.
  • Knee– IT band syndrome, runners knee (Patellar tendinopathy), and meniscal tears.
  • Tibia– Shin splints, compartment syndrome, and stress fractures.
  • Foot and ankle– Achilles tendinopathy, peroneal tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis.

Favorite Workout #9: Last Week

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Name:  Five Minutes ON — Five Minutes OFF

This workout will have you doing a hard 5 minute cardio followed by a hard 5 minute circuit usually of 4–5 exercises with minimal rest in between.  The 5 minutes of cardio are often Tabata Intervals or increasing resistance each minute sets where you make each minute harder than the previous minute for a total of 5 minutes.  Repeat this 5 times for a 50–60 minute cardio /​ resistance combo workout.

For instance, the workout we created is explained below, but it is one of those that you can create your own using the following protocol:

Pick exercises from the following categories:   Push /​ Pull /​ Full /​ Legs /​ Abs

Repeat 5 times
5 Minutes ON Cardio:  *5 minutes of Tabata Intervals (bike, elliptical, or row machines)

5 Minutes OFF Cardio:  Full Body Circuit (no rest in between)

PUSH — Bench press 135# — max reps for 1 minute

PULL — Pullups (weighted or not) — max reps for 1 minute — change grips, shake it out, keep pulling for 1 minute

FULL — Hang Cleans /​ Push Press complex — do hang cleans into push press for 1 minute (light weight).  Some opted for KbdnKettlebell swings /​ snatches as well.

LEGS — Squats (weighted or non-​​weighted) /​ Box Jumps /​ Step Ups for 1 minute

ABS — Situps 1 minute or your choice of flutterkicks, TRX rollouts, etc…

TRXrollout2

*Tabata interval is a challenging cardio interval where you do 20 seconds fast as you can followed by 10 seconds easy /​ slow to try to catch your breath.  It is a nice thought but you really don’t catch your breath.

Favorite Workout of the Week # 1–8 for previous weeks.

United We Stand

HonorGuard

I come from a family of patriots.  We all support our Veterans, our military service men and women and our country regardless of the date on the calendar or the status of world events. My grandfather is part of the Greatest Generation as a WWII Veteran. My uncles are Veterans of the Vietnam War.  I am a the spouse of a GWOT Veteran who served our country valiantly during a career that saw both peace and conflict. So, during a time when we celebrate our Nation’s birth, it seems fitting to also thank those who graciously and unselfishly support our troops, respect our flag, and serve our Veterans.  This week, while we’re spending time with family and friends,  I want to introduce you to a couple of patriots & patriotic organizations that have inspired me. 

Favorite Workout #8: Last Week

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Spec Ops Triathlon Build Up with Leg PT

As we prepare for an upcoming Special Ops Triathlon - Night Mission (Swim, Run, Ruck), we are adding in a few combo workouts mixed with leg PT to prepare for the extra mileage and weight of the event.  This favorite workout of the week is called:

Run /​ Ruck /​ Swim and Leg PT — We will be adding mileage to this workout every week as we progress to the 5 mile run /​ 4 mile ruck /​ 1 mile swim of the Spec Ops Triathlon Workout:

Run 2 miles -  stop every 1/​2 mile and do 20 lunges

Ruck 2 miles — stop every half mile and do squats (ruck with 30–40#)

Swim /​ LEG PT:  Swim with fins 1000m

Buddy tow and Lunges on pool deck — see video link

Repeat 5 times
Buddy tow 25m
Walking lunges 25m

*if no buddy to tow — swim with sweat shirt in each hand

Favorite Workout #7: Last Week (Spec Ops Tri)

Operation Craving Competition

The Special Ops Triathlon — Run — Swim — Ruck

This fine tuning of the challenging cardio events of the triathlon is now an all-​​time favorite workout.  We even made it a quarterly competition with our Heroes of Tomorrow and Special Ops Team here in Maryland.

You can arrange the run, swim, ruck of the Special Ops Triathlon in any order, but we often like to make it like a simulated mission where you have the following phases:

Career Change to Special Forces

New Workout: Devil’s Mile with Tire

If you are thinking about a career change and perhaps wanting to move out of a cubicle, travel the world, challenge yourself with a typical younger person’s profession, this email may resonate with you.  There are some things to consider from the physical demands of the training you seek, strain on relationships, monetary issues, to just name a few. However, if you are seeking a career change to any of the Special Forces /​ Special Ops world, start training hard and specifically NOW!  Here is the email question and related answers to many foreseeable issues:

Stew,  I am considering a career change from a Phys. Ed teacher to Army Special Forces. 

Favorite Workout #6: Last Week

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Over the years, we have created workout plans for various fitness tests, but one thing holds true:  Practice taking the test you have to pass on a regular basis.  And if you want to crush it — do it twice.  That is right do a Double PFT.  One of our favorite Navy SEAL /​ EOD /​ Diver PST prep workouts is the Double PST arranged in the following manner:

Favorite Workout #5: Last Week

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Here is the fifth week of the Favorite Workout of the Week series.  We did this workout with more than 30 delayed entry program SpecWar candidates, ROTC, and OCS students.  This is one of those classic workouts that you can do once a week and know you are getting a tough workout in as well as mark your progress because everyone fails at this one at some point.  This one is also a great way to simulate obstacle courses if you do not have one to train on.  The running to/​from the pullup bar, doing burpees or pushing exercises, add in some crawling and you have a simulated obstacle course workout.

Favorite Workout #4: Last Week

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This week, we did an all-​​time favorite workout that we have been doing for decades.  It truly is a classic workout and if you are ever in the area where we train, you can join us.  Especially now, as we are cycling out of the weight /​ strength cycle and merging into the running, swimming, higher rep PT cycle to prepare for crushing any fitness test.

Fitness is Relative /​ Energy Systems Are Not…

Why Bodyweight Exercises Rule!

After a challenging workout on Memorial Day this year, I posted it in the Weekly Favorite Series and received a few comments from, “this is a crazy workout and too hard to think about doing,”  to “it was not that bad if you paced yourself.”  This led me to think about how fitness is ALL RELATIVE, meaning, depending on your fitness level, workouts can easily be accomplished or not.

Favorite Workout #3: Last Week

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This Memorial Day Workout — will easily be the favorite workout of the week for many weeks to come.  In the past few years, the CrossFit world has been naming workouts after American Heroes (Hero WOD).  This particular workout is called the Memorial Day Murph and was one of SDV Team 1 SEAL, LT Michael Murphy’s (CMH recipient) workouts he did prior to SEAL training.  It just so happens to be one of my long time favorites done with situps vs squats to help prepare for the PST exercises (pullup, pushups, situps)