Archive for the ‘Spec Ops Fitness’ Category

Running More Than You Want To

Top 5 Tips for Proper Running Form

Every so often, I get asked how to train for a long run like a half marathon or marathon.  Many young men and women prefer the accountability of a race and the thrill of competing in runs while preparing for Special Ops professions.  If running is a weakness you must work on in order to succeed in future training programs, preparing for races that are also entertaining can be a great way to turn a weakness into more of a strength.  Though a marathon is not necessary, it does make a great gut-​​check if you can keep from getting injured prior to your training.  Here is an email from a young man who is making the transition from a collegiate power athlete and working on his skills to become a better long distance runner:

Stew, I just finished my senior year of college in AZ and have been trying to get better at running as I am preparing for Army Special Forces.  As you know, this training requires you to run and ruck many miles each week, but I am having issues with keeping my focus during longer runs.  Any suggestions?  Should I try running different locations, races, marathons, different cities, elevation, beach/​desert, trails?  Thanks – Sean.

What is the best way to…?

2012 London Olympics

For over a decade and a half of writing about working out and acing fitness tests primarily, I often get questions that start off with, “Stew — what is the best way to (insert event)?  The most common one is “run faster in timed runs”.  Or “do more pull-​​ups, push-​​ups, sit-​​ups” is often asked.  And, of course, there is swimming times related question — “What is the best way to increase my swim speed /​ decrease swim times per given distance?”  Or a very controversial topic — “What is the best way to build muscle?”

The reason why I bring up this topic is after reading an email from a young man trying to ace his situp test, I got distracted.  He is seeking a goal to keep a pace of one sit-​​up per second or scoring 120 situps in 2 minute period.  This is a great goal!  It is not uncommon in the Spec Ops candidate world to see 120+ on 2 minute sit-​​up tests and there is a way to build up to get there.  Is MY way the BEST way?  I do not know — depends on how you define BEST.  Here is the question:

Situps“Stew — I have a sit-​​up test that a scored near the minimums on the first time (60 in 2 min), acceptable a month later (90 in 2 minutes), but I want to master this event as it once embarrassed me.  The sit-​​ups — I overestimated my abilities and did not practice (like you said) and was ranked last in our group on sit-​​ups.  Now I want to max it and not far away from it.  What is the best way to get that max score in sit-​​ups?”

 

How do you define BEST? I Digress…

Week #19: Workout of the Week

workout-of-the-week

Here is a different type of 50–50 split workout we like to do in October as we slowly transition from higher rep calisthenics and move into more weight training programs to build strength and power.  The term 50–50 refers to the workout being about 50% calisthenics and 50% weight training.  This is one of our new workouts we created this Fall.

Related articles are periodization, Preparing for the Tactical Fitness Test

Weight Room
Burpee /​ Run Pyramid:
1 burpee — run 30m
2 burpees, run 30m
3 burpees, run 30m
4 burpees, run 30m
5 burpees = burpee 1–5
Max Pullups
Max dips
Stair crawls down/​up

Traits of a Special Operator

1police

We all have had some form of psych test in our lives.  Do you remember the Myers-​​Briggs test you may have seen in high school, college, or in the military as well.  I know I have taken it at least three times in my life.  A recent question brought back some of those memories and prompted a little thought on the topic of personality types.  Here is the question:

Stew,
What are some of the personality types that make it through Special Ops training programs and go onto to serve in various Special Ops programs for a profession (like SEAL, EOD, Army SF, SWAT Teams, etc)?  I saw your article on some of the traits needed for Mental Toughness as well as the many fitness requirements you recommend, but what type of people finish the training?

Workout of the Week # 18: 50–50 Workout

workout

As many of the readers know, I use a method of periodization that evolves with the seasons.  Some have called it the Solstice Running Plan, while I tend to just like changing my workouts every quarter (12–13 weeks) so not to burn out with any one type of exercise.  For instance, each change of season brings in something new and gradually fades something out:

Spring (March — May):  Progressive running build up as well as shift from winter weights to higher rep calisthenics, taper from longer swimming workouts, with shift in speed /​ agility training.

Summer (June — September):  Peak build up of miles running, high rep calisthenics, high speed on swimming, only bodyweight exercise to include fireman carries, crawls, log PT, etc…(Almost no weights — focus is PFT testing scores)

Fall (September — November):  Drop high rep calisthenics, introduce weight training, increase swimming distance /​ rucking, reduce running mileage over 12 weeks and focus on faster paced shorter runs.

Workout of the Week #17

Combat Swimmer Stroke

Here is a swim workout that requires a video to best explain.  The focus is on three events:

Life Saving Buddy Tow — 25m
Combat Swimmer Stroke 50m
Freestyle 100m (6–10 strokes per breath)

The goal is to push yourself on the buddy tow — recover with the 50m CSS — then push your heart /​ lungs with 100m freestyle hypoxic type swim set.

Workout of the Week #16

Stew Smith Navy Seal

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:

Top Reasons Why People Fail Special Ops

specopsBUDS4

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?

Workout of the Week #15

workout-of-the-week

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.

Full body workout in it’s truest form:

Advice on Over-​​Training

Advice on Over-Training

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

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

photo (6)

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

zpp2

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

zpp2

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

hotshirtstew

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: