Archive for the ‘Special Operations’ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is an email from a young man who seeks some advice about adding weights to his training plan. He is not only pre-training for the next track / cross country season, but also is preparing for Navy SEAL training after he graduates high school.
Stew, I was curious if I start to add some weights to my off-season program would it affect my running negatively? In other words, would it make me slower? I am also wanting to add Navy SEAL workouts into my training so I will be adding in swims, swims with fins, and various PT workouts. I read in a previous Navy SEAL article you mentioned about learning to be a good team player prior to joining the service — well I am doing that but I want to be the best team player I can be and in this case it means running faster. Any advice?
Team sports in high school go a long way in developing needed skills you will use everyday in the military. Simply being on a team with a competitive spirit is a great foundation to build upon once you join and you will especially need these skills in the Spec Ops community.
For those of you who connect with me regularly, you know my passion for our military and our veterans. From the bravery, courage, and inspiring leadership of my amazing veteran husband, Mark Gauger LtCol USAF(ret), to the thousands and thousands of everyday people who have risen up to serve our nation so valiantly, I remain in awe of your service and sacrifice. Recently, working here in Maine with the Travis Mills Project and the expansion of the National Veterans Family Center, I have become acutely aware of the unspoken needs of our Armed Forces. No where is that need more evident than in the tragic death of Marine veteran, Clay Hunt, in 2011. This article is a spotlight on a team who has taken up Clay’s torch to inspire leadership and provide mentorship for our veterans.
What’s My BMI? And other useless questions…
The BMI, or body mass index is a measurement that some doctors and other administers use to determine if a person is obese, or right in line with where they should be to be healthy. However, health and a healthy lifestyle really have more to do than the number on a scale.
For example, there was a man in Mexico that weighed in at 1200 pounds. He was desperate to lose weight and nothing seemed to work for him no matter how much or how little he ate. The curious thing was that based upon his blood work…he was normal and had all the “stats” of a healthy individual. However, most people (including this man) would agree that living in a 1200 pound body is the furthest thing from healthy.
Some people think that training of the Navy SEALs is just like any other military training…until they go to special ops training in the military.
Only then can you fully appreciate the physical strength and mental fortitude required to get into a top military unit. You’ve got to have more than just muscles and speed. A lot of guys have that. In this video, you get an insider look at just one part of Navy Seal Training.
They come in all shapes and sizes. They are found in the places you expect to find them – on the battle field, in a burning building, wearing a uniform, wearing fatigues and combat boots, carrying a badge and a gun.
You also find them in unexpected places. On the streets of Boston wearing a pair of running shoes, on the streets of New York decked out in a business suit, and inside an average looking home as a mother or father sits with their child with love to instill a legacy of freedom, hope, courage, success, and joy.
Some people are surprised and perplexed when they see the human spirit in action; when they see Americans rushing to help a complete stranger. But we’re not. Because we understand that goodness prevails.
The role of women in military is evolving. Well, at least the “official” policy seems to be changing for female soldiers in the United States.
I say “official” because the debate surrounding the decisions military administration revolve around women in combat. But the reality is that women have been actively involved in combat in just about every war in history, even if it was in an “unofficial” capacity. Heck, if Martha Washington can fight on the battlefield (she wasn’t just sewing stars on the flag!)…maybe a modern military woman can as well. No sewing needles needed!
Update: Have you ever had a moment in your life when someone or something changed you forever? Yesterday, I had that moment. In a rustic dining hall packed with veterans, lobster, laughter and an whole lot of camaraderie, I met Travis Mills. His jovial spirit and engaging smile don’t serve to mask the tragedy he’s been through…those traits are who he is and who he has always been. Travis has a divine spark within him which manifests as a burning desire to support, encourage and lift others up especially during difficult times. This is his story of help and hope for fellow veterans and their families.
Some call it “Peruvian Ginseng”.
I have a buddy who swears by the benefits of Maca root. He calls it the peace keeper.
Let me explain. His wife just gave birth and as you can imagine pregnancy can really screw up a woman’s hormones. My buddy got to the point where he just wasn’t sure what he would be walking into when he opened the door at the end of the day. Was he walking into enemy territory…or were there friendlies on the other side of that door? Now, this is a true story so just bear with me and I’ll get to the science a little later.
Over the past decade CrossFit has motivated and turned the fitness community into a daily competition with quick workouts of the day (WODs) in a group or online group atmosphere. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see a WOD posted up on a Facebook page or shared on Twitter, so people are very excited about their fitness these days. Which is GREAT! And you cannot argue with results. People see results with CrossFit workouts more than not. However, this question is asked quite often and it is about time I post on it as people tend to get a few things confused when it comes to Special Operations fitness. This question is specifically asking about Navy SEAL training and using CrossFit to prepare for BUD/s:
Stew, I know you recommend calisthenics and no lifting when preparing for BUD/S, but what do you think about CrossFit workouts to prepare for SEAL Training? I know many SEALs, Army SF, RECON guys do CrossFit and recommend it for their own training. What is your take on it?
Effective military leadership takes skill even when you have always been told you are a born leader. Growing evidence shows there is more than one kind of leader and that all leaders are not effective in all situations.
In a very general sense, people are categorized by their personality type, commonly labeled as being an introvert or an extrovert. Many people quickly assume that those who are more extroverted – more open and “social” – would be the superior leaders.
But a study at Harvard Business School shows evidence that following the lead of the group extrovert could just get you killed.
Over the past few months, this email question has been blowing up my inbox. It is concerning adding women to Special Operations units like Army Special Force, SEALs, Rangers, and the rest. Here is an email from a future BUD/S student:
I am training for BUDS when I graduate college in 2 years. I am on Capitol Hill for the summer and I hear they are talking about lowering the fitness standards for some programs including SEALs to make it more inviting to women. What is your opinion on this and do you think it will actually happen?
Personally, I do not speak for Navy Special Warfare, I am a civilian fitness writer who specializes in fitness standard programming. Making programs for people to succeed well above the minimum standards is what I do — no matter what the program, fitness test, or men or women. But this question is really a waste of time coming from a young, male, trainee who wants to go to BUD/S. You all need to focus on your own training as it is a 80–90 % attrition rate among men. These men who quit are well-screened, tough, above average strength and cardiovascular endurance. You ALL will have your hands full training for the next couple of years to be competitive and in the top 10–20% of the class who finish.
See video on Nasty Nick that this Obstacle Course Event is modeled after — Fundraiser for Green Beret Foundation
If you are an aspiring Special Ops candidate, there are many things you can do to prepare. Whether you want to go Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines Special Ops, you need to be able to move through obstacle courses and learn to move with weight in a back pack. The US Army Special Forces Obstacle Course called the “Nasty Nick” is a challenging event during the Selection Phase of training for future Green Berets. Now, Special Ops candidates as well as civilians looking for a fun racing event can do an obstacle course based on the Nasty Nick, but sadistically placed on a mountain ski slope. The former Special Forces operators at GORUCK are creating such and event to raise month for the Green Beret Foundation. See More Info: GORUCK Nasty.
Military Bootcamp – it’s all about pushing your body physically to the limit and a bunch of mental challenges that keep you going and responding under extreme conditions and fatigue. Push-ups, pull-ups, and miles of running in combat boots humping your pack uphill.
When you workout, the results from the physical side of military life is easy to see. You do dumbbell curls and your bicep grows; you bench press and your pecs grow; you run enough and it starts to get easier. After a while you feel physically fit for deployment.
But how do you prepare for the mental side of deployment?
This isn’t just about being dropped on foreign soil miles from family and homemade apple pie. This is about the unexpected smells, sights and sounds of war.
Are you ready for the smell of death, burning flesh, or watching the guys you trained with be caught in the line of fire?
Training in the summer months takes some special consideration especially if you live in a hot and humid environment like the South, East Coast and Midwest. However, training in arid and hot environments like the Southwest and Western U.S. require the same considerations. Dryer climates can actually be more dangerous as you do not sweat to stay cool (it just evaporates almost instantly) — but you will notice salt stains on clothing just the same.
Here is a question from a trainer down in Charleston, who needed some ideas other than the typical “stay well hydrated, avoid the heat of the day, etc…”