In September of 2015, my military athlete lab rats had just finished up an intense strength and endurance cycle, which became Fortitude – the first in our “virtue” series of training plans.
Fortitude marked a significant shift in my programming approach – both on the military and mountain side. I’d come to suspect – and working through Fortitude confirmed, that we had a “hole” in our programming on the endurance side.
Previously, our programming had a bias toward strength and work capacity. We did some endurance work – but not in a focused way. With Fortitude I decided to give endurance the focus it deserved, and what I learned changed my theory.
Endurance is tricky from a programming perspective. Done the typical method, there is little time for anything else. As well – not only is endurance cardio-focused and mode-specific, but there is an “endurance” element for joints and connective tissue as well.
Prior to Fortitude, we could go out, on a given day, and run or ruck 10 miles, and do reasonably well. But the next day … joints, muscles and connective tissue would be fired up.
I knew my programming needed to address these deficiencies – better mode-specific cardio efficiency and performance, and volume/durability training for muscles and joints.
The best way to do both was to do only endurance (running and ruck running). But this had a cost – strength and work capacity atrophy.
With Fortitude, I was able to bridge the gap between pure endurance work, time constraints, and maintaining strength and work capacity.
Ultimately I programmed high intensity (load), low volume (reps) barbell-based strength training, with volume-based, moderate pace endurance (running and ruck running). In the training week, we were also able to find room for work capacity and focused core work.
Fortitude laid the foundation for Valor, Humility, and Resilience – and at least one more plan to come.
This March I updated Fortitude and made a few changes. I eliminated Garbage Reps from the Plan and updated the core work based on our latest Chassis Integrity Theory.
Also, the exercise menu is reduced – making the strength work more focused, efficient and effective. I replaced Pull-ups with Weighted Pull-ups to build on the work done in Humility and finally, I pushed the plan to 7 weeks and added a final strength re-assessment/unload week.
Ultimately, Fortitude is my best plan to develop a solid base of military fitness, and more and more often, it’s where I recommend guys begin our programming.