Q&A 8.27.20

QUESTION

I recently purchased the USAF PFT plan; loving it so far. My training focus is to meet & exceed USAF PFT standards so I can put myself forward as a good candidate for my state air national guard unit. Since everything is on pause thanks to COVID, I have much longer than 6 weeks before a PFT is even on the table.
As such, my questions are as follows:
1) Are there any kettlebell exercises I can implement alongside this plan for increased muscle growth & overall performance?
2) If so, what training scheme should those movements follow?
3) On non-training days, is following a ruck protocol (30-40lbs pack for 5-10 miles) every other week doable or ill-advised?
Thank you in advance for your help & an extra big thanks for the great plans you all create.

ANSWER

1&2) No … not if your intention is to maximize your performance on the PFT. The PFT plan’s focus is on the PFT events, and the volume and intensity pushes, but also allows for recovery.
3) Depends on if you’re making the prescribed run intervals in the plan. If not, pull back.
The USAF PFT Training Plan is specifically designed to prepare you for the events on the assessment. It’s not a general fitness plan, overall fitness plan, or even a good day to day plan for military athletes. We recommend you complete the plan exclusively the 6 weeks directly before your assessment.
You could complete the plan exclusively now, then drop into some mission-direct base fitness programming, then re-complete the plan directly before your assessment.
Given your questions, my guess is rather than a PFT-specific plan, you’re looking for a mission-direct training plan for military athletes which deploys kettlebells for strength work, work capacity, and endurance (run/ruck), look at the Kettelbell/Dumbbell Working Strength.
– Rob

QUESTION
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m going to try to keep this brief so here is the bullet point format.

I’ve been reading a ton of Q&A, watching YouTube videos, etc. and I’m stuck. I’m sure you have heard this story before…

I’m 5’10, 180lbs, male.
Currently:
– Was on active duty a while ago – much of my career was on and off PT failure.
– Returned to the Army Reserves this past Nov after a 6-year break in service
– Started with the Tactical Barbell base building and then moved into operator before COVID-19 shut my shit down.
– Took a diagnostic APFT in Feb, barely passed the run at 18:09  (was still in the base building in TB and I personally was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. Happy I passed but pathetic none the less)
– Career counselor saw me volunteering (Military Explorers) and got me in a Drill Sergeant unit as a DS candidate slot this month.
– DS unit has a 5-day training starting Monday, with APFT at zero dark thirty. And I heard the unit does an APFT every month. I assume until Oct when the ACFT goes into effect.
– Current training program since COVID-19 has just been long endurance runs. Just recently (2 weeks ago) I started intervals because I realized my pace is still at 9 min/mile. Sure, I can run it for a 10K but what good is that on a PT test…
– Have huge test anxiety that I’ll fail.
Needs:
– Need a plan that I can continue throughout the year.
– Need a plan that will get me to max the APFT/ACFT when the time comes around. (I’m sick and tired of being a slug at these tests. I want to show up on test day for the excitement of an easy workout and be happy and positive that I can be competitive. Not sitting in the parking lot at the test site scared shit, I’m going to fail)
Current Equipment:
– Wife authorized me a couple of weeks ago to purchase home gym equipment within reason given COIVD-19 prices.
– Bought hex/trap bar, weight bench, dumbells with 1″ plates up with 120lbs, Gym rings from the basement ceiling, power rack for dips/pull-ups. (Can’t find and can’t afford plates for hex bar right now. Same with kettlebells. With this COVID-19prices).
Can you help?

ANSWER

Follow it up with the Kettlebell/Dumbbell Working Strength Training Plan. This plan trains strength, work capacity, chassis integrity (core), and endurance (run intervals, rucking).
This will take you out 3-4 months … email back on the other side with your progress and equipment updates.
Finally – fix your diet. At 5’10”, 180 you’re not obviously fat, but your slow running time and past issues with the APFT has me wondering if not about your overall bodyweight, perhaps about your body fat percentage. Here are our nutritional recommendations.
My understanding is Oct. was the implementation date for the ACFT, but this may have been pushed out back a year because of COVID …  so you might want to check that.
– Rob

QUESTION

I had my first SFRE was this past week and it honestly punched me in the mouth.  Leading up to it I had done a few 5-6 heavy rucks (62-91bs) varying from 2-8 mile distances, a lot of .25 interval training 4,6,8, and 10 reps over the weeks (starting April 15) and a few 2 – 3 mile runs during the hottest part of the days to climatize.  During that time I was also doing a few different cross fit type work outs mixed in with a modified 5,3,1 plan on bench, shoulder press and dead lift.  I also did a few open water swims and was in the pool at least once a week for some low impact cardio. I had improved my VO2 from 44 to 45 in about a month.

Here were my results on the SFRE PT test:
53 push ups
67 sit ups
16:52 2 mile run – this was the worst part and probably the most surprising.  I wanted to jump inside a garbage can.  My last 2 mile was a 13:36 (but was in October…).

We got maybe 2-3 hours of sleep (pt test was at 0300), temp was in the low 80s and it  was lightly raining (humidity was probably 100%).  We also had to run it in pants which was a change.  There was a slight elevation change but it didn’t seem like a significant training factor (trained at 105 ft and tested at 558 ft).

I’m starting the SFRE plan tomorrow and following it exactly for the next 7 weeks. My next SFRE isn’t until mid Oct – my thought process is to just restart it following completion of week 7.  What do you recommend?  Thanks for your time and feedback.

ANSWER

By my count, you’ve got 11 weeks until mid October. I’d recommend taking a full week off now …. or doing some maintenance work, then starting the plan.
That gives you 10 weeks. Pound through weeks 1-4, rest week 5, then re-start the plan’s week 5. Repeat week 5 and 6 in the plan (do 5 twice, do 6 twice), then time it so you complete week 7 the week before SFRE.
– Rob

QUESTION
Hope this email finds you well.  I wanted to write because I’m interested in using your plans to start training with an eye towards getting a billet either to BUD/S as an officer or to CRO selection when I graduate college next spring (so I have a solid year to prepare—a lot of time).  To give you some background, I tore my ACL about a year ago and, while it’s healed now, I’ve gotten well out of shape, so best to assume I’m starting from scratch at this point.  In addition, because of Covid, I don’t have access currently to a gym or pool, so I have no way to work on the swimming piece and all other exercise will be confined to low-equipment training for now.  With all this in mind, how would you recommend proceeding?

ANSWER

Start with the Gym Closure I Training Plan and follow it up with the Gym Closure II Training Plan.
These will kickstart your fitness training and take you out 14 weeks.
Check back after these two plans to see where you’re fitness is and if any gyms/pools have opened up.
– Rob

QUESTION
I’m a 22 year old male that will be joining the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) within the next year. My goal is to be selected for the elite Sayeret Matkal unit. I’m writing this email to see which MTI program is most appropriate for me.
For some context, selection for all IDF special forces units entails lots of running (distance and sprints in the sand), crawling in the sand, calisthenics, loaded stretcher carries, and sandbag exercises.
There isn’t exactly a formal fitness test like there is in the American military, but there is a 3k run, which competitive candidates will run under 12:00.
To prepare, I’m currently working with a running coach, and I’m looking for a strength program that would complement my running routine well.
I’m coming off an injury currently, so my weekly mileage is pretty low, but my coach told me that we’d build up to around 30 miles a week. That said, I’m looking for a strength program that would fit into my running schedule well.
For some further context, I would say I’m at a pretty decent strength level; I can do 80-100 pushups and over 20 pull-ups consistently when I test, and my lift PRs are 425 on deadlift and 275 on bench at 5’8” 175 lbs.
Please get back to me when you can and let me know what strength program you think would be best for me considering my goals. Thanks!

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Big 3 + 5-Mile Run Training Plan now. You can use the running programming in the plan and fire your running coach, or keep your running coach and just use the strength programming in the plan.
Afterward, drop into the plans/order in the Virtue Series of plans, beginning with Humility.
The 7 weeks before you enter the IDF, I’d recommend re-completing Humility.
Good luck.
– Rob

QUESTION

I ran across your website and just wanted to reach out and congratulate you on a descent job that you have done. To be honest, I stumbled onto your page while looking for info on Cooper Fitness for law enforcement. I’m a guy that is looking being 50 y.o. in a few months and out of shape. I feel compelled to accept the challenge of going into law enforcement as others are running from it. I’m a former U.S. Marine and currently Emergency RN that has been sitting too long while studying for my masters degree.

I was lifting weights and working out 18 months ago but suffered some terrible tendonitis in my elbows which seemed to evaporate my resolve. I know I will need guidance and wisdom to keep me from getting injured as I get back into shape again. Are you able to help and how successful have you been with everything being virtual and online. I hope to hear back from you soon.

ANSWER

Also – fix your diet. Here are our recommendations.
Email on the other side of Bodyweight Foundation with your progress and LE entry schedule.
Good luck!
– Rob

QUESTION
Do you have a recommendation for a progression into the TACP technical school training plan? I couldn’t find a specific package designed to build into it.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Virtue Packet of plans.
– Rob

QUESTION
Looking for advice in the fastest way to adapt to heat. I’ll be going to SFAS 26AUG, and I’m currently doing the ruck based selection program for the third time. I’ve been working out during peak heat in Washington to try to get as close to what it will be like in NC.
We had the first real heatwave this week this last weekend/ week (80-95 degrees), which just happened to be during an evaluation period and I’ve noticed I can sustain for about 25 minutes before I hit a wall. I feel like I have more in the tank, want to push more, but am absolutely smoked after that point.
If the answer is I need to GTF over it and it’s just weak heart syndrome, feel free to tell me and ignore the rest of this email.
I’m just looking for any advice to speed up acclimating to heat. Is this more hydration during the day? I’m also considered swapping out the 2 mile repeats for longer runs (7 to 9 miles) during peak heat. Should I sit in a sauna regularly, wear long johns during the day, really anything to help acclimate better? After 25 minutes my run paces will drop by about a minute per mile, maybe more. Not ideal.
Any advice is appreciated, thanks for your time.

ANSWER

If possible, work to do your training in the heat of the day, stay hydrated and be patient. You’ll adapt.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m 45 and can go into the mountains whenever (I am a teacher now but we are off all summer and I teach remotely anyway). In A typical week, I try to strength train 2-3x, ride MTB 2x and do something most of a day on foot (climbing, ski touring or hiking).

Thanks!

ANSWER

SF45 Bravo – from our SF45 Programming for athletes ages 45-55.
Strength 2 days/week using our density progression. Endurance can be on your bike – you can do your MTB stuff as now on a trail, or follow the assessment/progression in the plan.
Take Friday as a rest if you’re headed hard in the mountains on the weekend.
– Rob

QUESTION
First let me say that your plans come highly recommended.
I just received a TOL for a federal agency, which means I am potentially 3-6 months out from a fitness test, and an additional 2-4 months from FLETC. None of your plans seem to be geared for my agency as it is currently configured. Furthermore, I am also doing triathlon training so I do not need any cardio endurance programming. I’m already achieving passing scores in all categories, but I want to crush the test.
Do you have any plans that emphasize push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, while keeping in some strength and hypertrophy work so that I don’t show up emaciated or unable to lift liters, ammo cans, etc? I thought about just taking all of the conditioning work out of your Ranger School or TACP plans, but I figured it’d be better to ask if there is a better option before modifying/futzing around with one of your plans.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing from you. Even if there is no good fit and I have to find a plan elsewhere, I’ll still patronize you somewhere down the line for selection prep.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Monday, Tuesday and Thursday Sessions from Bourbon based on what you describe.
Bourbon comes from our Spirits Packet for full time patrol/detectives and it’s the one plan in my current library which combines bodyweight strength and hypertrophy training (upper body).
These sessions are designed to be 45-50 minutes, and you should be able to work your tri training in and around them. Depending on your soreness/recovery, you may want to pull the lower body strength work from the plan if/when it start to impact your tri training.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am signed up to attend a Special Forces Readiness Evaluation (SFRE) on January 07, which is approximately 21 weeks away. I am tracking the 7-week SFRE plan directly prior to the tryouts. What two plans would you recommend prior to SFRE?

To give you an idea of where I’m at, strength has generally been my strong suit, whereas I typically need to focus on endurance. The two (2) programs I have looked at doing are Humility and Fortitude. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER

I’d recommend you complete the SFRE Plan now, then complete Fortitude, then re-complete the SFRE Plan directly before selection.
– Rob

QUESTION
I’m finishing up the LE patrol program “whiskey” and really liking it, I started looking into you other programs and noticed you have programs for HRT section, devgru, and even CAG. Purely out of curiosity, do you work with these units to develop the training programs? It seems as if they would want to be all secret squirrel about their training regimes.

ANSWER

No. We began developing selection-specific selection plans years ago at the request of athletes heading to the different selections. Our process to develop any even-specific plan begins with the specific fitness demands of the event. Much of this information is public – like CAG’s long walk and rucking/orienteering emphasis, DEVGRU’s Legacy Test, the HRT gate assessment, SFAS gate PFT/ruck and team events, etc.
We learn what we can from public information, then ask those requesting the plans what they know of the fitness demands. By then we generally have enough to develop the plan. Then we get feedback – as much as is possible – from athletes who have used the plans for selection. Then we iterate, improve and update. In general, we’ve found that while individual cadre will change selection demands around the fringes, it seems the core fitness demands of each selection remains the same, and this is what we program for.
Been doing this for nearly 15 years and many athletes have used our programs successfully to prepare for the fitness demands of selections. But the fitness demands are only one part of selection, as you know. Much more is involved and we’ve known a handful of athletes who’ve made it through selection, but weren’t selected.
The tone of your question suggests we pull this stuff out of our ass. To be clear, we don’t.
If we can’t learn enough about a selection to design a plan, it isn’t designed. One example is the Canadia JTF2 selection. Many athletes have asked for a JTF2 Plan but I just haven’t been able to learn enough about the fitness demands of that event to confidently design programming for it.
Respectfully,
– Rob Shaul

QUESTION
I was recently selected at SFAS after using your workout train up.  I greatly appreciate your programming and methodology in determining how to accomplish specific goals/benchmarks.
1) I wanted to mention, your programming seems to train people to ‘crush’ the gate week, or 1st week at SFAS.  However, I wondered if you all had considered increasing weight and distances low carrying to accommodate the demands of team week?
2) I’ve read through your article on the ferrari vs. dodge pickup and what performs better in durability events at Land Nav, and have definitely determined I am unfortunately a Ferrari that gets trashed at land nav durability situations.  Is there a way to overcome this for potential future selections?
3) I am assigned an SF dive team and the majority of the members go with various CrossFit or selection programs they vaguely keep to in order to best maintain physical standards or prep for deployment.  I wanted to see if you all had a recommendation for SF teams and the demands they usually encounter?
I wanted to once again thank you, Rob, for your programming and for having gone through the process of developing so much helpful training.  Every chance I got, I continue to direct people to your website and programming.

ANSWER

Congrats on selection!
Answers/Responses ….
1) The work capacity events in the plan are designed to prepare athletes for team week, as are the 2-a-day efforts. We haven’t received any feedback where that’s been an issue, but we can consider it.
2) More land nav
3) Our Pirate Series of plans are designed as day to day programming for military and LE SOF with water-based mission sets. These concurrently train strength, work capacity, endurance (run/ruck/swim), chassis integrity and tactical agility. We have two sets of these plans.
– Rob

QUESTION
I am a thirty year old green beret of 8 years that is dealing with osteoarthritis in both knees. In the past two years while continuing to deploy I have not ran at all to limit the amount of time I have left on my knees prior to needing surgery. I am now going to take over a team and have three months to train back up. I was wondering if there is a specific plan that you would recommend? I’ve been stuck in an administrative position for the last year and need to start back from the ground up.
Thanks

ANSWER

“start from the ground up” means you’ve been training but just not hard, or you haven’t trained in a year?
If you haven’t trained in a year, start with the Military OnRamp Training Plan.
If you’ve been training, but haven’t trained hard or seriously, start with Hector. You’ll be sore for a couple weeks.
Running? Not sure what to tell you there as it may or may not be part of the training you do with your team. If it is, you’ll need to start running again. If not, you can swap out the running in these plans for rucking. Go the same distance at 45# load.
– Rob

QUESTION
My apologies in advance for all of the background information, however, I have seen some pretty detailed questions on your website and I think the background may help you direct me.
Background:
I am a 35-year-old civilian, weigh 220 lbs, and am about 18-20% body fat. I have a long history of training, first with more bodybuilding type lifts and then started crossfit and did it consistently from 2009-2013.  I am an attorney so spend much of my day sitting at a desk when not working out.  I have worked out off and on in phases between 2013 and today, depending on my workload.  I generally prefer strength workouts – lower reps with more rest, but also enjoy short metcons. I am lower body dominant – I have always struggled with pull-ups, though in high school and just after, when I was 185 lbs to 200 lbs, I could crush push-ups (but my max bench was always pretty low).  Today, my bench max is roughly 245#, my deadlift max is 385#, and I can do about 4 strict pull-ups and 30 unbroken push-ups.  I live in Utah so have easy access to mountain trails for training/rucking and my home gym has everything I would need – barbells, sandbags, kettlebells, barbells, pull-up bars, etc.
Goal:  My goal is to go sign a Rep 63 contract and go to SFAS as a member of the National Guard.  I know I have an uphill battle, including as a result of my age (needing a waiver) and current physical condition – but I am committed to spending the next year to get in peak physical condition.  As a result of Covid, I have been working from home, and working less – which gives me much more time to train.
Question:  I am currently planning to sign up for your Athletes Subscription – ultimately I want to complete your entire updated “Ruck Based SFAS Selection” program, but wanted to know where to start.
I know that I need to get dramatically better at body weight movements (especially pull-ups and push-ups) and running and that the excess fat I am carrying is not helping me with these movements.  I am assuming that I should probably start with your fat loss program and get down to about 200# before moving to the ruck-based selection program, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you think something else would be a good place to start.
Also, should I stack the pull-up and/or push-up improvement programs with the fat loss? Or just focus on fat loss and diet and after losing weight, then go on to your other programs? My goal is to be ready to go to BCT by late-summer 2021, but I do not have any hard deadlines and would like to do this right to give myself the best shot possible.
Additionally, I have noticed I get the best results in a 2-3 training split, meaning 2 days on, one day off, 3 days on, one day off.  Because of my job, I feel like I have a hard time recovering (this may also be weight based) when going 5 days straight.  I notice many of your programs use 5 working days followed by 2 days of rest.  Any thoughts on whether I could break up the rest so it is not 2 days in a row, but instead there is one day of rest mid-week?
Lastly, do you offer any one-on-one type coaching – is there a way to pay for an hour or so of your time to check-in with progress and get updated feedback of which program to do next?
Again, my apologies for all of the details and all of the questions.  I am really excited about your training programs and would love any advice you can give me.

ANSWER

I’d recommend you work through the plans/order in the Ruck Based Selection Training Packet . You can purchase the packet or get a subscription but these are the plans/order I recommend.
Weight? Fix your diet and you’ll shed weight. Here are our nutritional recommendations:
One on one? Sorry, no. I’m just too busy.
As well, this stuff isn’t rocket science. Start the diet, follow the programming and you’re fat will disappear and fitness will improve. Just.Keep.Grinding
– Rob

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