QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Rob and the Military Athlete Team –
Kudos: I love your programming. Period. I usually follow the Operator Sessions (OS), but transition to specific plans if needed. I am preparing for the Special Forces Readiness Evaluation/Assessment Drill (SFRE/SFAD), aka, the local SF unit “try-out”. Your Q&A is really helpful. While you don’t have a specific SFRE/SFAD program, you recommended the PAST plan and dropping the swimming portion. I did so, and filled in the swimming holes with a little more APFT work and some lifting (i.e. a The Exercise and Barbell Complex Day)
I’ve improved in the following areas between the first and second assessment
Push-up: 11% improvement
Sit-up: 13% improvement
Pull-up: 25% improvement
Air Squat: 35% improvement
4-ct Flutter Kick: 29% improvement
2-mile Run: 3% improvement (I was already a pretty good runner)
6-mile Run: 5% improvement
Ruck – taking my second assessment coming up.
So thank you so much for this! Its amazing.
In case you don’t know, the SFRE/SFAD screening consists of an APFT, 5-mile ruck-run @ 45#, swim test, rope climb and pull-ups over 2-days.
Comment: Lots of flack kicked up after the post about women in SF. I guess it is a topic for discussion, since the Services (and even Military Athlete) have two physical standards based on gender and it seems to be one of the focuses as of late. But one reason I was turned off (and away) from crossfit was that they started using their site(s) as a soapbox forcing us to listen to non-fitness related crap. I used to run my own pseudo-blog site on Facebook which I shut down because of these reason. It just seems that posted stuff like that goes down that road and moves away from the idea of the ‘quiet professional.’ We should, and we will, execute our mission regardless of the standards set on us for higher. We really have no choice. Its either go on mission or quit because you don’t like the rules. Its your site obviously, but my personal style is to say “I’m here to workout. No comment on anything else.”
Question: As I stated, I LOVE your APFT program, it works. There are some folk in my unit that well – could use some improvement. I have been making them buy the program to A) use on their own and B) because it seemed dishonest to buy the program and then give it a few guys. It is proprietary after all and you and your folks put a lot of work into it. Is there a general rule of thumb for something like that? It would seem that buying one program for a fire team MIGHT be okay, but buying it for the 82nd ABN DIV would be straight theft. Thoughts? I want to do right by you and my honor.
Thanks for the kudos!
Understand your comments on non-fitness stuff on the site. You have a point.
APFT and other plans are copyrighted and thus covered by copyright law. Means you can’t copy it and distribute, or forward it on electronically to individual members.
If a team leader wanted to use the plan to train his entire team – i.e. one copy, everyone trains together – that’s fine. But he couldn’t make copies and give to everyone on this team so they could train individually. Subtle, but important difference.
I actually had a battalion buy some of the plans with the intention to distribute them to the entire battalion personnel – which would have been a huge violation of copyright.
So, that last work capacity cycle was fairly rough, and one point of contention for not only but another guy out with me here were the ruck mile repeats. The sessions were all legit do not get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the programming as you hear time and time over again. The mile repeats with a ruck were brutal, but a little bit more mentally, I found. At least the wear on my body, coupled with the complete exertion, created a mind rape, and this is what I’ve discovered in the past, you cannot win. You can’t beat the ruck, and each mile repeats with a ruck, ended up feeling like punishment, yes I had to check my attitude, but the really shame was that myself nor my colleague did not improve our times. For me: 1st session – 7:51, 8:16. 2nd session – 7:49,8:18,8:44. 3rd – 7:50, 8:24, 8:55. So my times stagnated, in the least did not improve and it felt kinda of unnecessarily brutal on my system. Now, the mental aspect is top notch training, but if the goal is to be able to carry weight as fast as possible over a mile or so, in combat than it is excellent conditioning, I’m not just not convinced the mile repeats themselves, will improve my ruck 1 mile time. nor my overall ruck time.
Thanks again for what you do, and again sorry for the long email, just interested to read what you have to tell me.
For that cycle we used the 1-Mile Ruck Run Repeats for work capacity conditioning. My times didn’t improve either – on the repeats.
But in several of our sport specific training plans, we deploy a 5-mile ruck run assessment at 45#, and use the 1-mile repeats to train for it. For these efforts, we actually dictate the athlete’s 1-mile times, and we’ve had great success in using the repeats/interval times to increase speed for the 5-mile assessment.
Yes – I agree they are fairly brutal mentally – but I don’t agree they are brutal physically. The weight adds a good strength element to the effort, which added with the cardio hit, makes just about a perfect work capacity event. We’ve done lots of these now and don’t feel any more beat up from them than from other efforts.
However, you’re running a lot faster (at sub 8-minutes) than any of us old lab rats…… I think my fastest mile was 9:30 (yikes!)
I been a member of a CrossFit box of and on since 2009. My husband subscribes to Military Athlete. I know there is a section on your webpage that explains the differences between the two styles and I think I get most of the terminology. What I want to know is how is the coaching different? How many women use your program, can I get the performance I want, and support from your program?
I know we can follow you online and there are videos for demonstration. I have felt at CrossFit Boxes that if I am not interested in the Games, Masters, or pushing myself to exhaustion they stop coaching. If you have an injury they are suppose to modify; but I don’t see a whole lot of that. I now WOD at home but I am looking to improve my times, endurance, and lifts SAFELY. Thanks
1) See below for our overall approach and differences from CrossFit. This is also found on our FAQ and Q&A button on the site: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=50
WHAT MAKES MILITARY ATHLETE DIFFERENT?
1) We train for performance outside the gym. Our programming is focused on training which transfers to tactical performance and durability. Gym numbers are meaningless. All that matters is outside performance.
2) Strength Focus. The best thing we can do for our athletes is make them stronger. Strength is the foundation of performance and durability. We train full body strength heavy, hard and often, using classic, proven barbell and strongman exercises. Beyond full body strength, we hammer the core and midsection daily, and often dedicate whole training sessions to building our athlete’s core strength. Our strength training is aimed at the athlete’s "Combat Chasis" – legs, hips and core.
3) We build durability. By developing overall strength, core strength and hip and shoulder mobility, we aim to make our athletes more durable. Industrial athletes such as soldiers and mountain guides depend on their fitness and bodies for their livelihood. Avoiding injury from trauma or overuse keeps them on the battlefield and on the mountain. Strength + Mobility = Durability.
4) Our training sessions are periodized and programmed. We are uncomfortable with random training. We like to know where we are going.
5) We understand the "burden" of constant fitness, and program accordingly. Professional soldiers can never allow themselves to get out of shape, but constant training can easily lead to staleness and boredom. Our programming cycles through emphasis on different training attributes, strives to introduce new exercises, and builds in both very intense depletion days and easier, recovery "unload" weeks to both challenge and protect the athlete.
6) Constant improvement. Our programming today is much different then 12 months ago, and will be different again 12 months from now. The more we coach, the more we learn, and that increased knowledge is continually folded into training programming and training session design. We are constantly making changes to improve. We can always do better.
7) We didn’t invent this stuff. In our programming, session design, and exercise selection we draw from and stand on the shoulders of giants: Dan John, Greg Glassman, Mark Twight, Joe Kenn, Mark Rippetoe, Louie Simmons, Alwyn Cosgrove, Vern Gambetta, Greg Everett, Josh Everett, Pat O’Shea, Mark Verstegen and many, many others who help us grow and improve through their insight, knowledge, explanation, and innovation.
8) We’re our own "Lab Rats." We do these training sessions too – ahead of when they are published on the website. We understand that programming and training session design are as much craft as they are science, and there’s not substitute for the coach writing the training sessions to do them also. We try and test it before we publish it.
HOW DOES MILITARY ATHLETE PROGRAMMING DIFFER FROM CROSSFIT?
– Focus in on field performance, not gym performance: CrossFit is "the sport of fitness" – and gym numbers/exercises are paramount. We understand that for Military Athletes, all that matters is outside performance. This allows us to constantly modify/change/improve our programing as we learn and evolve.
– Programming Detail: Military Athlete training sessions are thoroughly periodized, programmed and designed. Nothing is random about our training sessions.
– Fluid Periodization: Military Athlete mesocycles have a cyclic emphasis which rotates between strength, work capacity and stamina. To our knowledge, typcial CrossFit programming does not deploy periodization or mesocycles of any type.
– Bias toward Strength: Military Athlete programming has a bias towards relative strength, as opposed to the work capacity emphasis of CrossFit programming.
– Volume and Training Session Length: Military Athlete programming pushes more volume, and its training sessions are longer than typical CrossFit WOD’s. Strength and Work Capacity sessions are designed to be 60 minutes long. Stamina Sessions can be 60-120 minutes long, and include 2-a-days.
– Training Schedule: The Military Athlete Base Fitness training schedule is typically 4 days on, 3 days off, as opposed to the 3:1 CrossFit WOD schedule.
– Durability Included: Mobility and durability drills are included in these training sessions, sometimes worked into strength circuits, and sometimes worked into durability-only circuits.
– Focused Core Strength Training: Several sessions included dedicated and focused core strength training circuits. We believe a strong midsection is essential to durability and our programming reflects this.
– Not every training session or circuit is a race: Circuits or other training session parts which are “for time” or are to be sprinted through are clearly indicated in this training plan. Unless the training plan calls for “for time” or “sprint effort” work briskly, not frantically. In general, these sprint efforts will be relegated to parts of Work Capacity training sessions.
2) How is the coaching different? Since you’ll be training remotely, I won’t be there to coach you. I have no answer for you here and I’m not sure what you’re looking for.
2) Women? – I honestly don’t know. It’s fair to say the vast majority of the users are men – just like the vast majority of soldiers are men. Our sessions are scaled for women, and women do use them.
3) Performance you want? We’ve been doing this for 7 years and our programming has proven itself. Also – it’s not stagnant, we are constantly learning, evolving and hopefully improving. The programming is solid, but it’s useless unless you train, eat and rest, like a professional athlete.
4) Recommendation – I think you’ll see a difference when you experience our programming. In general, I’d recommend you stop working out, and start training.
Rather than jumping in with the Operator Sessions, I’d recommend you start with one of our base fitness training plans through the website store – specifically the Bodyweight Training Program: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=56&&cart_ID=96
This will give you a good taste of what we do here.
Hey Rob I noticed that you suggest a Paleo type of Diet during the week and one day a week go nuts with what you want. I’m curious as to how to get enough energy for the intense Operators Sessions with no Carbs to keep you from bonking during or before the workout or before a intense mission or excersie. Also with a lot of guys here in my Squadron doing Paleo I’m wondering how it stacks up with what I’ve read from special operations Nutrition guide put out by the Navy. The information for Nutrition is just so vast with fads and bullshit that I get confused on what is good and bad.
No wheat/bread does not mean no carbs. Veggies and fruit have carbs.
This diet works for us and generally energy isn’t an issue for the Operator Sessions. For some stamina sessions we do take gels such as Gu.
I’m not familiar with the Navy’s guide.
I am running an adventure race in South America crossing the Andes mountains from Chile to Argentina. It is three days total covering about 20 miles a day. I used your ruck-based selection program before and had great results at my selection course. I am training for this race in Buenos Aires, which is basically at sea level and has very little elevation change. Do you have any suggestions? I know if I just focus on long distance my legs will get crushed. The race is in February so I have some time. Would you recommend your ruck-based selection program with some substitutions. I was thinking maybe removing the rucks and doing some longer distance runs. Let me know what you think. Thanks.
I’d recommend you move over to the Mountain Athlete side and do our Ultra Running Pre-Season Training Program: http://www.mountainathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=51&&cart_ID=65
First off I want to thank you and your staff for making some excellent programs. I used your Ruck Based Selection Program before going to SFAS and it was amazing! To be honest I was probably over prepared but it really was a great training program.
Anyway I am cadet at West Point and a member of the climbing team at school and I will be running our training programs for the upcoming year. The issue I have with our training in the past is that we have an awesome climbing wall and training facility but I do not think we use the full potential of either. One of our big problems when it comes to training is that we have 20 people on the team. So getting everyone into the weight room can be difficult. We mainly we stick to bodyweight training and unfortunately it becomes monotonous. With only 2 hours to train 4 days a week what program would you recommend? Or do you think that your programs might not be feasible for the amount of people we have in the time constraints given?
Thank you again for your time and everything you and your staff does for both climbers and military personnel.
Start with our Rock Climb Training Program: http://www.mountainathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=49&&cart_ID=67
The focus of this program is climbing technique, forearm and finger strength, and climbing-specific stamina. It includes some general fitness training, but the focus is climbing. It will bring structure and progression to your climbing gym-sessions, build core strength, and general fitness/work capacity.
Good morning. I’m a marine stationed at camp Pendleton. First I’d like to thank you for these kick ass workouts. Im making better gains than any other program I’ve done.
As for my question, I’ve got a lot of white space in my future at the moment. Im looking at around a year before I hit my next crossroads leading to my next step, as of now, it will be the a&s for marsoc. I’ve been struggling with developing a weekly plan that incorporates the operator sessions, aerobic/anaerobic runs, hiking and ruck runs. I was wondering if I could get any advice or suggestions. thank you for your time, and again thank you for the workouts! have a good one
Options C. –
1) Continue with the Operator Sessions and in the evenings do the Running Improvement Program first (http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=56&&cart_ID=104), then the Swimming Improvement Program (This should be published this week)
2) Cancel your subscription to the Operator Sessions and push yourself by completing one of our other selection programs. I’d recommend the CCT/PJ/CRO Plan – which includes both swimming, bodyweight, rucking, running, ruck running, etc. This plan is full on. http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=52&&cart_ID=92, and will help you identify the "chinks" in your armor before A&S (rucking, swimming, running, etc.)
3) Continue to switch between the Operator Sessions or one of the Strength Plans, and one of our sport specific plans. For example, after CCT/PJ/CRO, drop back into the Operator Sessions or complete one of the strength plans, then complete another sport specific training plan. On on the Mountain Athlete side you might "enjoy" is the Peak Bagger Training Plan: http://www.mountainathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=49&&cart_ID=57
4) Complete the MARSOC A&S plan directly before selection.
I’m a junior enlisted SIGINTer with a few questions about your programming:
1) Your programming is good and hits a lot on specificity; so why hasn’t the military contracted you out to design it’s PT regimens?
2) What’s your stance on Army PRT? Think its worth a damn?
3) I recently decided to join a crossfit gym to supplement our lousy Army PT; I’m trying to do both Monday through Friday. Would it be good to add an Operator Session in there on weekends, or would you think I’d be pushing it?
1) I’m not sure what your angle is here, but its sounds like a question for the Army, not me.
2) It’s not too bad, actually.
3) You’d be pushing it.
I did a Goruck Challenge last year, made it though, barely. Purchased your Goruck Challenge program, then got injured. So, I postponed my next challenge and heavy. Fast forward to the summer where for the past six weeks I’ve done the Goruck PT daily workouts at a gym I have access to only with my summer job (teacher). I move back home in a few days and was curious as to my progress. So, I tried your Operator Ugly Test. The results were stark.
Bp-0, I couldn’t get past three reps of the warmup at 135
Fs-0, I could do 5 reps at 135, 3 at 160.
Sbgu- 11.5 (60 lbs sand plus 4 bricks)
Total 63.5, Didn’t do the run considering how lousy my score was.
I’m not in the military, but want to be fit. The occasional Goruck challenge, 5K, basketball game, cyclocross race is what I’d like to be ready for. I’m 37, 6’2" and about 195. My injury in November was a bunch of torn ligaments in my ribs, I re-injured it slightly last week and my thought was I didn’t have enough upper body strength, which I clarified here. My question is where do I go from here? I am going to try and find $ for a gym membership, but it’s clear I have some imbalances.
The best thing I can do for you is get you stronger. I’d recommend beginning with the Rat 6 Strength Program: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=55&&cart_ID=84
Just wanted to pass along my thanks to you as I have successfully completed my first ever GORUCK event (San Francisco, Heavy Class 012).
Although it was absolutely an oversight on my part to have not followed any of your ruck based plans for the event (my feet have paid dearly for it) I firmly believe that your Operator Sessions prepared me for everything else at the event, not the least of which was my mindset.
So, although my feet are now white, blistered, and lacking sensation in parts as I had never rucked further than 6 miles in kit before, I want to thank you for the great work that you’ve done and continue to do for guys like me who are too hard headed to think that finding a good sock system or rucking long distances is worth the time out of their day (because those guys just don’t know how to embrace the suck, right?). Your Operator Sessions made everything else from the PT sessions to the mind games far more manageable than had I not been following your programming.
Thanks again, and I have your Selection plan loaded up in the cart as I’m writing this. For the next GORUCK event I face, I’ll be better prepared.
Hope all is well! I had a quick question for you. Which of your programs do you think would be best suited for an individual wanting to attend RASP? I wasn’t quite sure as to which program would be best geared towards the physical requirements at RASP and knew you would be better suited to answer.
Thanks so much for your help! I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good one!
Building a RASP plan is on my list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. However, I feel the Ruck Plan would prepare you very well: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=52&&cart_ID=45
I have 5 of your programs, including Go Ruck and Go Ruck Heavy. I’m planning on doing the Bataan Memorial Death March (heavy division) and saw you have a plan for it. Do you feel I should get the plan for it considering I have the Go Ruck plans?
The GoRuck events and the Death March are quite different. This doesn’t mean you need to purchase the Bataan Plan, but that event isn’t multi-modal like the GoRucks – all you’re going to be doing is rucking for one extended time.
The longest single mode ruck in GoRuck Selection plan is 12 miles – and you’ll want to have done at least an 18 miler before the Bataan event – so modify the plan accordingly.
Recently my teammates and I began the 357 Strength program. The question I have is when there are rounds specified for example 9 rounds that have three exercises, should there be any rest between rounds?, or just go until all rounds are complete and rest when needed? We have completed day one of the program, and are looking forward to the next six weeks of it.
This is a strength cycle, and the goal is to lift as heavy as possible during the strength exercises. The sessions are a string of CrossFit WOD’s stacked together.
Most of the strength circuits include a mobility or durability exercise. This exercise, and weight changes on the bar are your "working rest" between strength sets.
Unless the circuit dictates "for time" – or is an interval or density event, work briskly, not frantically.
I’m sure you get this question a lot. Is there a brand of Creatine that you recommend? Just completed my ultra distance marathons season and need to build muscle. I will deploying to Afghanistan next year…
Hope all is well with your training!
Ps which program you recommend I order from you to get good strength base
Creatine? – I buy my whey protein and creatine from t-nation.com.
Strength Base? Rat 6 Strength Plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=55&&cart_ID=84
I’m am interested in the arm injury work out i am having surgery on 8
August tendoniess on my right shoulder along with several other
arthroscopic surgeries on same shoulder how soon could I start on the
work out the army doctors are saying two months seems like a little
long to me what have you seen executed
The Arm Injury program isn’t a rehab program or physical therapy for your shoulder. The plan works your body around the injury – i.e. we leave that bad limb alone.
How Soon to Start – our plan includes step ups and jumping, etc. – so even though we don’t work your recovering shoulder, it will get jostled around. You need to be able to handle this before starting our plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=57&&cart_ID=50