Pioneers of the digital age noted the "information superhighway" has produced, amongst other things, a rapid surge of the sharing of knowledge. The future, they predicted, would be rife with educational opportunities via super-connectivity that would in turn enhance business efficiencies and improve the quality of life. Though there are many positive changes the digital age has ushered in, there are a number of aspects that have been quite negative.
Of the most basic assumptions of the digital delivery of information is that it would be accurate, based on fact and without hidden agenda. Unfortunately, with respects to many areas, including the health and fitness industry, information on the unregulated internet is not always accurate. Typically, those who believe they can magically attain their goals via a certain supplement or diet plan, all without a bit of old-fashioned hard work, are doomed to disappointment in the form of financial loss or unattained goals. There is one class of people, however, who have more to lose. For with those in military service, inaccurate information may not simply cause users to fall short of their goals. It may cost them their lives.
Military training, as it relates to preparedness, is decidedly different from common training in that the stakes are far higher. Indeed, one false move could cost lives. If there is a similarity with my standard approach to training it is that it is goal oriented, with knowledge of the needs of the individual. This is where the difference in the marketing of military training and actual needs differ from other training modes. While many in the exercise world inundate military people with notions of specific training mediums and protocols, they lack purpose and direction.
The first goal in military training, despite the "Hollywood" imagery, is survivability and managing the demands of soldiering. Survivability rests on the ability to manage highly tenuous situations by performing difficult physical and mental manuevers in the most destabilized of environments. As my good friend and noted authority in the area, Danny Dring, noted to me, "military personnel need to be able to handle the toughest of situations while having a complete overload of adrenaline rush." Physical training must always reflect the chaotic nature of the soldier's life ("the fog of war") with clear knowledge of psychological demands in combat.
Moving from this, training for the military must not only recognize the chaotic nature of soldiering (whereby the only predictable thing is unpredictability) while acknowledging that levels of fitness should be extremely high. This is obviously important for sustaining long taxing work in "the field" while maintaining absolute readiness. Borrowing upon my book "With Grace"
"This might be the most peculiar of areas to discuss because it is the lynchpin between the reality of the public's deplorable health levels and the need for appropriate training.
"Many will find my goals for general fitness both significantly higher then anything they’ve heard of and quite likely a regime that will redefine the modern Spartan.
"There has never been a time in history when such a high percentage of the public is obese. I would also go so far as to say that fitness expectations have never been lower and what were once very common abilities are now considered outstanding. Pedestrian physical abilities are glorified within the exercise genre and challenging skills are rarely discussed because it is far beyond the reach of what is seemed possible."
This has led to a situation where the military has an unfit pool of recruits to draw from. As evidence, extremely common abilities such as a 6 minute mile pace over 3 minutes grades out as the upper echelon and a barely passing grade of a physical education class thirty years ago is now the "upper" mark in the U.S. Army’s two-mile test.
|Table 1: US Army (2 mile test)|
Using VO2 max as a general guideline, this indicates a top level, for the 17-21 age bracket, of slightly above 47 with "passing" grade of 36. Sadly this is not acceptable and in a situation where adrenline is running amuck in a battle situation, such poor fitness levels can be catastrophic. Though it may seem draconion to some, my present goal with school physical education classes is a minimum 5.30 mile pace over two miles or preferably 5km in 18 minutes, which equate to at or slightly above a 55 VO2 max baseline for a teenaged male.
Resistance training needs to be simplified with the "broadest" of broad brush approaches in all-around development and without "wasted" musculature. Though I have been called the "father of functional training," I tend to prefer "purposeful training" whereby all development must suit the soldier's job and not bodybuilding culture or the like. Excessive muscular development is not needed and can be detrimental for the ultimate survivabilty goals and problematic in portability and tracking. The development of a lean physique must be the focal point with relative strength targeted via generalized bodyweight exercies and a firm eye towards advanced dynamic range of motion. With due respect, though some have suggested the military's phyiscal testing spectrum needs to be widened, it directly suits the needs and should be followed. Many individuals who have spent years developing their physique find their musculature not suited towards soldiering needs and in fact counter-productive. In addition to the entire "In Search of Power" series, standardized non-weighted calestenics, general bodyweight movements (i.e. pushups, Russian split jumps, pullups, chinups and challenging partner related movements) and speciality exercises (i.e. rope climb and swimming) should make up the program with minimal extraneous equipment. If there was one piece of equipment I'd suggest, it would be an Xvest to accommodate to the wearing of a flak jacket, though for those presently deployed, you should stick to the "real thing." Additional training mediums, ie. Kettlebells, Sandbags or traditional weights are "fine" but none is the panacea, despite the endless marketing claims. If you do not have them available, it will not be a significant issue. This point alone is crucial because all training must be cognescent of the eventual environment in which physical training will be put to the test. Quite naturally specialized attributes, while well beyond the scope of this article and within responsible journalism guidelines, need to be re-inforced at all times.
In summary, military training is focused upon survivability and managing the demands of soldiering. I am quite serious in assisting those who serve and though I never use it within marketing efforts, I take great pride in being of service. While I have not said this in the past, I appreciate the luxury ProSource has provided me in writing the first of this series and working together, we will continue to serve those who defend under the edict of honour, commitment and loyalty. From the day Renegade Training opened its cyber window, that has and always will be our "Code" and one that I hope each reader makes use of and embodies. Though I did not mention it, I never put services to the military "up for sale" as it will always be provided without cost and an honour I cherish. I will continue to do so and welcome all questions or comments via the ProSource forum.