T Nation

Commando Training

I’m currently a Sport and Exercise student in the UK who is going to try to get accepted i the Royal Marines as an Officer. To do this I have to pass the Potential Officers Course (POC). At this along with many other mental and leadership skills I would have to perform 60 press ups in 2 minutes, 18 pull-ups in as long as possible, 85 sit ups (old skool partener holding the feet)in two minutes, and level 15.5 in the bleep teat for a maximum score. My question is has any one got any ideas as to how to train for the pull ups, press ups and sit ups (I know i’ll just have to hit the road for the aerobic stuff). At the moment I play university level rugby and train mainly olympic lifting/powerlifting movements. I was hoping for something along the lines of Charles Poliquin’s, @no more geek back training.

Gareth: I know exactly what you mean, as I was in your shoes once, only the PFT that I trained for was the toughest the US military has to offer. I suggest that you look for a book titled: “The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness; 12 Weeks to BUD/S” by Lt. Stewart Smith, USN SEAL. It is published by Hatherleigh Press (1-800-906-1234.) You should also be able to find it at your local Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. It is an excellent guide for getting in shape for calisthenics-based fitness tests and has routines for push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, running, and swimming. Simply put, if you adhere to the 12-week program as it is laid out, you will be in the best cardio/calisthenic shape of your life. I tried many other programs by Poliquin and the like but found that nothing helps your calisthenics more than simply doing calisthenics. If you try to throw in a weight-training program with the 12 Weeks to BUD/S workout you will surely overtrain. Give it a try and see for yourself!

I must concure with Racer. I spent four years with the Army Rangers and tried just about every routine out there. The best way to train for pullups, pushups etc is to do pullups and pushups. The SEAL book is excellent.

The key is overload. Here’s what the Guidebook for (U.S.) Marines says:

"A system of increasing resistance, distance, time or other exercise variables in a training program in order to increase or improve physical performance is known as overload. It may take form when a man increases a bench press weight from 135 to 145 pounds. Or a Marine may start practicing 40 situps a minute after being able to perform 35 easily. Or he may strive to run three miles in 19 minutes after successfully running the same distance in 20 minutes. Overloading the amount of work to be done is useful in all training pursuits, but is mandatory if the goal of increased strength is to be achieved. The body naturally adapts to performance under increased work loads. That increase is the only way by which hypertrophy (an increase in the size and strength of a muscular tissue) will occur." (Guidebook For Marines, p. 175)

In other words, when you are practicing push ups and pull ups, try your best to do one more rep than you did the last time.

I just remembered, another good way to improve your pull ups is to strap 10 or 20 pounds of weight around your waist, and then do 3 sets of maximum reps.