T Nation

Functional Strength Training Programs


I am currently starting the process of preparing myself for a PFT to go to a 10-week leadership camp with the Marine Corps this coming summer. I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions for a good exercise program to help with developing functional strength, endurance, and explosiveness.

I was looking at maybe doing the 5/3/1 program MWF, and TTH cardio, swimming, or agility work. If anybody has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it.

I am not new to working out, however due to working 60 hours a week over the summer, and university starting back up, I have lost a lot/most of what I gained over the past 5 years of consistent training (30 lbs). My goal is to build myself back up, but in a more functional way.



Apart from that, get on a program, get stronger, do some conditioning (whatever you will need for the camp), eat to get better and enjoy the process.

Program is up to you. 5/3/1, WS4SB, splits, full body, etc. Just do what you enjoy and be consistent.

And please, loose the functional mentality. You will live longer (proven) and be happier.


try this...


Exactly this.

Especially the whole 'functional' BS. When people say 'I want to build functional strength' without specifying a function, I read 'I want to feel like I strength train but I'm scared to actually pick up heavy weights'. For most lifters, the 'function' of picking up heavy stuff should be to one day pick up even heavier stuff.


I saw "functional strength " and was like "squirrel !"

Much better than non functional strength.....


Screw you guys! Next time one of you sarcoplasm filled blobs needs a jar of peanut butter opened I'm not helping!


You going to OCS brother? Congrats on the decision. Did you get selected yet, or are you still trying to get on a board? And are you doing PLC or OCC? I graduated PLC seniors last summer, so I'm just going to relate some of my training with you and how it affected my experience at OCS.

I went down to OCS with a 293 PFT. I had 20 pull ups, 100 crunches, and a 19:20 run. By the time I was out, I was running sub 18:00. Only time I've ever gotten a perfect PFT. You do a lot of running at OCS, but none of it is over 5 miles at a time. Furthermore, they are reducing the amount of strict "runs" that you do now. Most of the time they are in some sort of circuit form, or in some sort of combat training scenario (think a Spartan Race/Tough Mudder, but in military uniform with a rifle, Kevlar, and some gear).

A lot of the runs towards the end of the training are in boots as well, but they break you into those. 1-2 steady state runs of 3-5 miles is more than enough to sustain your running for going down to OCS, as long as you can run under a 21 minute 3 mile. Interval runs of 200-800 meter will be more effective at training you for the workouts. Another great option is a military "fartlek". Run for a short distance (200-300m works great) then stop and do some bodyweight exercises. Repeat 8-15 times, doing a different exercise every stop. You will do several of these at OCS, so getting ahead on them now is a great idea.

I did some lifting in preparation for OCS, but as long as you have a decent strength base, don't worry so much about building strength now. I lifted 1-2 times a week, mostly focusing on maintaining my strength. Bodyweight workouts are more applicable to OCS right now. If you want to keep lifting, I recommend doing 5/3/1 on a two a day full body split, with bodyweight assistance. Push Ups, Dips, Pull Ups, Bodyweight Rows Marine Corps crunches, flutterkicks, and back raises, are all you will really need. A good set up could be

Workout A- Squat, Bench SS Weighted Chins, then circuit of crunches, dips, bodyweight rows, and back ext.
Workout B- Deadlift, Press SS Rows, then circuit of flutter kicks, push ups, pull ups, and back ext.

I would also recommend a day where you work on some military specific exercises. On this day, I would work on climbing a rope (if you have access to one), farmers walk variations, some sort of crawling (bear, low crawl ext), buddy drag/carries (if you don't have a partner, you can carry a heavy bag), and high rep single DB presses (to simulate the ammo can press from the CFT). This is the only type of "functional" training you'll need. You're going to be doing a shit ton of this type of training, so get used to it now.

Now, I did extremely well in all of the physical events, except for the ruck marches. I know that for me, and for pretty much everyone who goes to OCS, that these are the hardest part of training, You start off at 4 miles, and end up going to 12, with roughly 50-60 pounds of gear, including the rifle you have to carry. Don't underestimate these hikes-they are brutal. They're in the dark, the pace is fast, and the hills never seem to end.

Get a good hiking pack or weighted vest, start at 3 miles and maybe 20-30 pounds, and make it your goal to go a little farther and heavier every week. You should maintain roughly a 4 mph pace. I walked on a treadmill, and every 5th minute I would crank the incline up as high as it would go. If you're going for longer than an hour, stop and take a break after about 50 minutes to change socks, and make the break as short as possible. Wear good boots, and make sure they're broken in beforehand.

So putting it all into a training program could look something like this.

Monday- Lifting Workout A, with some sprints/intervals afterwords
Tuesday- 3 Mile run, Military Functional Workout
Thursday- Lifting Workout B, with some sprints/intervals afterwords
Friday- 2-4 Mile farlek
Saturday- 4-8 mile ruck march
Sunday- Off

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I'll answer what I can. I hope this post has helped you.


If you think my wrist strength is lacking, you've clearly never seen my internet history


It's a joke based on an old Poliquin article where he claims bodybuilders are weak lol.


Ok now i get it HAHA. Getting slower with age....


Breakingiron is dead on. I went 10 years ago.

Endurance and bodyweight strength are all you need to get through OCS. You won't be lifting weights there so any mass you gain will be lost while at camp, plus it's extra weight you'll be carrying on runs.


I can do wank jokes. Jokes based on knowledge and intelligence? They tend to fly over my head so quick I can't even hear the whoosh.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a well-constructed joke.


Haha I was too dumb to get the joke at first. Thought someone took what I wrote seriously and got pissed. I like wank jokes.