T Nation

Getting Smoke Checked


#1

Hey folks!

I had an experience today that knocked me on my ass. I am a prospective USMC Officer Candidate, and I had my very first "poolee event" today. Among other things, I got absolutely wrecked by the workout they threw at us, and it made me realize that I seriously need to reconsider my training and programming.

It shook me up, because it's clear that my training has not been specifically geared towards preparing me for OCS. More than that, I'm not quite sure how to progress with my training to tailor it towards that goal. I would appreciate some input from the more experienced folk out there.

I won't go into specifics unless y'all want to know, but the workout was a "crossfit" style circuit, consisting of wall-ball shots, sumo deadlifts-into-upright row, box jumps, overhead press, rowing machine, kettlebell swing, and burpees. All were at a pretty light weight, but with planking as an active rest between sets, and shooting for at least 20 reps for each exercise station in the circuit.

My thoughts and questions, on which I would appreciate some input:

"I've been training to get bigger and stronger, so that exercises like deadlifts and overhead presses for high reps will be easier -- after all, 20 reps of a 75lb sumo-deadlift-into-upright-row would be easier for a guy with a 1RM 225 on his deadlift than for a guy with a 1RM 135 on his deadlift, right? How can I program for both strength and endurance?"

"Similarly, how can I train for both size and endurance? Surely, the large and muscular guys breezing through the 65lb overhead press have an advantage over me. But how does that size balance out with running and bodyweight exercise with crazy endurance qualities? How much does absolute strength and size work carry over into extreme, high-end endurance work? Is a skinny guy like me @155lbs at a disadvantage because of an upper limit to the work that smaller muscles can produce? Put another way: how does absolute strength facilitate relative strength, and how can I find that balance?"

"Perhaps this is just the classic predicament: I want size, strength, and endurance. Perhaps some kind of periodization, where I train different parts of that puzzle during different parts of the year?"

"I've been lifting with 5/3/1 -- is there some way to tailor that program so that I can continue to train for strength and size, while also working on endurance?"

Anyhow, I'm just trying to wrap my mind around all this. I'll be doing my own research of course, but I wondered if anybody had some insight or knowledge to drop.

Thank you in advance.

Tl;dr: what kind of programming will allow me to get bigger and stronger (absolute strength) while building muscular endurance (relative strength) and conditioning (running)?


#2

If it was a crossfit style workout, why not do crossfit?


#3

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
If it was a crossfit style workout, why not do crossfit?[/quote]

That was definitely my first impulse, and I immediately looked up some crossfit stuff when I got home. In fact, I used to do a lot of bodyweight crossfit style exercise.

But at the same time, the “randomness” of crossfit doesn’t make sense to me. Mark Rippetoe contributed an article on T-Nation, talking about how crossfit can only take you so far. After a certain point, athletes require specific periodization for strength/size increases to continue ie. manipulation of weight/volume as in 5/3/1.

I’m not trying to refute you, and I appreciate the input. That’s one vote for just biting the bullet and doing crossfit. I think I’ll look up how crossfit games athletes train – they seem to have found the optimum balance of crossfit and athletic programming.


#4

My first thought was that you simple need to get stronger. You talking about 225 lb dead-lifts maxes makes me assume that you are probably still very weak. I’m no endurance monster but a 75lb dead-lift would be nothing but a joke, 20 reps or not.
I don’t think you mentioned your height but 155lbs is pretty small. You would likely benefit from allowing yourself to gain some muscle to get stronger. Increase your strength, eat some food, walk your dog several times a weak for several months and try again.

I wouldn’t blame 5/3/1 for not meeting you goals even though I think its a pretty slow building program, I think its your execution and mindset. Good luck!


#5

I may be misunderstanding your goals here. Are you training to become an athlete or to get better prepared for USMC OCS? Having read your posts, I don’t have a definite understanding.


#6

[quote]PainRain wrote:
My first thought was that you simple need to get stronger. You talking about 225 lb dead-lifts maxes makes me assume that you are probably still very weak. I’m no endurance monster but a 75lb dead-lift would be nothing but a joke, 20 reps or not.
I don’t think you mentioned your height but 155lbs is pretty small. You would likely benefit from allowing yourself to gain some muscle to get stronger. Increase your strength, eat some food, walk your dog several times a weak for several months and try again.

I wouldn’t blame 5/3/1 for not meeting you goals even though I think its a pretty slow building program, I think its your execution and mindset. Good luck![/quote]

Ouch on the mindset comment. Not sure that’s quite a fair remark, as I didn’t A) blame 5/3/1 for anything, and in fact asked how I can continue to use it, and B) exhibit anything other than an intense desire to gain knowledge about how to continue to get stronger and achieve my goals.

You’re right though, I am still pretty small, and pretty weak. I need to get stronger, and continue to eat and lift. Alas, I’m fairly new to strength training.

However, seeing as how I need to hit an 18min 5k, and train for 3-10 mile hikes with a heavy load, I think maybe I’ll need slightly more vigorous conditioning than walking my dog. I hope that was a genuine suggestion for easy cardio, and not a cheap joke at a beginner’s expense.

[quote]
Th3Pwnsher wrote:

I may be misunderstanding your goals here. Are you training to become an athlete or to get better prepared for USMC OCS? Having read your posts, I don’t have a definite understanding.[/quote]

My goal is to be better prepared for USMC OCS. Sorry about the lack of clarity. 100% to excel at OCS.


#7

From my experience:

  • Lift however you want, but keep it basic and don’t get sore all the time. Include pull-ups and push-ups.
  • Work on your run. This is what they’ll use to punish/fail you. Simple reason being it’s easy to put a group of you in formation and see who falls out. In my opinion, the easiest way is to run three times a week: one interval (needs to be at least 400-800m to have carryover for you), one short/tempo (2-4 mi for you): second half needs to be same speed as first half, one long (5-7 mi). Every other week switch your long run with an 8 mi ruck.
  • Practice circuit stuff as a finisher at the end of your lifting days. Nothing crazy: ~15 minutes. You likely need to get better at not blowing your load on rep 1.
  • Don’t get injured. Keep this in mind as you plan your time. If I were you my priorities would be:
  1. Run (ruck as part of this to condition your lower legs and potentially help weight gain)
  2. BW calisthenics (you have to pass this stuff and it’s a skill)
  3. Main lifts (gain weight and own a strength base - this will help as the weeks go on)
  4. Finishers (just to build some confidence and lactic endurance)

Don’t overthink it. Do what you need to to get through OCS: that has to be your goal. Training for school/selection is not the same as training for operational fitness


#8

With your current goal, I wouldn’t concern yourself so much with athletic programming/progression. If the workouts you face are going to be crossfit like, I feel like your best bet is to get good at crossfit by doing crossfit. Once your goals change, so can your approach.


#9

This question gets asked around here relatively frequently. Basically, the answer is to get bigger and stronger while also improving conditioning. Read these:


#10

check out seal fit they may be navy but they are tough


#11

2 strength training sessions a week, 2 crossfit workouts a week.


#12

Well what are your stats now? If you’re only pulling 225, you need to get significantly stronger. If you’re pulling 495, strength isn’t as much of an issue, conditioning is the problem.


#13

Strength train 3 days per week, end each day with some form of 12-20 minute conditioning Crossfit style. Do running, bw stuff on 2-3 of the other days per week. Mix up with speed intervals, distance, etc.


#14

Pretty much everyone is saying the same thing. Train for what you need to be good at.

You may want to take a look at any of Alpha’s logs in the Training Logs section. His training style (though not necessarily his current routine) is actually catered toward your goals, focusing on balancing strength, size, and endurance. That’s not to say that how he trains will work for you, but he’s around to ask questions.


#15

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
With your current goal, I wouldn’t concern yourself so much with athletic programming/progression. If the workouts you face are going to be crossfit like, I feel like your best bet is to get good at crossfit by doing crossfit. Once your goals change, so can your approach.[/quote]

Amen…you can be both a good husband and whore-monger in the same lifetime; but not at the same time…if you get my point.


#16

[quote]OGrady wrote:

[quote]PainRain wrote:
My first thought was that you simple need to get stronger. You talking about 225 lb dead-lifts maxes makes me assume that you are probably still very weak. I’m no endurance monster but a 75lb dead-lift would be nothing but a joke, 20 reps or not.
I don’t think you mentioned your height but 155lbs is pretty small. You would likely benefit from allowing yourself to gain some muscle to get stronger. Increase your strength, eat some food, walk your dog several times a weak for several months and try again.

I wouldn’t blame 5/3/1 for not meeting you goals even though I think its a pretty slow building program, I think its your execution and mindset. Good luck![/quote]

Ouch on the mindset comment. Not sure that’s quite a fair remark, as I didn’t A) blame 5/3/1 for anything, and in fact asked how I can continue to use it, and B) exhibit anything other than an intense desire to gain knowledge about how to continue to get stronger and achieve my goals.

You’re right though, I am still pretty small, and pretty weak. I need to get stronger, and continue to eat and lift. Alas, I’m fairly new to strength training.

However, seeing as how I need to hit an 18min 5k, and train for 3-10 mile hikes with a heavy load, I think maybe I’ll need slightly more vigorous conditioning than walking my dog. I hope that was a genuine suggestion for easy cardio, and not a cheap joke at a beginner’s expense.

Then reread the last thread you created and see if the advice the other vets gave you makes more sense now.


#17

Thank you guys for the wealth of responses. It seems like y’all are saying the same thing, or nearly the same thing. I need a strength program for strength, a Crossfit program for conditioning, and running for the running. Amazing how simple the answer is, and how horribly I can intellectualize it.

I’ll train strength 2 days a week, condition with Crossfit 2 days a week, and run 3 days a week (because I’ve been told OCS is largely a running school). My runs will include both intervals and long runs.

This is shooting from the hip, but something like:

Mon. 5/3/1 Bench and Press, Crossfit-style Conditioning
Tues. Rest
Wed. 5/3/1 Squat and Dead, Run
Thur. Rest
Fri. Crossfit-style Conditioning, Run
Sat. Rest
Sun. Run

[quote]dt79 wrote:

Then reread the last thread you created and see if the advice the other vets gave you makes more sense now.[/quote]

It does make much more sense now. I think having the experience of getting my ass kicked by an actual workout changed my perspective a lot. I was way overthinking things.


#18

if you’re wanting to do 531 and crossfit at the same time, the 531 2nd edition book lays out exactly how to pair 531 and crossfit style workouts. I’d start there.


#19

Do what you need to get better at.

If your OCS training requires you to be active for an hour straight with little to no rest period in between, then train that way.


#20

[quote]OGrady wrote:
My goal is to be better prepared for USMC OCS.
[/quote]

You’d better be prepared to run and move your body weight. These two area’s make up the majority of physical training at least in enlisted boot camp.

I would concentrate my training in three areas:
(1) Calisthenics - you will do a lot of pull-ups & push-ups.
(2) Running - You will run 2-4 miles 3-5 times a week. If you aren’t use to it it’ll suck. You will also sprint, a lot.
(3) Long weighted marches. I would plan to work up to rucks of 15 miles.

If you have access to a pool I would swim especially if you suck at it. You’ll have to pass swim qual (which is pretty easy), but gets progressively harder the higher (really lower) the qualification. If you’re able to get to swim qual 1 it’s pretty arduous.

You will spend a lot of time performing drill. It’ll be difficult to prepare for this, but believe me hours of walking around with a rifle will wear on you.

Boot is more mental than physical if you’re physically prepared for it.

Crossfit isn’t a bad choice, but I think tabata rounds will better prepare you for the quarterdecking that I assume occurs at OCS. I would pick 5-6 BW exercises (push-ups, side-straddle-hops, burpees, crunches, etc…) and do 10 reps per exercise then move to the next exercise with no rest. I’d do this for 4-6 minute rounds. Physically quarterdecking and “around the world” (that’s what we called it when we’d go from sand pit to sand pit and basically be quarterdecked over and over again) was initially the worst, imo.

Good luck.

When do you ship?