So as many of you know, in boot camp for pretty much all of the military branches, PT consists of bodyweight exercises and a lot of running. Many veterans are now saying that they felt strength was the limiting factor in their performance, and there seems to be a general move towards increasing the amount of strength training in military settings.
Now, the reason for the current PT set up in boot camp is pretty simple. Bodyweight exercises and running are cheap, require little to no equipment, and build mental endurance as well as physical endurance. Unfortunately, this seems to promote the “skinny fat” build and leaves many of these recruits less combat effective then they could be.
Instituting a barbell strength training program at boot camp would be difficult. Can you imagine trying to work through squats, deadlifts, and benching with a drill instructor screaming at you? And unless the gyms that house the equipment are enormous and incredibly well stocked, it would be difficult to get entire platoons and companies through with a decent program in any feasible length of time. Also, how would progress be measured? Would everyone do the same weight, or would it be scaled in some way?
An idea I had was to institute barbell, kettlebell, or even ammo can complexes. During my time at Marine Corps OCS, there were several stations with preset barbells out around some of the paths we ran on. The weight was never very great (maybe 60 a barbell?) We only used them maybe 2-3 times while I was training there, but the barbells had varying amounts of weight and the stronger guys could always grab the bigger barbells.
Complexes would allow for a high time under tension, and the weight would not have to be very high to elicit a training response. After a set period of time, the trainees could move up to a higher barbell to increase the difficulty of the movement, and many different complexes could be performed. I would imagine that a workout involving alternating sets of complexes with sprints would be an incredibly tough, and the work capacity and combat readiness of the trainees would go through the roof. Even if they were only instituted twice a week, I think they would allow for some incredible improvement.
Plus, making cheap crappy barbells that can be stored outside would be much cheaper than outfitting a gym with proper equipment, and the workouts would be much shorter than a typical strength training session.
Anyone else have any ideas on changes that could be made, or even if changes should be made at all?