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Improving Cooper Test Without Sacrificing Strength



I'm joining the military here back in Finland in little less than three months and I'm trying to improve my cooper test while I still have time. For those who don't know, the Cooper Test is a 12 minute running test. 3000+ meters is considered great. I only run a weak 2500 at the moment and I want to improve it drastically so it won't limit my chances to get into the best training courses. The closer I can get to 3000 the better.

For the last year or so I've weight trained 4 times a week and not much else and my conditioning sucks. I still would like to train in the gym 3 times a week (with a fast 1 mile run at the end of leg workout) and add 2-3 running workouts to my weekly schedule.

Do you guys have any good suggestions what sort of running workouts I should work into my schedule to improve the 12 minute run? And do you think I should train even less in the gym for the while now?


Search this site for the "running man" program by Christian Thibadeaux. It discusses use of intervals and 400m sprints to improve cardio. I've used and am using this type (intervals) of training to improve my timed run. If I recall correctly, the discussion thread talks about incorporation of lifting and using the program. I usually can't go hard after a 'leg' day.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what basic training in the Finnish military is like. If you check some of the threads on training/prepping for basic training regardless of service branch or even law enforcement, the emphasis is not on lifting big weights. The suggestions to be for increased muscular endurance and high rep/set body weight exercises with running or rucking (hiking with a pack).


If it were me then I'd do running 3 times a week, I don't think much more than that is necessary.

When I was in the army (Canadian) we had a 2 mile test and I did it in 14:XX ( I can't remember now but I know it was 14 minutes something) and I only ran about two times a week before I joined.

Of those 3 runs I'd make one a Cooper test itself, with one of the others being 400m repeats and the other one 30 to 45 mins steady.


(double post...might as well use it)

I'd do weights the other days, but if I'd known about complexes I'd likely use those to get ready for the army.
But I'd stop lifting when you get closer and do more push ups, sit ups and chin ups. Then the other non-running days would be good for marching with a heavy pack.


Thanks, that sounds like it would work for me quite well. I think I oughta buy a stopwatch now.


Thanks. As for conditioning, the basic training doesn't really require jack shit from anyone who is in atleast decent shape, but those tests (cooper and such) carry a lot of weight as far as getting picked to the more demanding training courses.


Yeah, we do also have a 60 second push up & sit up tests, but I can already score max numbers in them. The chin-ups were cut recently from the tests, because somebody thought they were too hard to be tested at all. Sounds ridiculous to me.

I'll definitely take your advice on the complexes. How often do you think I should add them?


Maybe once a week I guess, since you say the fitness demands aren't all that high.....maybe you could continue lifting on your usual routine up till the day you go.


Yes, the basic training doesn't require much, but the fitness demands grow higher depending where I get assigned. There is of course some special forces in Finland which have entrance tests that require borderline ridiculous aerobic conditioning, but they aren't my concern. I basically just want to improve the cooper test, so I have a better chance to get assigned in to the recon & commando training which is physically quite demanding.


Yeah, well then your 12 minute time will impress them the most....so I say run like a beast!


I was in the Finnish military. They test cooper, push-up, sit-up, back extension, and chin up. Make a routine around those. You'll get better results if you focus your training to what you're going to be doing.

As such, I'd run a cooper every week, do short sprints, and 20-30 min medium tempo runs. Maybe 1 session of each per week. The main thing is to push, and be consistent with running. Your aerobic capacity will go to hell in a week if you sit on your ass.


Google 5K running plans and just pick out one you like. I personally like the Run Less Run Fast program by FIRST. It's only 3 days of running and 2 days of cross training a week and it really didn't affect my lifting.