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Military/Diet Question

Hey, I’m a 19 year old soldier in the National Guard from MA. I’ve been following a 5/3/1 bodybuilding split somewhat tweaked to train the events of the Army Physical Fitness Test: the push up, sit up and 2 mile run. My stats are:

5’9 173
Bench 175 1x10
Front Squat 175 1x7
Deadlift 320 1x3
Press 110 1x6 (cleaned from the floor w/ hurt wrist)
Push ups 78
Sit ups 77
2 Mile Run: 13:58

My goals are:
1.5x BW Bench, Front Squat
2x BW Deadlift
1x BW Press
Max APFT (71+ push ups, 78+ sit ups, 13:00 2 mile run)

My training philosophy is that I wont focus on physique goals until I’ve met my performance goals. I think that once I meet my performance goals, my goal will be to be bulk up to 180-190 lbs at 10 to 12% bodyfat. While I’ve made great progress on my goals since I started the 5/3/1 in November and have accomplished my pushup goal, I’ve still got a lot of progress to make on my strength and endurance.

I didn’t pay much attention to my diet during my first two cycles, but I started taking creatine and eating more protein, and have gained around 9 pounds. I dont measure my bodyfat percentage, but I havent gained a noticeable amount of fat and my push ups and sit ups increased pretty significantly so I’m assuming not too much of the weight gain was fat. However, the Army standard for weight at my height is 174 lbs, so I’m already pushing it.

In the Army if you’re overweight you get taped for bodyfat, which is notoriously inaccurate, and even though I’m pretty sure I’m below the mandated 20% and I don’t want to be associated with the fatbodies who are getting taped for being overweight. Soldiers who get taped in my unit have to spend the drill in their PT uniform and stick out like a sore thumb, and are generally looked down on. So I’ve got two questions:

1)Keeping my goals and career in mind, should I start a fat loss program? At 173 I’m not lean. I know the common advice for skinny guys is to shovel food into your mouth and get huyuge, but obviously this is out of the question for me. At this point ideally I’d be lean and between 160-170 while I focused on strength and endurance, but I’m worried about strength loss. I know the general advice is to only focus on one goal at once, and I’m probably already pushing it by trying to improve my strength and endurance at the same time. Would starting a fat loss program be a good idea right now?

2)Is there any way I should tweak my training to improve my push ups/sit ups/2 mile run time? I’ve been making good progress just by adding additional push ups, sit ups, and cardio to a regular bodybuilding template, but would any other template ie bodyweight or crossfit assistance give me something I’m not getting from the program im currently running?

I don’t see how doing pushups and sit ups would hurt your strength. Just do them. As for running get your 2 mile time down and then just run intervals and hill sprints to maintain. Even if you get to 190-200 you shouldn’t have to worry about busting tape but to be safe train your neck 2-3 times a week.

[quote]bdocksaints75 wrote:
I don’t see how doing pushups and sit ups would hurt your strength. Just do them. As for running get your 2 mile time down and then just run intervals and hill sprints to maintain. Even if you get to 190-200 you shouldn’t have to worry about busting tape but to be safe train your neck 2-3 times a week.[/quote]

They get on your ass big time about busting tape, My max weight was lower 190s, I was 200 with a slight six pack and passing physical assesments with flying colors yet I was getting crap. I had another friend who was well over 6 feet and close to 260lbs, If I had to guess maybe 15% bodyfat give or take, passed his physicals with flying colors, but was “overweight,” he had 2 strikes against him for not making weight, he got out though before next testing. The military’s fat and bmi measurements are completely flawed, yet they strictly adhere to them(unless you are upper ranking)

Yeah being overweight is a big deal, and especially since I’m way at the bottom of the totem pole I don’t want to stand out by being overweight. I just got calipers today and I measured in at 16.7% bodyfat. I’m starting to think it’s time to lose fat. I’ve been skinny fat since I was a kid, and I’ve been lifting (inconsistently because of sports and laziness) for a little over 3 years. I’ve pretty much always adhered to the eat a lot of food and lift heavy philosophy, and I’ve always made solid gains as far as strength but a lot of the times when I bulk up I do it too quickly and put on fat. At this point I’m not playing football and I don’t need to be 180+ lbs. In fact, being over 174 puts my career at risk, and from now on bulking up is something I need to approach very cautiously. While I focus on my strength and endurance goals, I would rather be closer to 160 and look good, rather than being fatter and bigger for no reason, and put my standing in the Army at risk.

The fact is I know next to nothing about fat loss. I know in the 5/3/1 book he basically shits on guys who aren’t fat as fuck worrying about losing fat, but my case is a bit different. The one thing I’m committed to is sticking with 5/3/1 programming until I meet my strength goals. Everything else is up in the air. So I guess what it comes down to is this: is starting a fat loss program compatible with my goals of increasing my strength and endurance, and if so, where do I start? Like I said I don’t know the first thing about fat loss so I would really appreciate being pointed in the right direction.

If you fail tape then I can see that being a big deal. If your overweight and close to failing tape I can see that being a reason why they give you shit about it. That being said my last few years in I never made weight but always passed my PT tests and Tape tests with ease. At one point I was 195 at 5’9 and passed tape easily. They can’t flag you for being overweight just failing PT and Tape tests so build up your neck and don’t become obese and you shouldn’t have a problem .

[quote]arc23p wrote:

[quote]bdocksaints75 wrote:
I don’t see how doing pushups and sit ups would hurt your strength. Just do them. As for running get your 2 mile time down and then just run intervals and hill sprints to maintain. Even if you get to 190-200 you shouldn’t have to worry about busting tape but to be safe train your neck 2-3 times a week.[/quote]

The military’s fat and bmi measurements are completely flawed, yet they strictly adhere to them(unless you are upper ranking)[/quote]

I completely agree with that. I have never heard of anyone being given shit for not making weight if they pass tape, especially if they are pretty lean and score high on PT tests.

I feel like as a private I shouldn’t be putting myself in the situation where I’m even getting taped. Especially since I’m not even MOSQ’ed yet, It can’t be a good look to be associated with the people who are failing PT tests and are actually fat.

That said what do you think I should do as far as nutrition goes? With a body fat % as high as mine already is, how do I go about putting on size without becoming a fat piece of shit? Even a 2% increase would be pretty significant at this point. How do I do it while also improving my endurance?

[quote]Future68W wrote:
I feel like as a private I shouldn’t be putting myself in the situation where I’m even getting taped. Especially since I’m not even MOSQ’ed yet, It can’t be a good look to be associated with the people who are failing PT tests and are actually fat.

That said what do you think I should do as far as nutrition goes? With a body fat % as high as mine already is, how do I go about putting on size without becoming a fat piece of shit? Even a 2% increase would be pretty significant at this point. How do I do it while also improving my endurance?[/quote]

I’m not really the best person on here to ask about diet/body fat I don’t really pay attention to either that much I just try to eat a lot of meats lean ground beef, chicken , steak , and cook as much as possible.

A good way to help with body fat as far as a tape test goes is just to workout your neck, having a solid 16+ inch neck will help a lot if you ever have to get taped. That and if you can get to a 300 on your PT test that will help you a lot.

Yeah whatever I do I need to max the pt test out. I’ll probably max the sit ups out next drill, and I’m already over on the push ups. I just need to knock some time off my 2 mile and I’ll be solid.

Hey soldier medic, you are in a good position. You need not worry so much.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT:
As already mentioned, there is absolutely nothing wrong with failing WEIGHT, just TAPE. There are plenty 300+ studs that never make weight. I understand you not wanting to run the risk, but the people that pass the APFT yet don’t make TAPE are very few and far between. You can do the waist/neck measurements yourself and see how close you would be. I also suggest training your neck. You’ll be less paranoid, prevent injuries, and look like a badass. You don’t need buy a harness, you can improvise with bands, neck bridges, or whatever.

FAT LOSS:
You are way overanalyzing this fat loss. Simply training for performance (ie putting more focus on your run) alone will get you far. Diet doesn’t need to be 100% planned out and perfect. Just eat less junk and run more/faster.

STRENGTH:
You can and should continue getting stronger, and 5/3/1 is perfect for this if you follow the main principles. The assistance is up to you, but personally I would ditch the “Bodybuilding Template” as you won’t be putting on a whole lot of mass while losing fat and doing a lot of running, not to mention that it’s going to hinder your performance goals. I like FSL, triumvirate, or simplest strength to get stronger. IMO you’ll hit your strength goals pretty easily, but that run is going to take a lot of sweat, blood, and time to get up.

Best of Luck.

Just keep training!

No one who is strong is likely to ever pass weight in the military. I am 5’10" 215 my weight is suppose to be 180 according to the Army. The last time I weighed 180 i had a BF% of 8-10%. I am not that lean today my BF% is 16% and I am allowed 24%. As long as you pass tape and have a good PT score no one should give you any trouble. Anyone who does is likely an idiot and you can be happy with the fact that you should have their job someday.

That being said it may be a good time to think about what you are eating and dial that in. Cut out all the processed junk and only consume the stuff that is going to increase your performance. Biggest thing though is not to worry about the number on the scale buy a measure and do your own measurements at home to ensure you always maintain the standard. Try to shoot for 18% BF and below. 18% is the preferred max BF% for males in the Army. With 20% 22% 24% being max for the different male age groups.

Hope that helps.

That is just my opinion as an active duty SSG paratrooper with 11 years in FTW…

[quote]Future68W wrote:
Hey, I’m a 19 year old soldier in the National Guard from MA. I’ve been following a 5/3/1 bodybuilding split somewhat tweaked to train the events of the Army Physical Fitness Test: the push up, sit up and 2 mile run. My stats are:

5’9 173
Bench 175 1x10
Front Squat 175 1x7
Deadlift 320 1x3
Press 110 1x6 (cleaned from the floor w/ hurt wrist)
Push ups 78
Sit ups 77
2 Mile Run: 13:58

My goals are:
1.5x BW Bench, Front Squat
2x BW Deadlift
1x BW Press
Max APFT (71+ push ups, 78+ sit ups, 13:00 2 mile run)

My training philosophy is that I wont focus on physique goals until I’ve met my performance goals. I think that once I meet my performance goals, my goal will be to be bulk up to 180-190 lbs at 10 to 12% bodyfat. While I’ve made great progress on my goals since I started the 5/3/1 in November and have accomplished my pushup goal, I’ve still got a lot of progress to make on my strength and endurance.

I didn’t pay much attention to my diet during my first two cycles, but I started taking creatine and eating more protein, and have gained around 9 pounds. I dont measure my bodyfat percentage, but I havent gained a noticeable amount of fat and my push ups and sit ups increased pretty significantly so I’m assuming not too much of the weight gain was fat. However, the Army standard for weight at my height is 174 lbs, so I’m already pushing it.

In the Army if you’re overweight you get taped for bodyfat, which is notoriously inaccurate, and even though I’m pretty sure I’m below the mandated 20% and I don’t want to be associated with the fatbodies who are getting taped for being overweight. Soldiers who get taped in my unit have to spend the drill in their PT uniform and stick out like a sore thumb, and are generally looked down on. So I’ve got two questions:

1)Keeping my goals and career in mind, should I start a fat loss program? At 173 I’m not lean. I know the common advice for skinny guys is to shovel food into your mouth and get huyuge, but obviously this is out of the question for me. At this point ideally I’d be lean and between 160-170 while I focused on strength and endurance, but I’m worried about strength loss. I know the general advice is to only focus on one goal at once, and I’m probably already pushing it by trying to improve my strength and endurance at the same time. Would starting a fat loss program be a good idea right now?

2)Is there any way I should tweak my training to improve my push ups/sit ups/2 mile run time? I’ve been making good progress just by adding additional push ups, sit ups, and cardio to a regular bodybuilding template, but would any other template ie bodyweight or crossfit assistance give me something I’m not getting from the program im currently running?
[/quote]

  1. I think you should do a fat gain program. See how silly that sounds? Why do you think you have to weigh 4 billion pounds to get strong? I’d just get on an Awesome Gain program.

  2. Just lift weights and do the other stuff. You don’t need a specialized program to pass a PT test unless you are morbidly obese or are missing a leg.

When I take creatine I put on around 5-7 lbs and when I train weights hard I’ll gain weight from swelling. Its why I generally don’t weigh myself and prefer to judge my progress using a mirror and my belt.

Beyond that, if your goals are performance related I wouldn’t get too hung up on body fat. Most performance athletes are in the 12-18% range. IMO going below that doesn’t offer any performance advantages unless you’re an agility athlete (figure skater, gymnast, dancer, etc).

And I don’t know about you guys… but I’d rather not have an army full of figure skaters…

Thanks Jim and everyone who posted and gave me advice. I’ve decided going forward to go with two workouts a day: 5/3/1 with the triumvirate for assistance, and a military athlete apft train-up program that I’ve used as 5/3/1 assistance before and made solid progress. For diet I’m just going to avoid junk food and monitor my protein intake.

It’s really not a good idea to try and split your effort two ways. If you aren’t maxing your PT test then I wouldn’t worry about doing any other assistance exercise other than push ups, sit ups and running. The 5/3/1 will help especially if you have already been running it. Everyone in the Army should train their neck even if they are passing their weight since wearing an ACH will jack up your neck if you aren’t prepared. All in all the first few years in the Army are when most career guys jack themselves up so I would seriously consider doing a ton of mobility work now. Two workouts a day are nice if you are an 18 year old at a training camp where all you have to do is eat, workout and sleep but that stuff is going to catch up with you quick. Good luck, I wish someone would have told me this 9 years ago it would have saved me a lot of grief and time (not to mention injuries).

[quote]knormxxx wrote:
It’s really not a good idea to try and split your effort two ways. If you aren’t maxing your PT test then I wouldn’t worry about doing any other assistance exercise other than push ups, sit ups and running. The 5/3/1 will help especially if you have already been running it. Everyone in the Army should train their neck even if they are passing their weight since wearing an ACH will jack up your neck if you aren’t prepared. All in all the first few years in the Army are when most career guys jack themselves up so I would seriously consider doing a ton of mobility work now. Two workouts a day are nice if you are an 18 year old at a training camp where all you have to do is eat, workout and sleep but that stuff is going to catch up with you quick. Good luck, I wish someone would have told me this 9 years ago it would have saved me a lot of grief and time (not to mention injuries).[/quote]

I’m 19 years old and a college student with nothing to do all day anyways. If everyone in the active duty army can PT in the morning and lift after work I can do it too. Plus I’m in pretty good shape, while my PT score isn’t where I want it to be, it’s still above average. I don’t think a push up/sit up/ run workout in the morning and a 5/3/1 with light assistance in the afternoon is gonna kill me.

Also I’m definitely gonna incorporate neck work into my workouts 2X a week. I’ve never been good about doing mobility and recovery but I’m gonna try to start incorporating foam rolling and stretching into my workouts.

I’m 35, have 17 years in, plenty of injuries (fractures, torn tendons, low back injury, standard knee/ankle stuff) and typically work out twice a day 4 days a week (usually cardio in the morning and strength in the afternoon).

I use my years of bitterness and disappointment to fuel a slow burning anger that more than compensates for my lack of youth…

Oh I forgot to mention I was a 68w when I was in and I’m in nursing school so let me know if you have any questions. The mobility stuff is just like brushing and flossing your teeth just have to make it a habit. I mostly just started with sitting in the full squat position and that took care of about 90% of my hip mobility issues. The neck work is a pain in the ass and I hate doing it but it’s better than busting tape or jacking your neck up.

I like your style some guy.