T Nation

Military Strength and Conditioning


What is the best mix of strength and endurance training for a soldier(soldier as a non-service specific term)? I'd like to hear from anyone with an opinion or experience. What combination of exercises makes the best combat ready soldier? I have some opinions, but would like to see some discussion.




After doing four years in the Army Rangers, in another life, I would have to say that endurance is more important than strength. In the combat arms side a soldier has to be able to go all day, all night and then all day again while carrying heavy loads with no sleep and no food.

Running, road marching and body weight exercises such as pullups, pushups and dips are mandatory. Exercises used for strongman events would be an alternative to keep from getting stale. Just remember, the bigger you are means all the more weight you are having to feed and move with. Of course if you are in a non combat field most of this does not apply.


i tend to agree with cat51.

one of the problems i have with working out for military stuff (as a Infantryman), is training for total body strength and endurance, and then having to worry about some silly-ass PT test. the APFT is really not a good indicator of overall fitness, but many people people live (and die) by it.

"top reason that you're glad to be out of the military......leadership ability is no longer based off of how fast you run..."


The Marine Corps PFT is very similar. I think it is a good measure of overall fitness, we do pullups instead of pushups. 20 deadhang pullups is pretty tough to do, 20 gets you the max 100 points. The 3 mile run is a good distance. The crunches are easy, not a good measure of core strength, but I really don't know if that is what the objective of the crunches is.

I've been doing Crossfit for about a year and I haven't found any other program that is better.
If the MC PFT is used as a measure, I am getting better scores because I can get 20 pullups, a decent run, and 100 crunches.
Road Marches, obstacle courses, and just general field time is easier, due to the conditioning that crossfit provides.
I'd like to hear from any T-Nationers who have used other programs with success, or without success.


For an infantry man or ranger I would say these are the things I would focus on:

  1. Ruck marck. A good soldier should be able to carry a huge load for days at a time and still complete the mission. I would say a 45lbs ruck not counting food and water at a minimum, moving 12 miles in 3 hours (the old standard)

  2. Rope climb.

  3. 50 meter swim in uniform and 500 meter swim in UDTs.

  4. 5 mile run.

  5. The army PT test is kind of lame but you have to do it.

  6. The atomic sit up.


you can say that again


What the deuce is the atomic sit-up?


I'd agree that the APFT is not a good indicator of fitness - you can get a good score on the test and be too weak to ruck march etc. But I think that if you are in good shape for doing Infantry stuff, then the APFT should be a joke to you. One SF major told me the APFT should be the easiest day of your PT program.

I've read the average competitor in the Best Ranger Competition is 5'10 and 165lbs. I also know some SF guys that are in the 240-260 range. I think as long as you can move for long periods of time, carry heavy objects, and move very fast sometimes you should be good to go.

What I do:

1.Lift: Every third day incline bench, pull-ups, dips, rows, dl, squats, overhead press - and push ups to failure at the end

2.Run: usually about 3x a week, distance, hills, and track work

3.Other cardio: bike, elliptical - sometimes as active recovery, sometimes as an interval workout

4.Ruck every week or two - 60lbs for 1-2 hours. I think squats, dl, and cardio keep me in good rucking shape, but I like to stay used the feeling of having a ruck on and keep my feet relatively tough.

If anyone has any ideas about training specifically for Ranger school, please post them. Especially sleep deprivation...


HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! good one!!!!!!


I've been thinking about getting a book called the "Naked Warrior". It's all about bodyweight training but I haven't read it yet. I'm glad someone brought this subject up, I've been a little lost on this one and I just started doing a modified EDT bodyweight training plan. I hope it works. And I'll look into the crossfit thang.


Naked Warrior will not help with whats being discussed above. It is based two moves, the pistal and one arm pushup. Its a good read and the concepts are sounds but it will develope strength in a similar way gymasts do...through holding/creating tension and moving through progression until you can complete the moves.


I was at Quantico recently and someone was complaining about the lack of plyometric training in the military. You have two spectrums - the long tedious stuff (rucking...does anyone call it humping anymore? Shame) and then the bursts of short sharp activity. This Sgt was saying that he can tell the guys who do plyos because they don't twist their ankles jumping out of vehicles or running up stairs. Strange to think that you could be very fit but vulnerable to that. Experiences?


No experience twisting an ankle during training, but you'd think it'd be very hard to do with boots on.


I'm only on page four of the crossfit "getting started" download page and I'm already psyched!!!!! Thanks Jason


You don't know what the atomic sit up is?? I can't really tell you about it I would have to show you. I'm sure if you ask around someone in your area can help you out. Just watch out it's a bear.


"top reason that you're glad to be out of the military......leadership ability is no longer based off of how fast you run..."

This is my pet peave. It has gotten to the point of the higer-ups (CC, shirt, Flt CC) will talk to me and be buddy buddy, just because I can run faster than 95% of my SQ (and I am 250lbs). I just want to say the real reason I run so fast is to get away from you faggots!!!!! It also brings up the point of leadership being scared of motavated people, but that is another rant.

To answer your question B, I use a westside split and lift on the days we run. And Crossfit is a bear, I cant see any rhyme or reason, but for body weight stuff you cant beat it. Try the workout "Body armor" with your gear on ...its a bitch.


Atomic Situp: lie down flat on your back with arms extended over your head; do a full crunch, bringing your arms and legs up at the same time, trying to touch your toes at the top, keeping your arms as close to overhead as possible--also called V-ups.

Or at least that's what we called atomic situps.


Being a former marine and remidial PT instructor, I would focus more on the CORE....powerful legs and lower back.....the thing I did not understand is the PFT is done wearing running shoes, thous faggy ass shorts and a t-shirt....how is that pratical....break out the boot and ut runs and wear your flack jacket and helmet...fill your pack up and put on to do pull ups....even do some running wearing your gas mask as well....very different feel makes you consentrate on your breathing more because it is restricted.

Work on your intesity in the gym...I still do that today....for example I do a split of chest and Biceps....I will do a set of chest the straight into Biceps and back to chest.....Your in the military, your fitness is the matter of life and death and NOT just yours!!.....

so if some of the above sounds stupid or to hard to you then I am glad I did not server with you....because your squad is only as strong as the weakest person....I would be damned if I got shot, hurt, injured or killed because of some lame ass that could not keep up....


Good posts from everyone. I'd like to see more, non-military is always welcome. I'm looking for ideas to make my guys bigger, stronger, faster.

Semper Fi

One other thought: It looks like we could start another forum on military leadership, but T-Nation isn't the place to do that. I'd be interested to see if this is being discussed on any other web sites, forums, blogs, ect..ect.