T Nation

National Guard and 531

I’m a National Guard soldier who recently became a full timer. I have decided to make new changes and onew of those is getting in better shape. I am pretty strong and have a “dad bod,” happening.

I have beat my face trying to find a program to help me become more athletic. I’m not new to 531 and have had great results in my lifts but I can’t run very well. I barely pass my PT test run. I need to become athletic again. We don’t do PT in the morning like in active duty. All my exercise is on my own time.

Any advice? Thank you

What’s your MOS?

My best run results for the Army came from 3x a week:

  1. Tempo day: run 2-3 miles at an even lace (working toward your target pace)
  2. Sprint day: run 400s and 800s. I’d keep this to maybe 2 miles total max
  3. Over-distance day: run 4-6 miles; pace matters less, just build some stamina

At the moment I’m a 00F and work for Range Control.

So lift 3 days and run three days?


That sounds fine. This isn’t so much running it should ruin you, but it will take some adjusting (I’d imagine). You may have to adjust your lower body lifts while you get your running where it needs to be, but then you’ll be fine.

Retired guard, here. I worked full time for a bit on adsw and then as a tech years ago. I made the mistake of focusing on my lifting and neglecting my running, which had a negative impact on my PT test run time.

@TrainForPain laid out a good plan, the only thing I would add is if running is a struggle then you need to prioritize it for awhile. I would make sure you didn’t miss any of the run workouts he listed and potentially drop the lifting down to only twice a week.

Do this until you can easily hit the run time you want and then you can add back some lifting volume. Maintaining is a lot easier than improving.

1 Like

Thank you both. I was thinking of keeping my lifting to a three day 5/3/1 program with body weight assistance work and incorporating the running plan above in between.

Active Duty Army here. Make sure you’re making constant improvements with your running, just like your lifting. Even if it’s only a couple seconds every Monday/Friday when you’re doing the longer runs, it adds up over time.

Former Marine here. Prioritize your conditioning over your lifting.

I’d do something like Sprints/hills 2-3x a week and a moderate distance run or hike (with 50+ lbs) 2-3x a week. That gives you 4-6 conditioning workouts each week.

As you know, in the military, PT is huge. I’d even decrease volume on my 5/3/1 assistance work in favor of more conditioning if I were you. At least until you get to a 270+ PFT score.

Thank you. I have been looking into “military” and “operator” programs to introduce more of a conditioning focus. They seem like everything else you find around the internet- crap.

Would 5/3/1 “…jack shit” work? And then focusing on conditioning, as you suggested.

I wouldn’t bother with the jack shit program. I think Wendler’s intent with the jack shit template is just for those days when life gets in the way and you can only manage the main lifts. To use it as your everyday plan would not be effective.

If I were you, I’d look at a 2 day/week template with a lower volume assistance plan like triumvirate. And as above, I’d condition 4-6 days per week. Easy conditioning on days prior to your strength training. Conditioning can also be done on your 5/3/1 days, and you should jump rope (100 reps is a good starting point) in between each set of assistance work.

Do not expect to make much, if any, progress in your lifts while doing this. You have other priorities right now. Once you get to a respectable PFT level, scale back the conditioning in favor of more strength training. Don’t forget to stretch daily. Wendler beats the drum on that one for good reason.

Bodyweight exercises seem better than lifting for me at the moment.

Active duty guy. I’ve found the Old Man Winter version of 5/3/1 works well for me for my strength and devote the other 3x days to conditioning.