T Nation

Training During Deployment


I am serving in the navy on a ballistic missile submarine.

I typically go on two 80-day deployments a year. While underway, all of my training progress is lost. I sit in front of my panel for 6 hours while on watch (sometimes twice a day). The rest of my day is filled with department training, drills, and maintenance. I am lucky if I get more than 5 hours of sleep. Additionally, we cannot keep any fresh food on board, so most of the food I eat is processed and fried.

I am looking for some sort of workout routine that can minimize how much I degrade during each patrol. I can usually afford to work out 2-3 times a week for about 45 minutes to an hour. We have dumbbells, a treadmill, and a pull-up bar on the sub. Does anyone have any suggestions or work out plans that could help me sustain my fitness during each deployment? I would appreciate any input.


Man that sucks...but imo the best thing you can do is just get in full-body workouts whenever possible. Circuit training, TBT, dropsets, complexes, anything that lets you get the most work possible done in the shortest amount of time.


Won't doing as much work as possible with such little sleep and food just worsen the problem? Not saying the full body workouts or complexes and other suggestions are a bad idea but I would have thought the best course of action would be a maintenance type routine that emphasizes high weight but low volume. Training hard only helps if recovery and nutrition are in check IMO.

EDIT: This is from a size or strength point of view, I noticed OP referred to "fitness". OP can you please elaborate on your training goals?


I agree with hungry about increasing the intensity by using rest pause, drop sets, giant sets, etc since your limited in the amount of weight you can use. You could also look into getting blast straps or TRX to increase your exercise variety.


I think you guys are right. I'm more interested in maintaining strength while underway, so I'm going to try to use a lot of drop sets and giant sets on my next patrol, and I'm going to pick up a weight vest for when I do pull-ups, push-ups, etc. Heavy weight is out of the question, especially when we have to go quiet. Straps might be a good idea. I'll see if I can hook them up to the overhead. Space is pretty limited on the sub. I'm also going to limit the steady-state cardio, and take a real hard look at my diet. I think that the food has been most detrimental. Thanks again.


A good weight vest, TRX/Blast Straps and handful of bands would be more than enough for you to train with. People have made enormous amounts of progress with less.

Unfortunately as you said the food is a big issue. You can try packing 80+ protein bars/meal replacements with you but that's still only one meal a day.


I'm in the military as well, and often go for extended periods without much sleep, and I always work long hours, without optimal nutrition/food timing/etc....not trying to be a dick, but I know what kinda situation OP is coming from, and that what I said is valid.


I highly agree with this, I was deployed to Liberia, Africa for about 10 months and all we had were some old crummy rusted ass dumbbells, a dip bar, and chin up bar. I made the most of my workouts trying to do even two lifts a day in some cases (one a crossfit type workout and the other usually my normal routine) and just eating a shitload of MRE's and canned tuna. I did lose some size but it wasn't much because I was actually doing some form of working out each day and eating as much as I could, and it was a lot


Yeah, it's one of those things where you just gotta fit in as much work as possible whenever you can. It sure beats doing nothing!


I'd look at doing push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and body-weight squats (is there even room to do this much) while on the boat?