This is one of the best overviews of effective military fitness training I’ve read.
Give me a 180-200lb guy that can squat, deadlift, press, clean, and snatch close to the “accepted” standards for athletic performance.** Add in cardio to his regimen – sprints, preferably. Every once in a while, with safety in mind, force him to work longer than 40 minutes. It should be taxing. Every single gym session works him toward a common goal- mobility, flexibility, strength, power, explosiveness, and injury prevention. If any workout doesn’t directly benefit (without excluding) those tenets, then don’t do it. Strength is priority numeral uno. Cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory conditioning is second, tied with mobility and injury prevention. Everything else- aesthetics, fad training ideas, things you read in muscle and fitness about your abs- throw them away. Let’s not get cute until we are in the top 10% of our weight class.
** From this chart, minimums are at least Cat. III in every lift for your weight and gender, preferably Cat. IV
It is worth noting that most military and police fitness tests were based on research done by Dr. Ken Cooper. Cooper (the man that coined the word “aerobics”) is a cardiologist that was a competitive runner and one of the first researchers to find a correlation between cardiovascular fitness and mortality. His tests were based on his clinical and competitive interests (biases?) and formed around running for time or distance, usually around 12-20 minute and/or 1.5-3 mile tests. Because this ignored any sort of upper body testing, two calisthenic exercises of some sort were added. Cooper suggested push ups and sit ups.
None of this had any relevance or merit to athletic or combat performance. Cooper’s tests were designed around the correlation of cardiovascular fitness and mortality rates. Passing a PT test indicates enough “fitness” to avoid premature death from a cardiopulmonary disease. It is an indicator of physical wellness only.
While cardiovascular fitness does correlate to physical wellness and reduced mortality, aerobic exercise is not necessary to improve it. Further research indicates that physical strength may be a better measure anyway. It’s certainly better for field performance.
And if you train to be able to run away, to simply exist as opposed to being strong enough to finish the fight- well, then run away is all you got. And that’s not the business we are in.