Military Fitness

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Prior to discovering barbell training I did little more than exercise exclusively to score well on the Army APFT and was usually good for a max score or close. After choosing to make barbells primary and now spending almost no time “training” for the APFT, I continue to hit maxes but can now do so against the scoring standards for personnel half my age.

For any of these Cooper-based tests, adding 1-2 sets of push ups and sit ups as a finisher after the real training is done is more than enough practice/conditioning for the test. On non-training days I’ll alternate between 100-200 meter intervals and running about three miles. Starting about a month before the test, this sets me up for an easy max.

Attending an NCOES school, I found it easy to hit the prescribed maximums and then lead others in the Army’s current Physical Readiness Training program (http://www.armyprt.com) For a person following a good strength training program, maxing out on “army pilates” takes about two weeks of conditioning at best. The most difficult part is memorizing the ridiculously-long lists of exercises.

MAJ Long explains why:
http://startingstrength.com/article/why_does_the_army_want_me_weak

More:

https://startingstrength.com/article/a_strength_based_approach_to_the_apft

I have found with any program if you do not believe in it, the results will be marginal at best. Which would explain why some cadets had marginal improvements. I have said for a long time that the Army is a bunch of untrained runners, running a lot, in a box. The problem however stems deeper than just improper programming and useless training. Many times there just simply is no plan because the leader simply does not know what to do. And whats the easiest thing to program? “We are going for a run today”.

I am the company medic for an infantry company. Physical fitness is a huge part of our job. I see every injury sustained by troops before they go to the next level of care, if needed. I see roughly 2 people a day while non-deployed with 90% of those injuries being over use. While deployed I see roughly 2 people A MONTH! Due to the nature of the beast while deployed, soldiers essentially do what they want for their programming. Their routines involve weights. Not running. Unless there is a problem with them not being able to perform their job nothing is said. They do the dumb stuff out of fitness magazine. But they believe in it so fervently the results, if you can call them that, come regardless.

Until the military gets actual trainers dispersed at the Strategic leadership level that can teach leaders how to train troops, and those leaders provide troops with purpose, direction, and motivation regarding PT this redundant problem will remain.

http://startingstrength.com/resources/forum/mark-rippetoe-q-and-a/64903-air-force-pt-test.html

http://threestormfitness.com/evidence-based-answers-to-fitness-and-nutrition-faqs/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/04/well/move/even-a-little-weight-training-may-cut-the-risk-of-heart-attack-and-stroke.html

https://firearmusernetwork.com/acft-dumb-and-dumber/

https://firearmusernetwork.com/army-combat-readiness-test/

A study published in October in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise provides evidence for the first time that even a little weight training might reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. People appear to gain this benefit whether or not they also engage in frequent aerobic exercise.

The study drew from an invaluable cache of health data gathered at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, where thousands of men and women have been undergoing annual checkups, which include filling out detailed questionnaires about their exercise habits and medical history. More than 12,500 records were anonymized for men and women, most of them middle-aged, who had visited the clinic at least twice between 1987 and 2006. The subjects were categorized according to their reported resistance exercise routines, ranging from those who never lifted to those who completed one, two, three or more weekly sessions (or whether they lifted for more or less than an hour each week). Another category was aerobic exercise and whether subjects met the standard recommendation of 150 minutes per week of brisk workouts. This exercise data was then crosschecked against heart attacks, strokes and deaths during the 11 years or so after each participant’s last clinic visit.

The findings were dramatic: The risk of experiencing these events was roughly 50 percent lower for those who lifted weights occasionally, compared with those who never did — even when they were not doing the recommended endurance exercise. People who lifted twice a week, for about an hour or so in total, had the greatest declines in risk. (Interestingly, the subjects who reported weight training four or more times per week did not show any significant health benefits compared with those who never lifted, although the researchers believe this finding is probably a statistical anomaly.)

“The good news,” says Duck-chul Lee, an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and co-author of the study, “is that we found substantial heart benefits associated with a very small amount of resistance exercise.” As an associational study, the results show only that people who occasionally lift weights happen to have healthier hearts — not that resistance training directly reduces heart-related health risks. The data, though, does reveal associations between weight lifting and a lower body mass index, Lee says, which might be connected to fewer heart problems. He and his colleagues do not know the specifics of what exercises people were doing — lat pull-downs? dead lifts? squats? — or how many repetitions they did or at what level of resistance. Lee says he is in the early stages of a major study to examine some of those factors. But he doesn’t suggest waiting for those results.

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Strength Trumps All Health Markers With No Inflection Point

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Dr. Jonathon Sullivan responding to a query concerning possible negative outcomes from strength training:

Where is your peer-reviewed, properly controlled data to indicate that progressively increasing one’s strength with heavy training causes an inflection point to the negative in either performance or “health” in populations? And what is the consensus of the data as to exactly where this inflection point will occur for any individual or population?

Well, it won’t be found here:

In a study lasting nearly two decades involving 8,762 men aged 20-80 it was found that, “Muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders… Muscular strength was independently associated with risk of death from all causes and cancer in men. These findings are valid for men of normal weight, those who are overweight, and younger or older men, and are valid even after adjusting for several potential confounders, including cardiorespiratory fitness.”

TL;DR: Increased muscular strength trumped all other indicators of health and was the single best predictor of reduced mortality in a 18.9 year study involving 8,762 test subjects and categorizing them into low, middle, and upper strength groups. The stronger people proved harder to kill and no inflection point was found.

Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2453303/

Associations of Muscle Mass and Strength with All-Cause Mortality among US Older Adults
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28991040

Weightlifting is good for your heart and it doesn’t take much
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181113115430.htm

Research indicates strength training may be more effective for heart health and overall health than cardio, especially for older people.
https://knowridge.com/2018/11/for-older-people-weight-training-is-more-important-than-cardio-exercise/
https://nypost.com/2018/11/19/lifting-weights-is-better-for-your-heart-than-cardio-study/

If we imagine some yet-to-be-found inflection point of negative health from increased strength does exist, the number of humans taking up barbell training that manage to reach that unicorn is too low to consider.

Army Combat Fitness/Readiness Test complaints

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Here is all you need to understand about the Army’s new ACFT: Motivated and intelligent personnel that know how to train effectively will continue to get very good scores, just as before. Malingerers will complain and do poorly or fail, just as before.

Consider what the test is asking personnel to do. Here are the proposed standards as of July 31 2018: July 2018 proposed standards

The ACFT Field Testing Manual explains the standards.
https://www.military.com/sites/default/files/2018-09/Field%20testing%20manual.pdf

This article demonstrates the events:
https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/10/30/videos-heres-how-complete-new-army-fitness-test.html
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Learning By Competing

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Bill Starr was one of the great strength athletes and coaches, having competed and won at Weightlifting up through Olympic levels, Powerlifting, and then taking what he learned and coaching others to do the same. Knowledgeable practitioners in the strength and conditioning field recognize him as one of the innovators. His efforts are a primary reason why sport teams recognize the benefit of Strength and Conditioning coaches.

Starr was an ideal trainer and coach, having first formally competed and achieved success to validate his knowledge before teaching others. He learned what he knew by competing.

And as I learned from fellow competitors in the ensuing years, that’s what they did as well. It was an intuitive process out of necessity. There were no coaches to tell us this, and no one was actively writing about it in the magazines. That’s how we learned just about everything about lifting heavy weights: trial and error, then sitting back and considering just what had been done, both pro and con.

This seldom happens currently. When a strength athlete hits a wall in his routine, he doesn’t study the problem and come up with a viable solution. Rather, he seeks advice from the bounty of experts out there, via books, videos, clinics and DVDs. That’s certainly much faster and easier, but at the same time it’s less effective. Having to beat your head against a wall until you solve the riddle about your program is much more beneficial than having someone else come up with the answer.

Be like Starr. If you want to learn your discipline better and faster, compete!

More:
http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Starr_HeavyLight_Starr.pdf

http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/the-light-heavy-and-medium-system/

Barbell Training in the Military

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A military Physical Fitness Test is not designed to measure combat effectiveness, nor is it designed to measure combat readiness. Physical Fitness Tests are wellness assessments for hygiene designed to ensure a minimal level of fitness necessary to avoid medical problems, not for improved performance.

Here is how to do it better and actually improve performance.

Starting Strength and Barbell Training in the Military
by
Lt. Col. Christian “Mac” Ward

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Barbell Training as Rehab

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Why getting stronger helps everything. This account is of an injured man told he’d never walk again and his complete rehabilitation despite his grim doctor’s prognosis.

http://startingstrength.com/articles/brian_jones_story.pdf

Strength Training For The Elderly: A Life Saver

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More proof why making effective strength training a priority is better than cardio, especially as you age. Conventional “wisdom” that cardio is the best (or only) has been proven incorrect numerous times. Dr. Ken Cooper had it wrong OK, if we’re polite we can say he was only partially correct. Even the man that coined the word “aerobics” admits his mistake now.
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