Active duty Marine has questions re: Simple & Sinister

Eric Addis

Double-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
Hello all. I have a student who recently completed his IOC in the US marines, and in his most recent PFT performed 19 pull-ups, 110 sit-ups in 2min, and ran his 3mile in 21:30.

He has recently shown interest in shifting most, if not all, of his strength & conditioning training to kettlebell-only workouts for simplicity. I encouraged him to read simple & sinister, which he did.

His response following the read was along the lines of: "that's it? That's enough?"

While I would like to confidently answer with a resounding "yes" I am not or have ever been in the service, and I was looking for any active duty service members who have used S&S as their primary or sole training to provide a testimonial for him. Hopefully someone in that position will be able to better "speak his language"

If commenting here is not ideal please feel free to email me eda40@hotmail.com

Thank you for your time.
 

Anna C

> 6k Posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Hi Eric

I'm sure you will get further input that mine, but my initial thought is that for a fit guy, there may be some overlap time while he learns the exercises.

So, for example, for a couple of months he might do S&S three to five times per week with a weight that feels pretty easy, really focusing on technique and application of the principles of tension/relaxation, breathing, recovery, and all the fine points of the warm-up, swing, and get-up. During this time he might also do two or three other training sessions per week of whatever fitness activity he's used to.

As he starts to get some traction with S&S, and his skill comes to match his strength and fitness, then he can move up to using the 24kg, 32kg or more. Then it may actually be enough, especially when supplemented with the occasional mandatory group training, field work, etc.

Just my thoughts. I used to be military, but USAF and ANG... which your Marine may not consider relevant to his goals. ;)
 

Neuro-Bob

> 4k Posts
Former Marine Captain here, though I was the opposite end of the spear compared to the infantry (logistics). But I did have a standing desk!

Anyway. He is most likely looking to maintain a high level of physical "readiness" in case of overnight deployment. What I might do: S&S, presses, pull-ups, squats, interval sprints, and the occasional hike with gear.

Thankfully deployment dates usually are not overnight, and he'll probably have some time for terrain specific training before actually shipping out. Stay in a sort of GPP with PFT or CFT focus (depending on the season), then when he finds out his deployment date, train for that purposefully (like mountainous athletics if going to Northern Helmand province, for example.). Send him here when that time comes: Military Athlete - Training for your Job, Passion, Profession

That's my main point. Some rambling follows. Hope it helps!

There are two challenges, one mental and one cultural.

The cultural one - it's not a workout unless you're gassed at the end. This is a hard mentality to break, especially fresh out of school, where there is some major physical challenge weekly (8 mile hike carrying mortars while in a gas mask/MOPP suit being a big one in IOC). As he shuffles in to garrison life, he needs to be fit enough to perform, but also not broken before the war starts. GPP like S&S is good, but he'll want to add task-specific items. For example, pull-ups during Jan-Jun when it's PFT season, and more boots/utes interval sprints during CFT season (Jul-Dec). Add to S&S so when his Staff Sergeant says "sir we are doing a flak vest run today with SAPI plates," he will be at the front of the pack actually leading the Marines.

Honestly, cross fit is pretty darn good for that.

The mental challenge comes from the dreaded "unit PT." Get up at 5am so some sleepy lance corporal can make you do 10 push-ups, a sit-up, then walk around the track twice, and still say "good PT today Marines." Just because you already got up and did something, it can be challenging then to do a "second" workout during lunch or after work. Thankfully unit PT is more rare, but that's just a lifestyle thing for him - don't let organized PT interfere with actually staying in shape.

He's already in great shape having just finished IOC, but I guarantee he needs some recovery time, because that school mostly breaks you down.
 

Neuro-Bob

> 4k Posts
Last one, I promise. There is a very primal connection between the amount of respect a new officer gets and his fitness level, since that's one of the few things he can be judged on when he first takes command of a platoon. I've known infantry lieutenants that got publicly chewed out by their Colonel for "only doing 20 pull-ups" on a PFT, where the Max is 20 for score. Similarly, if he's perceived as weak by his juniors, they will grudgingly follow him.

All this to say - he needs to do his KB work in private until he's putting up a weight, where the size of the bell makes you go "Holy s***!" If they see him struggling with a 16kg, his Marines will basically think he's mixing yoga with a Jillian Michaels Belly, Butt, And Thighs Fat Shredder Vol 2 workout video....and it will be up to his other winning leadership qualities to boost his reputation.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@aciampa?

@Eric Addis, IMHO, some experimentation is in order. For things like, i.e., how much carryover is there to <name the thing here>, a lot depends on how good you need to be at the thing relative to how good you are at the thing with little or no training.

The only way to know is to dial back the specific training, add in S&S or similar, and test periodically at the thing to see how it's working. My guess is that most people will need to find their own mix, e.g., distance runners will still need to run, cyclists will still need regular saddle time, etc.

Your guy ran 3 miles @ 7:10/mile. For someone who's a naturally gifted runner and can do 3 hour marathons and 17 minute 5ks and the like, 7:10 a mile for 3 miles is easy - for me, it would require training, and with training, I could meet or surpass that number, so I'd have to be swinging 2-3 times a week and running 2-3 times a week to make it work for me. But that's just me - we're all different, so it depends ...

-S-
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
from reading comments over time, it seems S&S is great for preserving fitness like this guy has, but may not be sufficient for developing it in an untrained individual. Also, swings (other ballistics) are a variable exercise with more "work" for strong people who can really snap it.
@Steve Freides I agree with you re: the running time, but most good runners are not carrying the upper body mass to to 19 pullups. Marines want the package of being able to handle bodyweight well, and move it over distance quickly.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Matts, I'm not clear if you're suggesting being able to 19 pullups requires upper body mass. IMHO, it does not. I managed 19 pullups while holding a 20 lb. hex dumbbell between my feet, and I'm pretty skinny according to most.

-S-
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
@Steve Freides 2 reasons- 1. You're a freak of nature, not representative of general population! haha (meant in the best way possible), and 2. I grew up a Marine brat...and most Marines are pretty solid and carry a lot more weight than the typical distance runner. Maybe it's the mess hall food and MREs, combined with the entire workload (including, heavy rucking, hand-to-hand combat, etc.).
 

Miguel

> 1k Posts
His response following the read was along the lines of: "that's it? That's enough?"
Enough for what sir? Is he trying to go Recon, Marsoc, A&S, or just Infantry life? Does he want to do better on the PFT/CFT, training for MCIWS, USMC Marathon, etc.? Prior to being able to answer you correctly and relevantly, all I can say is, maybe. If you can get some specifics from him as to what exactly he is looking for, I'm sure we can dial him.

Knowing his job field pretty well, I have some ideas though...

Hopefully someone in that position will be able to better "speak his language"
If it matters, Active Duty USMC Reconnaissance Man.

If commenting here is not ideal please feel free to email me eda40@hotmail.com
Look for a PM from me, sir.

Honestly, cross fit is pretty darn good for that.
Sir, being a former Cpt, I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time you've heard this from an enlisted...
NO. As an institution, we need to divest ourselves of this mentality. Combine XFit type "workouts" with ALL the stressors of USMC life (early morning, accountability, responsibility, due outs, Field Ex's, PDSSs, PDT, UDP, MEU, bad food, energy drinks, dip, and "Go BIG or GO HOME" and you have yourself the best recipe known to man for overtraining and overtraining syndrome.

Coming from an old and disproved training mentality of more = better, I can tell you he does not really need to add more things, but rather, be judicious in his selection of "things" that he does to get him stronger and faster. He needs, what EVERY Mil/LE/FR needs, "the most bang for his buck, or the exercises and movements that produce sufficient/desired physiological adaptations without using specificity..." (Ciampa, A. 2013)

Very easy to take to he field.
Unless he is in LAVs, he will probably have to pack the bell in his ruck for field ops. Not the preferred technique for hiking 15k to a field op.

he needs to do his KB work in private until he's putting up a weight, where the size of the bell makes you go "Holy s***!"
Sir, with all due respect ( =] ), that is a typically O mentality. There is nothing special about him, other than his college degree. He is a man, just like the rest of us. Hiding his routine, or conversely, shoving it down the throats of his men as the "best thing ever" (read: '06-07, Project Phoenix/ CrossFit), will alienate him further. Guys like me, the lowly enlisted, look for humanity in our officers, not super-hero like qualities.

I suggest that he works with whatever bell he is comfortable with, no matter how heavy or light. His ability to "work" in front of his men, or scandalously, be criticized, will garner respect for him as someone who has nothing to hide. And a heavier bell, or that expletive weight, may not be the best thing for him, at any time on the TEEP, especially without knowing his goals.

For things like, i.e., how much carryover is there to <name the thing here>, a lot depends on how good you need to be at the thing relative to how good you are at the thing with little or no training.
Sir, unless there is a "thing" that has sufficient carryover for X & Y, with those variables being "life in the USMC". I will submit myself as evidence...

@Eric Addis ,
Sir, your student is likely in serious need of some correctives, fresh out of OCS and IOC. He needs to regain his Functional Movement, and tie his entire body back together.
-Rocks, nods/bobs, goblet squats(prying and not)
-Rolls
-Crawling
-Mobility GetUps
-He needs to "get his squat back!" (Ciampa, A. 2013)

He can do the above !Regardless! of what Unit PT he has to attend. He will most likely not have a say in what he does for PT during the week, but in the off chance he does
-Program the hip hinge pattern, learn and relearn and refine the swing
-Learn, refine, dissect, reconnect, refine, and learn the Heavy Get Up
-Learn how to snatch a KB
-Learn about A+A

Mr. Freides mentioned @aciampa , and a measly "+1" is insufficient. I have been a devoted student of Mr. Ciampa for more than a year. The above recommendations are just the tips of the icebergs of his PT Manual and training methodology. At your earliest convenience, please PM Mr. Ciampa and ask him about the manual, it is solid gold for servicemembers. As such, I have been following it along with the direct advice and compass heading changes from Mr. Ciampa and some other like-minded individuals (@Anna C , @Harald Motz , @JonS , @Neal Sivula , @avroomer ), and while I am the only Marine in the group, we all have experienced improvements in strength, speed, resiliency, endurance, and stress reduction; the very things essential to an Infantryman.

Mr. Addis, I am more than happy to answer any questions you or your student, or anyone else, has in regards to my previous training, current training ideology and methodology, and improvements made. Thank you for your time, sir.
 

LoneRider

More than 300 posts
Active duty Army here (engineer CPT in a construction unit) and my .02 cents on the matter are S&S is helpful for maintaining fitness and if he can get access to a barbell when he's not in the field, something like the Daily Deadlift Dose could be another useful thing.

I've used the barbell based Greyskull LP and later Wender 5/3/1 approaches for my strength in conjunction with S&S and later the RoP and got some decent results in. My own schedule is below:

Mon - Run (A.M). and RoP, Light Day (P.M.)
Tues - 5/3/1 (I run a 2x/week split)
Weds - RoP Moderate Day (A.M.)
Thurs- Officer PT (A.M.) and 5/3/1 (P.M.)
Fri - Company Run/Ruck (A.M.) and RoP, Heavy Day (P.M.)
Sat - Flex day (i.e. if I miss a session of 5/3/1 or RoP sometime in the week) or rest day
Sun- Rest day

I do frequency method pushups and pullups for a set volume for a given week (pushups in sets of 40 and pullups in sets of 6).

He'll need to determine how much latitude he has as far as being able to do PT in his unit to best plan it. If he's doing enough physically demanding stuff in garrison, then 2-3x S&S sessions are more than sufficient.

I used PTTP to great effect when I had mandatory unit PT, so something like 2-3 S&S and 2 PTTP sessions/week could be helpful in that regard.
 

Neuro-Bob

> 4k Posts
"Sir, with all due respect ( =] ), that is a typically O mentality."

Well shoot, I guess I must've been an O lol.

Seriously though, just "Bob" works, I've been out for a while now. Great points across the board, thankfully also coming from someone with your experience.

Though I'm not sure there can ever be a non-polarized discussion of CrossFit....just one of those topics I guess.
 

Miguel

> 1k Posts
"Sir, with all due respect ( =] ), that is a typically O mentality."

Well shoot, I guess I must've been an O lol.

Seriously though, just "Bob" works, I've been out for a while now. Great points across the board, thankfully also coming from someone with your experience.

Though I'm not sure there can ever be a non-polarized discussion of CrossFit....just one of those topics I guess.
=]

No worries, sir. You held the rank, so you will always be "Sir" to me. Plus, I have learned over the years that courtesy and respect are in short supply these days, and what little I can offer over the internet normally takes the shape of Sir and Ma'am.


...CrossFit... I actually wrote a paper on a VERY similar training approach. Some extremely interesting facts came to light. I can shoot it to you if you'd like, although I will admit, a year ago I thought it was awesome, knowing what I know now, it is rather sophomoric, but still makes some good points.

Errr.
 

Neuro-Bob

> 4k Posts
...CrossFit... I actually wrote a paper on a VERY similar training approach. Some extremely interesting facts came to light. I can shoot it to you if you'd like, although I will admit, a year ago I thought it was awesome, knowing what I know now, it is rather sophomoric, but still makes some good points..
I would actually be interested to read what you came up with. I took a CrossFit coach's course a few years ago out of personal interest, never actually subscribed to the method though - I've had friends do it with great results, just never jived with how my brain works.

About respect - for a VERY brief period after the Corps I was a salesman. Hated it. Anyway, Sir and Ma'am always got the weirdest reactions.

But now I am just way off topic for this thread.
 

Sauli

> 2k Posts
Some bodyweight training, walks, easy jogging and something like s&s few days a week will do more than enough for soldier. I don't know nothing about u.s army, but I think that it's not so much different than ours. Yep, I'm not professional soldier but I served my time like most of my countrymen. :)

Ps. There is old sayin that: "One finnish soldier equals ten russian soldiers".
So our military training must be extremely tough. ;)
 

WxHerk

More than 300 posts
Certified Instructor
God blessed me with the great fortune of being in Al Ciampa's first Kettlebell Instructor Course here at Keesler AFB. I am an Active Air Force Reserve Flyer. Not a physically demanding job..unless we end up having to ground evacuate...I can carry anyone in my unit to safety..or we ditch in the Ocean..I can push/pull people into a 20 man liferaft..or Heaven knows what happens when deployed. Besides, who wants to be that weak fatbody dialing 9-1-1 ? ? ?

In the most respectful and admirable way possible, @Miguel is doing a fine job of channeling Al. Having trained with Military Members at the top of the food chain and training/working with Al, this is precisely what I have seen work miracle after miracle, after..you get the picture. And, if I may stray a touch off topic, Miguel's post shows a passion for the Corps and for your student to be the absolutely dynamite Officer that his Marines deserve.

Yes, Al's PT Manual. It is exactly what you need.
 

Frank_IT

More than 500 posts
And this right here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I keep @Miguel high in my top list. You know my opinion about you, hermano, and in here you just proven me right once again. Forever grateful, you know why! ;)
 

ctousry

Double-Digit Post Count
Would just like to add check out RIKR Defence and buy there combat foundations program! You will not be disappointed. Worth every penny!! It's all about training very smart and will get you in the best shape possible for military or "survival" fitness in the worst case scenario if we get invaded lol. Also speaking of crossfit. An interesting read by creator of RIKR Defence. http://spotterup.com/what-do-you-think-about-crossfit/
 

JonS

More than 500 posts
The above recommendations are just the tips of the icebergs of his PT Manual and training methodology. At your earliest convenience, please PM Mr. Ciampa and ask him about the manual, it is solid gold for servicemembers.
Solid gold may be an understatement.

Miguel's post shows a passion for the Corps and for your student to be the absolutely dynamite Officer that his Marines deserve
I second this observation; an excellent display of leadership from @Miguel, providing the wisdom of experience for a young Officer in order to ensure success of the organization.

Good luck to the LT.
 
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