Are barbells necessary for military strength?

SMason22

Double-Digit Post Count
...or can the 'right' variety of strength be obtained through kettlebells? This seems to be a somewhat controversial subject.

I'm also more interested in passing selection than performing as an operator at the moment, and I am aware these are very different skill sets.

Also, just because people have always prepared for these things using a ton of calisthenics to failure and lots of high intensity running doesn't mean this is the best way. One of the reasons I love this place is that most of the things Pavel teachers are so counter-culture and counter-bro science.
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Welcome to the forum!

No they are not necessary.
You can get plenty strong without ever touching a barbell and you can pass almost any selection tests for military or law enforcement without ever touching one.
You can get ready for almost anything with just kettlebells and/or calisthenics.
This doesn't mean that barbells don't have their place or can't be very beneficial. For example they reign supreme for absolute strength and they are the tool that will get you strong the fastest.

You mentioned the huge amount of calisthenics and running that are used to prepare for the tests. I'm sure skilled trainers can build you a different routine including stuff like barbells, kettlebells or whatever and that routine might even work better than the "usual thing", but I'm not one of them :)
There are a good amount of people on this forum with military or LEO background that can give you valuable advise on how to prepare for the test.
@aciampa or @mprevost are experts in this fields.
 

Gungnir0331

Double-Digit Post Count
They are just two different tools used for two different things. I use both the barbell and kettlebell multiple times a week and they each serve their purpose.

Not sure what your idea of “military strength” is, but for me it’s a combination of functional strength and endurance with a strong emphasis on your core and chassis. Depending on the job of course. If you are in a non combat related MOS, just be able to pass your pft once a year.

I wouldn’t say everyone trains like that anymore. Obviously that’s what you’ll be doing while you’re there, but it’s really more of a combination of science and timing to get your body ready for it to reduce the risk of an injury. Reality is most guys mentally check out far before their body is ready to give out. Between the a#@ kicking and sleep deprivation, most guys are physically broken down after the first 24 hours. It’s the strong willed that push through it to the end.

I can probably point you in the right direction of some solid selections training plans if you’d like. Just not sure exactly what you are trying out for. PM me if you don’t want to make it public. Good luck
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
...or can the 'right' variety of strength be obtained through kettlebells? This seems to be a somewhat controversial subject.

I'm also more interested in passing selection than performing as an operator at the moment, and I am aware these are very different skill sets.

Also, just because people have always prepared for these things using a ton of calisthenics to failure and lots of high intensity running doesn't mean this is the best way. One of the reasons I love this place is that most of the things Pavel teachers are so counter-culture and counter-bro science.
One of the major reasons to train that way is because you will probably be tested that way. In reality it all comes down to somewhat minor percentages of advantage toward max strength, max muscular endurance etc, there is considerable overlap in outcome for many resistance training strategies and methods.

Training intelligently with high intensity is proven to do two things that are difficult to cultivate otherwise -
- you will improve your rate of acid clearance in the muscles and elevate the threshold of rapid lactate accumulation
- your body will increase efficiency utilizing carbs aerobically

Anyway, a huge variety of strength can be obtained by using kettlebells. It can also be achieved using a huge variety of other resistance methods, but KBs are a potent member of the resistance training arsenal.
 

taikei

Triple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
It's best to ask military personnel if this issue weighs in to your career path.
 

ShawnM

More than 2500 posts
DL- everyone one, military or not needs to do them as long as there isn't a pre-existing medical issue. Do you need to lift 3x your bodyweight, not always, but until your dying day you will have to pick something off the floor.

Overhead press- same as DL, you don't need to press your bodyweight but you will always be placing something up over your head. Maybe an ammo can, maybe a sweater.

PU/CU/Row- if anything to build the stabilizers used in all the pressing. Also, IMHO, the best for building upper body strength and at the same time letting you know how much fat you're carrying. If your chin up numbers drop, step on the scale, a good chance one went down because the scale went up.

Swings/Snatches- all over S&C, there's a reason why the secret service does these as a test. If you wear a kit, these are a joint/lifesaver.

Just my thoughts, 47 year old, active duty, 27 year Navy Veteran.
 

SMason22

Double-Digit Post Count
Am wondering how to program deadlifts along with S&S 5-6x weekly, 1x ruck weekly and 3x runs weekly. Maybe 1-2x weekly of 2x5 or 3x3, not to failure, ES style? Not sure if that will be enough to progress, however, and it may just over tax me.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
Am wondering how to program deadlifts along with S&S 5-6x weekly, 1x ruck weekly and 3x runs weekly. Maybe 1-2x weekly of 2x5 or 3x3, not to failure, ES style? Not sure if that will be enough to progress, however, and it may just over tax me.
The deadlift can progress well with only a single day of it a week. The rate of progress is, however, naturally linked with the other training one does. If there's no other kinds of heavy lifting, I think two days is better than one. Also, I think the intensity of the training session needs to be substantially higher, the fewer the days of lifting a week.

I think you have the total number of reps right but I would personally try to do as many sets as possible. Dividing the total volume also increases rest between the sets and in my experience makes the deadlift session far less stressful on the back and the body. I think singles and doubles are the best.

When it comes to your plans, at worst/best you're considering doing S&S 6 times a week, 1 ruck and 3 runs and 2 days of deadlifting. That sounds like way too much to me. Personally, I would at least scrap two of the runs. Later on, when the greatest demand for cardio is near, take the runs back for two, three weeks and ease up on the lifting. And do S&S by the book, as in doing it light enough to not compromise your other training.

When it comes to the military tests specifically, I can't help you - we have conscription over here.
 

Snowman

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Physical jobs (and specific physical tasks) tend to require someone to be "strong enough," as opposed to the strength/power athletics that require someone to be "as strong as possible." Once you're strong enough, the goal shifts from aggressively getting stronger to improving your ability to maintain a "job level" output for longer and longer. I'm not saying that you ever stop training strength, I'm just saying that once you have ample strength to do the work, you won't really benefit from adding another 100 pounds to your deadlift.

The point I'm slowly making here is that, if someone is too weak to work, then strength should absolutely be their top priority, and a barbell is the most efficient way to get stronger. If someone is close to or at the level of strength they need to be to do their job, then KB's and bodyweight are probably all they need to close the gap or maintain where their at, as they work on performing their task for longer and longer. As mentioned, using the barbell once or twice a week is one good option. If you can maintain the strength you need with KB's, then they might a better use of your time since KB ballistics seem to have more carryover to work capacity than DL's.

Edit: If you don't mind me asking, what are your strength and endurance numbers? Or what do you think they are, if you haven't tested for a while?
 

mprevost

More than 500 posts
...or can the 'right' variety of strength be obtained through kettlebells? This seems to be a somewhat controversial subject.

I'm also more interested in passing selection than performing as an operator at the moment, and I am aware these are very different skill sets.

Also, just because people have always prepared for these things using a ton of calisthenics to failure and lots of high intensity running doesn't mean this is the best way. One of the reasons I love this place is that most of the things Pavel teachers are so counter-culture and counter-bro science.
As you stated, passing selection and training as an operator can be very different. As with everything, doing a simple analysis to determine what the major failure points might be is a good start. For some selection courses (i.e., BUD/S) injury prevention can be a big deal. For example, someone going to BUD/S needs a ton of run durability or they are not going to get through. That would be more important than a big deadlift for that particular course. There is no one size fits all approach. For some, heavy rucking is more important, for others, proficiency in the water. My first priority in physical preparation would be showing up uninjured. Second would be building durability. What kind of durability depends on the specifics of the selection course.
 

SMason22

Double-Digit Post Count
As you stated, passing selection and training as an operator can be very different. As with everything, doing a simple analysis to determine what the major failure points might be is a good start. For some selection courses (i.e., BUD/S) injury prevention can be a big deal. For example, someone going to BUD/S needs a ton of run durability or they are not going to get through. That would be more important than a big deadlift for that particular course. There is no one size fits all approach. For some, heavy rucking is more important, for others, proficiency in the water. My first priority in physical preparation would be showing up uninjured. Second would be building durability. What kind of durability depends on the specifics of the selection course.
Thanks! My course would be run and ruck heavy. Durability is my main issue.

I have a weak/troublesome foot and if I do too much without my orthotics end up out for a couple of months. I really wish I could get out of the orthotics and build up the strength to do all the above in minimal shoes, but I fear this would take years and still may result in injury, so was planning to proceed but keep using them.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

IMO, nothing beats specificity. If endurance is the goal, then train it may be the option: MAF, rucking, etc...

What about a frame like: 2 days of S&S, 2 days of rucking / running, 2 days of variety for instance ?

Lots of folks also report good results with S&S on a more or less daily basis + pull ups + running @MAF or rucking.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

SMason22

Double-Digit Post Count
Hello,

IMO, nothing beats specificity. If endurance is the goal, then train it may be the option: MAF, rucking, etc...

What about a frame like: 2 days of S&S, 2 days of rucking / running, 2 days of variety for instance ?

Lots of folks also report good results with S&S on a more or less daily basis + pull ups + running @MAF or rucking.

Kind regards,

Pet'
Thanks. My log outlining my approach is here:

https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/military-prep.10677/#post-146499

I'd love to hear your thoughts!
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@SMason22
I also work in finance. Basically, I am in front of a computer most of the time.

Currently, my routine is A+A everyday (for 30 minutes in the morning) + stretching + breathing / Wim Hof. The whole thing lasts 1h. Simultaneously, I do free-diving and Systema.

A+A permits me to get both strength and conditioning (useful for GPP and free-diving). Breathing and WH permits to make recovery faster while making me very relaxed. Being relaxed is crucial in free-diving, in systema, and life in general IMO.

During lunchtime, I ruck 1h with a 10kg backpack, 2-3 times a week

This global pattern permits me to stay pretty "functional" and always fresh. I always use full body training and "global moves" (such as push up, squat, etc...). I do plenty of moves. That way, I can rest from a day to the next one. Plus, the more I move, the more my body is able to learn new moves. I train my adaptation to a certain extent.

Your program sounds pretty nice to me :) . S&S + push ups + LSD is a very solid approach: GPP, real world oriented. This is my approach as well. If grip and shoulder can endure it, I'd add some pull up too.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
Thanks! My course would be run and ruck heavy. Durability is my main issue.

I have a weak/troublesome foot and if I do too much without my orthotics end up out for a couple of months. I really wish I could get out of the orthotics and build up the strength to do all the above in minimal shoes, but I fear this would take years and still may result in injury, so was planning to proceed but keep using them.
I have found strength training while standing on my feet excellent for strengthening my feet. I wore orthotics for a while (several years), but especially if you "grab the ground" and use other tips and strategies we teach here, you will strengthen your feet. I haven't worn orthotics in quite some time now, but also don't run much, either.

-S-
 

SMason22

Double-Digit Post Count
Hello,

@SMason22
I also work in finance. Basically, I am in front of a computer most of the time.

Currently, my routine is A+A everyday (for 30 minutes in the morning) + stretching + breathing / Wim Hof. The whole thing lasts 1h. Simultaneously, I do free-diving and Systema.

A+A permits me to get both strength and conditioning (useful for GPP and free-diving). Breathing and WH permits to make recovery faster while making me very relaxed. Being relaxed is crucial in free-diving, in systema, and life in general IMO.

During lunchtime, I ruck 1h with a 10kg backpack, 2-3 times a week

This global pattern permits me to stay pretty "functional" and always fresh. I always use full body training and "global moves" (such as push up, squat, etc...). I do plenty of moves. That way, I can rest from a day to the next one. Plus, the more I move, the more my body is able to learn new moves. I train my adaptation to a certain extent.

Your program sounds pretty nice to me :) . S&S + push ups + LSD is a very solid approach: GPP, real world oriented. This is my approach as well. If grip and shoulder can endure it, I'd add some pull up too.

Kind regards,

Pet'
Thanks Pet - I like the sound of your program. Which A&A protocol do you use and where can I learn more? I have read through some of the threads. I won't do anything differently until I reach Simple at least, however!

Also, what exactly is Wim Hof?
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

@SMason22
A+A is this: Strength Aerobics: A Powerful Alternative to HIIT
I simply change the move everyday ;) and use plenty of tools (bodyweight, kettlebell, bands, etc...). Only the training principle remains.

Wim Hof is a breathing method (considered to be hyperventilation). It also permits to get a cold adaptation (thanks to cold shower, cold bath, do not using a coat, etc...) through breath control and fat activation. It also teach you how to move using air retentionHere is the link of the method: The Wim Hof Method — Become Strong, Happy & Healthy

I "modified" it a little bit with
- a specific yoga breathing pattern right before the WH in itself
- I incorporated a diaphragm work during some air retention phases.

Otherwise, did you see this article: Total Package Weekly Kettlebell Training Template Some element are interesting (mix of strength & conditioning for instance)

Kind regards,

Pet'
 
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