Are barbells necessary for military strength?

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
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.
I put a couple of thoughts together on tactical training priorities on my website here: Tactical Athlete Training Priorities – Mike Prevost, PhD
 

Sergej

Level 3 Valued Member
NO!
if you study history and history of physical culture you will see that throughout centuries around the world no military needed a barbell to prepare themselves.
in contrary, calisthenics and weights like kettlebells, sandbags, stones, logs, etc. were used. cheaper and more affordable.
 

SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
I put a couple of thoughts together on tactical training priorities on my website here: Tactical Athlete Training Priorities – Mike Prevost, PhD
Great article Mike, thanks. I read all of your stuff over the weekend and actually am going to incorporate a couple of your progressions in my plan. (my log is here: https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/military-prep.10677/).

When you mention "strong enough", what do you think this is for a tactical athlete?

Also, how would you build "run durability"?

Thanks again
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
NO!
if you study history and history of physical culture you will see that throughout centuries around the world no military needed a barbell to prepare themselves.
in contrary, calisthenics and weights like kettlebells, sandbags, stones, logs, etc. were used. cheaper and more affordable.
Exactly how could any military use the barbell throughout centuries if the plate-loaded barbell was invented in the 20th century? Also, when one looks at athletes of the modern day, plenty of them are training by barbells. Should they stop it since the barbells weren't used for any time before their invention in recent history? Or could it be that the barbell is a terrific implement for improving the athletic condition? And if athletes use it, couldn't the same apply for other people as well?

I suppose a better question could be which military or force is in the best condition in the modern day and how they achieved that state. And then again, it's a good thing to question what condition in general are we talking about; the one needed for getting through basic training or a condition that helps you get through the worst possible situation in a war-zone.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
The short answer is that you do not need the barbell as a tool for MIL prep.

I sit with Mike about being durable and injury-free; what durable is is another discussion. And yes, you need a general protocol that will also prep you for the specific "nonsense" that your particular selection course will expose you to.

I would be more concerned with taking the time to sort out your foot issues before you ship out.
 

SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
Thanks @aciampa .

Unfortunately I don't really even know what's wrong with my foot. I've seen countless physiotherapists, chiropractors and even a surgeon. The MRI didn't reveal anything.

I am just going to try to transition out of orthotics and introduce some POSE style running. If it gets bad again I will just have to return to the orthotics!

My log is here, Al:

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

I'd love to get your thoughts if possible!
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
Great article Mike, thanks. I read all of your stuff over the weekend and actually am going to incorporate a couple of your progressions in my plan. (my log is here: https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/military-prep.10677/).

When you mention "strong enough", what do you think this is for a tactical athlete?

Also, how would you build "run durability"?

Thanks again
Strong enough is a philosophical idea, because it cannot really be measured. At some point, the acquisition of strength is going to interfere with other priorities, result in unacceptable risk, and compromise other abilities. Somewhere before that point is strong enough.

Run durability is simple. More easy run volume. Your response to volume is mostly independent of how it is structured (mostly). You can recover better from small doses than you can from big doses. For example, 4 runs of 5 miles is much easier to recover from than 2 runs of 10 miles, but the improvement in durability is not compromised (fitness improvements either). So training for run durability is best done by lots of little exposures that add up to significant volume over time. For example, if you ran 3 miles in the morning at a 10 minute mile pace (30 minutes total) and did the same in the evening, and did this 7 days per week, you would accumulate 42 miles per week of run volume in a very gentle way. Great leg durability training! If I were incorporating this with rucking and strength training, I would ruck only 1 day per week (with no running on that day) and I would ruck heavy, and only 20-40 minutes. The goal would be to go heavier and heavier, maintaining 4 mph pace. Heavy rucks transfer well to longer, lighter rucks, but the reverse is not true. Rucking once per week is enough if you are also running and doing some strength training.
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
I would be more concerned with taking the time to sort out your foot issues before you ship out.
YES, this ........100% agree. This is your most important consideration. Better to be unrestrained and uninjured, than superbly trained and injured. Is this plantar fasciitis?
 

Sergej

Level 3 Valued Member
Exactly how could any military use the barbell throughout centuries if the plate-loaded barbell was invented in the 20th century? Also, when one looks at athletes of the modern day, plenty of them are training by barbells. Should they stop it since the barbells weren't used for any time before their invention in recent history? Or could it be that the barbell is a terrific implement for improving the athletic condition? And if athletes use it, couldn't the same apply for other people as well?

I suppose a better question could be which military or force is in the best condition in the modern day and how they achieved that state. And then again, it's a good thing to question what condition in general are we talking about; the one needed for getting through basic training or a condition that helps you get through the worst possible situation in a war-zone.
exactly, it simply wasn´t there, but soldiers came out greatly prepared even without it.
of course it can help and for some it might be a big help, but the question was : do you need it?
and i think, NO , you do not!
 

SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
YES, this ........100% agree. This is your most important consideration. Better to be unrestrained and uninjured, than superbly trained and injured. Is this plantar fasciitis?
Everyone thought post tib tendonitis but the MRI didn't suggest this. The surgeon thought it was a small ganglion cyst caused from repetitive trauma (likely from football). If the latter is correct, then it may be sore but wont do any damage. Long story short: no one knows.
 

SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
Strong enough is a philosophical idea, because it cannot really be measured. At some point, the acquisition of strength is going to interfere with other priorities, result in unacceptable risk, and compromise other abilities. Somewhere before that point is strong enough.

Run durability is simple. More easy run volume. Your response to volume is mostly independent of how it is structured (mostly). You can recover better from small doses than you can from big doses. For example, 4 runs of 5 miles is much easier to recover from than 2 runs of 10 miles, but the improvement in durability is not compromised (fitness improvements either). So training for run durability is best done by lots of little exposures that add up to significant volume over time. For example, if you ran 3 miles in the morning at a 10 minute mile pace (30 minutes total) and did the same in the evening, and did this 7 days per week, you would accumulate 42 miles per week of run volume in a very gentle way. Great leg durability training! If I were incorporating this with rucking and strength training, I would ruck only 1 day per week (with no running on that day) and I would ruck heavy, and only 20-40 minutes. The goal would be to go heavier and heavier, maintaining 4 mph pace. Heavy rucks transfer well to longer, lighter rucks, but the reverse is not true. Rucking once per week is enough if you are also running and doing some strength training.
Thanks Mike. I've just re-read your rucking guide along with some other reviews of the Visser paper.

So, given my goal (to get to 'Point A' as described in your BUD/S guide) you would recommend:

- 4-6 steady runs per week (75% or less HR, building up volume slowly)
- strength training 2-3x weekly (would S&S be ok for this or do you think barbells superior?)
- ruck 1x weekly progressively heavier loads but only 20-40m (how heavy should I go? Intervals as in your ruck guide or 20-40m constant? What heart rate would you use for this?) How about every other week a long / constant weight ruck increasing in distance and every other week a short heavy ruck increasing in weight ?

This gets me to Point A and I imagine my SPP from A to B involves a lot of rucking, although by then my base will be very solid. How long would you recommend to get from A to B?

Thanks
 
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SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
Fyi my event:

Spring next year: 1.5m run and pushups/situps test

Late next year:

1. 10m over undulating terrain with 35lbs plus weapon in 2h
2. 2m over undulating terrain with 35lbs + helmet + weapon in 18m
3. 20m over undulating terrain with 35lbs + weapon in 4:10
5. 2 mile run with 9 people carrying 60kg log w straps
6. Carrying 175lb stretcher over 5m with teams

These (along with a few other things) are all done in the same week.

So it's run + ruck heavy.
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks Mike. I've just re-read your rucking guide along with some other reviews of the Visser paper.

So, given my goal (to get to 'Point A' as described in your BUD/S guide) you would recommend:

- 4-6 steady runs per week (75% or less HR, building up volume slowly)
- strength training 2-3x weekly (would S&S be ok for this or do you think barbells superior?)
- ruck 1x weekly progressively heavier loads but only 20-40m (how heavy should I go? Intervals as in your ruck guide or 20-40m constant? What heart rate would you use for this?) How about every other week a long / constant weight ruck increasing in distance and every other week a short heavy ruck increasing in weight ?

This gets me to Point A and I imagine my SPP from A to B involves a lot of rucking, although by then my base will be very solid. How long would you recommend to get from A to B?

Thanks
That would do fine for getting you to point A. One simple modification I made to S&S that I believe will help you is to add a single lift to the end of the workout. For example, rotate overhead press, squats and pullups. This results in a combination of both S&S and barbell. Either that or a really simple barbell program would be fine. I like your idea of alternating a long and a short/heavy ruck weekly. Go as heavy as you can manage comfortably on the heavy stuff. The idea is to do a shorter workout, but a hard one. Don't worry about heart rate for either ruck. Just walk at 4 mph (or a bit faster if you can manage it). You might want to train with 40-45 lbs for the longer stuff (work up to it) since you will be tested with 35 lbs. I don't think you will find 35 lbs to be too much of a problem. From A to B depends on what you achieve in getting to point A but 6 weeks is generally plenty of time to sharpen run fitness for an all out run test. Same for pushups and situps. Plus I would plan in an easy week of recovery prior to the test. Just a couple of easy runs and some submaximal pushups and situps that week.
 

SMason22

Level 4 Valued Member
@mprevost thanks!

I actually read that article today. For the short / heavy ruck, would you advise intervals or just 30-45m hard? How high should I progress the weight?

Thanks for the barbell idea. I think I will include presses, deadlifts and pullups. Submaximal loads, easy strength style 1-2x weekly each.

Thanks again !
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
@mprevost thanks!

I actually read that article today. For the short / heavy ruck, would you advise intervals or just 30-45m hard? How high should I progress the weight?

Thanks for the barbell idea. I think I will include presses, deadlifts and pullups. Submaximal loads, easy strength style 1-2x weekly each.

Thanks again !
If you can maintain 4 mph then 30-40 minutes hard is fine. When the load gets really heavy, you might want to shift to intervals (i.e., 2 X 15 min) to keep the pace high. There is no rule of thumb for weight progression for rucking like there is for increasing run mileage. I would aim for something like 10lb increase initially and see how that goes. Since it is every other week, that would give you 20lbs per month increase for the heavy rucks. At a certain point, 10lbs is going to be too much. You'll have to play that one by ear a bit. The good thing is that you are always aiming for 4 mph or slightly faster. When you can't maintain 4 mph, you increased too much.
 
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