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Other/Mixed skinny-fat seeking to join the army.

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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soljaboy

Level 2 Valued Member
Hello everyone


So all of a sudden I decided to enlist in the army and I'm serious this time. For the past few weeks I have started self-training by carrying out bodyweight workouts like pushups, sit ups, squats, and running every other day. My current progress: 2 miles in 27 mins, 10 diamond pushups with a very good form, 25 normal pushups, 37 straight sit-ups with arms behind the head and 45 extra with arms stretched, and 0 pull-up/chin-ups L!. However the biggest problem besides my age (I’m 28!) is my severely out-of-shape body: I have a very lanky limbs, a pencil neck, weak wrists and other features of a muscle less skinny guy with 2 additional virtues of an obese person: a bloated belly measuring 33” and womanly chests. In addition to genetics, my lack of interest in physical activities (I literally never played any sports in the school) and poor diet have contributed to sculpt me in this way.


Nevertheless I would still like to give a try and I need to do it by the next year otherwise it will be too late. I could have focused on getting max in exercises and running rather than worrying about this issue because my physical fitness will be assessed on the basis of BMI; despite of my high BF of ~22%, my BMI is exactly 20! (normal) However, more than one person has suggested me that I reduce my body fat and get some muscle mass before thinking of joining because they opine that the recruiters won’t be very impressed with my current body shape.


So I started looking up everywhere I could to find any information to get out of the predicament. After reading a ton of articles I came to the conclusion that I need to incorporate resistance training, focus on intensity rather than volume, lift heavier and reduce the cardio! In regards to cutting/bulking, some articles suggest cutting and then bulking and the others, vice versa.


Now my major preoccupation right now is that if I want to finish off with this skinny-fat issue, I need to probably run less, do fewer reps and carry out more intense/loaded exercises. If this on one hand will help me solve this problem, on the other hand this will seriously affect my endurance. I am aware that you might have never seen anyone in such a rare situation wanting to do something on the extreme like joining the army but I really want to be an exception (well not just to be an exception; I do have motifs behind).


I would therefore like to know your opinion on what would be my best bet? Is there any solution to get my body into a decent shape and gain strength without cutting the cardio (running) and high-rep workouts?

PS: I am following a book entitled ''convict conditioning'' written by an ex-con and am incorporating few of his methods. Do you think as someone aspiring to join the army can benefit from his work?
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
PT and body comp are check the box issues of military service. Most civlians and even many active-duty personnel trying out for SOC do not understand this. So, I’d first reevaluate the first statement of your post.

After careful consideration, if you still wish to enlist, training is pretty mechanical:
- slowly increase jogging volume until you’re at 45-60min several days per week
- run a good minimalist resistance program 2-3d/wk
- add a work capacity session once per week/biweekly after you’ve completed your novice gains

Be disciplined about your diet—all of your favorable body comp adjustments will be driven mostly by diet, NOT exercise.

Most importantly, give yourself enough time prior to shipping to physically adapt to the training so that you build enough durability and resilience to prosper rather than survive your military experience.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@soljaboy, consider not going it alone. A coach or trainer can help you establish realistic goals and a realistic time plan, plan your training with you, and help keep your diet and exercise on track.

At StrongFirst, we believe the increasing one's strength is the rising tide that floats all the other boats, including body composition. You're fortunate to have received a reply from @Al Ciampa, who has trained many people in active service.

This is the right place to ask about the details of choosing and following Al's "good minimalist resistance program." Our program and book, Kettlebell Simple and Sinister, is very popular - it's simple, it's easy to understand, and it rewards consistency with results.

I will add one simple recommendation - walk before you run. If you aren't someone who walks an average of a couple of miles a day, start doing that. Work up to it gradually, make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes, and aim for being able to walk for an hour or longer once a week. I don't consider walking as specific preparation for running so much as I consider it a prerequisite - if you can't walk well and comfortably, sort that out first, then learn the more advanced skill of running. Walking is, IMHO, the ultimate easy exercise, and I don't recommend trying to "power" walk, just be comfortable in your gait and your choice of speed.

Best of luck to you.

-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Welcome @soljaboy

+1 to Al's advice above, but I'll add emphasis to this piece:

run a good minimalist resistance program 2-3d/wk

This means lift some weights and get strong. Squats, deadlifts, presses, bench presses. It will help you in all your endeavors. This is not a hard thing to do, but it can be tricky to do along with everything else you're trying to do and maintain. So I'd recommend finding a coach to help you, or at least starting a training log here on the forum and tag people from time to time (or add a reply on this thread with a link to your log) to take a look at what you are doing and give you feedback.

After reading a ton of articles I came to the conclusion that I need to incorporate resistance training, focus on intensity rather than volume, lift heavier and reduce the cardio!

I would agree!

Let us know what you have in mind and we'll try to help.
 

soljaboy

Level 2 Valued Member
Thank you everyone for your insightful replies. It's a real privilege to get answers to your questions from genuine athletes and certified trainers. As you have suggested I will certainly sign up for a personalised training; however, after finishing the book "Convict Conditioning" I am more than a little convinced that working out by lifting my own body is better than flexing iron, more so because my goal is to enlist in the army and I will be requiring flexibility and agility along with the strength.
I will nonetheless think about lifting weights as I also need to get out of this skinny fat vicious cycle.

Thank you once again
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I am more than a little convinced that working out by lifting my own body is better than flexing iron, more so because my goal is to enlist in the army and I will be requiring flexibility and agility along with the strength.
The easiest way to get stronger is with a barbell or kettlebell. Bodyweight is possible but it has complications that barbells and kettlebells don't.
I will nonetheless think about lifting weights as I also need to get out of this skinny fat vicious cycle.
If what you've been doing hasn't been getting you the results you want, don't keep doing what you've been doing, try something else.

-S-
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
The easiest way to get stronger is with a barbell or kettlebell. Bodyweight is possible but it has complications that barbells and kettlebells don't.

+1

To add to this, I would say the most important thing with strength training is progression.

With barbells, as a novice, you do a simple reps/sets scheme such as 3 sets of 5 at your working weight, and add weight to the bar to progress. You know for sure that you are making progress because you can do 3x5 with more weight.

With kettlebells, it's a little trickier, but you use a combination of increasing reps, sets, and weight to progress. Also easy to measure but a little more challenging to program. Skill figures in as well, so there's somewhat of a complication... and it's one that some of us love, but isn't always the best for someone just trying to get results.

With bodyweight, it's even harder to progress and measure. You might measure the number of push-ups you can do, but that's not strength, it's strength endurance. How do you measure your strength in a push-up? You have to find a more challenging variation such as a one-arm push-up. This has a high skill component and is even more challenging to progress and measure than kettlebells or barbells.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I'll add a comment, simply to reenforce what's already been said and what you're already doing.

Everyone's body is the way it is due to hormones. There's a small handful of these hormones that really seem to be the "master switches" in regards to health and physical capacity. Poor diet, inactivity, and inadequate sleep all drive these hormones in a very unfavorable direction. Good food, physical training, and sound sleep all drive these hormones in a very favorable direction. The catch is, it takes time. It took you close to 3 decades to get where you are. It will only take a fraction of that time to get headed in the right direction, but you're still in for a lengthy process, no matter how you choose to approach the issue. Some methods work better than others, but there is no secret trick to getting where you need to be in just a month or two.

Eat real food. Learn to cook if you don't know how, because food that you don't have to cook is often not really food. And it's pretty easy to fry burgers, boil veggies and rice, etc.

Use long, easy training sessions to train endurance. Use heavy weights, and not a whole lot of reps, to train strength.

Look up sleep hygiene. Take your sleep seriously. That's when your body takes of the stimuli of the day and puts it together. The better your sleep is, more effective your dietary and training methods will be, whatever they are.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
And it's pretty easy to fry burgers, boil veggies and rice, etc.
A 12" cast iron skillet and a rice cooker are indispensable items, IMHO. The rice cooker is idiot proof, and they're inexpensive for how much you'll use one - $50 or so. A cast iron skillet is something you can pass down to your grandchildren - make your burger in it, and you can cook veggies in it, too.

-S-
 

mprevost

Level 7 Valued Member
PT and body comp are check the box issues of military service. Most civlians and even many active-duty personnel trying out for SOC do not understand this. So, I’d first reevaluate the first statement of your post.

After careful consideration, if you still wish to enlist, training is pretty mechanical:
- slowly increase jogging volume until you’re at 45-60min several days per week
- run a good minimalist resistance program 2-3d/wk
- add a work capacity session once per week/biweekly after you’ve completed your novice gains

Be disciplined about your diet—all of your favorable body comp adjustments will be driven mostly by diet, NOT exercise.

Most importantly, give yourself enough time prior to shipping to physically adapt to the training so that you build enough durability and resilience to prosper rather than survive your military experience.

Al

That is really, really good advice. I was about to type out much of the same but after reading this, I have absolutely nothing to add. Well done.

Mike
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Al

That is really, really good advice. I was about to type out much of the same but after reading this, I have absolutely nothing to add. Well done.

Mike
Thanks Mike. Being where you’ve been stationed, you no doubt realize that these should be self-evident truths about PT and general service. For whatever reason—Hollywood, social media, etc—folks believe that PT is both paramount to service, and as complicated as rocket science; and so they tend to make elementary errors in judgement. It’s a rather simple box to check.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
Most importantly, I greatly admire and commend your intentions, especially with your attitude of doing it regardless of your current status and background. You already exhibit courage and a sense of duty which will get you farther than anything or anyone here can provide you.
Nevertheless I would still like to give a try and I need to do it by the next year otherwise it will be too late
Do, or do not, there is no try. Stay the course and it will be easier to live with having done it and wishing you hadn't than not doing it and wishing you had.

@mprevost has a good template laid out in this thread. I believe he has other books and such specifically for tactical athletes and fitness test prep on his website. @Al Ciampa has a good article here and while more oriented toward a deployment, I would argue that basic training is a type of deployment. In addition to those, Tactical Barbell is worth the money.
 

Dasho

Level 6 Valued Member
So all of a sudden I decided to enlist in the army and I'm serious this time...

...In addition to genetics, my lack of interest in physical activities (I literally never played any sports in the school) and poor diet have contributed to sculpt me in this way....

I would still like to give a try...

Please understand that I am trying to be blunt, but not insulting. Your greatest obstacle will be your discipline/mental fortitude. These kind of indecisive statements and not taking ownership of your situation (saying that you were 'sculpted' in a certain way and blaming genetics) will not get you to your goals, regardless of the excellent advice you've otherwise received. Basic training is not JUST about physical fitness.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Please understand that I am trying to be blunt, but not insulting. Your greatest obstacle will be your discipline/mental fortitude. These kind of indecisive statements and not taking ownership of your situation (saying that you were 'sculpted' in a certain way and blaming genetics) will not get you to your goals, regardless of the excellent advice you've otherwise received. Basic training is not JUST about physical fitness.
FOOT. STOMP.... basic may assist you with this, but you do need to practice flexing your psychological muscles.
 
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