Squats necessary for military fitness of deads + KBs enough?

coolrunnings

Level 5 Valued Member
Hi all

I am training to join the military in two years, so have plenty of time. I was planning to focus on KBs, calisthenics and easy runs / rucks (similar to what Victor recommends in Easy Strength and what Pavel has said he did with John Faas). I was also planning to add some deadlifts and weighted pulls.

I read an interesting study, however, that has me doubting my approach. The Canadian special forces tested a group of soldiers before selection to determine what physical traits were correlated with passing selection. One of the main predictors was a squat over 315lbs. Soldiers with a squat over 315lbs were 5x more likely to pass selection than those with a squat under 315lbs! They didn't test deadlift unfortunately.

More details here: The development of a preselection physical fitness training program for Canadian Special Operations Regiment applicants. - PubMed - NCBI

I know this is a correlation rather than necessarily causation, but still seems pretty convincing given the size of the effect.

So this makes me think I should focus on the basic barbell lifts for a while first (starting strength or 5/3/1 style) to attain a strength base before focusing on KBs later. Is this a sensible approach, or misguided? Would the deadlift or some kind of heavy swing test yield similar / better results than a 1RM squat? There's also the fact that heavy barbell lifts seem to invite injuries which is the main thing I'm trying to avoid (although some claim that attaining a high level of strength enhances 'durability').

Would love to hear all thoughts and perspectives.

I am 6'2, 200lb, squat 240, dead 300, bench 185.

Thanks !
 

jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
I only read the abstract, as I cannot access the full study.
Two predictors of success: VO2 "peak" and 1RM squat.

The stronger they were, the more likely they were to pass. A good case for being StrongFirst.

Considering your stats, I would tend to think that going on one of the barbell programs you mentioned for a few months would get you a better strength fondation. Be sure to have good technique, though.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Your original plan looks good to me. But I think your second plan looks good as well.

However, I question your "fact that heavy barbell lifts seem to invite injuries". I think it's more dependent on how you train, than the modality. And I will say that 315lbs isn't really heavy or a lot, especially for a man of your size. For perspective, a 57kg 16 year old Finnish girl squatted 160kg this week in IPF competition. Sure, it's the World record, but it does give some perspective.

Most importantly, there's already been a lot of discussion about strength training and military service on the forum, and there are some very experienced and helpful people on the site, so you're in the right place to ask and you should do well if you follow their advice.
 

coolrunnings

Level 5 Valued Member
Your original plan looks good to me. But I think your second plan looks good as well.

However, I question your "fact that heavy barbell lifts seem to invite injuries". I think it's more dependent on how you train, than the modality. And I will say that 315lbs isn't really heavy or a lot, especially for a man of your size. For perspective, a 57kg 16 year old Finnish girl squatted 160kg this week in IPF competition. Sure, it's the World record, but it does give some perspective.

Most importantly, there's already been a lot of discussion about strength training and military service on the forum, and there are some very experienced and helpful people on the site, so you're in the right place to ask and you should do well if you follow their advice.
Thanks Antti.

I have searched extensibely and read through everything of relevance I could find on this board.

I suppose an 'even easier strength' style program would be less likely to invite injury (70% of 1RM vs 85%+) but the frequency may lead to some overuse type injuries. But is the benefit worth the risk? The article would suggest so.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Thanks Antti.

I have searched extensibely and read through everything of relevance I could find on this board.

I suppose an 'even easier strength' style program would be less likely to invite injury (70% of 1RM vs 85%+) but the frequency may lead to some overuse type injuries. But is the benefit worth the risk? The article would suggest so.
When it comes to avoiding injuries, it's mostly just common sense. Avoid training while too fatigued. Avoid testing your 1RM. Treat every rep like it was your 1RM. Make every rep perfect. Get some experienced eyes on your lifting, in person if possible.

Of course, those tips only minimize your chance for injury. There always is a chance for injury while lifting. But it also exists everywhere. I know a person who broke her back while sneezing. Compared to other sports, weightlifting has quite a small chance for injury.

When it comes to the military, I don't think it's necessary to train the squat. I do believe a certain strength standard in the squat is beneficial, though. But it isn't a lot. And things like rucking are far, far more important than the squatting.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hi all

I am training to join the military in two years, so have plenty of time. I was planning to focus on KBs, calisthenics and easy runs / rucks (similar to what Victor recommends in Easy Strength and what Pavel has said he did with John Faas). I was also planning to add some deadlifts and weighted pulls.

I read an interesting study, however, that has me doubting my approach. The Canadian special forces tested a group of soldiers before selection to determine what physical traits were correlated with passing selection. One of the main predictors was a squat over 315lbs. Soldiers with a squat over 315lbs were 5x more likely to pass selection than those with a squat under 315lbs! They didn't test deadlift unfortunately.

More details here: The development of a preselection physical fitness training program for Canadian Special Operations Regiment applicants. - PubMed - NCBI

I know this is a correlation rather than necessarily causation, but still seems pretty convincing given the size of the effect.

So this makes me think I should focus on the basic barbell lifts for a while first (starting strength or 5/3/1 style) to attain a strength base before focusing on KBs later. Is this a sensible approach, or misguided? Would the deadlift or some kind of heavy swing test yield similar / better results than a 1RM squat? There's also the fact that heavy barbell lifts seem to invite injuries which is the main thing I'm trying to avoid (although some claim that attaining a high level of strength enhances 'durability').

Would love to hear all thoughts and perspectives.

I am 6'2, 200lb, squat 240, dead 300, bench 185.

Thanks !
Are you trying to go from the street to SOF on a contract? Is a selection course even in your future? Did you enlist in the Canadian Army?

How you train across a physical career like military service can and will change depending where you are in the lifecycle. “Victor” and John were at different points in their lifecycle than you are.

For example, you can best spend the next two years accumulating a massive amount of jogging time. This will prepare your future in ways we now know can’t be accomplished any other way. You should also run a basic barbell plan that slowly increases your strength alongside all of this jogging. More frequent, moderately-loaded, low rep sets in high volume works very well to increase your strength without competing for biological resources with the jogging. The salt and pepper would be your cals, KBs, carries, rucks and a dash of intensity from time to time.

Peaking for a season (e.g., a selection course) or single event (e.g., a testing battery) is an entirely different strategy that is very short in duration, used sparingly, and should be executed only after a solid platform is built (e.g., the above described base program).

As another example, you are probably strong enough to run a heavy A+A program with your jogging, but we know that the barbell is a better tool for fundamental strength, and, more importantly (and to my point), you have enough prep time to milk a long-term BB program then focus on the unique but necessary strength that a well written and heavy long-term KB program can offer.
 

coolrunnings

Level 5 Valued Member
Are you trying to go from the street to SOF on a contract? Is a selection course even in your future? Did you enlist in the Canadian Army?

How you train across a physical career like military service can and will change depending where you are in the lifecycle. “Victor” and John were at different points in their lifecycle than you are.

For example, you can best spend the next two years accumulating a massive amount of jogging time. This will prepare your future in ways we now know can’t be accomplished any other way. You should also run a basic barbell plan that slowly increases your strength alongside all of this jogging. More frequent, moderately-loaded, low rep sets in high volume works very well to increase your strength without competing for biological resources with the jogging. The salt and pepper would be your cals, KBs, carries, rucks and a dash of intensity from time to time.

Peaking for a season (e.g., a selection course) or single event (e.g., a testing battery) is an entirely different strategy that is very short in duration, used sparingly, and should be executed only after a solid platform is built (e.g., the above described base program).

As another example, you are probably strong enough to run a heavy A+A program with your jogging, but we know that the barbell is a better tool for fundamental strength, and, more importantly (and to my point), you have enough prep time to milk a long-term BB program then focus on the unique but necessary strength that a well written and heavy long-term KB program can offer.
Thanks very much Al! This is exactly what I was thinking.

How long pre selection would you feel is long enough to develop the 'unique but necessary' unilateral strength / strength across the midline (ie to adopt s&s or a&a)? 1 year?

Do you have a recommended general barbell program for someone of my level / goals (and to be combined with a lot of jogging)?
 
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jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
Injuries occur with all modalities, especially when not respecting the weight.
At one point, I was so weak and deconditioned that I hurt my back (and even more my ego) doing a regular pushup... Ouch.

I had started a very long answer, but Al Ciampa was simply faster. And more complete.
 

coolrunnings

Level 5 Valued Member
Are you trying to go from the street to SOF on a contract? Is a selection course even in your future? Did you enlist in the Canadian Army?
I would need to pass the entrance tests (a long weekend of testing and events), then a rigorous training course and then a more SF style selection later on.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Thanks very much Al! This is exactly what I was thinking.

How long pre selection would you feel is long enough to develop the 'unique but necessary' unilateral strength / strength across the midline (ie to adopt s&s or a&a)? 1 year?

Do you have a recommended general barbell program for someone of my level / goals (and to be combined with a lot of jogging)?
You’re missing the forest for the tree. Step back a bit: use the barbell to strength train. Do not just, “get on a program”. For direction, I’m personally a fan of, “more frequent, moderately-loaded, low rep sets in high volume”.

Understand this difference.

“Unique but necessary” strength is an ongoing journey; the initial adaptations you ask about are dependent on individual start points, but you’ll most certainly be better off by the 6-9 min mark.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I would need to pass the entrance tests (a long weekend of testing and events), then a rigorous training course and then a more SF style selection later on.
If it’s anything like we do in the States, you’ll lose fitness in basic and jump, then get thrown directly into selection. In my opinion, a “Civilian-to-Commando” contract is not the best way to get there. It’s certainly no where near impossible, however.
 

RS12

Level 6 Valued Member
No, squats are not necessary. I served 6 years in the military, including a year in Iraq, and I never squatted anything. I did, however, lift heavy stuff off the ground regularly and march all over the place with a heavy ruck.

Deadlifts and Kettlebells will get you plenty strong for the military. Squats are a great exercise and will definitely get you stronger but they can be rough on your knees and hips if you have bad form. Your knees are something you need to take care of because the military will put a lot of strain on them.

Personally, I think it is easier to learn to deadlift with good form rather than squat with good form. Deadlift, kettlebells, push ups, pull ups, various weighted carries, ruck marches and running will get you everything you need for military service.

And you don't even need a squat rack to do any of them. Work hard for the next 2 years and you will be ahead of 90% of the soldiers you will serve with. Good luck with your service.
 

godjira1

Level 5 Valued Member
are you aiming to head straight into SF selection?

from your stats, i reckon you could easily get quite a bit stronger (1.5xBWT squat, 2xBWT DL, 1xBWT BP) with any of the popular strength programs out there, but for the military you really want to be able to nail pull-ups, pushups, 1.5-2mile type runs at max speed... as well as being able to carry a heavy pack and make your way thru hilly terrain and such. Strength always helps, but if your training bang-for-buck lies elsewhere don't miss the forest for the trees.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
If I knew then, what I know now or if my son were preparing for the military I would have him do this for a long time:
Monday: Squat, Bench, Ab Roller, Bent/Seated Row
Tuesday: Long Easy Run
Wednesday: Long Easy Run/Swim
Thursday: Deadlift, Press, Pull-Up, Dip
Friday: Long Easy Ruck/Swim
Saturday: Tempo Run/Ruck/Swim Intervals​
 

Tuebor

Level 6 Valued Member
I do not believe getting stronger for you is misguided or a waste of time. And if you read the report and believe in the results than by all means meet the criteria.

Tactical Barbell operator Template

or

5/3/1 Krypteia template

both come to the top of my mind as productive general strength programs. I like those over starting strength as the programs have built in waves, very moderate progressions, and answers for a reset of training Max.

Add in jogs and rucks on your off days.

If becoming an operator is your dream I would not underestimate the time spent under a ruck sack, most all selections are ruck and land navigation based.

My advised Weekly template

Mon - Strength (as prescribed on whatever program you decide on)
Tue - Endurance (jog)
Wed- Strength
Thur - Endurance (jog or tempo runs)
Fri - Strength
Sat- Endurance (Ruck 20-30% BW work out to 150min from time to time)

The above template works with Rite of Passage by pavel as well.

I like the Bro Mo template as a maintenance style or as a focus on endurance. Different strokes for different folks.

As for following "Victor" and John Faas style programs I would heed what Al Ciampa said. These where men who where through their pipelines and already had higher levels of strength and endurance and where towards the end of their physical capacities. The more "Fit" you are the less you need to do to maintain that fitness. But if your not there yet, you do need to go hard (intelligently) and setting an end goal for 2 years from today is intelligent and gives you plenty of time to build.

Really you follow any program for 2 years or even no program and show up 5-7 days a week to train and do your entire body your probably going to be ok.
 
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LoneRider

Level 6 Valued Member
Stephane Robert's T-Nation, Building the Supersoldier (here) is another great guideline. I'd personally use a 5/3/1 setup for the main lifts and mostly bodyweight work for assistance movements.
 

RichJ

Level 6 Valued Member
Great advice above.

I'd add:

1. Don't get injured - especially in close to start time - so be a little moderate and err on the side of being conservative. You'll be under a lot of stress and load in training and if you have a weak link it'll rise to the surface quickly.
2. Along those lines - I think it's okay to be a tad undertrained and probably way better than showing up overtrained. Most of the courses I saw are basically a stress test and you need some capacity to absorb a beat down - which will be tough if you are already a little toasty at the start.
3. Great that you're focused on the physical side early on - if you follow some sort of quasi- well thought out process you'll be most likely be more than fine. Don't stress over that. But do spend some time preparing your head. I saw A LOT of guys give up mentally long before they had physical issues. Depending on your program you could be in for some serious mental low points - that's not the time for the "is this really what I want" debate. One of the guys in my program once uttered an exasperated "this sucks" - another candidate looked at him like he was an idiot and responded "it's supposed to suck".

Best of luck to you
 

J Petersen

SFG1/SFB
Certified Instructor
All I have to contribute is that even in special ops selection courses, there is only so much PT a candidate can do in preparation before it all boils down to how much is he willing to put up with.

Case in point, in both of my attempts at BUD/S ("SEAL school"), our best athletes tended to quit in the first week of phase 1 (after the "classing up" and indoc, when the real fun begins).
 
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