Most of you know that I think long slow distance (LSD) style endurance training is wildly inefficient.
Sure, you can get better at running long distances that way, but it’s not the only way to accomplish that goal and it is incredibly detrimental to improving all other aspects of your overall fitness (Which is kinda important if you’re a military or tactical athlete).
I spent a solid 5 years teaching runners from all over the world this exact concept.
Fortunately for me, many of the folks who came to our seminars at the time had already convinced themselves that the long hours of running and constant injuries were not for them anymore.
They were seeking a new way to train.
And we had the solution.
This solution was twofold.
First, we wanted them to focus on the movement quality (for all physical activity) before adding intensity or volume to their training program.
Second, we wanted the reformed runner to stop running so much and instead focus on building a broad, general, and inclusive base of general physical preparedness.
Well, everyone, who put their egos aside and adopted the methodology we were teaching at the time improved.
They got rid of old, chronic injuries
They got rid of the constant fatigue
They got stronger
They got more flexible and mobile
They even got faster
They got better at just about everything
And none of this should be surprising because people who are stronger, fitter, and less prone to injuries are typically better at just about everything compared to people who are none of those things.
And this is the basic idea behind General Physical Preparedness (GPP).
GPP can be defined as being good at everything and not great at any one thing.
Which is exactly how you should be building your base of fitness because of the nature of your profession, even if you are spending more time behind a desk than out in the field kicking in doors, requires an ability to perform a wide range of physically and mentally demanding tasks in a variety of austere environments.
So your training should include every aspect of physical preparedness and not be solely focused on one aspect (i.e. Running a long time, getting really big, etc).
With that in mind let’s look at some of the most commonly identified general physical skills.
10 General Physical Skills
- Cardio-respritory Endurance
So understanding that this list of 10 skills above is pretty all-encompassing our goal should be to design a training program that improves us equally in each of these 10 areas.
The opposite of that would be sports specialization which is where you see a guy like Lance Armstrong (just an example) who is probably a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10 for cardio-respiratory endurance but severely lacking in the power and strength metrics when it comes to moving heavy loads.
So let’s go back to the folks I was talking about earlier.
If we take a “runner” who is a 10 of 10 on that endurance scale and replace 80% of his endurance training with training to improve the other 9 general physical skills what do you think happens?
Everything in that dude’s life improves, including his running.
When we then place that “runner” in an infantry unit or in a dynamic critical situation, his overall usefulness and performance improve there as well.
Now, this shouldn’t be a shocking concept to many of you.
I personally remember a handful of cats who were running like 15-16 minute 3-Mile runs at OCS with me.
I also remember them falling out of any and all rucking events and being promptly sent home because they couldn’t meet the standard.
I’m guessing you have a similar story?
Point is, in the jobs that we do, we are required to perform a variety of hard tasks well.
So spending all of our PT time focused on only a small aspect of overall fitness (because we’re good at it or whatever) is going to be a problem eventually.
(Which is exactly the problem with the traditional mandatory PT that units all over the world are still conducting today…)
Because, one thing all military and tactical athletes have in common, regardless of billet or MOS, is that there is a requirement of a solid baseline of physical fitness with the added
bonus requirement of occasional bouts of confronting and overcoming intense physical, mental, and environmental threats with little to no advanced notice.
Basically, you have to be prepared for the unknown & the unknowable.
If all of this sounds similar to the stuff CrossFit put out years ago that’s because it is.
The foundation of CrossFit as a training methodology is GPP and nothing more.
This means the foundation of your physical training should look CrossFit-Esq which basically means you should be focused on improving each and every one of those 10 general physical skills in your training program.
If we use that 80/20 rule I hinted at above, that still gives you 20% of your training time to pursue your own goals (bodybuilding, endurance races, etc) or even just work on more “job-specific” tasks & requirements (Which is where I focus the Strategic Athlete programs).
But at the end of the day if you really care about being as effective on the battlefield (and in life) as possible you need to stop wasting your time doing bicep curls and 30-minute “cardio” runs and start focusing your training on stuff that is actually going to improve your chance, and your buddies chance, of survival.
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