Tuesday, May 1, 2018

PT - Physical Training

Hours 1-2

For those to whom it needs to be said, check with your doctor before beginning any training program. Anybody who has a heart attack and starts out by trying to pin it on me, because you've let yourself go, will be cheerfully laughed out the door.

And if your chest or anything else hurts when you're exercising, stop doing that. Pain is sometimes weakness leaving the body. Usually that manifests as sweat, not agony. (If you get to doing BUD/S-level PT, we can talk.) Other times it's your body telling you you've screwed something up. No one else will be there to hold your hand, so you're going to have check yourself, and if something isn't working, get it looked at. You jack yourself up later in life, you aren't going to heal quick like you did when you were a teenager either. You can increase tempo and exertion over time a lot quicker than you can stop, heal, and start all over.

Anybody too crippled up to do anything here should be doubling down and using this time to get better at everything else. So if you're a paraplegic, you better be an awesome mechanic, or the tribe is going to throw you out to face Lord Humungus on your own.

Also, in a notional two-week training phase, you're barely going to be scratching the surface of training yourself and getting into shape. You'll be barely halfway into a toughening phase, and maybe not even that far.

That said, the goal here is to make this part of you. Practice becomes habit, and habit becomes lifestyle. But only if you start.

For a first session, do some light warmup exercises for 10-15 minutes. The fitness training manuals explain what military recruits learn as "The Daily Seven" from those who know them well. Go through the referenced FM, and pick out seven different exercises. The point is to slowly move all your muscles, and get your body warmed up, so that you don't pull anything. Like tendons, ligaments, etc.
Select exercises that vary the part stretched, arms, legs, upper body, back, neck, abdomen, etc. Don't do all leg exercises, or all arm exercises, or all simple stretches.
Whatever you pick, unless you're in shape already, start small. Do a minute or two of each exercise, at most. Call it 5 to 10 repetitions. Do the stretches s-l-o-w-l-y. You're trying to perform, not break yourself on Day One.

Once you've done them all, there are two fitness standards you should know about.
The Army PRT, and the Marine Corps PFT.
Quick and dirty, the Army does push-ups (max effort), sit-ups (in 2 minutes), and a timed two-mile run.
The Marines do pull-ups (max effort), abdominal crunches (in two minutes), and a timed three-mile run.

Relax, you won't be doing either one. Yet.
And I'm not going to start some silly inter-service flame war.
Start with the Army PRT model.
When you can, move to the Marine PFT model.

But for the first day, do max push-ups, one minute of sit-ups, and a timed quarter-mile jog.

Week Two, and each week afterwards, you're going to add one rep to each exercise in the Daily Seven, until you can get to 20.
Each week, add twenty seconds more to the sit-up period, until you're doing the sit-ups for the full two minutes.
Every third workout, you'll add 1/4 mile to your run distance, until you're doing the full two miles. That means it'll be 5 weeks, running three days a week, until you're up to 2 miles.
(1/4-1/4-1/2-1/2-3/4-3/4-1-1, and so on.)
At that point, you start doing the warm-ups more vigorously, and/or pick out some more challenging exercises for your Daily Seven. Jumping jacks and neck stretches are fun. But mountain climbers and flutter kicks build character.
You always try to max out on push-ups. Even beyond 100%.
Same for sit-ups. Go beyond the max score number in the same time limit.
And start pushing up the pace on your run time.

This is for every other day. Call it MWF.

Tuesdays you work on upper body alone.
Do the same warm-ups, at the same place you're at. If you have access to low parallel bars, use them. Two sandbags, or coffee cans filled with cement, on end, will allow you to do bicep lifts of your body sitting on the ground. Do push-ups and pull-ups. Rope or pole climbs.
Do weight lifts with individual arms, and both arms together, whether it's free weights, machines, bowflex, or paint buckets full of cement..
Your goal is to just work out your upper body: shoulders, biceps, and forearms.

Thursday, you work on lower body: abdomen and legs. Crunches, flutter kicks, mountain climbers.
If you can, do sit-ups where your body starts head down, your legs are on a table, and you use your back muscles to do reversed sit-ups.

Each time you do focused workouts, warm up well, start where you can, and gradually increase time spent and repetitions.

Saturdays, you work on cardio. Walk fast, jog, bicycle, swim, whatever. Do it easier than your MWF runs, but for longer periods of time.

Sundays are a day of recreational rest. Go to the park, the zoo, an amusement park, take an easy hike somewhere, play a sport. You're not working out, you're just not laying like a slug. Think of it as an all day stretch for some muscles that'll be tired.

You can score yourself here:
Army push-up standards.
Army Sit-up standards.
Army two-mile run standards.
Don't worry cupcakes, they have male and female columns, and they list the scores handicapped, all the way to the 62+ age bracket. (Feel free to compare yourself with 18-year-old studs, and up your game, once you're in the groove.)
The entire program is here:
Army PRT.

If/when you transition to the Marine card:
Marine Corps PFT scoring.
That's the 18-y.o. stud standard. You can dig around the internet on your own for the older age brackets.

Military.com, (the link for the USMC scoring) also has additional links to things like circuit courses, interval training, and other military fitness and agility tests.
Start with the basics, until you've achieved mastery, then you can start varying your routine.

That will be hard enough, from a cold start.

Your goal is not to over-train or overuse your muscles and body, but to slowly and steadily build in progression until you reach and maintain a healthy and useful level of fitness. Nobody wants you broken, but you're no good to anybody, including yourself, if you can't move and manipulate your own body weight, and do useful work, in any number of tough times and situations.

You can figure out the days, but space them as I've indicated, and start slow.
If you miss a day, whether it's because you're a lazy fat bastard (like I sometimes am), or because work and life occasionally get in the way, get back on the horse the next day, and make it up.

There's a reason both WRSA and about every other post on John Mosby's Mountain guerrilla site keep hitting the same two letters: PT, PT, PT.

Excuses won't get it done, nobody ever drowned in sweat, and fit people are harder to kill.

And if you're feeling froggy, here's a motivational goal for you:


Sean said...

After an extended stay in hospital a year ago, (they seem to have found it necessary to both sedate and paralyze me, for weeks) I am slowly swimming upwards, trying to get in actual decent shape. At 67 it is the most difficult it has ever been in my life, but I'm sticking to it, I don't expect great things, just slow improvement, which I am getting. I have to pay a lot of attention to hydration and nutrition, without becoming obsessed with them, and I have to keep my own morale up and running, with some kind of motivation. When I think how helpless and sick I was this time last year (couldn't even touch my own nose) and how badly I wanted out of that hospital bed, it's been a terrific motivator. As my body improves, so does my morale and spirit. Hey, I went over a month without so much as a taste of coffee. The nurses always made fresh coffee, at all hours, and it drove me crazy. I thank you for this post, and your advice to set small standards and goals is excellent. It's like going up steps.

DAN III said...

"....compare yourself with 18 year old studs." You mean "duds", don't you ?

Within the last two years I have had the displeasure of working with 18 year old US Army recruits. One dud couldn't do three pushups. One didn't know how to lace up boots. And one couldn't spell his middle name because "I never use it." !!!

DoD cannot meet recruiting procurement because the bulk (70+ %) of Amerikan youth are unfit physically, mentally and morally.

"Studs" my behind ! Tommy Transvestite, Susie Muffdiver and Jimmy Jackoff are what the US military will be sending on potential, domestic patrols of fedgov tyranny. The US military is not what it is cracked up to be.

Mike_C said...

Here's the address for an on-line calculator (age, sex adjusted) for the MPFT.


For those inclined to bitch, "but what if, Dave?" and quibble about EVERY damn thing, yes, I understand that adjusting standards for age and sex doesn't make sense, since the task is the task, and your injured buddy isn't going to magically become 100 lbs lighter to compensate for you being a 46-year old woman instead of a 23-y/o man when you're trying to drag him to cover. Got it. I'll stipulate that it makes little sense to age/sex adjust. But:

Taking a step back, if you really get down to it, how many crunches or pull-ups you can do isn't important, it's whether you can do whatever needs to be done without damaging yourself. But since most people are more easily motivated if there is a quantitative scoring system against which you can measure yourself, why not? So long as we remember MPFT, APFT, or any other score is just one single metric, and an admittedly imperfect one, for measuring fitness.

Finally, this may seem obvious to some, but for those starting up an exercise program after a long hiatus, keep in mind that you are probably not the same person you were when you were last working out regularly. On a personal note, when I started running again after over 20 years off, I felt like shit after running 8's (8-minute miles). This was distressing because >20y ago (which my stoopid lizard hindbrane was telling me was "just yesterday") that was my slow/recovery pace, and definitely not race pace. Well, it took me longer than it should have to realize that I'm over 20-y older, with a trick knee (plus the sun was in my eyes, and the dog ate my homework), and my new slow pace was around 9 min/mile. Can I go faster? Well, sure, I'm NOT that decrepit yet, but I'm probably not going to be running the mile in 5:30 ever again either. Such is aging, which as the expression goes, at least it beats the alternative.

TL;DR -- don't be discouraged if you discover that physically you aren't the man you were at 20, or even 30.

Anonymous said...

The Wild Geese. Anyone who hasn't been in the shit needs to watch the unedited version of that movie.

Aesop said...

The "duds" are a social phenomenon, not a physical one.
The point is that your physical peak is the left side of that curve.
That's why that age bracket is held to higher standards.

A PT fail is a fail regardless of age bracket.

Swrichmond said...

55 push ups in 2 minutes. Off the top of the chart for my age group. Something's not right, I am in just "OK" shape. Standards?

Aesop said...

"For your age group", you're doing fine.

Anonymous said...

Bought a Bowflex six weeks ago, I could do 2 minuets when I first started. I watch carefully what I’ve been putting in my body, for six weeks, sit-ups hurt my back, butI’ve been doing five minutes plank exercises, and using an ab roller, it hurts, but starting to feel better. Started do push-ups. I’ve lost 26 lbs, another 20 to go. I will do it. best I’ve felt in 25 years. I’m starting to believe I might be worth something.