Over time, the longer you are around Special Forces units and troops the more you will hear the latest catch phrases and words that essentially re-invent the wheel. Everyone while trying to build a better mousetrap is giving us a new vocabulary to learn, which is fine as long as we don’t lose sight of the ball.
When we’re talking about fitness and preparing not only for Selection but for a career in Special Operations it is building a complete level of fitness which will carry you thru a career and get you back again. To carry close to the insane amount of gear around all day long and be able to fight while carrying it requires strength, stamina, and speed.
And the best exercise to prepare for all of that? The squat.
Squats are probably the most misunderstood and least taught exercise in the military. Why? I have no idea but there is no better exercise for helping build overall fitness…oh, yeah the correct catchword now is functional fitness. The conventional military steers soldiers away from those exercises and they shouldn’t be. It should be in everyone’s pre-Selection program.
I’m no exercise physiologist or personal trainer but after a long time in the saddle, I know what works. Squats build strength, and that is what you’ll need. If the man beside you goes down and you have to carry him, his gear for 100 meters at a dead sprint, that isn’t going to take a marathon runner, it is going to take a guy who has the strength and stamina to do just that.
The operators in the units know this. They incorporate squatting now in their physical training programs because they build overall strength and muscle, increase flexibility, and prevent injuries, build core strength, build healthy bones and joints and helps you maintain mobility and balance. The special operators today are training smarter and doing the workouts that give them the most benefit to doing their jobs.
No one likes leg day at the gym because it is frequently the hardest workout of the week. Squats are a functional exercise for special operations because so much of what you do is tied in directly with the movement itself.
And squatting will improve your speed, just take a look at the best world class sprinters. They all have the maximum development of their glutes, quads, and hamstrings. It isn’t a coincidence that they are all built like that.
The issue is doing them correctly, and many people don’t. One guy that I swear by (and this isn’t a paid endorsement by the way) is Dr. Aaron Horschig. He’s a regular on Twitter @SquatUniversity as well as Instagram and YouTube. His videos are a must watch and he regularly goes thru the questions and issues that most people will have.
He also shows video demonstrations of other core stability exercises that will help with your overall “functional fitness.” His book, “The Squat Bible” is out on Amazon.com and is worth checking out. He’ll help you achieve your goal, even if you’re a not-so-young guy with arthritis in both knees.
Professional athletes have the luxury of off-seasons, and preseasons where they get to train up and get their bodies prepared for the rigors of their season. In Special Operations, every day is the World Series or the Super Bowl.
The individual units and the operators must get creative and take advantage of any kind of down time away from missions to keep themselves in peak condition. This is especially true when it comes to rest and sleep as well as nutrition.
Squatting should be a regular part of any pre-Selection workout along with other core building exercises. It will increase your overall functional strength and mobility, increase your vertical jump and explosion, increase your sprint times, as well as your balance and upper body strength.
So, it is Friday and it must be Leg Day at the gym….Let’s go do some squats.
Photo courtesy DOD