As you may know, the military provides 12-week Special Ops training plans for those facing selection. The first mistake many candidates make is, ironically, using these programs at all. Logically, they should be effective. Unfortunately, they’re not. In past, I’ve worked with a number of clients using these plans. In each case, I’ve found the strength-training regimen ineffective. The military plans favour a body-building-style aerobic set/rep scheme, which means the rep range is generally too high to elicit a major increase in strength. In effect, this training style limits your potential to increase absolute strength.

Almost 90% of the candidates that we start working with need to start with a strength biased program that focuses on improving their absolute strength, while moving them towards a more structurally balanced system.

When we get an athlete like this, we start them off with two weeks of baseline testing, to establish their individual strengths and weaknesses. We then put them through several months of strength-biased training, moving athletes through accumulation, intensification and specification phases.

Through this process, something AWESOME happens. Our candidates, who’ve often been stagnant in their major lifts/1RMs for over TWO YEARS, quickly see their numbers jump. They notice improved drive, motivation, libido and mental acuity, while becoming more resilient to injury. As a result, they can start with more intense grinder-type activity, strength-endurance training and high-volume endurance training, without sustaining injury or plateauing.

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Athletes see more success in six months on an individualized training program than in two years experimenting with the latest and greatest WOD. This knowledge is well documented. Even way back in 1913, the 33rd Superintendent of the US Military Academy, Captain Stewart, proposed a solution to what he called the “unit PT” problem. He said, when we train a soldier, “the greatest benefit is not derived by indiscriminate and impartial use of these exercises.” Stewart suggested each individual soldier has unique training needs, and “each should be studied and diagnosed as to his particular requirements” – then given the training to meet those specific needs.

Interestingly, this was discussed over 100 years ago, yet the military continues to create one-size-fits-all plans. Are these plans better than no plan? Absolutely. But the strength of your plan dictates your results. Follow a generic plan and get a generic result. You’ve only got so much time and energy; become part of the growing community of military athletes taking control of their fitness and invest in a tailored program to maximize your personal potential.

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