Here at the International School house we run different PT programs for almost every level of fitness. From BUDS, Dive school and Marine TBS prep to simple (easy) programs just to teach our students how to set up and run a basic PT program, and keep (try to) themselves in shape. From my observation of 100’s of these students over the last five years they have the biggest problem improving in two areas: swimming and humping a pack. Now I don’t teach swimming, we have a former Navy SEAL and a Dive Master that handle that training, and they can take a guy that can barley swim to what ever standard they need to pass (if the guy is motivated) pretty quickly. However, I oversee the 16 week PT program to prepare foreign officers to attend the Marine Officers Basic School in Quantico, Va. As you might guess the program is heavy on the basics: running, UBD, O course, and other combat fitness related tasks, but from all that the thing (as a group) they have the hardest time with is humping a pack, and we do a lot of it, as it’s a big thing at TBS. At least once a week we gear up and hit the trail, starting with about a 20lbs load for a mile or so and ending with a no shit 20 mile forced march with 50 plus lbs. The student’s hate it and it does suck, but humping always has.
Going back over many years of doing it, my experience tells me the only way to prepare for carrying a heavy combat load (especially up and down hills and/or in the heat) is to do it. While general PT programs and weight lifting does help, nothing will get you ready for a humping a pack, but humping pack. I have another TBS prep class starting this summer and I know I have to just grab my pack and get after it once a week to prepare myself. All the other PT I do won’t be enough. The upside is that when I add this weekly hike to my routine I always notice my running improves and so does my overall strength, which people like to call “Core” nowadays. It’s not really what you’d call fun, but I’m convinced that it has benefit for almost any PT program, especially if you’re in a job that bearing weight is a requirement, like a Firemen, SWAT cop or even a construction worker. In my book Corps Strength, I outline how to add these workouts into an overall fitness program. You don’t need actual combat gear. A good weight vest or military/civilian pack will do, and it’s pretty much mindless once you get out there. Good boots are must and you need to start out light, slow and short, gradually adding weight and distance to prevent injury. Plus it’s something that will get your ass outside of the gym for a change. Good luck.
Be Safe always, Good when you can.
Tags: Corps Strength