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Corps Strength – Tail Wagging the Dog?


In my mind and yes, I’ll admit it’s this is just an old Jarhead’s mind, there are some weird things in the fitness industry. Now, when I say “fitness industry” I’m talking about the vast array of exercise equipment, nutritional supplements, workout systems, etc. that are out there competing for your time and money. Diet and exercise books are a big part of this too, which makes me and my little book a small (very small) part of this huge thing which was valued at over 3 billion dollars last year. Obviously not all of these things fall under one company or person, but if you watch the “industry” you see that they all tend to all get in line with the latest trends. The bottom line with this is money, as everybody is trying to sell you something, so they’re always are looking for something new. Which is the exact opposite of myself, who is always looking for old stuff that has proven to have actually worked over the years. What normally happens is the whole thing rotates around and every few years they repackage the some stuff from a few years ago and resell it as new. I’ve seen this process go through many cycles, too many to list here.

Now there is something that has become a big thing over the last few years and from what I can tell it’s kind of original, as it’s not just another cycle repeating itself. That is the WOD, or Workout of the Day. Far as I can tell it mostly came from Cross Fit (which is another story). Most people who workout are familiar with this, it’s a combination of movements (weights, calisthenics and maybe some aerobic stuff) that you would go through and shoot to complete the required number reps in a certain time limit. Many gyms and trainers will post their WOD on the boards in gyms and on line. I’ve done many of them and posted many others of my own for my students.

In my case I always looked at them as just another way to motivate myself and others and a way to achieve and sometimes, measure specific fitness levels. However more and more I see that the WOD has become the end game? How you do on these things has a life of it’s own. The very popular Cross Fit games are really nothing more than extreme WODs when you get down to it. Which brings me to my point. That is how well you do in your workouts (what ever type they may be) should be focused to help you improve in some sport, activity or your overall fitness, which includes getting and keeping your weight in check. The WOD is like the tail wagging the dog, where the workout is the focus, where it is supposed to take you is not really a consideration. So what you say, fitness is fitness? If you just do these WODs you’ll be in great shape. IMO, this isn’t true when your focus is to maintain health and fitness for life and/or improve in any certain aspect of your life. I’ve seen many people in the last few years that are injured and/or get burned out and quit working out after a period focusing on Cross Fit/WOD stuff. Most of these workouts are not designed to improve any particular sport, but are designed themselves be the focus. This is backwards and in the end the vast majority of people will either hurt themselves or quit because of it. Seen it too many times, especially for older people or those trying to get back into shape from a layoff.

The key to long term fitness is to follow a program that is designed for you and you goals, not focused on just completing a certain amount of Burpees or Power Cleans in under a certain time. Like say in my book and tell everyone I’ve trained, our goal is “long term results, not short term fixes.” The WOD is just that, a short term fix, a workout of the day. For your life you need real goals, not something dreamed up by someone for that day. A tail can’t wag a dog, it will break first, same concept here.

Next week I’m off to Africa to train some of their Army guys for most of Sept. Till then train hard, be good when you can and stay safe always.

Semper Fi



8 Responses to “Corps Strength – Tail Wagging the Dog?”

  1. Dev says:

    Thanks for the article and pearls of wisdom. I’ve always looked forward to your columns and (back then) emails.

  2. Nattydreadbushdoc says:

    Article should have been titled, “Can’t teach and old dog OLD tricks”.

    Cross fit is all about functional fitness. WODs are not the end they are the MEANs to a FUNCTIONAL end. Programming the WODs is the key.

    Please be safe in Africa my brother.

    • JP says:

      I took the same viewpoint. Just seems old school.

      At least in 10th SFG, they have spent millions to create and staff a Crossfit-style gym. Within SOF the physical needss often are to do everything and do it well. I’m not sure what other workout routine best prepares for such a vague mission requirement.

      • Darth says:

        Then why are your guys doing Crossfit down at McKibben?

        Unless you’re in Germany, then disregard

  3. Shteve-O says:

    Amen. CrossFit is fantastic for GPP (general physical preparedness) – ‘preparing for the unknown and the unknowable’. I think the issue is that the CrossFit Games take it from a different point of view, which is sport. So it’s quite extreme to the point of serious injuries. Just as we see in football, basketball or other sports. Different than GPP.

    Kinda like ‘Ranger’ applies to Ranger School graduates as well as 75th Ranger Regiment. World of difference and two separate approaches, but for most folks blends together as ‘Ranger’.

  4. Nunya says:

    And…….. Que the x-fit cultists, defending their “religion”…

  5. some_guy says:

    Crossfit AKA “I want a preventable sports injury in the future.” Free weights every day +rucking.