Gore-Tex Professional

Corps Strength – Just the Facts

You know one of best things (there isn’t too many) about getting a few years under your belt, is that if you pay half ass attention and have a decent memory, you can build up a large data base of useful experience. This isn’t news, but as physical fitness training has been a major part of my life, both as a Marine and now as a contract PT instructor, I feel like over the years I’ve built up a fair amount of knowledge on the subject. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything about fitness (far from it). But, from a lot of hard learned personal experience and even more first-hand observation, I’ll just say: I know what I know.

One thing I know for absolute certainty about maintaining a healthy bodyweight and keeping yourself in decent condition is that the vast majority people make it much harder than it actually is. I get that it’s never really easy, but way too many make it harder than it has to be. Accordingly, this is one big reason why so many people struggle with weight issues, (which in turn drastically affects their health) and sadly most will never get a handle on it. It’s also why it was no surprise to anyone that a recent study showed that almost 40% of Americans are obese. Obese being defined as someone who has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 30.


Now I’ve heard all kinds or whining and excuses that BMI isn’t accurate? These complaints are usually paired up with some story about this guy, or that girl that has a high BMI, but they are actually in great shape, have a low bodyfat, look great, etc. etc. Ok got it. Now excuse me a second while I pick up the bullshit flag. Yes, there may be a few cases like that, but the overwhelmingly vast majority of people with a BMI over 30 are simply just overweight, most are very overweight. Don’t take my word for it, just go to the local mall, beach or sporting event and you’ll see with your own eyes what I’m talking about. Sorry, I don’t believe in “alternate facts” to try and make a problem seem less than it is. Give me the reality, warts and all, as the fact is you can only fix a problem by first seeing it clearly. As a country we are fat, out of shape and from those two things very unhealthy. The issue here is not about debating the problem (this isn’t politics), but coming up with a real fix.

The fact is there are many good diets and workout routines out there and most of them do work (to one degree or another), IF you actually follow them. The ones that do work all follow the same simple principle; Eat less, move more. There is no way around that basic mathematical process. However, the cause of their enviable failure is that 99.9% of them are unsustainable for the long term. The reasons that they aren’t sustainable are varied, but the main overall reason is that they just don’t fit well within a normal life of work, family, etc. The reality is that they become a pain in ass that requires too much money, time or planning and as time goes on, the motivation and/or self-discipline required is too much and that is the end of that. This is also why the fitness industry comes out with new workout routines and diets all the time, because after the old ones have had their run of success and failure, people start looking for something new. It’s a never-ending cycle in which the population gets fatter and the fitness industry gets richer.

Another thing I know for sure is that the only thing that I’ve ever seen that works long term, is the combination of a diet made up of “real food” in the right amounts and a consistent program of balanced exercise. IMO special diet foods and supplements are waste of time and money, if they weren’t, we would be a nation of Spartans, not food blisters. In the last year alone the diet food companies sold 100’s of millions of dollars worth of that over processed, cardboard crap. The same goes for the latest fad in exercise; “Hot Yoga”, “Animal Flow”, “Bokwa”, come on man? Based on my long experience the best activity that for anyone who is very overweight and/or hasn’t exercised in a while (or ever), is walking, followed by a good stretching routine. From there you can progress to running, biking, hiking, swimming and calisthenics to as high a level of fitness as you desire. Which can be higher than most people will ever need to have, or desire for that matter. The average person would be astounded by how fit you can become and maintain on an hour of the right exercise 3-5 times a week. That’s not a lot of time and actually doesn’t require super human effort either. It just has to be smart, consistent and balanced. In my book Corps Strength I lay out a simple and effective workout and eating plan that has helped 1000’s of people lose weight and get in shape. It’s not sexy, doesn’t require any special foods, equipment or supplements, it just works and not for just the summer or a few months, but for life. The bottom line is you have to decide if you want to live life at a staggering walk due to being overweight, out of shape and unhealthy, or you can take some simple steps to get better, a lot better. That part is up to you. The facts will take of themselves, they always do.

Till next month “Be Safe always, Be good when you can.”

Semper Fi



30 Responses to “Corps Strength – Just the Facts”

  1. Joglee says:

    Personally BMI is a horrible measurement. It’s designed for the average person. If you are outside of that it doesn’t work well.

    5’9″ requires a weight of 125-165 to be “normal”. 165 is incredibly small for someone who’s 5’9″, 125 would appear anemic in my opinion, yet that is counted as the base line normal weight for said height.

    • Rick says:

      Agreed. Ive been 165 before (at 5’9″) and its nowhere near an effective weight for any sort of physical job.

      Ill have to find the study, but someone did an analysis of a special operations unit (ranger regiment)? And found that 5’9″ or 5’10” and 185# was ideal for their needs and people who are outside of that end up suffering more (unsure of what scale they used).

      If guys in ideal shape for a combat job are all “overweight” then something is wrong with the scale.


      • MGunz says:

        “5’9″ 165 is no were near an effective weight for any sort of physical al job” No offense Rick but that is laughable. Just as one example, LB for LB professional MMA fighters are some of the toughest and best conditioned athletes on earth. Check out this average hgt and wet chart for UFC fighters.


        If you were un-capable at 5’9″ 165 your conditioning was weak. Having been a Golden Gove fighter, Martial Artist and career Marine I have known many people that were smaller than that could anything and everything.

        • d says:

          I was going to point it out, but it already says it in the article you linked. Weigh-in weight isn’t really a fighter’s actual weight. If I add in 20# of water weight to the welterweight example in the article, he’s “overweight” according to the BMI calculator.

          BMI calculations are fine for people who have no idea where they stand, but they know they’re a little soft. But for any kind of athlete, BMI is worthless and they’re better off using another tool to calculate body fat percentage.

      • MGunz says:

        If you don’t think MMA is a good example, consider the current world record holder in the 77Kg weight class in Olympic weight lifting (the most athletic of weight lifting sports): Lü Xiaojun from China. He has lifted over 450lbs over his head in the Clean and Jerk.

        He is 5′ 8 and weights 169lbs.

        • Rick says:

          Specificity does not apply to military jobs. You can be the strongest guy out there, but if you cant ruck or run you’re worthless.

          I should have chosen my words better. I stand by my statement that 5’9″ 165# (the extreme of the BMI scale) doesnt come close to being able to meet the phsyical demands of the job. Can some guys do it? Yes, but as I stated earlier they will suffer more than the guys who are at the “ideal” weight. Which is “overweight” by the BS BMI scale.

          • MGnz says:

            Ok, one last example, checkout this picture of myself at 5’8” 170lbs. To make a point during a CFT I did the Fireman’s carry with 2 students and 2 full ammo cans. The total weight was almost 400lbs. I carryed it all up and back the full 40 yards without a problem. BTW I was 50 years old.
            My simple point is too many people are overweight and will make every excuse under the sun for it. The excuse that you need to be “big” to be effective as a military member, first responder or any physical occupation (other than in specific sports), is just an excuse for being overweight.

            • HSR47 says:

              I’ve never served, and I don’t have to engage in any serious athletics.

              That said, I’ve noticed that it’s basically impossible for me to maintain muscle mass over time with a calculated BMI under about 23-24 (6’1″, ~175-180 lbs). In order to get there, I practically have to force-feed myself multiple times a day. Even then, if I skip a few meals I drop weight, and start losing muscle mass pretty much immediately. Strenuous exercise exacerbates that.

              If I had to be able to ruck for days at a time while carrying heavy loads, I’d probably need to aim to weigh 190-210 (~25-28 BMI), and perhaps higher, in order to account for both additional muscle mass and additional fat.

        • joglee says:

          5’8″ 169lbs is overweight according to BMI.

        • Justin says:

          That’s a poor example that doesn’t apply to the general population. He’s an elite level athlete that probably has a 36 inch vertical and is more than likely taking some type of PED. The same applies to MMA fighters or any other professional athlete. Athletes are always going to weigh less and lift more. It’s their genetics.

      • miclo18d says:

        I was 140lbs at 6’0” in Ranger Regt. Finished Ranger School at 130. SFAS at 150lbs

        Maybe soldiers have just become gym queens since I retired.

        (btw now 195 and in the overweight BMI, fighting to lose 10lbs more with….change in my dietary habits and exercise!)

        • MGnz says:

          Exactly, I was at my best as a 0311 when I was 5’8 150lbs. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t do (and frankly) do it better than 90% of the “big” guys in my unit. To include maxing out the PFT. I could hump a full load up and down the hills in Camp Pendleton 24/7.
          I knew many bigger (taller) guys that were awesome (and could beat my ass) but they were all on the leaner side, certainly not overweight, or even what you would call chubby.

          My simple point is that many people are fat and instead of trying get better they make excuses about the measuring method.

          • Jon, OPT says:

            The disconnect occurs with the paradigm that body mass equals strength. At 44 I’ve been up and down the chart in varying degrees of fitness to fatness, and the best fighting weight for me, by far, proves to be right at the top of the “normal” chart, preferably weighing at about 160, at 68″.

  2. Josh says:

    The worst part about BMI is that without context it is wildly inaccurate lilke the others in this thread have mentioned. My cousin is 5’9″ and weighs almost 190 but is an absolute monster. Competes in CF (hate all you want), former MMA guy but his insurance went up because of his BMI, his insurance company assumes hes a fat ass. BMI needs context to be worth a damn.

  3. Billy says:

    It really is rather simple…for the most part.

    You are what you stuff into your cake hole.

    One thing I’ve learned after 63 years, getting old sucks for maintaining an active metabolism.

    I have to work harder in the gym, sort of watch calorie intake, have cut bread, rice and pasta from the diet in order to continue enjoying craft beer, Pappy and Blantons.

    I weighed 128# when I joined the Corps. Separated at 132# (gained 5# of muscle) after 6.5 years. 142# today and have never been more fit or stronger. All due to quality diet and intelligent work out plans by people far smarter than I.

    Also, I honestly believe power yoga has enabled me to be more flexible and stronger today than ever before.

  4. SLG says:

    I’m not qualified to argue about BMI, but I think all of us know people who are considered overweight by BMI standards, but are actually beasts in real life. I always took the BMI as a rough scale, not an exact science. It seems pretty accurate for the majority, but as with most scales, if you are at one end or the other, it is not as likely to be accurate.

  5. Madurin says:

    Here’s the facts:

    BMI was created by a statistician as a diagnostic measurement shortcut for population trends. It’s accuracy really depends on where you draw those lines, and even then it’s only good for general sorting, because it’s weight and height, and doesn’t address body composition at all. This is an undisputable, simple, scientific fact: Two people with the exact same BMI can have wildly different fat percentages.

    Here’s an example scatterplot of body fat distribution compared to BMI, by gender:
    And another illustrating the same thing:

    This is not “a few cases,” these are the very real, very acknowledged limitations of BMI. You want to give people an ass kicking to break through their self-delusions, I’m all for it; everyone can always stand to be more fit.

    But incorrectly dismissing what is a valid complaint about using that method to bludgeon people over the head re: their health is not factually, scientifically, or logically accurate.

    • some other joe says:

      BLUF: BMI is a diagnostic tool like the check engine light. Dig deeper and find out what’s up, but don’t ever ignore it.

      Looking at these charts, the conclusion is that overfat men in the obese categories outnumber the lean by at least 2 to 1, and the divide grows as BMI increases. In contrast, lean men in the normal and overweight categories outnumber fat by around 4 or 5 to 1. (Note that the study deriving this graph was of American men in 1994. What can we expect if the study was repeated 23 years later?)

      The chart (unsourced) showing women’s numbers shows a far higher incidence of overfat to lean in all categories, with almost all reports of BMI over 30 being greater than the 30% body fat standard of the chart. Again, it’s unsourced and only sort of conforming to the sourced chart, so meaningful conclusions are difficult to draw.

      The wiki page the NCHS chart comes from does a fairly decent breakdown of what BMI is for and its limitations. It’s like the screening weights of the various services’ body composition programs. While the standard (for Army, at least) is to tape all personnel, screening weight may be used by the CDR to waive the more time-intensive process for a number of his troops. BMI isn’t itself definitive but it is a number that merits attention and should drive honest evaluations of your actual state of health.

  6. Asinine Name says:

    I’ve been wondering about this freaking book for months, so I finally ordered a copy.

  7. Dr Gregory says:

    Research consistently shows that exercise alone does not translate to long lasting weight loss. For long lasting results eating habits must change as well.

  8. Chalky says:

    Besides Amazon (that’s currently out of stock) where else online can you buy your book? Also if you were 50 in that double fireman’s carry how old are you now Gunny?


  9. Chalky says:

    Thanks Jon

  10. Oscar says:

    Please bear with me gents, this is a long one.
    I’m 42 years old, 5’10”, 90kg, Filipino. According to the drawing, and my BMI, I should be overweight. But also according to the drawing, I look Normal.
    I watch what I eat and I exercise.

    My routine is as follows:
    3x a week jogging, 6k at 45mins.
    2x a week cycling, 27kms at 1h10m (with light traffic)
    1x a week cycling 70kms at 3h15m (moderate traffic)
    6x a week circuit training which involves body weight exercises. A series of 6 exercises that I repeat 3 times without break. I start off with 50 pushups.
    I have a BMI of 29.05. Overweight.
    When I graduated college 27 years ago, I was at a muscular 88kg.

    My exercises may not seem much, but at least, I still exercise on a very regular basis.

    Now here’s the thing.

    A good friend of mine will be turning 43 this month. He doesn’t exercise, he’s got health issues, he’s 5’9” and 92kg. He actually looked like the Obesity Class 1 on the drawing. When he graduated college, he was at 65kg.

    Three weeks ago, we were both weighed 92kg, and our BMI was roughly the same. But I was still in better shape than him.

  11. Erin says:

    I think the authors intent is being confused, yes, BMI is an imperfect method of measuring health and fitness. But the point of using it as an excuse is still valid. I think the real flaw is using BMI alone to gauge fitness. I have always been a chubby bastard. I could ruck and buddy carry like a champ during my Army time, but always had trouble with runs. However, I never once held the delusion that being leaner wouldn’t help my run time.

  12. Kev says:

    If you carry large muscle mass you’re going to fall under overweight classification. I do, I have tree trunk legs from squatting but visible abs, no special lighting needed. It’s just not an accurate measurement for all populations. Being 190lbs at 6’1″ puts you overweight…there’s no room for muscle.

  13. Nicks87 says:

    The average professional hockey player (NHL) is around 6′ and 190lbs. Which according to BMI is over-weight. Hockey players are some of the most physically fit athletes in the world based on, at-rest heart-rate, endurance and physical strength, plus they are tough as nails. BMI is garbage. So, MGunz please take your bullsh*t flag and shove it up your ass.

  14. MGunz says:

    I’ve been deployed for a week and missed most of the discussion. Just to put an Amen to this. I’m not here to defend BMI. My whole point is that too many, way too many people are obese in this country. If not obese, very over weight and out of shape. I just came from a week long event with our active Navy and Marines. Even there, I saw a lot of Navy people and a few Marines that were obviously overweight. I will bet you all the beer that you can drink that those people would argue to death that the measurement is screwed up, not that they could lose some weight? That my friends is the issue. The fact that overweight people will always look for an excuse, vs. just being honest and get their ass in motion to improve their health and fitness. The funniest thing is that they will use an extreme example, as the norm to make an argument why they are overweight? Even on this discussion thread the fat body excuse line got started strong and early. I heard the same old BS here that I’ve heard from active duty Marines, Sailors and now international students. I’m kinda “chubby” but I can out fight, out hump and out run everyone, in 99.9% of the time just BS, always was. I also heard over the years that I perform better when I’m carrying extra weight? More BS. Just for one example. When I was running the Ordnance school house. I kept detailed records of students (over 2000 total) of weight and PFT scores. Every student did better on their PFT as they lost weight, even a few lbs made a big difference. I saw the same thing in Marine Units I was in and with my international students over the last 8 years. People may feel stronger if they are heavier. I get that. but as far as overall performance goes; leaner is better. However, people are going to believe what they want in the end. I deal with facts. The facts as I’ve seen them over (too) many years. In any case thanks for input. I enjoy and appreciate every comment. Even the ones that attack me personally, I don’t get to be an old Jarhead by having a thin skin. Semper Fi
    BTW, I talked to my publisher. There has been a a lot of people buying my book as of late and that has used up Amazon’d current stock. They are printing more and should be back in stock ASAP. Thanks for the support.