Please understand that my intention is not to discredit the Navy Seals or claim their ignorance.  These are simply my own musings as I’ve started looking at the subject of military combat training because of talking with my friend John Ryan of http://www.stratconusa.com/.  I’m using the Navy Seals as an example mainly because they seem to be the most prominent branch of the military to the public (the Navy Seals taking out Osama, the movie “Act of Valor”, etc.)

I’ve been researching their workouts and brainstorming on how to make them better.  I’m not going to say that the system is bad, but I am going to propose some ideas on how to make it better.

My first point of contention is it seems that initially they’re often so focused on passing the Seal Fitness Test (SFT) that they don’t take the time to understand exactly what needs to be trained for military personnel in combat.

Essentially, the Seal Fitness Test is:

500 yard swim in less than 12 minutes and 30 seconds
Two minutes to do at least 42 push ups
Two minutes to do at least 52 sit ups
Do at least 8 pull ups before giving up
Run 1.5 miles in less than 11 minutes and 30 seconds

Well, it’s a decent way to distinguish a fit person from an unfit person, but it’s certainly no predictor of who will survive a battle.

The victor of a combat engagement will have to be largely focused on power endurance.  The SFT tests upper body muscular endurance, core muscular endurance, and aerobic capacity.  These have little to nothing to do with power endurance.

Power is your ability to create a maximal level of force in a given amount of time.  So, something like the height of your jump is a good measure of power.  Power endurance is being able to sustain that amount of power of a longer duration of time.  So, if you think of jumping ten times, then that would be power endurance.

Now, the thing is that the body adapts to the type of stress you put it through.  So, if you want to do two minutes of continuous push ups, then you should train that by doing lots of push ups, and that’s exactly what a lot of these workouts are focused on in order to pass the SFT.  However, if the point is to be able to punch an adversary hard enough to knock him off his feet, then your two minutes of pushups means nothing.  You have to have upper body power for that.  To train for upper body power, you would have to do something like plyometric push ups or even elevated single-arm plyometric push ups.  These exercises would stimulate a stronger punching force.  Yes, you’d only be able to do it a few times, but that seems far more applicable to combat than being able to give a hundred continuous limp-wristed punches over two minutes.

And if your arms get tired, then start kicking them with some power-endurance trained legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think of a UFC fight vs. an Olympic rowing competition.  In the UFC fight, the mixed martial artists are using largely power endurance.  They don’t throw a hundred punches in two minutes.  They maneuver around until they can throw a powerful punch or kick.  Or maybe they’ll throw three or four, but you usually don’t see much more than that at once.  This is what (as an outsider) I would envision Seals needing to prepare for.  What they aren’t preparing for is an Olympic rowing competition where they rhythmically do the some motion for a matter of minutes in order to out-row somebody else’s boat down the river.

So, my point of contention is that although the SFT may be a decent way to delineate who’s relatively fit and who’s not, someone who barely passed their SFT may well be able to knock out or out-sprint for 40 yards the guy who passed the SFT with flying colors.  Not to mention each man’s ability to be a stable, multi-directional, fast weapons platform while gunning at the enemy.

And thus begins my thoughts about current military training.  I’ll go over a short critique of three different Navy Seals workouts that were put up on Youtube by the United States Navy.  Once again, I’m not trying to be a jerk.  I’m simply asking questions to see if we can make our military better without increasing taxes.

The workouts I’ll be critiquing are a huge step up from a lot of the workouts I’ve seen for preparing for the SFT.  The workouts I’ll critique are for current Seals who are actually preparing for the battle field, and they seem to attempt to address what I’ve stressed in this post about power-endurance.

For further reading on the SFT, go here:
http://www.military.com/military-fitness/navy-special-operations/navy-seal-fitness-test

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