Every week there are several young people seeking my advice as to how to prepare for the country's service academies fitness assessments.
An Army Reservist of twenty plus years emailed me for some help. This question, and the need for a basic program, is universal throughout the military ranks - active and reserve. There is a growing trend in remedial fitness.
Here is the question:
"I have corresponded with you in the past and a while back you sent me an intermediate level fitness program that I was using to augment my fitness training program to some of the reserve unit individuals. I am in need of a basic level training program and I will explain why...
A fitness program ONLY during the battle assembly weekend or once a month does not cut it, and some individuals lack the self discipline and motivation to maintain a consistent fitness program between battle assemblies. Therefore, I had a good percent of individuals that failed their last APFT.
Unfortunately, because the command does not want to get rid of some of these PFT failures, I have to continue in providing as much help to these individuals as I can. Therefore, an advanced or intermediate program for them to follow is way out of their league. Do you have a beginning program that you can send me? The active soldiers of now are not the active soldiers of yesterday..."
Signed - Frustrated old soldier....
I understand completely! If you can, make people access the "45 Day Beginner Program" (PDF) - it is a basic plan that will help people start to get fit again. It is a basic level PT and will help people to build the habit of fitness. Tell them to do it on their own, and when you drill you will be following this plan or at least an ARMY PFT depending on the week...
I too was in your shoes when I dealt with PFT failures and I realized that these remedial PT groups needed to be taught HOW to workout. Too many US citizens / service members (I'm afraid) do NOT know HOW to PT or run. Now, in times of war, it pays to be lighter, smaller, and quicker in order to be a smaller and more elusive target. So try to motivate them in that fashion as well.
However, focus on teaching a basic level of fitness, building good habits, and adding basic fitness such as stretching, walking / running, light PT, and drinking water to their lives. The frustration will be less on you if you expect less out of them during the first few months. Let them see progress and if they do not progress well with the plan in a 6-8 week period, drop the hammer on them with a fairly difficult PT session. You can say, if you kept up with the daily beginner program, you should not have any trouble with this workout. Take them as they advance and PT them harder, but you have to give them a plan that works.
The plan I have here works...it will help people lose up to 25lbs if they just following the simple directions:
1) Stretch Daily
This is very important if beginning a fitness plan. Read "The Stretching Plan" article for details.
2) Drink More Water
Drink up to a gallon a day.
3) Do Something Everyday
Even if that is just walking after dinner. This plan has that for 45 days straight - It is easy too.
4) Repeat the Above
Do not worry about food intake YET, but if not results are seen in 3-4 weeks THEN focus on a food plan as mentioned in the "Lean Down Plan" article.
Enjoy - I know it is difficult dealing with kids half your age who you are twice as fit as, but remember many of them just do not know how to PT. Good luck. Keep the sending the emails.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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