Tactical Fitness: Teen Preparation for Army Ranger Training

Tactical Fitness: Ranger Candidates Train

Starting your physical preparation for military service in high school is such a smart habit to get into. Too many people put off their physical fitness until a few months before boot camp and wonder why they are not conditioned enough to handle challenging runs, rucks, and high-rep PT of the Army and Marine Corps. Avoid becoming a boot camp injury or failure statistic, and start your preparation like this young man. He asks an important question that has a few layers to answering it thoroughly.

Hello Mr. Smith,

I am an aspiring Army Ranger in my junior year of high school and I have a few questions regarding pull-ups. My physical condition at the moment is pretty good. I'm able to do 100 pushups in two minutes, 100 sit ups, and 20 pull ups. But my problem is I cannot get over the hump of breaking 20 reps. After my 16th pull-up I start to struggle, and for my last two the form is sloppy. I have been using the greasing the grove method doing pull ups four days a week, but does that hurt my muscles and prevent me from working to my full potential? I just feel that if I am not doing a lot of pullups that I may be losing my ability to do them.

There comes a point where you should say, "that is pretty good," and 20 pull-ups is getting there. I would not call calisthenics a weakness for you. You are likely just on a plateau and need to rest pullups every other day and change things up a bit. Add in a new style of workout – maybe a few weighted pull-ups.

Do not get me wrong – 20 pull-ups is a great goal, but your standard workouts (pyramids, super sets, max reps sets) every other day will help you maintain that level. One day you will do 25 reps without even thinking about it. By not doing them daily at such a high volume, you will save yourself from future elbow tendonitis, grip pain, and shoulder pain.

Other Things to Consider

Make sure your weaknesses are minimized.  I would focus more on your running and rucking, but also playing some sports.  Learn how to be a team player.  Pick a sport you enjoy or one that will make you a better runner or lifter or both.  But the main goals while in high school are to:

  • Stay out of trouble,
  • Be a good student,
  • Learn to be a team player,
  • Work on your weaknesses, and
  • Maintain your strengths

You also need to focus on other events to prepare for Army and Ranger training. You will be doing a lot more running and rucking in the Army, and being excellent at those will carry you farther than 20+ pullups.

If you are not a good runner, you need to become one.  Here is a running and rucking progression program that will help you with what I think is the most physically challenging part of Ranger training (5-mile timed runs, long rucks, and load bearing all day).

Here are some running and rucking preparation charts depending on your current mileage per week:


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