Military Fitness and Weight Training

Military fitness is always an interesting topic, not just for warriors but also for civilians as well. It’s no secret that strength training helps to build stronger muscles that can carry out more demanding physical tasks, but how does that translate to the military? Does strength training enhance military fitness levels?

In this article, we will explore how weight training can be very beneficial in gaining and maintaining physical strength to help improve performance in the toughest of combat situations as well as in the civilian battlespace.

military fitness training for special ops
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Combat Readiness

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Physical fitness in the military is essential because war is the ultimate competition where the winner takes all, up to and including, your life. Therefore, physical dominance is paramount when violence is involved. While physical fitness requirements are different depending on which branch of the military a serviceman or woman is in as well as their specific job or Military Occupational Speciality (MOS), one thing is certain, elite physical fitness is expected from our military personnel, even in non-combat roles. Myself, as a US Army soldier who successfully went through the grueling French Special Forces Commando training, long hours spent in the gym always paid off down the road when upper body strength was required to scale ropes, carry fallen comrades, or lug a fully loaded, belt-fed, machine gun.

Technology vs Strength

Though technology, weapons, and tactics are important elements of combat, physical strength might be the most important factor of them all for survival. The battlefields of today involve troops walking long distances, carrying anywhere from 50 pounds to 90 lbs of kit that include weapons, ammunition, food, body armor, water, and other assorted supplies. Simply moving around with all of that gear in a combat zone where high and low human temperature extremes can be reached within the same day, an altercation on the battlefield can take place without any warning requiring incredible physical strength to survive the day.

Cardio vs Weights

We’ve all heard the importance of cardio in our workout routines to improve our cardiovascular and respiratory systems, but building and strengthening our muscles can have a much longer-lasting effect. An increase in muscular strength creates changes in muscles that are semi-permanent. Gaining lean muscle mass reduces body fat much more efficiently than cardio. And while these changes are small at first, over time, they will give way to a body that is more functional, versatile, and more able to handle the demands needed to execute the tasks of a warrior in a combat situation.

During deployment, a soldier generally does not have access to high-end workout equipment. So, he or she will make do with whatever they have available to them, including flat surfaces and their own bodies or discarded heavy equipment. Nothing fancy is really needed because often it is the simplest equipment that will have the biggest payout.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Husketh, vehicle maintainer attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, finds time in his workday to pump some iron with a set of truck tires and a tent pole, July 30 at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Laghman Province, Afghanistan.

Not Just for the Military

While it is true that strength training is beneficial for military personnel, strength training programs should also be used for civilians.

Though the military may not be for every person, there is no reason why you can’t try to be in top-notch shape like a soldier, and lifting weights for strength training may just be the ticket to better overall fitness

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