Superior Training For the Military Athlete

Article written by Davis “Knuckles” Libbey As a Former Marine and current Contractor who has served in various roles in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I have spent a lot of time ensuring my team-mates and I were in optimal physical condition for our mission set. Whether it was developing the conditioning for long range and poorly supported missions or the short term missions of a protective detail in a non-permissive environment, one type of training has been helpful in all aspects: Strongman-style training. When I was a young infantryman prior to 9/11, I thought all I needed to do was unit level Physical Training (PT) to be in optimal combat condition. What I didn’t understand then was that calisthenics, running distances of over three miles, long distance swims, and unit hikes were great for only making me a one dimensional endurance athlete capable of handling a moderate load. What I didn’t understand then was:  being better prepared and conditioned for the realities of armed conflict would require reducing some of the steady state cardio work and engaging some less traditional training. 


Long distance running is the core of standard military unit training. Infantry units love this form of PT because it’s easy to perform, it doesn’t require any extra gear, and it keeps you in decent cardiovascular shape. Unfortunately running distances of three plus miles in shorts and a t-shirt doesn’t replicate the realities of the conditioning required for combat. Combat happens in bursts. Your conditioning should reflect that. I know a lot of individuals and units have started moving towards more of a HITT style program that concentrates on moving moderate loads for repetition through traditional planes of motion. I think it is a step in the right direction… however, it’s not the best answer. What that style of conditioning still lacks is being able to move real and awkward loads in various planes o