When I was starting out as a personal trainer, I wasn’t really sure how a reservist can train for selection. But I’ve subsequently been able to put in countless hours of programming and have figured out a few things along the way. My first crack at it was with Alex. One day he approached me and said,
“Man, I’ve got a goal to pass selection, I really like your training style. Can we work together to get me there?”
I relished the thought of helping a hard charging, feral, young warrior achieve his dreams. So I got to work.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOAL SETTING
Up until this conversation, I really wasn’t taking my personal training business seriously, I had a few clients and one of them, Alex, had a serious, well-defined goal and had faith that I could get him there. I was honored that he wanted to put his military future partly in my hands and achieve that ultimate goal of passing selection.
We worked on a few aspects of his fitness and nutrition but when he approached me to take it to the next level, I realized that I could provide some value to hard-chargers like him.
We set up an aggressive plan and his goals were pretty simple – Pass CP Selection, deploy and then hit bigger targets in the CF community.
There were very clear performance indicators that needed to be hit, namely: improving cardiovascular and muscular endurance but also just getting strong AF.
HOW TO SET UP A PLAN
Look, I never attempted selection, it’s a sore spot of mine. I didn’t believe I could pass so I took the easy road and made bullshit excuses. So I make no allusions to the fact that I’m some sort of face pushing super-soldier; I’m not. What I do have, though, is years of training knowledge and the ability to get someone physically up to speed (no pun intended).
My goal isn’t to give my soldiers inside tips of what to expect, you know people that have been on the teams, go ask them, but if you want to figure out how to shave off a minute from your 2.4km run or add 80lbs to your bench press, now we’re in my wheelhouse.
Setting up a baseline fitness evaluation is crucial – I use the JTF-2 Fitness Evaluation as Benchmark #1 for everyone I train wanting to head to selection*.
*Selection is to imply ANY tier of special operations world, not just tier 1 SOF.
Arguably, there are going to be better tests out there, however, this one is very simple, requires very little in terms of equipment (bench press and chin-up bar) and evaluates the basic movement patterns at maximal exertion.
Based on the scores from the test, I want my guys hitting a score of 100 by the end. If you haven’t been training for this, I would be very impressed with anyone banging out a score of 100. Usually, most have a half decent run around the 9 min mark and push ups in the 40s. However, most drop off on the bench press and the pull ups and sit ups.
My theory on this is that we train this into our guys on our basic courses and at our units. Running is the easiest form of PT a young section commander can do and so are push ups. You get better at what you practice. This brings me back to Alex.
Alex had a great cardio endurance base but needed to work on pure strength and muscle endurance to really get himself to the next level.
He put in the work, 4 sometimes 5 days a week, completing every WOD I threw at him and his numbers blew up after approximately 6 months.
(Check them out below).
We also hit the pool and he worked like a mad man on a mission to get his swimming capacity to be able to crush 800m, no sweat.
Not only that, we had to dial in his nutrition to handle the increased volume…this was tough since old habits die hard, especially when I’m telling someone that they need to eat almost 1000 calories more than they’re used to!
RESERVISTS ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE
So, you’ve made the decision that you want to be an elite solider…
Dude, that’s AMAZING!
From what I’ve just outlined above, how does your plan look to get there? Most reservists hammer at it, with sheer will and determination but usually miss the mark and here’s why.
The average reservist isn’t surrounded by any support system to succeed.
How does school work? You go to class with like-minded people, more or less, you find the ones you like to chill with, you study, figure out problems, cheat on your assignments and get ‘er done, right?
But you’re deciding to achieve one of the hardest challenges on the planet and become one of the hardest, well trained fighting machines the world has ever seen ALL ON YOUR OWN?
That idea is WHACK.
I remember another soldier that works with me who was so determined to get on the teams but was constantly missing the mark on his PT evaluations and getting soft tissue injuries in the process. Upon further discussion, I realized he was just driving the body in the same way listed above; run longer and harder and do more push ups and hope to improve.
Guess what? After a few months of working with a solid plan and surrounded by a team of dudes all gunning or the same thing, he crushed his Pre-Selection PT Eval for the Close Protection teams.
So all this to say, as a reservist, you’re probably not programming yourself correctly. Not to mention all the other life bullshit you have to deal with like school, work, finding an apartment and shopping for food – all things most Reg Force guys don’t really have to deal with that end up being time and motivation sucks for you.
HOW A PLAN CAN WORK FOR YOU
Judgement day came and Alex crushed his Pre-Selection Fitness Eval and then got the nod to head on selection itself and in his own words (very humble ones I might add),
“FINISHED SELECTION AND IT FELT GOOD. I WAS GOOD TO GO!”
All in all, this was nearly 1 year of non-stop grinding and incremental progress that got Alex the results he had committed to.
Here are some of the gains that guys like Alex are achieving with a dedicated plan and solid support network. Results below are from a collection of soldiers not just one in particular.
I’m proud to have members like Alex in the Elite “Tribe of Warriors” program and to see all his tireless work, discipline and dedication pay off. My hope is that his story inspires YOU to take on the challenge that has always seemed elusive and make the commitment to put in the work.
I’ll leave you with a quote from my favourite Navy Seal, Jocko Willink,
“There is one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, and that is discipline. Because your dreams and your goals are not there waking up for you in the morning.”
Achieving your goals, like Alex, is one only one message away. Don’t hesitate. ACT!
Set up a call with me today HERE.
Train Hard, Fight Easy
Dave is a retired infantry officer and Afghanistan war veteran. He’s the creator of the HRD2KILL training program that was built on the principles that got him from not being able to get out of bed to competing in the Crossfit Open, Spartan Races and the Montreal Gaelic Athletics Association. You can find more mobility based exercises in his new book, “The Nimble Warrior”, now available on Apple Books and Amazon or tune into his new HRD2KILL Podcast