Military Strength & Conditioning Weekly Exercise Plan

Updated on August 25, 2017
Kevin McClernon profile image

A retired Marine, Kevin incorporates all components of physical fitness to improve the strength and conditioning of men and women alike.

A Program That Has Worked for Millions

Ready for an approach to physical training that consistently produces results? The physical conditioning programs utilized by the U.S. Armed Forces has transformed many relatively sedentary men and women into physically fit, combat ready service members capable of performing demanding physical tasks regardless of the clime or place.

Military fitness routines deliver results regardless of your abilities, background or experience. They are tailored to work for everyone and can be accomplished nearly anywhere. Department of Defense (DoD) Policy directs the armed services and all service members to "maintain physical readiness through appropriate nutrition, health, and fitness habits". The components of DoD Physical Fitness Program include:

  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Desirable Body Fat Composition

The military services design and implement physical fitness programs to meet or exceed Defense Department policy using accepted training principles of physical conditioning. These programs and their workouts can be conducted nearly anywhere with a minimal amount of equipment or facilities.

This week's routine is fashioned using the components and principles utilized by the armed forces. Using common-sense, do-it-anywhere techniques this program will improve your strength and endurance while giving you a lean, toned look using balanced and challenging workouts.

New to military-style training? No worries, these easy to understand workouts will introduce you to to new and old-school exercises that have developed better bodies and enhanced the overall fitness of millions!

The U.S. Army uses running as its principal cardiovascular endurance activity.
The U.S. Army uses running as its principal cardiovascular endurance activity. | Source

The Weekly Training Plan

All you need for this week’s workouts are access to a pull-up bar, a back pack, and access to a swimming pool. If you do not have access to a place to swim, substitute that portion of the workout with a jog mixed with calisthenics. If you’re new to fitness and working out, I suggest that you start at 25% of the provided routine and gradually progress from there. If you are in an excellent state of conditioning, you can supplement your existing routine with the workouts provided.

Days which are not presented, Wednesday and Saturday, are rest days. Time and effort put into mastering strength and conditioning exercises require recuperation periods. Rest allows your body time to rebuild and strengthen muscles.

Many workouts can be completed in 30 minutes or less, but are intense. The workouts which develop cardiovascular endurance require more time since endurance is about sustaining activities over time. Enjoy yourself and try to push beyond your comfort zone.

DAY
OBJECTIVE
Sunday
Endurance & Speed
Monday
Muscular Endurance
Tuesday
Speed
Wednesday
Rest
Thursday
Cardiovascular Endurance
Friday
Strength & Endurance
Saturday
Rest
Sailors performing abdominal crunches, an exercise than can be performed nearly anywhere.
Sailors performing abdominal crunches, an exercise than can be performed nearly anywhere. | Source

Sunday

The daily workout combined a variety activities to develop speed, strength and endurance using calisthenics, a conditioning hike and sprinting. The session's objective was to enhance core stability, acceleration and cardiovascular endurance.

The calisthenics portion of the the workout emphasized core and lower body movements including air squats, planks and crunches.

Short, explosive sprints were designed to enhance acceleration and quickness. The loaded sprints can be accomplished by pulling a sled, wearing a back pack and sprinting uphill. Keep the weight to about 15% of your body weight.

The conditioning hike was completed wearing a back pack load with 30 pounds. The goal is to improve endurance while carrying extra weight using a moderate pace (approximately 20 minutes per mile).

EXERCISE(S)
SETS
REPETITIONS
Partial lunge with twist - Hip thrust - Push-up - Bird dog - Air squat - High knees - Standing quad stretch - High knees - Standing glutes stretch - Donkey kick - Butt kick
1
6
 
 
 
Front plank + Side planks + Air Squat *
2
30 seconds each
 
 
 
Lunge with twist - Jumping jacks - Standing broad jump - Mountain Climber - Sit-up
1
6-15-5-10-10
 
 
 
Crunch
5
15
Pull-up **
5
2
 
 
 
Jog
5
10m
Loaded sprint
4
10m
Wind sprint
4
10m
Walking lunge
4
10m
 
 
 
Conditioning hike
1
2 miles
 
 
 
Stretch: Calf - Hurdler - Quad - Groin - Lower back - Triceps - Delts
2
10 seconds each
* Circuit ** Pull-up, chin-up or alternate
The front leaning rest position.
The front leaning rest position. | Source

Monday

This training session included core development exercises followed by an intense five minute circuit.

Core stability directly enhances overall physical fitness. The primary core strength exercise used during this workout was crunches. The crunches were supplemented by a plank and bridge series.

The five minute circuit included hip thrusts, sit-ups, donkey kicks and the front leaning rest position (starting position for push-ups). The goal was to complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in five minutes. Do 5 repetitions of each exercise (5 seconds for the front leaning rest) then move immediately to the next exercise.

EXERCISES
SETS
REPETITIONS
Calf raise - Trunk rotations - Trunk twists - Hi jack hi jill - Neck rolls - Arm circles
1
6
 
 
 
Crunch
6
10-15-20-30-15-10
Front plank - Side planks - Bridge *
1
15 seconds each
 
 
 
Hip thrust + Sit-up - Donkey kick - Front leaning rest position *
1
AMRAP 5 minutes
 
 
 
Stretch: Calf - Hurdler - Groin - Lower back - Upper back - Chest
1
20 seconds each
* Circuit
Loaded sprints using a light sled.
Loaded sprints using a light sled. | Source

Tuesday

Speed was the theme of this workout; both running and swimming. The distance for both modes was twenty-five meters. Being that speed is the goal, ensure that you rest amply between sets to conduct each set at or near maximum speed.

EXERCISE
SETS
REPETITIONS
Partial lunge with twist - Hip thrust - Push-up - Bird dog - Air squat - High knees - Standing quad stretch - High knees - Standing glutes stretch - Donkey kick - Butt kick
1
6
 
 
 
Walk
1
5 minutes
 
 
 
Wind sprints
10
25 meters
 
 
 
Swim
8
25 meters
 
 
 
Stretch: Calf - Hurdler - Quad - Groin - Lower back - Triceps - Delts
1
20 seconds
U.S. Marines conducting a conditioning hike.
U.S. Marines conducting a conditioning hike. | Source

Thursday

Being about to hike with a load is a critical physical skill for many service members and increasing their physical capability to to so is an important part of military physical training programs.

For many; hiking, otherwise known as rucking, tends to be harsher on the feet than running. Ensure you use broken-in footwear while hiking. Additionally, bring an extra pair of socks and foot powder while hiking and change socks and powder your feet halfway through the hike.

EXERCISE(S)
SETS
REPETITIONS
Partial lunge with twist - Hip thrust - Push-up - Bird dog - Air squat - High knees - Standing quad stretch - High knees - Standing glutes stretch - Donkey kick - Butt kick
1
6
 
 
 
Conditioning hike
1
4 miles
 
 
 
Stretch: Calf - Hurdler - Quad - Groin - Lower back - Triceps - Delts
2
10 seconds each
Pull-ups develop upper body strength and require core stabilization.
Pull-ups develop upper body strength and require core stabilization. | Source

Friday

A day to challenge yourself with best efforts using the U.S. Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (USMC PFT).

The USMC PFT is designed to to test endurance, strength and stamina. It consist of three events; dead-hang pull-ups (or chin-ups), abdominal crunches, and a 3-mile run. You may rest between events but all events must be completed within two hours.

PFT scoring charts are provided in order to compare your performance with those of Marines. A minimum third-class score and minimum performance requirements per event are required in order to pass the test.

EXERCISE(s)
SETS
REPETITIONS
Walk
1
5 minutes
 
 
 
Arm circles - Horizontal arm swings - Trunk twist - High knees
1
10
 
 
 
Pull-ups *
1
AMRAP
Crunches
1
AMRAP 2 minutes
Run
1
3 miles
 
 
 
Stretch: Upper back - Delts - Lower back - Quads - Hamstrings - Calf
2
15 seconds each

USMC PFT Minimum Performance Requirements and Classification Scores

Source

USMC PFT Scoring Table

Source
Source

Make Strength and Conditioning Part of Your Daily Routine

The U.S. Armed forces physical training programs presented at the services's basic training serves as an introduction to strenuous physical activity for many men and women. It goals include; physical adaptations (strengthening and conditioning) that take place to new service members' bodies, meeting our exceeding service-specific fitness requirements, and developing required physical skills necessary to survive and excel on the world's battlefields.

More than likely, going to war isn't on your list of things to do. That doesn't mean that you can't benefit from a military physical conditioning program. These benefits include; body composition improvement (lose excess body fat while gaining muscle tone), endurance, flexibility and strength. Regardless of your fitness goals, inclusion of military conditioning will enhance your overall conditioning base and level of physical fitness.

Keep checking back as I have, and will continue, writing these military-style workout routines. Weekly, I’ll give you more advice and workouts that you can do nearly anywhere.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with concerns, feedback or questions.

Until next time...be healthy and get fit...

Semper Fidelis
Semper Fidelis | Source

© 2016 Kevin P McClernon

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