Build A Combat Ready Body
The Green Berets now train for brains as well as brawn. This is how you can sign up for service
1 Mind Your Body
“The toughest job is to figure out how best to deploy a Green Beret’s ‘type A’ mindset,” says Ray Bear, strength and conditioning coach for the US Army 3rd Special Forces Group. Soldiers tend to be driven, impatient and highly competitive. “They’ve been conditioned to push through pain, so I often have to slow them down.” To perform at your best you have to listen to your body, Bear says. That may mean switching your regular session for swimming or cycling, to maintain your stamina without stressing your joints.
2 Smarter And Harder
An unfit soldier would be out of breath after sprinting up a hill with a 10kg machine gun, and for a few crucial seconds he wouldn’t be able to fire accurately. The same goes for performance on a sports field – when you’re tired, your decision making suffers, too. Bear employs a 42-part battling-rope circuit performed as a team once a week with 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off. It takes half an hour to complete but the men wear gas masks to restrict their breathing. “A fitter team has a much greater chance of mission success,” says Bear.
3 Intelligent Recovery
Elite soldiers are now trained as rigorously as professional athletes, and Bear insists they adopt the same mental approach when they’re not working out. That means using visualisation and post-exercise recovery strategies: stretching and foam rolling after the gym, and even following missions. Many Green Berets also do yoga, which helps with breathing control.
Must Do Moves
“This push-up-bodysaw combo smokes your core,” says Ray Bear, strength and conditioning coach for the US Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group. He likes the TRX suspension system both for its versatility and because it’s easy to transport. Do 12 reps of each move, rest 60 seconds, and repeat. Do four sets of each. No TRX? Use a stability ball for both exercises, placing your feet on the ball.
Keeping your feet in the cradles, lower yourself to a plank position, with your weight resting on your forearms. Using your upper arms, pull yourself forward as far as you can, while keeping your body in a straight line from neck to ankles. Then push back as far as you can, until your ears are past your elbows. That’s one rep.
Set up the TRX so the handles are 12″ off the floor. Put your feet in the cradles and assume a pushup position. Lower your chest to the floor, and as you’re pushing up, pull your knees toward your elbows. Then push your legs back, and when your body is straight, drop your chest for the next pushup. On that rep, pull your knees to the outside of your right elbow; on the next rep, pull your knees to the outside of your left elbow.
Captain Alex, 29
“We’re running less, but all the guys on my team improved on the 3km test. It’s probably because we’re doing more intervals, plus Ray [Bear] has a 42-part battling-rope circuit that we do as a team once a week. It’s 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off, so it takes a half hour. We change positions, using staggered stances, lunge positions, and jumping jacks. My favourite exercise: put on a 22kg vest and do squats with a 13kg rock on a Bosu. We’re now a group that’s training smarter and harder. A fitter team has a greater chance of mission success.”
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