Army Air Assault School

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Soldier completes rappelling portion of Army Air Assault School.
An Army soldier pauses after completing the rappelling portion of Air Assault School at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon. (John Hughel/National Guard photo)

Several times a month, I get asked the question, "When is the Military.com Fitness eBook Store going to have an Army Air Assault School Workout?" The eBooks I prepare for future military and military personnel are always thoroughly tested by at least three students of the school in question. Well, after three successful completions of Air Assault School, I feel I have a workout worthy of reproducing for people who want to wear the Air Assault badge.

Air Assault School is a 10-day course of instruction that teaches Air Assault techniques. It's also one of the most physically challenging 10 days in the Army.

Prior to AAS, you have to pass the Army physical fitness test (plus pull-ups), perform a 12-mile unit march under three hours and navigate the obstacle course successfully to qualify for Air Assault Training. Pack this into a 10-day school where you learn how to prepare helicopters for carrying Army equipment and personnel, and you have one challenging course of instruction.

Once you report to AAS, you have to repeat the obstacle course and run a two-mile timed run. The obstacle course will test your upper body strength, grip, agility, endurance, confidence and ability to perform at heights. During the tough and demanding training events of the course, the students must avoid becoming a safety risk to themselves, instructors, or other students. The obstacle course enables the instructors to see who is scared of heights or gets nervous under stressful conditions before the actual training starts.

You will have daily PT of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and runs of up to four miles. You also will have to do a six-mile foot march with gear within 1.5 hours. At the end of training, the students must complete a 12-mile foot march with gear within three hours in order to graduate. The good news is this challenging course is only 10 days long. So if you think you are going to attend the school in order to get into better shape, think again. Ten days is not enough to get into shape. In fact, you likely will injure yourself if you attend instruction in less than top physical shape.

This six-week program will help you with meeting these challenges, but here are some great workouts to help with the runs, PTs, and long foot marches as organized in the six-week AAS preparation workout plan:

Running and foot marches: The only way to succeed at these events is to practice these events at least 6-8 weeks before the course start date.

The four-mile track workout is a great way to build speed and endurance for the two-mile timed run and the daily three- to four-mile runs at AAS:

Jog 1 mile at easy pace

Repeat 4 times

Sprint 400 meters

Jog 400m

Repeat 8 times Sprint 200m

Jog 200m

Jog 1 mile at goal pace for 2-mile run

Foot marches should be done 1-3 times a week for at least six weeks before the AAS:

  Week 1 2 days a week Week 2 2 days a week Week 3 2 days a week Week 4 3 days a week Week 5 3 days a week Week 6 2 days a week
Distance in miles with 20-50 lbs 2 miles and 2 miles 2 miles and 3 miles 3 miles and 3 miles 3,6,6 miles 2,4,8 miles 2 miles and 12 miles

For the PT workouts, I would recommend doing the supersets workouts to build endurance and PT pyramids to build strength.

Repeat 5-10 times Push-ups 10

Crunches 10-20

Wide push-ups 10

Sit-ups 10-20

Triceps push-ups 10

Crunches 10-20

Pull-ups max reps or 10-15 seconds flexed arm hang

Thanks for the emails and keep them coming. Hope this program help many ace the school and place the Air Assault badge on their chests.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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