Ask Stew: Training Through College For Special Ops (Army)

Master Sgt. Josh Horsager of the 75th Ranger Regiment took first place in the 2017 Best Ranger competition (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo).

When you have the benefit of four years the prepare for military training, there are a multitude of routes you can take. For example, you can mix sports seasons with off season military training, or break up the year into quarters and focus on building a solid foundation and become well rounded Tactical Athlete.

Here is an email from a young man with plans to join the Army after college.

Hi sir, my name is Chris. I plan to go into the Army after college in about four years. I have your book Army Special Ops: Army Ranger and Special Forces Workout. I plan to do the ten-week program at the end of the book, but should I repeat that same program until I go in or do something else? If something else I will gladly take recommendations from you. Thank you Sir. - Christian

Hi Christian,

You obviously have plenty of time to get plenty of training in during the four years of college. My advice is to do the program you have as a foundational test. It takes 10 weeks to do The Ranger / SF Workout and will help you build a solid foundation though you may have to alter some of the miles, reps, and sets your first time through. Keep notes on how you had to alter it.

Then after one cycle of the program, do something else. My recommendation is to get in a cycle of lifting / less PT and running distance / more non-impact cardio and some rucking in the Fall and Winter semesters. Then in the Spring and Summer rip it up with more calisthenics, less lifting, more running. See how I have been using this type of Tactical Fitness Periodization for over 20 years now.

The reason why you need to focus on a full tactical fitness program is that you have four years to master any weaknesses you may have and maintain or grow any strengths as well. In tactical fitness - you have to be good at ALL the elements of fitness - running, rucking, upper body and lower body strength and stamina, flexibility and mobility (Strength, Power, Cardio Endurance, Muscle Stamina, Flexibility, Mobility). Periodization allows for you to build upon all the fitness elements each year until you have build a strong foundation of all of them - turning weaknesses you may have now into borderline strengths in 4 years. Any of the Tactical Fitness Trilogy is a great answer. But so is playing a sport.  I played rugby in college and lifted and ran sprints pre-season. During the season, I would add in swim workouts and practices mainly. Then after the season, went hardcore in SEAL prep type workouts (mainly mastering the PST).

Something to consider too while in college - time management. Here is an answer to fitting in fitness during a business school schedule.

After 20 years of this type of training, do not think of it as rigid. We are adding in new elements such as kettlebells, weight vests, TRX, tires, sledgehammers, sleds, crawls, and carries to enhance our program each year. For your four years, you can grow into this type of training and find some items you really enjoy while building the perfect tactical athlete. We have many favorite GO-TO workouts, but also create new workouts every day. Trying new ideas should be part of your training to find what works for you personally.

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