Guest Post: What You Need To Know About Combat Fitness

Thanks to Lt Hee at USMCofficer.com for his great work and this guest post! Check out the most up-to-date information about his OCS and TBS experiences on his site.

The most stressful aspect of preparing for OCS is doubting your ability to perform physically.

Yes, there are a lot of physical events where you will be required to perform to a certain standard. The PFT and CFT are the most obvious. However, the majority of physical performance at OCS is not going to be reliant upon an ability to run 3 miles in 18 minutes, or do 20 pull-ups without breaking a sweat. The key to performing well overall is being combat fit. What does this mean?

Combat fitness can be thought of as an ability to perform in a dynamic and stressful environment no matter what the conditions.

In many ways, preparation done for the PFT and CFT will carry over into a combat environment. However, understanding that OCS is not as straightforward as passing a PFT is going to help you in the long run. The Basic School exposes new officers to practical combat environments, so you might as well start preparing now.

Here are two events that you may not have been exposed to. They provide a good example of what you will be doing most of the time at OCS.

Combat Course

The combat course is done as a 4 candidate fire team. The instructor will randomly choose a new fire team leader to evaluate throughout the event. There is no specific grade percentage for the combat course, but it does impact how the instructors will perceive your ability to lead. The course includes wall climbing, bridge crossing, and the infamous Quigley. Being able to lead a fire team through obstacles you have never seen before while being sleep deprived, hungry, cold, and covered in mud exemplifies the meaning of combat fitness. Being able to do 20 pull-ups is not going to help you with this one.

Endurance Course

It is surprising how many candidates fail the endurance course. It is roughly a 4-mile event that begins with the obstacle course and ends with an uphill sprint. Candidates will be circumventing barbed wire, jumping over logs, traversing a rope wall, and lunging right into neck deep swamps. The downfall for most candidates is their inability to run with boots and extra weight, since everyone is required to carry with them two full canteens and their rifle.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Perry, a Middlesex, N.J., native and the motor transportation chief with Motor Transportation Platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, lifts weights during a CrossFit workout on the flight deck of the USS Gunston Hall, June 14, 2012. The 24th MEU, along with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, is currently deployed to the U.S Central Command area of operations as a theater reserve and crisis response force. The group is providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein)
Circuit-training Marines on a US Navy ship. Training for combat fitness never stops!

Combat Fitness Preparation Tips

Preparing for a combat environment is difficult because you don’t know what to expect. However, simulating some of the nuances of a combat environment can help promote your mental and physical stamina. Here are a few tips for your preparation:

Run With Weight

Get used to doing things with some added weight whether is be running, pull-ups, crunches, jumping, crawling, climbing, etc. Be careful not to strain your joints and moderate the frequency and amount of weight used.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is great because it exposes your body to many different exercises. Circuits that include a decent amount of running are going to be the most effective workouts when preparing for OCS. Take 10 exercises and perform each one after a quarter mile run.

Vary Your Workouts

OCS doesn’t have a week-long workout plan that gets used repeatedly. Every week contains a new set of events that train candidates in new ways. Find at least a few new and creative workouts each week to test your body. Also, vary existing workouts by doing them in reverse order, adding a weighted pack, or throwing on some boots instead of running shoes.

Final Thought

There is always going to be talk about who has the best PFT score, or who got the most ammo can lifts. In the real world, you won’t be running 3-miles into a combat zone with green skivvy shorts (or silkies!) and a new pair of Nike shoes. Start thinking about how you can train yourself in new and dynamic ways.

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