Periodization and Army PT

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As sergeant of my unit’s S2 shot, I am responsible for developing the physical training program for all the Soldiers that I work with.  I develop monthly plans and present them to the O3 Officer In Charge (OIC) for his approval.  The OIC told me that he is a PT fanatic and expounded that PT could be done twice a day.  He also brought up something that I have come to hate: CrossFit.  Crossfitters invariably believe in constant progress.  They believe that fitness is a linear, ever-rising thing, and that by merely being tough and grinding through workout after workout,  a person can become super-fit.

This mentality goes against the training regimen of almost all world class athletes.  Physical training must involve back off days, and slight variations in rep/set protocols as well as type of exercise in order to maximize results.  Not only will people not see the best results from “maxing” every day, they will feel awful.   Over training can make people miserable.  The worst thing about over training is many people will not even realize just how bad they feel until they stop training and rest.  Even then, they may not make the connection between their exercise and mood, sleep and appetite.

Fortunately the Army has caught on, though the word hasn’t made it yet to every ear.  The new Army program, Physical Readiness Training (PRT), incorporates many aspects of periodization of exercise.  Not only are Soldiers discouraged from going all out every day, but cardio and strength workouts are done on alternate days, a method scientifically proven to promote recovery.

I plan on fully incorporating the PRT model into my office’s training.  But I expect some push-back from higher.  Of course, I have the highest levels of the Army behind me as this as PRT has been mandated as the doctrine for Army physical training.


3 thoughts on “Periodization and Army PT

    Stuart Bryden said:
    April 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    I think you severely misunderstand the CrossFit training methodology, as it incorporates full rest days on a 3 on 1 off ratio. Reading the literature will give you a much better understanding of the actual CrossFit theory as apposed to that which you may see from observing idiots who do not understand the manner in which it is to be used. I have written many briefs for my Brigade Commander and Post Commander detailing the crosswalk between PRT (especially the Sustaining Phase) and typical CrossFit movements and programing. If you like please contact me at

    magus71 responded:
    April 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    The problem is, we do PT 5 days a week, which equals 5 days of very intense PT.

    Shane said:
    May 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    One of the largest problems, regardless of the literature, is the 3 day on one day off cycle!! IOT sustain intensities required to gain from these types of workouts it requires much more rest (for the vast majoirty of people, but there are exceptions) than simply 1 day!! If the protocol was split 3 days a week with 1 day off in between it would be much more beneficial. To a point of course!! I agree with the Author when he states “This mentality goes against the training regimen of almost all world class athletes”.
    With one caveat….it goes against not almost all but EVERY world class athlete. There is a reason why world class sprinters, mountaineers, bikers, power lifters etc dont do crossfit!!
    Crossfit is decent at one thing and that is to increase GPP but if you look at Tudor Bompa’s “theory and methodology of training” or the training plan of said “world class athletes” thier is always a foundation period where volume is highest and intensity is lowest. This foundation lasts as long as needed. As competition approaches volume decreases and intensity increases. The period in which vol / Int are similiar is and has to be a small window. They are relative to each other and that is simply a physiological fact no matter what the crossfit community preaches. Crossfit is good for soldiers, it helped me on a tour to Afghanistan (Canadian) but if you are a marathon runner or powerlifter at some point you will have to run hundreds of miles and lift thousands of pounds to get better. Its that simple!!

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