Physical Fitness

I still say we’re in trouble

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It’s been a while since I commented on America’s road to serfdom. So here’s one for the lovers of doom.

An article in the Atlantic says that it takes kids 90 seconds longer to run one mile than it used to in the 80s.  80% of young people are too dumb, criminal or fat to enter the military.

And here we find that the generation of the participation trophy just doesn’t care about winning. WSJ: 

They’re just not very fast. “There’s not as many super-competitive athletes today as when the baby boomers were in their 20s and 30s,” said Ryan Lamppa, spokesman for Running USA, an industry-funded research group. While noting the health benefits that endurance racing confers regardless of pace, Lamppa—a 54-year-old competitive runner—said, “Many new runners come from a mind-set where everyone gets a medal and it’s good enough just to finish.”

Now, a generational battle is raging in endurance athletics. Old-timers are suggesting that performance-related apathy among young amateur athletes helps explain why America hasn’t won an Olympic marathon medal since 2004

It’s easy to see why so many in America are clamoring for enforced equality: They’re bad at so many things. Meanwhile China’s blowing us out of the water and Putins making 10 year olds across Russia do knuckle pushups and assemble an AN94 assault rifle before every meal. Our kids are good at Angry Birds.

I’ll see you in the howling wilderness that will be America is two decades or so. For now, ride the tiger.

 

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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.

90 percent of Philidelphia youth are ineligible for military service

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A recent study of Philidelphia youth aged 18-24 shows that 90 percent cannot serve in the military due to obesity, lack of education, or criminal history.

This doesn’t suprise me at all. I know I sound like all of our parents: “Back in my day, we used to walk to school, ten miles, uphill both way!”

But maybe, just maybe, our parents were telling the truth.

The utter lack of reading and writing skills, logical capabilies and physical readiness are absolutely awful. A high ranking Army official stated recently that the physical fitness level of America’s youth will in all probability present a national security risk in 10 years. I don’t question this at all.

We’ve all but lost our youth. We pat ourselves on the back for expecting nothing from them, expecting them to mature “organically”. We’ve gotten from them just what we’ve required: Very little.

Fat, dumb and unhappy.

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Wired’s Danger Room reports that most kids are too stupid or fat to serve in the military.

I  can attest that many who do serve aren’t much better. I don’t serve in an infantry unit, but the physical abilities of most of the people I serve with are astoundingly bad. Yesterday, the 66th Military Intelligence brigade commenced a brigade run, so there were a few hundred soldiers that took part in a 4 mile run–very slow–around the airbase. It was pretty cool outside and windy, so overheating was not a problem, and yet as we stood in formation after the run was over and were told by the brigade commander to remove our hats, I felt sweat splash on th back of my leg. I looked back to see who could possibly be sweating that much in cool weather after running for a moderate distance at a near walking pace. To my surprise, several soldiers–including officers–looked like they’d just finished the Battan Death March.

I wasn’t sweating at all. I considered not even taking a shower before changing into my combat uniform, but I went to the gym after the run and did pushups, pullups and one-legged squats. Then I showered and felt great.

According to the Danger Room report:

75% of people aged 17-23 are incabable of serving in the military due to physical weakness, obesity drug use or  can’t pass the mental aptitude test.

Nearly one quarter of those people are classified as obese, compared to only 6% in 1987.

Though I have some significant problems and questions concerning the effectiveness of Basic Training, one thing I did not question was the need to get soldiers physically ready. It seemed many of them needed to be screamed at and humiliated into moving and trying. This astounded me at the time. I used to think most people “got it” when it came to team work and effort. Seeing what was going on around me actually made me depressed; I felt like I was weird in that I didn’t need anyone screaming at me to get me to run hard.

A lot of soldiers here try very hard to get out of morning PT. They go on “profile” (medical orders restricting them from certain physical activities) immediately upon reaching the unit. It’s disgraceful. They have no shame. I’d be embarassed to show up to a new unit and try to get out of PT. The same soldiers can be seen swigging away from cans of soda and always have snacks handy. Guess they just don’t care. It’s tough to make people care.

PT Test on Wednesday

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I have another physical fitness test on Wednesday. This one promises to be particularly challenging as I’m suffering from several injuries and issues.

In addition to my still-numb right hand, my right knee clicks and swells, and I have a strained left glute that’s been bothering me for months now. Also, I still have some fluid on my lungs from Influenza.

Guess I’m a mess. I’ll let you know.

PT Test

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Today I took my “record” APFT. (Army Physical Fitness Test.) This test was particularly important to me, because if I scored in the 90th percentile in all three events (push-ups, sit-ups and two-mile run) I would be able to do physical training on my own as opposed to doing it every morning with the company.

It was a rainy morning, somewhat cool. The first event is always pushups, at which I excel. I had questions about the run, because I really hadn’t timed myself in a two mile event for a couple of months.

The pushups went great. In two minutes I did 98. My goal was 100, and I’d tested myself on Saturday and was able to get 100, but the body has different capabilities on different days and at different times. 98 was way above 100th percentile for my age, though.

Next was the situps. When you do 98 push-ups, you really have to engage your midsection at the end. Your hip flexors and abs get a workout, so they were already fatigued. Plus, the ground was muddy and the person holding my feet had a tough time holding them down. I did 74, which was the least I’d done in my last 5 PT tests. It was in the 98th percentile, but I felt a little let down because my string of perfect scores was broken.

So next was the run. For most people, it’s the most dreaded portion of the APFT, mostly because it lasts the longest. No matter how good a runner you are, running your hardest for two miles hurts.

I finished the run in 12:24. Well over 100 percentile.

But I hate second place. Not as much as last place (unless there’s only two competitors), but it bugs me. Yesterday, I finished second on Soldier of the Month Board. I lost to someone who’s been in the Army for almost six years. Still. Two days in a row of second place doesn’t suit me.