SOF Physical Training

Physical fitness in the past handful of years has been evolving towards the way of “functional fitness” such as CrossFit and similar off-shoots. The functional fitness evolution has spread like a wildfire throughout the military (mostly CrossFit) and particularly in special operations units. Ten years ago the physical training regime was running, running, get smoked (push ups), running, running, and ruck marching thrown in there once in a while. A couple of years later, the Army Rangers adapted the RAW (Ranger Athlete Warrior) Program which incorporated some elements of functional fitness but still very different from the regimes we see today. Most still spent every given minute running our asses off.

Athlete Warrior Program

In units like Delta and SEAL Team Six, they have physical training down to almost an exact science. The Gym Jones program is probably the most widely utilized in the unit, but there is a healthy mix of Military Athlete as well as Mountain Athlete programming in there as well. Once in a blue moon “certain” CrossFit workouts are implemented by the individual operators but CrossFit is not exactly the most suitable fitness program for the endurance focused shooters. And nobody cares if a Delta shooter can do a muscle up or a hand stand walk.

Gym Jones (www.gymjones.com)

Founded by Mark Twight in Salt Lake City, UT; Gym Jones is the same organization that trained the actors and stuntmen of the movie 300 back in 2005 (“the 300 workout”). Since then Mark has served as a DOD Consultant, particularly for Delta Force. Twight originally started off as a CrossFit affiliate but he drastically evolved the typical CF program and thus Gym Jones was born. The main difference between the two is that Gym Jones programming is more endurance-oriented but still retains many of the same CF movements. Most Gym Jones workouts are usually 2-3 times longer than your typical CF workout, and about 5 times harder. Twight’s philosophy: “Train for an objective”

Military Athlete (www.militaryathlete.com)

This is also another unique functional fitness regime which differs from both CrossFit and Gym Jones in terms of movements and equipment (lots of sandbag exercises). Military Athlete is also very strength oriented as well as endurance; most workouts are over 60 minutes, and some are 120 minutes. The heavy strength training in MA is what differentiates it from Gym Jones, and the combination of endurance-focused as well as the extensive strength training is what differentiates it from CrossFit.

Mountain Athlete (www.mountainathlete.com)

One of the lesser utilized fitness regimes at the Tier 1 level; but still done enough to warrant a mention! Brought to you by the same folks of Military Athlete (specifically Rob Shaul); Mountain, as the name implies, is designed to create a faster and stronger mountaineer. For a unit at war in the unforgiving mountains of Afghanistan this is a great program. Much of Mountain Athlete revolves around finger and hand strength, pulling strength, and endurance/stamina.

So if you want to train like the real guys, go sign your ass up! Disclaimer: these workout regimes will probably not do that much for you if you are going to Delta selection! So don’t come back blaming me if you didn’t make it. They are meant to improve your physical ability of running, jumping, or duck walking to an objective and shooting a bad guy in the face.

About the Author

Chris is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, 18-Delta Combat Medic, and SEAL Sniper. His career included tours with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two and SEAL Team Two in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. You can follow him on Twitter @Chris_Hagerman.

3 comments
bchrist25
bchrist25

Just stumbled across this article and it was very interesting.  I find this specific subject matter to fascinating and would love reading more about it.  Out of curiosity, when you say the Gym Jones program is "the most widely utilized," are you referring to their standard, daily programming or are you referring to the Operator Fitness training programs on their website?  Thanks!

bchrist25
bchrist25

Just now came across this article and found it very interesting.  I find this specific subject matter fascinating and would love to learn more in-depth about it.  Out of curiosity, when you say Gym Jones "is the most widely utilized," are you referring to their standard, daily programming or are you referring to the Operator Fitness training programs they feature on their website?

Muskrat
Muskrat

Thank you for bringing attention to these programs.