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HPRC Fitness Arena: Physical Fitness
Calisthenics have long been a basic component of Warfighter training to increase strength. They require minimal equipment and space and can be done virtually anywhere. Common calisthenic exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dips, and squats. They help develop and maintain muscle strength, endurance, and power as well as flexibility. There are many ways to customize a calisthenic routine to achieve a specific fitness goal. For example, performing a low number of repetitions with added resistance will effectively increase muscle strength. Training with a buddy is a great way to provide resistance. Muscle endurance, on the other hand, requires a routine with a lot of repetitions. It’s recommended to include two calisthenic sessions each week on nonconsecutive days, along with other forms of physical training (e.g., plyometrics, strength training, or aerobic training). A 30-minute calisthenic session should consist of one to three exercises that involve multiple muscle groups.
For more detailed information on calisthenics, go to Chapter 8 of The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.
Muscle strength is an essential component for successful Warfighter performance. Developing optimal muscle strength and endurance maximizes job performance and reduces risk of injury. The FITT principle can help you achieve this goal. FITT refers to “frequency, intensity, time (or duration), and type” of activity.
- Frequency is the number of sessions in a week that an individual trains. At least two days per week of strength training is recommended.
- Intensity, considered the most important aspect of strength and endurance conditioning, is defined by the amount of weight used per repetition. For muscle endurance, training should involve 20-60 repetitions of 30% to 50% of one repetition max (1RM; the maximum amount of weight one can lift for one repetition) per set. For muscle strength, training should involve 1-12 repetitions of 65% to 90% of 1RM per set.
- Time of sessions should range from 30 to 60 minutes.
- Type of exercise should vary in strength and conditioning routines to prevent boredom and improve gains. A combination of free weights and machines is recommended.
For more detailed information on strength training, read Chapter 6, Strength Training, of The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.
The Health section of the New York Times published an article that discussed a new study recently published in The Journal of Applied Physiology. Researchers found that some athletes warm up so much that they are too tired to perform at their best during competition. Researchers at Canada’s University of Calgary studied highly trained male track cyclists, asking them to compete, first, after their usual warm-up (20 minutes of riding, increasing to 95% maximum heart rate, then 4×8 minute all-out sprints) and, second, after a 15-minute, lower-intensity warm-up.
Interestingly, they found that the cyclists’ muscles had more power before the their usual warm-up than after it and that they performed better after the less intense warm-up than after their usual warm-up. Researchers concluded that when warming up, less may be more.
The Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) was quoted in a recent article in the Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).
The article discusses the impact of older active duty military personnel and military readiness.
Maintaining a physically fit body requires consistent training and motivation. It’s common for individuals to get stale or fall into a training rut. Consider cross-training, adding new activities and exercises, or just doing something physical for fun!
The Department of Defense (DoD) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) convened a workshop at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD, that examined various aspects and issues of high-intensity training (HIT) programs—now referred to as Extreme Conditioning Programs (ECPs).
The executive summary of the workshop and can be read here.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend doing moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week (for details of these guidelines, click here). However, elite athletes and tactical Warfighters need to train more to achieve higher levels of fitness—see the Navy Seal Fitness Guide and the Building the Soldier Athlete Manual for more information.
Monitor your heart rate to ensure that you are training in the appropriate range for your performance needs. This simple practice will help you track the way your body responds to training to effectively optimize your physical performance. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) has information on how to monitor your exercise intensity using your heart rate, as well as an online tool for calculating your target heart rate. A similar online calculator is available from the Army’s Hooah 4 Health website.
The Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling Series (NOFFS) provides the Navy with "best in class" physical fitness and nutrition performance information for both Sailors and Navy health and fitness professionals. NOFFS instructs individuals on how to train effectively and safely and how to make healthy nutrition choices in both shore-based and operational environments.
Based on worldwide mission requirements, which require the Navy to intensity its operational tempo, it’s imperative for Sailors to be physically fit. Physical fitness is an essential component of operational readiness and the ability to meet deployment schedules. Sailor resiliency and durability are the primary goals of the development and distribution of NOFFS.
The purpose of NOFFS is to provide a complete physical training program that will eliminate the guesswork for:
- The individual Sailor who is participating in his/her personal physical training program
- The Navy health and fitness professional who is interested in obtaining a ready-made comprehensive and biomechanically balanced individual or group physical training program.
The goals of NOFFS are to:
- Improve operational performance
- Provide basic and performance nutrition guidance.
- Decrease the incidence and severity of musculoskeletal injuries associated with physical training.
NOFFS provides Sailors with an evidence-based performance tool that will address injury prevention by physically training the movement patterns of operational tasks. Rather than focusing specifically on the physical readiness test (PRT), NOFFS emphasizes how to specifically improve the functional performance of a Sailor during daily operations. This includes lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, aerobic/anaerobic demands, and body movement skills requiring balance, agility, and coordination. The focus of the project is to optimize operational physical performance and fueling for Sailors while preserving Navy combat power.
For more information about NOFFS and other Navy Fitness initiatives, visit www.navyfitness.org.
In this new era of military human performance optimization, soldiers can forget about doing sit-ups. For the first time in 30 years, the Army has updated its fitness testing to better prepare soldiers for the demands of combat. CNN Health online reports that the Army replacing its Physical Fitness Test with an Army Physical Readiness Test. Changes to the fitness test include reducing the run for soldiers from two miles to 1.5 miles and replacing traditional drills such as sit-ups with "rowers."