Soldiers don’t graduate from Special Forces training as much as they survive it. Army Ranger School loses a fourth of its class in the first four days. More than 75 percent of Navy SEAL candidates never make it to the finish line.
According to Craig Weller, owner of Rogue Performance in Denver and a veteran of the elite Naval Special Warfare SWCC team, the candidates who do survive Special Forces training usually aren’t the strongest, fastest or even the toughest. Instead, they’re the ones who master perfect mechanics, so even when their bodies break down, they’re able to keep moving without getting hurt.
“It doesn’t matter how much you lift on rep one,” Weller says. “What will you do 20,000 reps from now?”
Weller, who helps soldiers prepare for Special Forces training, focuses on basic exercises that teach solid mechanics under stress. Make these battle-tested exercise swaps in your in-season training plan to build a body that will stay strong well into the playoffs, when your team needs you most.
Instead of Olympic Lifts (like Jerks, Cleans and Snatches), Do Prowler Pushes, Drags
Weller says: “If you’re training hip extension (the driving force of most lower-body movements), there’s no better place to start than Prowler Pushes and Drags, since these exercises are almost impossible to do incorrectly. Olympic lifts, on the other hand, are very easy to get wrong. Once you start performing Olympic lifts badly, you establish movement patterns that might look OK most of the time, but fall apart when you start to get fatigued.”
Instead of Back Squats, Do Goblet Squats
Weller says: “Most people Squat less than their body weight because their form is wrong. The only way you’re going to Squat double or triple your weight is by first learning perfect form through an exercise like the Goblet Squat, which trains your body to move the right way.”
Instead of Bicep Curls, Do Pull-Ups
Weller says: “If you get good at Pull-Ups, your biceps will grow just as fast as they would if you were doing Curls. But you’ll also build a stronger upper body, since you’re engaging more muscles, and you’ll avoid joint issues that come with exercises like Curls. Work up to 20 good Pull-Ups in a row.”
Instead of Bench Presses, Do Push-Ups
Weller says: “Push-Ups teach your body to move as one coordinated unit much better than Bench Presses do. You don’t need to do much Bench Pressing; just make your Push-Ups more difficult by adding a weight vest and bands.”