I had only a rough idea of what this program was when I signed up for it, but had heard several people say that it was extremely effective. I had 6 weeks open in the training plan I had laid out, and it allows me to get an awesome patch, so I signed up for it.
Before starting, you determine how strong and fast you are when you are fresh. How many pushups can you do in 2 minutes, situps in 2 minutes, burpees in 5 minutes. You also have a run and a ruck for time, at whatever distances you choose. (I did a 3-mile run and a 4 mile ruck.)
It is a 6 week program. You choose either the sandbag or bodyweight version (I did sandbag) and to have a battle buddy or to “fly solo” (I had a battle buddy).
You earn points for every workout, run and ruck you do, and the team with the most points wins a discounted entry into the next round. This is where having a battle buddy helps a lot for motivation. I will sometimes slack off and make excuses to not get a workout in when it is just me. When missing a workout would be letting down a teammate, I’ll find a way to get it done.
Every week you have 3 main workouts (upper body, lower and core) and one bonus workout (called a “care package”). In addition, you have one run or ruck each week (run one week, ruck the next), one 6-mile ruck that needs done within the first 3 weeks, and a 12-mile ruck within the last 3 weeks. So your to-do list looks something like this:
Week 1: 3 main workouts, care package, run. You may do the 6-mile ruck anytime in the next 3 weeks.
Week 2: 3 main workouts, care package, ruck.
Week 3: 3 main workouts, care package, run. Get the 6-miler done if you have not done it yet.
Week 4: 3 main workouts, care package, ruck. 12-mile ruck is now fair game.
Week 5: 3 main workouts, care package, run. Check your run time improvement and feel good about your progress.
Week 6: 3 main workouts, care package, ruck. 12 miler if it is not done yet. Get all of this done a day early. (More on that later.)
The slogan “no one cares what you can do fresh” didn’t make a lot of sense to me at first. Then I did the first workout, and it was perfectly clear. We test how many pushups you can do, do a bunch of exercises to wear out every muscle involved with pushups, and test how many pushups you can do at the end. How much can you do when you are already worn out?
Workouts for the coming week are posted on Sunday, with YouTube videos showing how to do each movement. Basic format is usually do several rounds of one exercise with specified rest breaks, then repeat the process for another four or five exercises. For example:
4 rounds of 12 crocodile pushups with maximum of 60 seconds rest between rounds.
3 rounds of 15 sandbag cleans, 60 seconds max rest.
4 rounds of 10 overhead sandbag press, 30 seconds max rest.
3 rounds of 10 ruck rollers, 60 seconds rest.
4 rounds of 10 sandbag ground to shoulder, 90 seconds rest.
Now that you can barely lift your arms, test pushups.
60 seconds rest, test pushups again. This last set will be very humbling, but also push you to give it all you have.
(Quick tip: I found it useful to set a stopwatch on my phone and leave it visible through my workout. I could see that I finished that set of ruck rollers at 7:04, so I need to start the next one before 8:04.)
Weekly bonus workouts are posted on Tuesdays. They generally don’t look too bad when you read them, and suddenly seem a lot more difficult when you start doing them. Most are in the format of set a timer, and do as many rounds as possible of this list of exercises, i.e. 20 minutes of 10 overhead press, 10 good morning, 10 squats and 10 cleans, rinse and repeat.
Rucks and Runs
Each week, you will be given a time goal for your run or ruck, based on your previous time. The goals were more ambitious than I would have set for myself, but I managed to hit them more often than not.
You are given access to an online spreadsheet to mark your workouts done and note particular details (like how many pushups you could do at the end of the upper body workout). Your battle buddy then fills in the points for what you have gotten done (3 points for a workout, one point for a care package, run, or ruck). The point value for the 6 mile and 12 mile ruck are determined after you do them, so you don’t know in advance how important they are to your score.
Now for my advice about getting everything done a day early: If there is a tie for winners (top 3 teams get prizes), then the tie breaker is a care-package-like workout that needs done that last Sunday of the program. Do not be that guy who has to do that on the same day as the 12-mile ruck. I was that guy, and it was not pleasant.
Should you not make it into the tie breaker, the workout is posted where you can access it. Do it anyway and see how your score ranks.
The hype on this program turned out to be true. I took a few minutes off of my ruck and run times, and had significant improvement in all of my pushup/situp/burpee scores.
While it is not what I tend to judge workouts on, I did notice that this is one of the few programs I have been on that made a visible difference in how my body looks in this short of a timespan. Muscles of my upper arms, shoulders, and back have grown noticeably, my posture has improved a bit, and the muscles that my ruck straps bear on don’t wear out on long rucks like they used to.
I absolutely reccomend this program. If interested, you can check it out here.