And now, a guest post from Chad Faulkner, Retired US Army, author of Original Strength for the Tactical Athlete, and OS Coach….
If you know my background you know I recently retired from the Army after 20 years of service as both an infantryman and in special operations. A career that was pretty hard on my body with many lingering effects. Having known Tim prior to OS and getting to come along this ride with him has been one of the great blessings of my life. Original Strength has been the cure for what ails me in many cases. What I’m writing about today though is likely part of the cause for some of my ailments and will contradict what some practitioners believe.
What I mean is, sometimes a workout needs to hurt. There, I said it and I stand solidly behind that statement. The opposite is often preached, so please allow me to explain.
I’m speaking from the perspective of a tactical professional. Our military, law enforcement, firefighters, etc.. These professionals need to be tested both physically and mentally because in their jobs they will be tested physically and mentally. In all these professions (and more not listed) you will at some point need to be able to function with a sound mind while under heavy to extreme physical stress. You don’t want the first time you’re tested to be in a real-world incident.
Let me caveat this by saying that these “tests” should not be in every workout or even that often. I would say once you’ve been tested several times and know what you’re made of and how to handle the adversity, that you only need to test yourself periodically as a confidence booster that “you’ve still got it”. You don’t need to do workouts that hurt to build the strength that will get you through these tests.
As an example, I recently competed in the Tactical Athlete Games, which was most definitely a test. Seven events in two days that were all physical smokers with shooting skills mixed in. You could build all the strength you need for that event following Original Strength protocols and utilizing RESET progressions and work capacity training.
What you need to do though, is make sure you’re mentally prepared for when your physical strength is failing and your mental strength needs to take over. What about when it’s 87 degrees out and you’re on day two during the last event carrying a 95-pound husafell stone that’s pushing your plate carrier into your chest and restricting your already labored breath, and your already tired grip and arms are starting to fail and your brain says it’s ok to set it down? You need to be able to cancel out the thought of putting that stone down and use mental strength to push forward to the finish line. To make your brain tell your body that stopping is not an option.
How do you know how to do that if you haven’t trained to that limit? If you’ve read the “Original Strength for the Tactical Athlete” book you know that I had never crawled a mile… until I did.
I had trained to the point of failure, thus teaching me what it would take mentally to keep pushing and keep the one-mile crawl. When you get dropped into a country like Afghanistan that has a much higher altitude than where you’re used to and you still have to complete the mission, how will you push through when the air gets thin? You have to be able to walk to the objective carrying pounds and pounds of gear and still be able to function to complete the mission.
My point is that you’re not always going to be in such great shape physically that every “mission” is easy, but you need to be in great “mental shape” so that every mission can be accomplished.
So every now and then a workout needs to hurt. Your mind will push your body to places it doesn’t seem possible to go, but you need to be ready for when that moment hits. It’s ok to have doubts, but you can’t stay there. Be ready and fight on.
Chad Ray is a retired Master Sergeant of the Army after a 20 year career and an OS Coach. He is also the author of OS for the Tactical Athlete.