Fitness today vs yesterday

Glad_its_all_over

ADC
Book Reviewer
I was musing, just now, what with me being an aged Cold Warrior and all, on the loads routinely carried by (especially) dismounted combat types nowadays.

Now, in my day, kit for battle was CEFO - essentially, your 58 pattern with whatever your Regimental SOP required, plus lots of heavy 7.62 and perhaps, if you were unlucky and in the infantry, a mortar bomb or two and a load of 7.62 link. Heavy, sure, awkward, sure, but doable. The Army in the 1980s wasn't notably fit across the board, although infantry tended to be up to speed. We also smoked a *lot* more and probably, in BAOR at least, drank an awful lot more.

Now look at today and the sheer quantity of shit folk have to carry, not least body armour and all the other good stuff that now fills respectably-sized bergens for even short-term operations, never mind long fighting patrols or advances to contact.

Is the Army, or at least the dismounted close combat elements of it, in general a lot fitter than its fathers were?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I think people in general are fitter.

Better healthcare, better food, more awareness of health, implications of smoking, drink etc.

Just look at how standards for sporting events improve over time.

The current world record for the 1500m run is nearly 30 seconds faster than it was 1912.
 

Dwarf

LE
I think people in general are fitter.

Better healthcare, better food, more awareness of health, implications of smoking, drink etc.

Just look at how standards for sporting events improve over time.

The current world record for the 1500m run is nearly 30 seconds faster than it was 1912.
I think that's both right and wrong. More people are more health aware than previous generations and certainly there is a proportion that live better, eat better and are in better shape than before.
However at the other end of the spectrum with a far more sedendary life and with far more rubbish to eat and in bigger quantities then we have a growing proportion of the population that is definitely far less fitter.

'.

We have a bigger range of food available, but how many people buy pre-prepared stuff to microwave rather than cook? That is alright in the short term but I think in the longer term it will bring problems.

To the OP, like you I am a CWW and I see the overall fitness standards for the average soldier higher than before, and the Infantry especially have to be more of a racing snake than before. The basic load for an Infantryman I read on here is 35kgs now. That's more than we carried.
 
Physical training in general is much more advanced and optimised. We know a lot more about aerobic vs anaerobic etc we can optimise training instead of guess work. Science has taken much of the guessing away. I don't know specifically about the military but in decades past advice to get fit was just "run". Now we know it's much more complex than that. There's HIIT, fartlek etc. It's still improving, I saw some proper scientific studies based around para reg recruits and testing. Based on the studies recommendations, the pass rate soared significantly and the injury rate dropped (can't remember off hand). I think PRMC and PRAC both do a functional movement screening. This tells any imbalances and risk of injury and can even tell what the injury will be,based on how you move. But as above,it's a double edged sword. The norms constantly shift. Look at those designs the engineering students on the navy's bursary scheme came up with for the RM. Some sort of exoskeleton for carrying weight.
 
Now look at today and the sheer quantity of shit folk have to carry, not least body armour and all the other good stuff that now fills respectably-sized bergens for even short-term operations, never mind long fighting patrols or advances to contact.

Is the Army, or at least the dismounted close combat elements of it, in general a lot fitter than its fathers were?
Are soldiers fit enough for what is demanded of them? Nope, but that's not their fault. To paraphrase a number of RAPTC reports from Herrick:
- We spent much of our time on patrol blowing out of our arses.
- Effective patrol distances were short. We bought shit loads of vehicles for a reason.
- Despite this, situational awareness was often pretty gash.
- Heavy weights, carried on body armour meaning no waist support = high injury rate ( such as fcked backs ) and demanded a degree of upper body fitness few had at the start of a tour, let alone at the end.
- Heat + heavy kit = heat exhaustion = blokes on drips on the small number of occasions there were long tabs & it being common for guys to be downgraded and/or sent from theatre
- Cross graining ( life not hard enough? why not carry a ladder around? ) was a pain in the arse and a recipe for rolled ankles

Are soldiers now fitter than they used to be? Not sure.

Anyone who thinks "young people nowadays eat well & have healthy lifestyles" aren't *wrong*, but they're not describing the 18 year old line infantrymen who I trudged around around Iraq & Afghanistan with.

That said, I'd put them against their forbears post WW2. While they weren't wearing boots or walking 10 miles to school in childhood, they didn't starve & physically their beatup training was pretty good.

Most of them - commanders & blokes alike - would have preferred to carry less, move faster and take that risk.
 
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It takes me longer to masturbate now I'm older, when I was a 'young un' I used to be able to knock one out in a few minutes - now it take about twice as long. I'm not as fit today as I was yesterday - too many pies and lack of exercise if i'm honest.
As for running, a BFT was 3 miles in boots & lightweights - I used to do it in about 18 minutes, I'm not sure what the average recruit if they had to wear that instead of shorts and trainers would do it in.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Life expectancy is now dropping off for the first time since WWII, a product of lifestyle and diet.

I'm not sure that the increasing performance of top athletes is an overall indication of society getting fitter and better. There's a disparity between the advances in sports science and diet, and the lifestyles of many.

I agree that training is better targeted and better understood by more individuals. In the past, a lot of us just beasted ourselves, or were beasted, for little incremental gain by comparison with the more targeted training that many of us do now - I use a personal trainer who puts together programmes that are very intense, and I see the benefits of as little as 40 minutes a day. Compare with 20-odd years ago when I would target 'X' many pull-ups, press-ups and sit-ups, and see my performance top out and be very difficult to improve upon.

As a society, we are stratifying. There are the body beautifuls, and the Weebles. There's little in between.

I'm glad that the needless smashing of bodies in pursuit of 'fitness' is receding. If guys can finish their service with less damage than their forebears, then that has to be as much of an aim as anything else. We used to damage too many people (or people would damage themselves) just to prove we had what it takes - whatever 'it' is.

I agree that kit loads have got preposterous. CEMO has been hitting the weights of what were CEMO, given the addition of body armour. That needs gripping. The drones and mechanical mules we're seeing being tested are a very welcome development.

Are we fitter? Perhaps. Would the past generations be as fit with the same modern developments? I suspect more so.

But I may be biased... remember how brilliant we were? :-D
 
I was musing, just now, what with me being an aged Cold Warrior and all, on the loads routinely carried by (especially) dismounted combat types nowadays.

Now, in my day, kit for battle was CEFO - essentially, your 58 pattern with whatever your Regimental SOP required, plus lots of heavy 7.62 and perhaps, if you were unlucky and in the infantry, a mortar bomb or two and a load of 7.62 link. Heavy, sure, awkward, sure, but doable. The Army in the 1980s wasn't notably fit across the board, although infantry tended to be up to speed. We also smoked a *lot* more and probably, in BAOR at least, drank an awful lot more.

Now look at today and the sheer quantity of shit folk have to carry, not least body armour and all the other good stuff that now fills respectably-sized bergens for even short-term operations, never mind long fighting patrols or advances to contact.

Is the Army, or at least the dismounted close combat elements of it, in general a lot fitter than its fathers were?
I dunno.

My eldest is absolutely superfit - and he pursues it to the nth degree because his life depends on it when doing serious climbing. When I was his age back in the early 80s in Germany I was fit enough to meet the standards and carry my CEFO on a CFT, pass a BFT and smoke 20 B&H, consume my bodyweight in Herforder however I wasn't anywhere near as fit as him (unsurprisingly!).

A year or two later, in Ireland, I'd given up the smokes and could run a 08:15 BFT, in boots. Pretty good I thought - a year or two later I was humping a nearly 100lb Bergan plus belt order and weapon in Brecon then Norway(s).

Many years later, it took system-enforced abstinence plus a self-enforced gym regime to get me into pretty good shape in Afghanistan. It worked beautifully, but, 10 years on, it hasn't lasted. Pity...

Overall, I think today's soldiers are fitter - they certainly seem to live a much healthier lifestyle. Both my boys could run me into the ground, now or then!
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Many years later, it took system-enforced abstinence plus a self-enforced gym regime to get me into pretty good shape in Afghanistan. It worked beautifully, but, 10 years on, it hasn't lasted. Pity...

Overall, I think today's soldiers are fitter - they certainly seem to live a much healthier lifestyle. Both my boys could run me into the ground, now or then!
An ex-Para mate has two sons who have been in more recently and he remarks on how abstemious their lifestyles are.

I think the battering that we used to get from the physical regime was also echoed in the lifestyle we pursued (with, from memory, a few honourable exceptions).

Nonsense, when you think back, but it's how we were.
 
An ex-Para mate has two sons who have been in more recently and he remarks on how abstemious their lifestyles are.

I think the battering that we used to get from the physical regime was also echoed in the lifestyle we pursued (with, from memory, a few honourable exceptions).

Nonsense, when you think back, but it's how we were.
That's very true - my military ski-ing training basically consisted of putting on my amateurishly fitted and waxed skis, followed by my (very) heavy Bergan and being not so gently shoved down a steep slope, everything else was pretty much up to me. I think they just assumed that, as an officer, I must be able to ski? Never laughed so much in my life, so much so in fact that they had me back as Adjt.

I pay the price every morning now as I creak downstairs to make the tea!
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I pay the price every morning now as I creak downstairs to make the tea!
My Achilles popped again just before lockdown.

So, I was forced to get the six year-old bike that I spent a shameful amount on and then neglected out of the shed, get it serviced, and substitute being a MAMIL for running/swimming.

It's been an absolute revelation in terms of going out, beasting myself senseless for an hour or so, and then just not being sore in the morning. It's made me realise how much wear and tear running causes. Let's not mention boots and bergens.
 
Can you all stop talking about fitness please, I'm getting dizzy spells and can't concentrate on the 14 " pizza I'm having for after dinner snacks.
 
As for running, a BFT was 3 miles in boots & lightweights - I used to do it in about 18 minutes
And that time included stopping for a couple of beers and a bratty mit pommefrites und mayo on the way back. We were racing snakes is what we were.
 
We were only allowed to go out the main gate and come back in through the back gate with no short cuts , we had to run completely around the planet every morning.
 

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