Physical fitness advice

Cicero63

Swinger
Hi all,

Hope everyone is well. I'm trying to get my briefing booked in for late June/July, and am somewhat concerned about a particular part of the fitness tests, namely the mid-thigh pull. I have always been, to be frank, a bit of a weed, though I have been working hard at this since I started my application in December. I'm thoroughly pleased to say I've got my 2km run time down to just over 8 minutes at full pelt from something like 12 at the start of the year, and I can chuck the ball a good distance. However, the 76kg mid-thigh pull looms. I am capable of deadlifting (don't laugh) just over 40kg and assuming that the mid-thigh pull is a replication of the dead lift, this is obviously a concern. While my current lifting ability is a very significant improvement over what it was, as you might expect it is getting harder and harder to increase incrementally. Would anyone have any particular advice for improving this area of my physical fitness within the next two months, other resorting to the old reliable trio of push ups, sit ups, and pull ups (which may well be the best thing)? If this turns out to be an impossibility, I am still very keen to give it my best shot, though I may moderate my expectations somewhat, or even push briefing back a bit, given I am currently in the middle of my final university examinations and thus not entirely able to devote myself to physical fitness, though it can provide a welcome release to bashing my head against musty tomes.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if this thread has been posted dozens of time already.
 
We have reams of fitness advice on here for running, endurance and the like. What I think you need is some bulking up and strength training. My son is a bit of a twig, strong determined little bugger, he did gymnastics at school and killed himself until he could do the basics on the Roman Rings - still a twig though. Pre-covid at the age of 16’ish he decided that he wanted a Chris (Thor) Hemsworth body so he went to the local body building gym.

Along with the gym membership he had me buy him some of that body builders protein stuff you make milkshakes with, and he went on a protein diet - basically chicken and fish with minimal carbs. He downloaded Hemsworths training plan for numptys and followed that and his diet for 8 weeks. Four one hour sessions a week for 8 weeks and he put on some muscle poundage. Stick boy suddenly had abs, biceps, triceps, thigh muscles, and took to wearing form fitting t-shirts to impress the girlies.

My advice: Download Hemsworths plan, get some body builders milkshake protein powder, develop a taste for chicken and get down to a body building gym and tell them what you need to be able to do in two months.

Good luck.
 
However, the 76kg mid-thigh pull looms. I am capable of deadlifting (don't laugh) just over 40kg and assuming that the mid-thigh pull is a replication of the dead lift, this is obviously a concern.

It isn't really the same thing
Check out the link below.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Hi all,

Hope everyone is well. I'm trying to get my briefing booked in for late June/July, and am somewhat concerned about a particular part of the fitness tests, namely the mid-thigh pull. I have always been, to be frank, a bit of a weed, though I have been working hard at this since I started my application in December. I'm thoroughly pleased to say I've got my 2km run time down to just over 8 minutes at full pelt from something like 12 at the start of the year, and I can chuck the ball a good distance. However, the 76kg mid-thigh pull looms. I am capable of deadlifting (don't laugh) just over 40kg and assuming that the mid-thigh pull is a replication of the dead lift, this is obviously a concern. While my current lifting ability is a very significant improvement over what it was, as you might expect it is getting harder and harder to increase incrementally. Would anyone have any particular advice for improving this area of my physical fitness within the next two months, other resorting to the old reliable trio of push ups, sit ups, and pull ups (which may well be the best thing)? If this turns out to be an impossibility, I am still very keen to give it my best shot, though I may moderate my expectations somewhat, or even push briefing back a bit, given I am currently in the middle of my final university examinations and thus not entirely able to devote myself to physical fitness, though it can provide a welcome release to bashing my head against musty tomes.

Thanks in advance, and apologies if this thread has been posted dozens of time already.
You are correct that it's a simulation of a deadlift, but it's different for the important reason that a deadlift is technically more challenging and requires correct technique and strength whole body (back, core and hips) rather than just in a focused area of the legs. The Army version is basically a machine deadlift to test just the legs and lower body. I'd say the closest major exercise is a squat (legs), not a deadlift (hinge). If you have a gym membership you may be able to find a machine that replicates it. Try a heavy pulldown bar run through a hoop in the floor, that should turn it into a mid-thigh pull, or a supported squat machine if there is one (same muscles, different push/pull). So the first thing I'd do is try and replicate the actual test and see if you can lift more.

Anything that is strength based is going to be difficult to improve quickly in 2 months. This is one of those situations where gym access is going to be a definite benefit. I'd suggest the quickest way to get results if you are new to it is to avoid free weights and use machines which focus on legs (any general set of legs exercises which you can find online should do at this stage). You could also work in more quad-focus exercises to your cardio - more cycling and rowing.

Otherwise, the advantage to leg exercises is that they can be done anywhere with little kit, but this will be less rapidly effective. Examples in your own room are:

- Squats wearing a backpack
- Lunges
- Step ups (step up onto chair, table, bench, low wall, stairs, whatever you have)
- Calf raises (ball of the foot on the edge of a step and raise your heels)

A professional observation about these exercises is that the muscle groups in your legs are among the largest in your body and can take a lot more stress than you think - so do more, and longer sessions. The limitations are stabilizers - your knees, ankles and glutes/hips - not the major muscles themselves. Your sense of how much is 'too much' should be guided by your ability to maintain good form with the stabilizers, not whether your quads or calves are sore, the latter will recover just fine.

You need to target what you are aiming for. In this case it's counter-intuitive. In reality for basic training, you are training for super-endurance of those muscles. But the entry test is a single lift maximum strength test. So for the next two months I'd focus on max strength (higher weight lower reps), but after that switch to the exact opposite (many many reps, low or slightly above bodyweight).

By the way, earpods + pocasts + a weights gym mean there's no reason you can't combine revision and exercise. Weight sessions are incredibly boring and not mentally distracting in the way cardio exercise tends to be, so most people find something else to do while in the gym - find a way to get audio revision material (record yourself if you must) and you're doing two things at once.

Good luck. Re: being a bit of a weed - you're far from the first person to take this journey. A lot of us started in the same position of being physically sub-standard, but ultimately managed to pass things that are physically extremely challenging and surpass a lot of peers. It will take you longer to get there than those who have been physically capable their entire life so far, but conversely, I observed that many of those people fell by the wayside in their late 20's to 30's. I think they had never really internalised the discipline required to keep it going, once age and capacity made it more of a challenge. It had always been easy for them, and once it got difficult, they gave up: there are plenty of fat infantry officers in their 30's. The advantage you will have is that every step is going to be a struggle, so you should learn a resilience that they may have missed. Most days in the Army, that is a more important quality than pure physical aptitude.

PS Assuming you are still planning on officer entry - the basic achievement is not really sufficient. It may pass the test, but will not either impress the AOSB assessors nor be sufficient for Sandhurst. Ignore what the recruiters say (unless they say this), privatisation has made the recruitment process even less reliable a source of advice than it was. Delay your entry to Sandhurst certainly, and perhaps AOSB as well, until you can comfortably exceed the basic requirements. The numbers game means you can scrape through at the basic level as a soldier, but it's much less likely or desirable to do so as an officer. It will have all sorts of negative impacts that will carry through to your career or choice of arm. Even if you're still focused on the Int Corps and correctly judge that it has little to do with your actual job performance, they are a competitive choice at Sandhurst and so can afford to be choosy: there will be plenty of cadets who score well in both academics and fitness.

PPS 12 to 8 minutes on the run in five months is a very good improvement and a good time, so you're clearly doing something right.
 
Last edited:

Cicero63

Swinger
We have reams of fitness advice on here for running, endurance and the like. What I think you need is some bulking up and strength training. My son is a bit of a twig, strong determined little bugger, he did gymnastics at school and killed himself until he could do the basics on the Roman Rings - still a twig though. Pre-covid at the age of 16’ish he decided that he wanted a Chris (Thor) Hemsworth body so he went to the local body building gym.

Along with the gym membership he had me buy him some of that body builders protein stuff you make milkshakes with, and he went on a protein diet - basically chicken and fish with minimal carbs. He downloaded Hemsworths training plan for numptys and followed that and his diet for 8 weeks. Four one hour sessions a week for 8 weeks and he put on some muscle poundage. Stick boy suddenly had abs, biceps, triceps, thigh muscles, and took to wearing form fitting t-shirts to impress the girlies.

My advice: Download Hemsworths plan, get some body builders milkshake protein powder, develop a taste for chicken and get down to a body building gym and tell them what you need to be able to do in two months.

Good luck.
Thanks very much- much sound advice that I will most certainly pursue!
 

Cicero63

Swinger
You are correct that it's a simulation of a deadlift, but it's different for the important reason that a deadlift is technically more challenging and requires correct technique and strength whole body (back, core and hips) rather than just in a focused area of the legs. The Army version is basically a machine deadlift to test just the legs and lower body. I'd say the closest major exercise is a squat (legs), not a deadlift (hinge). If you have a gym membership you may be able to find a machine that replicates it. Try a heavy pulldown bar run through a hoop in the floor, that should turn it into a mid-thigh pull, or a supported squat machine if there is one (same muscles, different push/pull). So the first thing I'd do is try and replicate the actual test and see if you can lift more.

Anything that is strength based is going to be difficult to improve quickly in 2 months. This is one of those situations where gym access is going to be a definite benefit. I'd suggest the quickest way to get results if you are new to it is to avoid free weights and use machines which focus on legs (any general set of legs exercises which you can find online should do at this stage). You could also work in more quad-focus exercises to your cardio - more cycling and rowing.

Otherwise, the advantage to leg exercises is that they can be done anywhere with little kit, but this will be less rapidly effective. Examples in your own room are:

- Squats wearing a backpack
- Lunges
- Step ups (step up onto chair, table, bench, low wall, stairs, whatever you have)
- Calf raises (ball of the foot on the edge of a step and raise your heels)

A professional observation about these exercises is that the muscle groups in your legs are among the largest in your body and can take a lot more stress than you think - so do more, and longer sessions. The limitations are stabilizers - your knees, ankles and glutes/hips - not the major muscles themselves. Your sense of how much is 'too much' should be guided by your ability to maintain good form with the stabilizers, not whether your quads or calves are sore, the latter will recover just fine.

You need to target what you are aiming for. In this case it's counter-intuitive. In reality for basic training, you are training for super-endurance of those muscles. But the entry test is a single lift maximum strength test. So for the next two months I'd focus on max strength (higher weight lower reps), but after that switch to the exact opposite (many many reps, low or slightly above bodyweight).

By the way, earpods + pocasts + a weights gym mean there's no reason you can't combine revision and exercise. Weight sessions are incredibly boring and not mentally distracting in the way cardio exercise tends to be, so most people find something else to do while in the gym - find a way to get audio revision material (record yourself if you must) and you're doing two things at once.

Good luck. Re: being a bit of a weed - you're far from the first person to take this journey. A lot of us started in the same position of being physically sub-standard, but ultimately managed to pass things that are physically extremely challenging and surpass a lot of peers. It will take you longer to get there than those who have been physically capable their entire life so far, but conversely, I observed that many of those people fell by the wayside in their late 20's to 30's. I think they had never really internalised the discipline required to keep it going, once age and capacity made it more of a challenge. It had always been easy for them, and once it got difficult, they gave up: there are plenty of fat infantry officers in their 30's. The advantage you will have is that every step is going to be a struggle, so you should learn a resilience that they may have missed. Most days in the Army, that is a more important quality than pure physical aptitude.

PS Assuming you are still planning on officer entry - the basic achievement is not really sufficient. It may pass the test, but will not either impress the AOSB assessors nor be sufficient for Sandhurst. Ignore what the recruiters say (unless they say this), privatisation has made the recruitment process even less reliable a source of advice than it was. Delay your entry to Sandhurst certainly, and perhaps AOSB as well, until you can comfortably exceed the basic requirements. The numbers game means you can scrape through at the basic level as a soldier, but it's much less likely or desirable to do so as an officer. It will have all sorts of negative impacts that will carry through to your career or choice of arm. Even if you're still focused on the Int Corps and correctly judge that it has little to do with your actual job performance, they are a competitive choice at Sandhurst and so can afford to be choosy: there will be plenty of cadets who score well in both academics and fitness.

PPS 12 to 8 minutes on the run in five months is a very good improvement and a good time, so you're clearly doing something right.
Thanks awfully re the specific fitness advice- I do have access to a college gym, though it is fairly basic but I will definitely work with what I've got + explore other angles. However, it is dominated by college rowing so plenty of those sorts of machines- once the damned rowers get off them, I'll see what I can do. I am also very keen not to hit just the minimum standard as you say, and it is certainly not my intention, as it stands, to go to Sandhurst (assuming AOSB/MB goes swimmingly) straight away (or however much time 'straight away' usually entails)- I have an offer to read MPhil Classics (9 month course) next year, and since obviously Classics requires zero actual brain power, that could be a good year to focus hard on trying to move beyond looking like a particularly gangly stick insect- 6 foot 2 and 67 kg makes for a remarkably unimposing physique! It may be that I delay AOSB from July to something like September/October.
 
You are correct that it's a simulation of a deadlift, but it's different for the important reason that a deadlift is technically more challenging and requires correct technique and strength whole body (back, core and hips) rather than just in a focused area of the legs. The Army version is basically a machine deadlift to test just the legs and lower body. I'd say the closest major exercise is a squat (legs), not a deadlift (hinge). If you have a gym membership you may be able to find a machine that replicates it. Try a heavy pulldown bar run through a hoop in the floor, that should turn it into a mid-thigh pull, or a supported squat machine if there is one (same muscles, different push/pull). So the first thing I'd do is try and replicate the actual test and see if you can lift more.

Anything that is strength based is going to be difficult to improve quickly in 2 months. This is one of those situations where gym access is going to be a definite benefit. I'd suggest the quickest way to get results if you are new to it is to avoid free weights and use machines which focus on legs (any general set of legs exercises which you can find online should do at this stage). You could also work in more quad-focus exercises to your cardio - more cycling and rowing.

Otherwise, the advantage to leg exercises is that they can be done anywhere with little kit, but this will be less rapidly effective. Examples in your own room are:

- Squats wearing a backpack
- Lunges
- Step ups (step up onto chair, table, bench, low wall, stairs, whatever you have)
- Calf raises (ball of the foot on the edge of a step and raise your heels)

A professional observation about these exercises is that the muscle groups in your legs are among the largest in your body and can take a lot more stress than you think - so do more, and longer sessions. The limitations are stabilizers - your knees, ankles and glutes/hips - not the major muscles themselves. Your sense of how much is 'too much' should be guided by your ability to maintain good form with the stabilizers, not whether your quads or calves are sore, the latter will recover just fine.

You need to target what you are aiming for. In this case it's counter-intuitive. In reality for basic training, you are training for super-endurance of those muscles. But the entry test is a single lift maximum strength test. So for the next two months I'd focus on max strength (higher weight lower reps), but after that switch to the exact opposite (many many reps, low or slightly above bodyweight).

By the way, earpods + pocasts + a weights gym mean there's no reason you can't combine revision and exercise. Weight sessions are incredibly boring and not mentally distracting in the way cardio exercise tends to be, so most people find something else to do while in the gym - find a way to get audio revision material (record yourself if you must) and you're doing two things at once.

Good luck. Re: being a bit of a weed - you're far from the first person to take this journey. A lot of us started in the same position of being physically sub-standard, but ultimately managed to pass things that are physically extremely challenging and surpass a lot of peers. It will take you longer to get there than those who have been physically capable their entire life so far, but conversely, I observed that many of those people fell by the wayside in their late 20's to 30's. I think they had never really internalised the discipline required to keep it going, once age and capacity made it more of a challenge. It had always been easy for them, and once it got difficult, they gave up: there are plenty of fat infantry officers in their 30's. The advantage you will have is that every step is going to be a struggle, so you should learn a resilience that they may have missed. Most days in the Army, that is a more important quality than pure physical aptitude.

PS Assuming you are still planning on officer entry - the basic achievement is not really sufficient. It may pass the test, but will not either impress the AOSB assessors nor be sufficient for Sandhurst. Ignore what the recruiters say (unless they say this), privatisation has made the recruitment process even less reliable a source of advice than it was. Delay your entry to Sandhurst certainly, and perhaps AOSB as well, until you can comfortably exceed the basic requirements. The numbers game means you can scrape through at the basic level as a soldier, but it's much less likely or desirable to do so as an officer. It will have all sorts of negative impacts that will carry through to your career or choice of arm. Even if you're still focused on the Int Corps and correctly judge that it has little to do with your actual job performance, they are a competitive choice at Sandhurst and so can afford to be choosy: there will be plenty of cadets who score well in both academics and fitness.

PPS 12 to 8 minutes on the run in five months is a very good improvement and a good time, so you're clearly doing something right.

What he said.

Having been involved in the officer candidate selection process and, seen the competitive process for regiments and corps I can attest that they check everything on your paperwork. They will measure potential candidates score's comparatively so you need to be pushing out the best possible scores on anything, and everything from day one to get the choice you want. If that means deferring for six months to be 110% sure of the ability to perform then, in my opinion, that should be the decision which is made.

Most of us had to work at being fit, it hurts, and eventually the pain sort of becomes the norm but, the result in your ability, performance and self-confidence is something which is immeasurable.

Good luck.
 
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At my Briefing in Feb I was staggered by how many people couldn't get to level 8.7 in the MSFT. You can develop strength slow and steady as above ^ but make sure you can ace the MSFT as I got the impression it was the most scrutinised part of the day.
 

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