Weightlifting/Bodybuilding in the Army

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Lampard, Feb 1, 2009.

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  1. Evening all,

    Just wondered about your experiences with bodybuilding and weight lifting in the army. Obviously the Army is very sport friendly but does it recognise weight lifting as a sport? Oly lifting, say?

    What are your experiences with fitting it into the army lifestyle?
    Do you have time for your 5,6,7 meals a day?
    How did you get around basic? I'm thinking eating the regular meals with everyone else and 2 shakes between them would probably be the only way, but i'm interested in your stories.

    Any replies appreciated, except the ones that aren't.
  2. Don't mean to teach you how to suck eggs here but...

    Oly lifting is massively different to bodybuilding. Body building is all about diet and unnatural movements to maximise hypertrohpy, and basically to look muscular. The extra weight you gain from this is going to be a drag when it comes to cardio based training, and the extra strength is limited and of limited use..

    Oly lifting is about technique, power and will actually benefit your army career.

    (can you tell i'm not too positive about bodybuilding?? )

    As to getting the time to do them, well that depends on your role and where you are. Your going to have a lot more time and resources available in Germany than you are in Afghan (especially if your at a FOB). That said, i'm a huge fan of CrossFit, and the septics seem to be doing well to keep their training up on that in theatre.
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  3. the extra strength from bodybuilding is of limited use but the strength gained from oly lifting isn't?
    how do you mean?
    i'm more interesting in strength/endurance gains rather than hypertrophy, i look strong but my numbers aren't what they should be.

    also the gym at my unit features 0 free weights, so anything i do 'in-house' so to speak has to be using machines, which i hate.

    what are your views on using machines?
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Machines are better than nothing but very limited for strength gains as they isolate muscles and force a set/strange ROM.

    For military service it seems pretty obvious that local muscle endurance coupled with a low body fat is the way to go.

    Assuming you've been lifting for a while, you need to tailor your program to achieve the goal you want. A lot of combat sportmen go for a trimmed down power lifting routine as it's great for power/size ratio.

    I would do a bit of research and get a program suited to you. DON'T ask the "instructor" at the gym as they almost always know dick about getting strong. Be very selective about what advice you follow. (That includes this post btw....)
  5. i was thinking something from Bill Starr, if you know him. His 5x5 compound lifts ideas look pretty solid for strength gains, then couple with low intensity cardio (running/swimming/rowing), what do you think?
  6. Bill Starr and his 5x5 is definitely the man as far as MMA people are concerned. I've done it using machines (which is contrary to Bill Starr's first rule!) and you get some initial gains but they stopped very rapidly.

    Still compared to the old 3x8-12 routine it makes a big difference! I'm not that strong and not very fit looking but lift WAY more than 99% of the curl brigade.

    IF you follow the program 100% - especially the diet side of things then you can't fail to make very big gains but it requires a lot of motivation.

    However, you will pack on mass/size on your thighs/ass which doesn't help your run times.
  7. yeah my quads are fairly big.
    i'm not too bothered about run times, as long as i can pass the pft and cft i'm not that worried.

    bill starr with machines? tell me more..
  8. as a soldier your run times account for most of your ability as a soldier, we arent americans. we have to move for hours with half our bodyweight on our backs in hot countries, having big muscles is going to particularily help you. having stamina and speed is. remember muscles dont get you out of the way of enemy fire. your black taxi's do!
  9. I'd be interested to know how lean muscular people cope on rations over a long period of time. Famously there were lots of big marines who were constantly howling in the Falklands because consuming absolutely everything meant that they were still short of calories.

    Say you are 14 stone and 6% bodyfat and you have to carry 40lb 12 miles a day, on 4,000 calories. You need 3,000 just to maintain bodyweight. At what point do you start breaking down muscle and............now that I think about it, that's what would happen - you would just lose all your gains and become smaller. Might not be pleasant. Isn't this what happened to Chris Ryan, who reportedly was pretty built?
  10. Unless you are Olympic standard, forget it. I was county standard athletics, basketball and swimming I got to stand on a gate for a bit. If I wasn't doing that I was either cleaning my room, polishing my boots, walking about in the dark - get the picture?

    You are joining the army, not a sports club. When I joined I asked "What about my sport?" as my sporting prowess helped get me in in the first place and he answered "You can do all the sport you like...". He sorta trailed off at that point. What he didn't add was "...unless you're stagging on or being fecked about from breakfast 'til dark o'clock etc." Then I pressed deeply as it was in triplicate... Should have fecked them on the trades descriptions act or something.

    Unless you are in theatre of course - Iraq or wherever - in which case you will do no sport apart from lots of walking about and sleeping in your flak jacket, dreaming of sleeping with your boots off.

    You'll get three meals a day of what they're dishing up and if you're lucky, an afternoon per week to do your own sport. Apart from that it's after tea - in your own time. I did lots of weights and swimming as my feet were knackered parachuting so I went onto meat and salad twice a day and fruit for brekkies. Couldn't eat anything else that time of the morning as it had a tendancy to move on it's own. I didn't want to find out what else was lurking in cereal boxes...

    Of course you could join as a PTI and then you will do nothing else - heaven! Why didn't I think of that when I was joining? If Chris Akabusi can do it, why not you?
  11. I agree that Army life probably isn't that compatible with bodybuilding but I'm sure you can pack on some "useful" muscle. I mean, there's some pretty decent looking squaddies out there (in a completely non-hermer way, you understand). I guess the absolute overiding ability a soldier has to have is adaptability and flexibility to whatever circumstances they are in. Therefore they need to be fit and healthy but not too light/heavy/skinny/fat etc.

    As for 5x5 on machines, I just meant that I used the 5x5 method for the bench press, seated row, shoulder press, lat pull down and (dare I say it) leg press as opposed to the normal 3x8-12. I made sure I applied the principles as far as I could but to be honest it's only a short term thing. If you aren't doing proper squats and/or deadlift then you'll never get great gains.

    Also, I'm very stocky so I had to stop as losing weight is my numebr 1 goal.
  12. My bold

    Additionally, the theory and anecdotal evidence behind the best physical training method is probably not what you expect it be.. i.e. interval training is replacing most long slow distance training, 8 - 12 reps sets being obsolete, specificity being recommended for elite athletes only, the concept of power and intensity being more important that weight for set reps... and so on. The only way your really going to know what to do is to decide on your goals, work out what works best for you, and try to best direct this with your own research. and expect resistance from people who don't like change...
  13. Have a look at THIS. Click on the top link and have a look at the PDF on concurrent fitness. It has some interesting findings on running and weight lifting. As well as the effect weight training has on running with weight.
  14. Spoke to a former competative Strongman a couple of weeks ago; he still recommends the 8-rep range as the best for developing strength.

    5X5 is very good, but also very intensive; IIRC you cannot train like that indefinately. After a couple of months, you need to take at least a week or two off to allow you're body to recover.
  15. Different things work for different people.. however, current thinking and research shows maximal recruitment of Type IIb fibres happens when lifting at 1RM. This decreases with increasing contribution from Type IIa and then Type I (slow twitch, more endurance based fibres). Type IIb are the fibres best suited to to power or explosive movement.

    It's also the ground rule relating to specificity, which has criticism in itself, but basically is the technical way of saying - "you're fit for what you train for". This rule then contradicts itself when it comes to the benefits of lower rep strength work on long distance events e.g. people running marathons at very competitive pace despite never having run more than 10k in training, and spending most training time doing HIIT style bursts.

    Basically, nothing's clear, and it all changes so often it's hard to keep up, but it's also good to vary the training and try out new stuff as it may have significant benefits for you, e.g. HIIT burning up to 9 times more fat than much longer steady state cardio/fat burning sessions that fit within certain BPM ranges.

    I find the best knowledge and training tips are at such an elite level they take literally months to years to filter down to mens health etc. In this time, theories have been tested and retested at sporting uni's, both in the UK and that States, and then have anecdotal evidence to support them.. but as ever people don't like change, and working harder usually means it hurts more, so they will find any excuse not to change.