Strength and Aerobic Conditioning Going into Winter
I'm in the type II program at an air station and I'm trying to figure out the best way to train for prep/AST a school outside of my pool workouts. I hear/read a lot of advice from people who say to try and max out your PST numbers but if I'm being honest I don't see the point in that. My thought process is that I'd rather bulk up in the gym with weights to deal with buddy tows and evolutions of that nature over doing 100 push ups or whatever. For example, I read that a lot of BUDS guys fail out because they never bothered to get their shoulders strong for log/boat PT and just worked for high PST numbers.I guess what I'm asking is if I should be hitting the weights hard in addition to my cardio training. A lot of "rescue swimmer workouts" have you doing oddball calisthenics and that just seems like such a waste of training time/energy to me. I'm not saying that you'd NEVER do calisthenics, but like wouldn't doing a 5x5 heavy squat day be better than 50 bodyweight jumping squats?
In short, I agree with this student for the most part. If you’re in a situation like this where you’re following workouts primarily structured around calisthenics and increasing PST scores, you might be doing yourself a disservice for your long-term training. There are significant fitness gains to be made from building strength. This winter I had been planning on working on increasing my strength via weights and improving my aerobic base through long and slow runs, cycling and stationary cycling when the weather isn’t cooperating. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed professional runners around Boulder, Co (where I live) using long days on the bike to improve their aerobic base. Through some research and using this method myself, I’ve found it to be a great way to keep the benefits of doing an aerobic activity without many of the downsides that come with running. Those downsides being wear on the joints and bones. This decreases the likelihood of an injury due to training while adding in a significant amount of aerobic volume. Going into the poor weather months I try to get outside on my bike and do rides anywhere from 20-50 miles with the occasional 60+ mile ride, this usually ranges anywhere from 1:20-4+ hour rides.
Below is an example of a typical winter week for me.
Monday: biceps/chest, core, running)
Tuesday: legs, pool, cycle or run
Wednesday: no lift, run, cycle or both
Thursday: triceps, shoulders, core, pool
Friday: cycling, running
Saturday/Sunday: functional fitness, box jumps, bosu ball pushups/squats, kettlebell exercises focused on strength, core, run, cycle
The added benefit of cycling is it can be used on what would typically be a rest day. If you’re not used to running high mileage and feel like your bones and joints need a rest, you can cycle that day and gain aerobic benefits on would otherwise have been a wasted day. If you’re still not sure why you need to be building your aerobic fitness. I recommend you read some older blog posts that I’ve done on the topic like “Sustainable Progression” and “Run Your 1.5 Mile PST Faster”. Your aerobic base is the size of your engine meaning if you want to run faster for longer periods of time (like on your 1.5 mile run for the PT test) you need to increase the size of that engine. This translates to having the ability to pump oxygenated blood to your muscles at a more efficient rate. Many of these elite military jobs require a fair amount of cross training (swimming, running, rucking, etc.) but it seems like cycling is often neglected. If you implement cycling in your winter routine this year, you may gain a significant edge on your peers.