Work Out Like the Special Forces with This Routine

For added authenticity, hire a drill sergeant to scream at you.

The Special Forces are the absolute cream of the crop out of all facets of the United States military. These men and women have to be in peak physical and mental condition, because they only get called in for the most dangerous, do-or-die situations. With that in mind, it’s only sensible that the most specialized members of the military receive a specialized workout program.

The military has tinkered with a variety of exercise programs over the years, but one of their favorites was developed by Mark Lauren, a former US military physical training specialist. He’s also a an Air Force Combat Controller and a Muay Thai kickboxer. Those aren’t especially relevant to this, it’s just cool. Anyway, Lauren’s philosophy is that you need a good mix of high, mid, and low-intensity workouts if you want lasting gains. You start small, get your body to adapt, then work your way up to the hard stuff.

Credit: Men’s Health

The basic set consists of let-me-ups, assisted pistol squats, and military-style press-ups. For each exercise, start by setting a seven-minute timer. Do a single rep, then rest for as long as that rep took you. Count your breathes for an accurate length. After that, do two reps, followed by an equal rest, then three reps and an equal rest, and so on. Push yourself as hard as you think you can go without full-on muscle failure, though Lauren personally advises capping off at four reps. Once you reach that cap, though, you ain’t done; you gotta go back the other way. If you stopped at four reps-and-rests, go down to three, then two, then one. The name of this procedure is “the ladder,” and the reason should be obvious. Go up, go down, do it again.

“It’s a great high-volume, low-intensity method for building proficiency,” says Lauren. He also likes to shout a Native American war cry with each rep, but you can also just shout whatever short word or phrase gives you motivation.