Introduction to American Partisan Physical Fitness: So You Wanna Be an American Partisan?
So you wanna be able to run around and battle in the woods? That’s a noble goal, and it sounds about right! But that raises a critical question: Are you ready for action? No, really. Are you truly ready for the serious demands of the woods in terms of the “guerrilla working environment”?
Well, you’d better be. Having just taken the Brushbeater Scout course (highly recommended!) in North Carolina a few weeks ago, I myself got but a modest taste of what it’s like to do battle in the woods. The Scout course had a variety of demanding scenarios and terrain to negotiate, with each presenting its own challenges and considerations. For example, we had to deal with unlevel and rough terrain in pretty much all cases. Some field exercises, especially the ones that included simulated combat, demanded frequent changes of direction while moving quickly – and all done under the load of our battle gear. At one point, my team had to charge uphill to flank an enemy position in order to relieve our other team that came under fire. In the midst of this action, we were shooting, moving to cover again and again, and even falling down at times. At other times, the field exercise demanded that we move effectively in awkward positions (i.e., low-crawling to avoid enemy detection). And how can we leave out that most difficult of demands: dragging our team casualties back to safety – uphill? Hauling your injured buddy back to safety for even just a short distance (especially uphill) can be genuinely exhausting, as can all the above-mentioned efforts and activities. Yes, indeed! I’m sure that other Scout course participants will readily agree with me on all points just mentioned.
Now, I am not a military veteran, but as demanding as the Scout course really was, one can reasonably imagine that REAL combat is orders of magnitude more demanding. After all, a real-life raging gunfight in the woods has no built-in and scheduled conveniences like rest periods or breaks, unlike a paid civilian tactical course happening over a 3-day period, right? So try to paint a picture in your mind of being tired, cold, wet, hungry, and scared while patrolling and battling in the woods, but nonetheless having to meet the extreme physical demands of guerrilla warfare – because your people are depending on you! How do you measure up to these demands? Can you hang tough? Can your team depend on you to deliver? Be honest with yourself – your life and your team’s success depends on it! Don’t expect to “rise to the occasion”, Hollywood-style; that’s a silly load of bull as well as a recipe for disaster, and we all know it.
As such, in order to address the matter of effective physical fitness as it applies to the American Partisan civilian operator, this multi-part series on American Partisan Physical Fitness will attempt to cover the waterfront of physical fitness. This series will get into both the theoretical and practical dimensions of achieving a state of true fitness for the American Partisan’s needs. In order to get into the practical aspects of fitness, it is important to understand things at the theoretical level, so the first several posts will provide the theoretical framework for those AP readers that are really serious about stepping up their fitness game, but don’t know where to begin, or what to do.
A Closer Look at the Physical Demands of Combat
Pretty much everyone knows they need to exercise, but let’s face it: very few people are serious about physical fitness at all – even the ones who actually go to a gym regularly. Just take a look around you. I mean, really – trotting on a treadmill or bouncing around on an elliptical machine for 20 minutes, followed by some token “workout” on a few gym machines (if at all)… is just not going to cut it for running and gunning in the woods (or anywhere). Even the admirable meathead who can bench press 400 lbs. and barbell squat 600 lbs., but can’t even run a mile without throwing up, won’t get very far with that brute strength in a guerrilla warfare situation. No, the demands of the American Partisan operator go well beyond what most people consider normal exercise, so it helps to have the correct general grasp of the physical demands of combat.
Anyone reading this article probably has some (or a lot, if you’re a military veteran) basic understanding of the way the military trains its recruits and infantry units: lots of running and body weight exercises (like push-ups and sit-ups), together with load conditioning (i.e., marching with a heavy pack) at the very least. Then, lots of infantry personnel also include strength training with iron weights (barbells and dumbbells) too. On top of all that, a fighter also needs mobility and agility to go with that strength and that endurance. All that said, then, we can plainly state that effective warfighting requires a good mix of five distinct areas of physical fitness:
- Cardiovascular Endurance: Running – with or without load
- Strength: Lifting your body weight effectively; lifting external loads like iron weights (or other heavy objects)
- Strength Endurance: Moving in powerful bursts repetitively
- Mobility: Being flexible enough to get your body into various positions, including awkward positions; being able to quickly change direction of movement
- Balance: Having good self-awareness of your center of mass, and maneuvering your center of mass nimbly, as needed
American Partisan-Level Physical Fitness: What You Need to Make It Happen
Basic Requirements: The American Partisan’s Mindset and Commitment to Exercise
All the above being said, how do you measure up? Again, most people’s concept of physical fitness is a rather narrow and vaguely defined one, but then, they ain’t fixin’ to fight in the woods, eh? The American Partisan’s fitness goals are much more demanding. So, if you’re reading this and finding your physical fitness situation lacking, at least you’re being real with yourself, and this is always critical. If that’s you, and you need to get your physical fitness game up to true American Partisan levels, don’t worry! TRUE physical fitness along AP lines is achievable by pretty much anyone, even with no exercise equipment! The most important things you need to get physically fit are: resolve and discipline. What this means is that fitness needs to become nothing less than a religion to you! Without this mindset, you’ll get nowhere in a hurry; being “AP-physically fit” is demanding, and requires you to get out of your comfort zone every single time you work out, as well as have the diligence and perseverance (i.e., sticking to the program over time) to get any worthy results. Like Brushbeater says, “if it were easy, everyone would do it!”.
Therefore, once you’ve steeled your resolve to reach AP-Level physical fitness, especially if you’re starting from scratch, then you need to set aside at least TWO dedicated weekly sessions of one hour apiece to work out. Your two workout days should be spaced no fewer than two days apart; ideally, though, your workout days should be spaced three to four days apart for now for best recovery and results. Eventually though, you will need to vary up your content and also increase the length and frequency of your workouts to a total of 3 – 5 workouts per week, at minimum. Very importantly, using the “physical fitness-as-religion” mindset described above, workouts are mandatory! That means that, unless you are ill and/or truly incapacitated… you never, ever miss a workout. Period. It’s pretty basic: each workout adds a layer of quality to your fighting game, and every workout missed removes a layer of quality from your fighting came. So don’t miss workouts! Also realize that, once you start your AP Fitness journey, it has to continue… forever. You should never stop training! Getting older, getting injured… yeah, life happens. But there is always something you can do towards physical fitness, and so you must. Remember, your enemies are training to destroy you, 24/7/365.
Exercise Location and Equipment
Once you’ve understood and developed the proper mindset to achieve AP-level physical fitness and have decided on your two weekly workout days to start with, you need to consider exercise location: where will you exercise? A combination of a gym together with some outdoor running and exercising is ideal. Gyms typically offer a wide variety of strength training options and equipment, as well as areas to stretch and do other things (ex., work a punching bag). Running (and other exercise) outdoors, particularly on uneven terrain, is a necessary complement to gym-based strength training; treadmills are only good for bad-weather days – and barely, at that.
Some people prefer to work out at home with their own equipment while others, for different reasons, have neither a gym membership nor home exercise equipment. That’s ok too! You can purchase just a few inexpensive pieces of workout equipment that will add many options to your exercise regimen. Some key home gym pieces of equipment you might consider, if it’s in your budget, are:
- Chin-up/dip Station
- Stability Ball (55 or 65 cm)
- Dumbbells (adjustable or fixed)
- Adjustable bench (flat to fully upright)
- Workout steps
- Jump rope
- Roll-up Yoga / fitness mat
Finally, the good news is that you don’t have to buy any dedicated exercise equipment in order to get into great shape. Minimalism is almost always a good thing and, if you know what you’re doing, a lot of high-quality exercises can be performed with just body weight; also, the serious and resourceful AP can buy cheap and easily-obtained items like garbage bags, duct tape, and sand bags in order to create loads to work out and build strength and endurance with. So, when it comes to AP Physical Fitness, there’s something for everyone… who’s serious. Future exercise posts by me on this site will cover both minimalist set-ups, as well as set-ups containing equipment.
Wrap-Up: Get Off Your Butt, and Start Working Out!
So, fellow American Partisans… it’s time to get serious about physical fitness. All the shooting, radio chops, medical skills, and whatever else don’t mean crap unless you are physically fit enough to bring the fight to the enemy in the first place, and then sustain it. And since much about warfighting is very much a physical affair, it is the DUTY of the serious American Partisan to meet the physical demands of fighting in whatever way you can. There is ALWAYS something a committed American Partisan can do at any age, and in any state of fitness and mobility; there are no excuses.
Again, the purpose of this first post was to give everyone interested the proper orientation to what effective and productive American Partisan Physical Fitness entails. Specific exercise and fitness programming will be provided by this author in upcoming posts, but for now, the serious American Partisan who is getting into proper gear for what’s coming down the pipeline needs to wrap their mind around the theoretical aspects of proper physical fitness, adopt the right mindset, and get ready to do some hard work! Stay tuned for more important theory and workout programs, coming very soon.
Next Post:: American Partisan Workout Fundamentals, Part 1