Approaching Physical Fitness with a Simple Structured Plan
One of the main goals of the American Partisan website is to empower its readers in ways that are relevant to our unique worldview: we want to build all our capabilities to be ready for what we feel is coming in our post-America reality. In the American Partisan spirit of empowerment, this new series on developing American Partisan Operator (APO)-level physical fitness is meant to help readers develop the ability to do their own fitness programming. Being able to understand and employ the different elements that make for a productive workout is a valuable skill for the APO to possess, no less important than knowing how to train with a weapon, or whatever other critical warfighting skill. Having someone (hopefully) in the know put a workout program together for you is nice, but that person may not always be available, and furthermore, the APO should aim to become independent in his own workout programming, since he knows best what matches his ever-changing individual situation and needs. The APO needs to know and be able to utilize some kind of defined method to workout programming so that no time or energy is wasted in the APO’s vital quest to get and stay fit.
The proper way for the APO to approach his own fitness programming is to have a conceptual fitness framework: a flexible structure or formula upon which to base a workout program. With a defined formula / structure for your workouts at the ready, you can then choose components that satisfy the requirements of your workout formula, and that match your training needs and preferences. Think of your conceptual fitness framework as a chest rig with nothing on it but the basic structural elements: the shoulder straps, closure straps, and the MOLLE on it, as well as buckles and strap adjustments. Without a chest rig, you’d probably have to carry important gear into battle in some other way which could be very awkward and inefficient. So, it’s up to you to outfit the naked chest rig in accordance with your needs and preferences. A chest rig obviously needs certain components in order to be useful in battle, like magazine and other pouches. But which ones? Some may want AK mag pouches in single stack, while others will want AR mag pouches in double stack. Then, you can add a bleeder pouch and a GP pouch, maybe a radio pouch, maybe an admin pouch. Maybe you want a knife on there too, along with pistol mag pouches? Then, when the mission changes, the gear loadout on your chest rig may change too. It really depends on the mission! The chest rig’s “structure” can be customized with components that suit your battle needs, and so your workout’s structure is like the naked chest rig without any commonly-used attachments – the workout structure remains the same and requires certain components within it to be a proper workout, but the working parts (i.e., the fitness components) vary according to need.
The bottom line here is that if you are serious about physical fitness, you’ll need a good, well-rounded, well-considered program; the APO needs to know exactly what he is doing each and every time he works out (hint: you’ll need a notebook to document your progress and results – more on this in a later section). A serious APO never “wings” a workout; he will instead have a defined plan down to the last detail for each workout. Having a plan of some kind is essential for executing any type of multi-part action or pretty much anything of some complexity that’s worth getting into. Would you go on a patrol without your METT-TC planning? Of course not. So why should something as sacred as exercise and fitness be any different? A defined plan gives the APO a road map for each workout, and also allows for measuring workout goals against actual results. The nice thing about exercise is that results are mathematically measurable, which cuts out the “kind of” or “pretty close” participation trophy style of thinking that is such a plague of society these days. You either succeeded in your workout goals… or you didn’t: it’s about RESULTS, not intentions. Having a plan against which to measure outcomes cuts through all the BS and tells you exactly how your efforts are going.
Finally, one of the most important things to remember when approaching workout programming is: KEEP IT SIMPLE! We hear this expression all the time about pretty much everything, but too few actually do keep things simple. One of my truly biggest pet peeves is how unnecessarily complex so many things have deliberately been made in too many important areas of life. Take a look around at all the manufactured complexity we get choked and screwed with constantly: the law; taxes; medicine + health; and fitness (to name some of the worst offenders of the day). These important areas of human activity have purposely been turned into a supreme shit show of information overload and complexity, such that people looking for help with these things absolutely require some kind of self-anointed specialist – lawyers; accountants; doctors; and personal trainers – to help them deal with navigating that complex but necessary activity. Is that fair? Well, that’s a whole separate conversation, but the point here is that people are intimidated by the manufactured complexity of these things, and feel totally disempowered to the point that they don’t even want to approach it at all, let alone without specialized help. It’s despicable, and unfortunately, the fitness industry is filled to the damn brim with dirty pool. The fitness industry realized early on that purchased iron weights and workout equipment are durable and last forever, so they moved to spew out a parade of “miracle” supplements, diets, ever-changing workout programs, new flavor-of-the-moment gadgets, and volume upon volume of workout books and fitness magazines filled with junk. It’s all so intimidating that most people choose to do nothing. But that’s them! We have a “CAN-DO!” worldview here at American Partisan, and the good news is that the smart and determined APO can grasp proper workout programming skills by using a simple workout structure, which I will detail in this ongoing series of posts. Once you have your conceptual fitness framework, you can customize it to your tastes by plugging in whichever exercises suit your situation, tastes, and needs.
The purpose of this series on physical fitness is to give a theoretical overview of the fundamentals (according to me, at least) of American Partisan Operator-Level Physical Fitness, as well as the practical elements of a good workout program. What you’ll be getting is a concise summary of what I’ve learned in my 26 years of fitness – physical fitness according to Conan. I don’t claim to have the final word on fitness, but I believe there is a substantial need for this type of simple fitness guide in the patriot community, so I am making an effort to fill that need. As such, this series of posts will be a lengthy one, as I lay out in detail the concepts for readers who want to get serious about fitness, but need some knowledge-building in order to properly proceed. Physical fitness in general is not based whatsoever on instant gratification (a pestilence on our modern society), so please be patient and follow this series carefully. What you should have after reading this series is an excellent understanding of what a good workout should contain, and how to put together a productive workout on our your own.
Before getting into things, it should be said at the outset that this post is primarily for APO’s that are looking to either start from scratch or get back into some type of fitness routine. However, APO’s that are seasoned in fitness and exercise may benefit from reading this series as well, so please read on!
That all being said, let’s get right into the American Partisan Workout Fundamental Concepts. Today’s post will cover the first two Fundamental Concepts: Full-Body Workouts and Primary and Secondary Movement Categories.
AMERICAN PARTISAN WORKOUT FUNDAMENTALS, CONCEPT #1:
**** FULL-BODY WORKOUTS ****
To begin with, we will stay with the concept of two workouts a week, as suggested in my first post. It’s important that the trainee just starting out doesn’t bite off more than they can chew, only to lead to burnout and quitting (and potential injury). Going from the point of occasional workouts (= worthless) or no workouts to working out regularly in dedicated fashion is a great achievement, in and of itself. If you’re reading this post at all, it likely means you’ve made the decision to get your act together, and are ready to commit; twice a week is plenty to start. At the same time, your two starting workouts per week still need to cover the full spectrum of varied fitness requirements, so for now, your two weekly workouts will be full-body workouts.
What a “full-body workout” means is that you’ll be performing several different types of exercises covering the basic movement patterns / major muscle systems of the body (to be covered in the next section). Let’s get into that concept for a second: the full-body workout. Most dudes I know, even the ones that don’t work out, look at a workout through the lens of a bodybuilder and automatically think of a workout in terms of individual muscle groups, like “today is chest day” or “I’m going to hit back and triceps today”. This near-universal tendency to approach exercise by individual body parts is, without a question, the legacy of good ol’ Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. He popularized the bodybuilding style of working out, which is centered around two basic elements: working individual body parts with multiple exercises each, and using iron weights or machines to perform those exercises. Nothing wrong with that – this style of working out is most people’s go-to, and was my bread and butter for many years early on.
The purpose of the “bodybuilding style” of working out is to exhaust the major muscles in dedicated fashion in order to maximize the physical development (and appearance) of the different muscles of the body; the overarching goal is to emphasize muscle roundness and shape. So, for example, a biceps workout can contain, say, 6 – 7 different exercises for just the biceps that include a variety of positions and angles to work that single muscle group, in order to make the biceps as “swol” and round as possible. Remember: “suns out, guns out” or “curls for the girls!”… gotta work them beach muscles! This “look good on the beach” mentality is the other side of the coin of bodybuilding workouts.
However, is the APO sweating his appearance on the beach very much as our beloved America swirls down the toilet bowl faster and faster? Probably not so much. I mean, looking good is always beneficial, but I’d say we have far greater concerns at the moment. Therefore, the bodybuilding approach to working out is really not the best, most effective way to achieve APO-level physical fitness. Approaching exercise like a bodybuilder for the APO would be similar to using a flathead screwdriver on a Phillips head screw: you’ll get some turning action, but it will be inefficient, and probably won’t be up to the job in many cases. You may even strip the head of the screw! Same thing here: bodybuilding will certainly lead to bigger muscles, but will do very little to increase your performance in ways that are relevant to our APO needs; in the end, you may even end up getting unnecessarily injured because of the repetitive, high-volume (lots of sets and repetitions) nature of bodybuilding workouts. So the bottom line here is: skip the bodybuilding workout format, and do a full-body workout instead.
AMERICAN PARTISAN WORKOUT FUNDAMENTALS, CONCEPT #2:
**** “PUSH-PULL-LEGS + CORE-GRIP-NECK” ****
That all being said, just what should a full-body workout contain? The full-body workout needs to cover the basic movement patterns of the major muscular systems in the body. Put in simple terms, the body’s primary movement patterns can be broken down into this super-simple formula:
Primary Movement Categories:
Push – Pull – Legs
There it is! Simple, right? More specifically, the upper body (from the waist up) both pushes and pulls, and these two movement systems work opposite muscle groups. The “Push” system always includes the front of the shoulders (deltoids) and back of the arm (triceps), while the “Pull” system always includes the upper (latissimus dorsi / “lats”) and inner back (between the shoulder blades) muscles, as well as the muscles that flex the elbow (biceps and brachioradialis). “Push” and “Pull” then go on to include multiple directions of movement, so that you can push or pull vertically or horizontally, or somewhere in between. For example, a Push-Up or Flat Barbell Bench Press are examples of horizontal “Push” exercises; a handstand or Standing Barbell Press are examples of a vertical pushing exercise. The same directionality applies to pulling exercises too. A Chin-Up is an example of a vertical pulling exercise, while rowing the oars of a boat is an example of a horizontal pulling exercise. There are important differences in muscles used between the vertical and horizontal movements of the Push/Pull exercises, so both vertical and horizontal directions need to be exercised.
Then, there is the “Leg” component of the full-body workout. For whatever weird reason, visually-concerned men get really caught up in working their “beach muscles” while neglecting their legs. This is pretty ridiculous, since the legs are the largest and most powerful muscle system in the body, by far. The APO depends on his legs in countless ways to do effective battle, so working the legs properly and rigorously is paramount! As far as the basic movements of the legs, those also break down into two simple subcategories: front of the legs (quadriceps), back of the legs (hamstrings and lower back); this “front-back” breakdown is a bit simplistic, but is generally applicable. Some type of deep knee bend (aka, the Squat) is the premier movement for working the front of the leg, while picking up objects from the ground (or some other point lower than your hips) is the typical movement pattern that engages the back of the legs and the lower back.
Going a bit further with this categorization process of natural physical bodily engagements, there is also a secondary line of movements to take into consideration so as to have all bases of physical engagement covered. The formula for the secondary line of exercises to include in your full-body workout is:
Secondary Movement Categories:
Core – Grip – Neck
These areas of exercise are either left by the wayside by most trainees (especially Grip and Neck), or misunderstood and not seriously approached (particularly when it comes to Core training). A few light-duty sets of Dumbbell Wrist Curls or multiple sets of worthless Crunches for your abs just won’t cut it for the APO. And neck? Who even bothers with neck work, except grapplers? Why are these areas neglected by most trainees? Because they aren’t visual muscles to develop – no sporting a sexy neck or lower back at the beach, so who cares? That’s the prevailing treatment of these important areas of physical strength, and that’s too bad. Nevertheless, despite the common neglect of the secondary exercise movement categories, they certainly need to be included in a proper APO workout regimen as well. Let’s look at why.
Briefly, working out the Core is more than just doing some token abdominal exercise. When I refer to the Core, I am talking about the entire midsection of the body – from the hips to the bottom of the rib cage, both front and back. Again, this isn’t some silly quest to have a six pack for the beach. Properly working the Core is about tapping into its supportive and force-generating powers. A strong, well-developed Core supports the upper body in all its actions and loads, enables better balance and maintenance of your center of gravity, and is the starting point for all aggressive movements, through its bracing function. Think about it: all aggressive movement of the body starts with a tensing of the gut. The better and more efficiently you can tense your gut (and your lower back, which happens automatically), the more force you can generate in that movement as it radiates from the Core to the arms and legs. And again, as the biological “hinge” between the upper and lower bodies, the Core also serves as a control center for your body’s sense of balance, so having a well-established connection between the brain and the Core just by itself will automatically result in a better sense of balance and agility. Training balance and agility independently will add yet more quality to your abilities.
Then, Grip is composed of both grasping strength and wrist strength. The benefit of a strong grip and wrist should be obvious – gripping is a key feature of any type of martial art, even shooting. Grip strength may save your life one day too, if you’re literally hanging for dear life in some chaotic AP-world scenario or are fighting hand-to-hand to the death with a determined enemy. And finally, Neck work is a worthy add-on to the secondary movements to develop the neck’s support role in withstanding harsh actions of the head (like getting rolled around), as well as the loading of the neck that occurs when you wear a ballistic helmet (especially outfitted with NOD’s).
That’s all for now! I hope you liked and found this post useful. Much more to come, so please stay tuned!
About Conan, AP Contributor:
Conan has been working out for over 25 years, with extensive experience in lifting weights; he has also been a personal fitness trainer for 22 years now. He has experience both doing and training people in various modes of fitness and exercise throughout those decades. He enjoys hunting, martial arts, shooting, and studying history and world cultures. Conan has also recently taken a heavy cluster of Brushbeater courses (February and March 2021), and is already teaching the skills he learned to other people locally. He looks forward to sharing his extensive knowledge of physical fitness, as well as his experiences in transmitting newly-learned tactical skills to the people in his AO. Contact Conan at: [email protected].