Battle Ready Military Training: Phase 3, Special Ops

military deadlift
Per Bernal

By this phase, you’re ready to be an operator—the elite of the elite—with a healthy reserve of strength and overall conditioning in your ruck. This workout will break one rule (and a few brains) in that you will squat and deadlift in the same routine. The squat, which tends to place a heavier burden on your central nervous system, stored glycogen, and feelings, will come first. Your deadlift totals, understandably, may have to be adjusted down to keep performance optimal in the listed rep ranges. In Phase 3, you will also incorporate the single­-arm overhead press. This functional, unilateral move challenges your core musculature while helping you improve overhead pressing power.

Your progress on weighted, vertical pushes and pulls will be put to the test, as you will take your sets to failure for three sets before going naked (sans weight) for 30 finishing reps. The meat and potatoes of the workout will be followed by a nonstop conditioning circuit—four trips through a full­-body gantlet that includes exercises from previous phases.

Because of this workout’s high demand on your body, we recommend that you perform it only twice per week. Mix in an active recovery day at your leisure to train weak spots and/or perform light cardio.

Phase 3 Challenge: Max-Reps Deadlift

Rather than seeing how much weight you can put on the bar, we’re going to test your operator­-level, comprehensive conditioning by seeing how many consecutive reps you can safely perform on the deadlift using your own body weight. So, if you weigh 185 pounds, load the bar with 185 pounds, then grip and rip for as many reps as possible. Terminate the set when your form begins to degrade to avoid injury. And because you would never have access to straps for any task you’re called upon to perform in combat, you won’t use them here. Perform this challenge only once per week. Mark your total each week and try to meet or beat that number in the week that follows.

Return to Men’s Journal’s Guide to Getting Battle Ready>>

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!