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PRMC – Should you train with weights?

Sean Lerwill's military group

A few people have written to me recently after downloading my Pass The PRMC ebook and asked why the training programme doesn’t include any weight training in the gym and should they add some in. The short answer to the question is that I didn’t want to make training for the PRMC difficult for anyone. I want the training to be easy and accessible to allow ANYONE the chance to train for and pass a PRMC and thus have a crack at a Royal Marines career. Adding in weights sessions will only make training more difficult: getting to the gym, waiting for kit, learning techniques etc.

I’m not saying the gym and weight training won’t help, in fact using a lat pull down machine or assisted pull-up machine in a gym can really help those struggling with pull-ups. Equally, for those training for a PRMC on the smaller side, weighing 65kg or less could be an issue when it comes to carrying a 50kg bergen on your back, so along with eating a LOT, performing squats and deadlifts at the gym could help pack on some well needed kilograms to the legs.

However, I don’t believe anyone NEEDS a gym to train for and pass the PRMC. Although my training programme includes swimming, I hazard a guess that not everyone actually does this; one because swimming isn’t a pass/fail criteria test and because, let’s be honest: it can be a pain to get to the pool.

What does this all have to do with specificity? Well specificity or SAIDS (Specific Adaption to Imposed Demands) is something I was taught on my Royal Marines PT course. It essentially says that the body specifically adapts to what ever is asked of it. To give an example, I could swim everyday for an hour, maybe even twice a day for an hour, covering 4miles a day (head down front crawl, breathing properly). I would be incredible at swimming and very cardiovascular fit. Someone then asks me to run a marathon. Now the reason I swim instead of run is to protect my joints. I can run, but over time it causes knee problems. So instead of running training for the marathon, I just stick to swimming. It’s all CV at the end of the day, right?

Wrong. Although I would probably be able to perform CV (in this case running) for the length of time required, my muscles are not conditioned for running. My glutes and hamstrings are not used to working in quite that way against a hard solid surface. In this example I would like to think I could still complete the marathon, after all my heart and lungs would be able and I’d hope my mind strong enough. But my legs would surely hurt and perhaps even hit a wall early on.

The point is, I could be great at bench pressing 100kg for 10reps, but when it comes to doing press-ups for 60reps, if I haven’t trained and practiced it; funny old thing its a slightly different movement and not as easy as I expected. Furthermore, 10reps of bench press is more strength based whereas 60 press-ups is muscular endurance based. Again, SAIDS: specific adaption to imposed demands. You want to have good muscular endurance, then train at high reps. But more than that: you want to be good at press-ups, train press-ups. You want to be good at pull-ups, train pull-ups. You want to be able to run 1.5miles in 8minutes, don’t cycle, don’t cross train, just run.

Now I appreciate you all have different things you like to do to support your fitness: martial arts, boxing, skiing, football, rugby, gymnastics etc and you may wish to keep these up. That’s not a problem. Just don’t kid yourself that just because you do crossfit 3 times a week (bearing in mind a crossfit pull-up is VASTLY different from a Royal Marines pull-up) and are the best in your class that the PRMC pass will come easy. Specificity. You want to be good at something specific, train it specifically.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

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