Strength Activity Goals

LAST UPDATED: October 06, 2017

Strength target—power and resilience

Activity Target: The Performance Triad strength training goal is 2—3 sessions of a total body strength program per week.

Resistance training, or strength training, is defined as any exercise that causes muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, endurance, and/or size. Strength training can not only help you build strength and gain muscle, but also can boost your metabolism and help with weight management.

Resistance training can be a great way to optimize performance and prepare for any task. Physical fitness and activity are crucial to ensuring Soldiers maintain and improve strength, agility, power, and speed. Adding resistance training to your regimen can help you perform like a Professional Soldier Athlete.

  • Strength training combined with aerobic exercise helps you carry heavy loads (like body armor and a rucksack) farther with less fatigue.
  • Resistance training increases your bone density and is important for long term bone health—this makes Soldiers more resistant to injury.
  • Improve your body composition by adding muscle and reducing fat. Strength training is especially important for heavier Soldiers who are routinely taped at height/weight assessments.
  • Women gain strength from resistance training but do not typically add bulk because they have much lower testosterone levels than men.
  • Balance your strength program to reduce the risk of overuse injuries like tendonitis. Make sure you are working all major muscle groups and not just the ‘mirror muscles’ that are most visible! Later in the guide, we will show you the Essential Seven exercise variations to use.
  • If you are considering supplements with your weight training, check Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) at the Human Performance Resource Center website and use the supplement information in this guide.
  • Visit the Army Training Network or the US Army PRT App to view FM 7-22 Strength and Mobility Activities to include Strength Training Circuits with kettle bells and climbing drills to build strength.

What counts as resistance training?

  • Weight machines
  • Free weights like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls
  • Elastic resistance bands or straps for "suspension training"
  • Bodyweight resistance training, such as pushups, pullups, lunges, and squats
  • Certain types of yoga and gymnastic strength moves

Strength training—the basics:

  • Working out just 2–3 days per week for a whole body program effectively builds strength and muscle.
  • Use all 7 major muscle groups to develop the strength you need. See the Essential Seven for Strength below.
  • Rest muscle groups about 48 hours between workouts. Get 7–8 hours of sleep to maximize recovery and improvement.

Essential Seven for strength

1. Push (push-ups and bench press)

push-ups
bench press

2. Pull (rowing and carrying)

rowing carrying

3. Vertical Push (pike push-up and overhead press)

pike push-up
overhead press, step 1 overhead press, step 2

4. Vertical Pull (pull ups)

pull ups pull ups, assisted

5. Squat (dumbbell squat and body weight squat)

dumbbell squat body weight squat

6. Lunge (Bulgarian and standard deadlift)

Bulgarian standard deadlift

7. Core (side plank, V-up, bridge, and supine twist)

side plank V-up

bridge supine twist

But I like to do bodybuilding; I lift way more than twice a week!

  • That’s great! Make sure you have a balanced program that works your whole body, you get adequate rest so your muscles can benefit from the training, and you are being smart if you choose supplements!
  • There are many routines that Soldiers can use to rotate strength exercises to different muscle groups so they can lift more often while giving themselves enough rest and recovery.
  • Make sure you are not neglecting the ‘Endurance’ and ‘Mobility’ aspects of your fitness. FM 7-22 and this website can help make sure you have a varied fitness routine.
Activity Plus Target: Add at least 1 day of agility training per week to reach the Performance Triad strength training plus goal.

What counts as agility training?

  • Plyometric or jumping exercises like: the tuck jump and alternate-staggered squat jump from Chapter 9 of FM 7-22. This can be box jumping and other leaping and hopping exercises.
  • Explosive strength exercises like: Medicine ball throws, olympic-style weightlifting with a barbell, long jumps and high jumps, High intensity conditioning exercises like the PRT Guerilla Drill, or combatives training drills.
  • Shuttle runs, PRT military movement drills, obstacle courses

I’d like to start strength training, but I don’t know where to begin.

  • Get started with the Performance Triad! Our strength training lesson will introduce you to the Essential Seven approach to building a balanced program.
  • Remember that consistency in training is more important than the individual exercises—stick with it!
  • Use the ideas on this website to start smart.

How many sets and repetitions (reps) should I do?

Sets and reps are terms used to describe the number of times you perform an exercise. A rep is the number of times you perform a specific exercise, and a set is the number of groups of consecutive reps that you complete. For example, suppose you complete 10 reps of a bench press. You would say you've completed "one set of 10 reps."

  • Start with a weight you can lift for 6–12 reps.
  • If you are new to strength training, then one set of each exercise is a good start.
  • More experienced lifters should use multiple (3–5) sets to get the most out of their program.
  • Use 3–5 sets of 6–12 repetitions as a base to build strength and muscle.
  • There are many ways to advance your program. One method is the ‘8/10/12’ approach. Pick a weight you can do a set of 8 repetitions for, and then move to 10 and then 12 in the workouts to come. When you can do 3–5 sets of 12 reps, advance your weight and start at sets of 8 reps again.
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