How strong does the soldier or special operator need to be? There is a great deal of ignorance and stupidity proffered across the internet these days regarding this subject. After 20 years of research, coaching, and training all over the world, I have a definitive answer for you. But first I wish to address the subject as a whole and in generalized terms.

The question of how strong a soldier or operator needs to be is no different from the same question of athletes. How strong does an athlete need to be? The obvious answer is strong enough to perform the task or activity. That answer ignores the many nuances of biomotor activity, especially strength, which has no less than 12 sub-classifications. Over the past decade I have watched with horror as the rise of the strength and conditioning “coach” or “specialist” has come to dominate the internet and fitness magazines.

What no one has bothered to explain to the public is that a strength and conditioning coach is but one member of a sports training and coaching team and frankly, they are the least important. This is born out by the well-founded observation that most elite athletes succeed in spite of their S&C coach, not because of him. But that’s not what is portrayed all over the internet. What has happened on the internet is thousands of S&C coaches are trying to sell products and their name. They only have one skill and one slice of the pie. You should know what comes next. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

As a result, we have the S&C crowd proclaiming that everyone needs a massive one rep max in everything or the functional/HIT crowd pushing anything that will exhaust you to the point of collapse. Both are dead wrong, which explains why none of them are actually producing champions, soldiers or operators. The majority of people engaged in any of these pursuits are getting injured and dropping out. The “fitness industry” as a whole has a pathetic 3-5% success rate by their own metrics. On the other hand, the athletic world, those actually producing world champions, approaches the issue first by practicing the activity and specific tasks (skill) and then addressing weaknesses with targeted strength and conditioning drills. That is the small role of the S&C coach. You didn’t think that the S&C coach was the key to Superbowl success, did you? Of course not!

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