How Well Do You Sleep At Night?
By Nick Barringer
An Interview With Martin Rooney
Martin Rooney is a world-renowned strength and conditioning expert, author, and creator of Training for Warriors (TFW). Not only has Martin trained top athletes in the NFL and the UFC, but he has also worked with elite units in the Army and Navy. Martin doesn’t just talk the talk; he practices what he preaches as a competitive power-lifter and judo black belt. Martin was kind enough to share his time and expertise with the RU community in an interview I’m sure you are going to enjoy.
“I kick down doors and shoot bad guys in the face”
What are thoughts of military fitness given your experience working with the military?
When I worked with some guys at Fort Benning I remember asking a Soldier, “What’s your job?” He replied, “I kick down doors and shoot bad guys in the face!” I then nervously asked, “Do you like your job?” He smiled and said, “I LOVE my job!” I remember going home and sleeping better that night knowing there are guys like him out there. The Soldiers I worked with were strong and fit and this was due to a certain method of training. I believe strength and sprint training, like we do in TFW, creates the body type the ideal ultimate warrior desires. The style of training; however, that would produce the typical marathon physique, is not is going to make me sleep like a Hindu cow.
“You are not going to get a Captain America body doing a Richard Simmons workout”
So you want to produce an “Athlete Warrior”?
Hey, if you are going use the term “athlete” when you describe our warriors, you better first decide on the type of athlete you want. Do you want the skinny, chewing-up-his-own-muscle-mass marathoner or do you want the world-class 100 meter sprinter who can run through a brick wall and smile? I think you will agree the benefits of a calorie going in of broccoli is not the same as a calorie going in as a doughnut, right? But why don’t we take it a step further and decide a calorie going out is not a calorie going out? So, I believe 500 calories spent on sprinting and weightlifting is not the same as 500 calories spent on a long slow run. There will be a different body type developed. We need to define what type of athlete we want and then use the methods with which those athletes train. I think the military wants a jacked, strong Soldier that they can put on a recruiting poster like Captain America, but the style of training currently being implemented does not have a rich history to produce that result. Let’s face it, you are not going to get a Captain America body doing a Richard Simmons workout. I understand that change is difficult. But from my experience with TFW in 200 locations in 26 countries, a plan of sprinting and heavy lifting builds a superior athlete with fewer injuries. I’ve spent a lot of time training athletes and elite soldiers on many different bases and we are seeing a reduction in injuries and improvement in performance with this style. Hell, the top athletes in the world use it, why wouldn’t our military?
“The best ability for a Soldier is availability!”
What do you think is the biggest issue with much of the current training?
From my experience, the biggest issue that I have seen is that many times the workouts turn into endurance beat downs and Soldiers end up injured. To me, that is crazy! Do you know what the best ability is? The best ability for a Soldier is availability! If that Soldier is not available to fight, then we have accomplished nothing. If our physical training is injuring guys, it is the wrong paradigm. Period. You look at any top sports team. If a strength coach was injuring his or her guys, he or she is out of a job. I get there is the rite of passage line of thinking of, “I got my butt kicked 20 some years ago so now we are going to do the same thing.” But that mentality needs to change; we need to focus on making people better, not tired or sore.
“The goal of training should not be to break you down but rather to build you up”
Do you see a change happening in the training mentality of the military?
Yes, it is changing for the better for sure, but I want it to continue to improve. I want to be clear, I know we have the best military in the world. The reason I say this is I’m passionate about this topic. My father was Army and my uncle a three star general in the Air Force. I understand and appreciate the importance of our military, which is why I want to do everything in my power to help out. I think we should treat the military like professional athletes and have them train accordingly. Yes, I now that some of the training done is with the idea to make Soldiers mentally tough. But we can design a program that meets that intent, and also makes the Soldier better. Plus, I believe this style will create more buy-in from the Soldiers. If they recognize training as not just a physical beat-down, but a means to make them a better athlete, guys will put out more. I understand that mental toughness is a big part of the longer endurance work. But if you are breaking that Soldier down to the point of injury and taking away their availability, you are missing the point of training. The goal of training should not be to break you down but rather to build you up. If there is anything in the training that is consistently injuring people, there must be a better alternative to produce availability.
What is your ideal PT Test?
In TFW, we use 150 meter shuttle run test, a 4 minute push-up test, 3 minute knee grab test, and 3 minute chins ups. I think these, with some deadlifts in there would give us a solid idea of the Soldier.
What numbers would make you sleep well at night?
Double body weight dead-lift, 1.5 bodyweight bench press, all times under 30 seconds in the 150 meter shuttle test, 100 (good!) push-ups in 4 minutes, 30(good!) chin-ups in 3 minutes, and 100 knee grabs in 3 minutes.
“Tough is not a measure of system, the measure of system is results”
Any closing thoughts?
My basic philosophy for training is lift heavy and sprint. There are other systems out there that were not designed to produce athletes, yet people do them because they are “tough”. We have to remember that tough is not a measure of system, the measure of system is results. Especially with our military. If you can find a system that has few injuries and develops the body style that you want, go with it. I believe one of those systems is TFW.
Martin Rooney PT Test.
100 knee grabs in 4 minutes: start flat on your back with hands on your shins and legs extended. Sit up and simultaneously pull your legs up and grab your shins to complete one rep.
100 push-ups in 4 minutes: you can rest when you want, but clock keeps ticking. Elbows in and all the way up and down.
30 chin-ups in 3 minutes: you can rest when you want, but perfect form (aka, no kipping).
Double bodyweight deadlift.
1.5 times bodyweight bench press
150 meter shuttle run test: all times in under 30 seconds.
Measure off 37.5 meters. From a standing start run down and back then down and back to complete 150 meters. Rest 15 seconds and repeat, then rest 15 seconds and repeat a third and final time. All times must be under 30 seconds*.
*Authors note: this really, really, really sucks.
To learn more about Martin and the TFW system you can go to: http://www.trainingforwarriors.com/
Smart training leads to better sleep for everyone.
The Warrior, who believes in his training, can sleep better at night because he knows he is prepared. The people he protects, who believe in the Warrior, sleep better at night because they know he is prepared. The enemy; however, is restless because he too knows the Warrior is properly prepared. But the enemy’s restlessness is eventually quenched when the well-prepared Warrior grants him sleep eternal. So in the end, everyone sleeps better when you have a well-trained Warrior.