Firstly, I hope noone minds me posting this here, rather than in 'Strength and Conditioning'. I think in here I am less likely to get answers like 'just do breathing squats'. If it is a problem then I would be grateful if a mod could just stick it in 'S&C', and I apologise for the inconvenience.
Very simply, having wanted to do this for as long as I can remember, I am going to be applying for selection into the 21st SAS, which is a reservist unit in the British Army. The process, and a bit about the regiment, can be found here: http://www.eliteukforces.info/special-a ... -reserves/
For what it is worth, I know several ex-members of 22 SAS, who (without me having said anything to them on the subject) have volunteered that they believe I fit the profile. I am personally more concerned about failing through injury (I have small joints naturally, and have had a shoulder dislocation 4 years ago, although it has been well rehabbed), or through lack of proper preparation, than I am of just quitting. My particular vulnerabilities physically, I would say, are my left shoulder, and my wrists (small, fine bones).
I would be extremely grateful if anyone had any input on training myself for this, physically, and mentally, and also any advice on building strength in my wrists (pressups can aggravate wrist pain for me, and I can see how problematic that could be!).
Any resources, experience, tips etc - I would be much obliged. Thank you for taking the time to read it through.
In regards to overall fitness, I really hope you're able to get some of your experienced friends to oversee your training. Everything I've heard is that it's brutal and you're very unlikely to mentally be capable of pushing yourself to that level ON YOUR OWN especially in any short period of time. There's a reason drill sergeants exist. :P
For specific joint related work, Ross has a lot of stuff specifically for wrists. His wrists and hands were a problem area for him when he was boxing so he's made it a major area of specialization since. Rice buckets, wrist rolling, knuckle pushups, anything and everything for stabilization and strengthening. You're going to have to expect it to take a while because a lot of these things like bone and tendon strengthening are specific reactions to load that take a lot more time than muscle growth. Be ready to back off if you end up pushing into the injury zone.
This last may sound a bit strange, but it seems to me that the majority of guys who wash out of special forces due to injuries have injuries in their legs/feet. You're doing a lot of obstacle work, a lot of carrying, hiking with packs, jumping off of things. The potential for fractures, breaks, sprains etc... is enormous and to an extent it's almost luck of the draw who makes it and who doesn't. So long as they have a large enough group of applicants, they will have some make it through without injury. That tells me that you need to put some serious time into learning to land from a jump. The only group that I know of...and I do mean the only...that has done much of any systematic work on this is the parkour guys. I've watched a number of their youtube vids and they go into depth on landing on all kinds of surfaces. These guys are used to doing massive drops onto concrete etc.... Most of the vids that I've seen say that it takes specific practice to do it well without injury and that it takes a good bit of time for your joints/tendons to adjust to doing it regularly. If I were you, I'd seriously put some time into this too.
Good luck to you. Thank you for thinking about serving your country this way.
Hey ex boxer. First off, good luck with this journey. And Jesse just posted up some solid stuff. Now I am not familiar with the SAS SELECTION process, but know a fair amount of military type training and what to expect. If ya want I can PM you some solid tips and advice.
Thank you very much for the kind and thoughtful replies guys.
Jesse, thank you for all your ideas, particularly the parkour one. It hadn't crossed my mind but is something I will check out and put some time into. I am a country lad, and for what it is worth, my feet and lower body are generally extremely resistant to injury. I do a lot of long walks with my dogs late at night, across uneven ground full of holes, and i think that has done a lot to toughen up my ankles, feet and legs.
Benji, PM'ing you now. Any input you may have would be gratefully received.
Mr. exboxer , I am delighted for you. Sounds like you have some good contacts around you already who have been there done it. And I am sure the lads here are all going to pitch in for you with advice.
Here is mine, as best I can tell remember to include amongst other things endurance training and tenacity of inner resolve is what I have read from many SF books on their "training from hell".
The events will be of a long duration no doubt.
So I say , get into progressive rucking tabs with progressively increasing loads over high long and highish elevation country. This will involve navigation from map and compass
(21 story high tower blocks , the back stairs and running marching up them if not highish wild country during the week, at weekend ruck out into country, this was always a fave of mine)
Hows your map compass navigating? Hows your crossing streams river swimming? Simulate carrying a long weapon in your arms for that enduring load all day being held type stuff.
Hows your going on a tight daily calorie controlled rations packs? start to practise that?
Although not the real thing, here is a pseudo type idea of taking really fit types and putting them through a baby version , you might get a taste from this of how fitness types get dragged out their comfort zones and psychologically raped.
watch all 11 episodes as intel research gathering
Pay attention to the very little petty things that take a candidate out , foot trench, getting lost, blisters, cant read a map, cant read a compass. Cold, hunger, wet.
Get psychologically used to discomfort, soaked in the rain , cold, hungry and practise NOT COMPLAINING verbally out loud or complaining and feeling sorry for yourself internally.
Feeling sorry for yourself is a cognitive one that stops a lot of progression in many fields, especially under discomfort. My mate and I practise never to complain when out rucking hiking no matter how rotten the weather or things that happen.
Steel touched on map reading, and I'm going to emphasize it. I'm not sure if there are publicly available tech manuals for what you're going for, but if not I imagine ours has many similarities.
Find a PDF copy of the Ranger Handbook online, as well as an 11B level 1 field manual and a combat lifesaver field manual. It's basic stuff but it's important.
Basic first aid. Textbook infantry tactics, formations, etc. Land navigation. Rifle components.
There are a lot of things you can learn before you get there so you can focus on the hard parts without getting bogged down by basic infantry bullshit.
You might not go into training knowing how to lead a fire team into battle, but if when they explain it to you it doesn't seem like a foreign language, they'll turn their attention to someone else and you can bypass some unnecessary stress.
If you have trouble finding material, let me know. I could open a small library with the army literature I have stored, including those I mentioned above.
Others have mentioned the hard skills, especially land navigation, taking care of your feet, going into selection in the best shape of your life, having a strong grip, able to hike long distances with a heavy pack, etc., so let me suggest a few things related to mindset.
1. You must be a self-reliant team player. Both are essential. You must be capable and disciplined enough to be able to operate independently when required, and we must be able to trust that you'll do the right thing all the way, even when no one is watching you. Our lives depend on your being your best, and your understanding that you're part of something much bigger than yourself. Our lives will be in your hands. This understanding will bring out your very best, which is all you have to do--Your best.
2. You must be absolutely relentless. Never quit, never complain, never hesitate. You are capable of doing way more than you think you can. Don't ever just try, don't over-think it, don't entertain quitting when the pain overwhelms you. Embrace the pain, and--just do it. Make and keep big promises to yourself and build an internal bank of fire to draw checks on when it all goes to shit. This bank of success will forge steel of supreme confidence into your backbone. Supreme confidence and immediate violence of action has pulled the shit out of the fire more times than anyone can count.
3. You must be an unconventional problem solver. Think outside the box of routine and accepted ways of doing things. Go over, under, around, through, blow it up, fly over it, steal a tank, ride a longhorn bull over it. BUT Get it done.
4. Visualize yourself succeeding in each phase of selection. Visualize yourself walking across the stage and receiving your tab--the tab that tells you and the world who you are and what you're made of. Now pay attention to this one: Focus on the immediate task at hand. Don't waste energy and wet your pants worrying about the next task or the next day. Quitters rarely quit because they can't do it--they quit mostly because they've lost focus on their next 3 steps, and have bit off too much in their minds. They get utterly overwhelmed by the immensity of the many tasks ahead, and simply collapse under the pressure they have created.
You fight that with MENTAL DISCIPLINE, pure and simple. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and focus on the successful completion of the current task and just keep going.
5. Love it.
Learn all you can from your former SAS friends. Take their advice, and be careful of what you read on the internet. Good luck.
Blessed be the Lord my rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle! Psalm 144:1 For those who have hunted armed men, training will never be the same. Help the children of fallen heroes: Please Donate:http://www.specialops.org/
Mr Steel, Paladin, Linguist - many thanks for all of your replies. There's a lot of fantastic information in there that I would probably have had to learn the hard way without you guys to point it out for me.
Mr. Steel - I remember watching those shows when I was still a child. Rewatching them is encouraging, because I know I can do that, and more to the point, it looks like my idea of fun. And by that I mean the thought of being put through hell just to see if I can hack it is exactly my idea of a good time. I am quietly confident that I might just be enough of a masochist to enjoy the process for it's opportunity to test myself.
Linguist - thank you for all of those suggestions. They hadn't occurred to me, and I owe you a debt of gratitude for making the learning curve less painful.
Paladin - I am grateful for the wisdom in your post. I found point 4 particularly encouraging, as that is how I would instinctively confront any challenge. Hopefully I will have what it takes, and be lucky with injuries.
Thank you everyone, again, for your help. I will stop by periodically and let you know how I'm getting on.