Who are the Royal Marines?
The Royal Marines commandos are an elite force of the United Kingdom (UK). Often identified by their Green Beret, the commandos are a well-known, and respected force across the globe. You’ve heard of them? Of course you have. Formed in 1755 alongside the Navy, the Royal Navy only recruit the most elite candidates to form their lightweight infantry, otherwise known as ‘Marines’.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, one thing we do know is that physical fitness plays a big part in elite forces. When an individual in the recruitment process reaches a certain stage they must then pass a fitness test, consisting of the 4 commando tests. Each individual much be physically fit enough to meet the demands of the environment. This means training hard, being consistent, and eating right.
Through a combination of research, a big ass poster, and a short chat with a Royal Navy recruitment officer, I have developed quite the interest in the Royal Marines; and I now know exactly how to train like the Royal Marines Commandos (In some real detail). Check it out:
Warming Up And Stretching
We already know the importance of a good warm up, and stretching. It gets our blood flowing, increases our performance, and most importantly, reduces our chance of injury. Here’s the 10 minute warm up recommended by the Royal Navy for their Marines:
- Jog for 3 minutes, swinging your arms forwards and backwards. Then find a space where you can run for up to 10 meters.
- Jog for 10 meters, lifting your knees halfway to your waist. Then return to the start jogging backwards.
- Jog out and back, this time bringing your heels to your backside.
- Jog out and back, facing sideways and sidestepping.
- Jog out and back, lifting your knees into line with your waist (High knees).
- Jog out and back, lifting your heels to your backside.
- Jog out and back, facing sideways and skipping, (get some height on the skips).
- Run out and back, then slowly do 3 push-ups, Sit-Ups, and Squats.
- Repeat the last step slightly faster.
- Repeat the last step, as fast as you can.
Stretching and cooling down
At the end of your session it is important to always spend 10 minutes stretching and cooling down. This helps to prevent any soreness and stiff muscles. Just remember to stick to these six rules of stretching:
- Always start in the correct position
- Always stretch slowly
- Never ‘bounce’ the stretch position
- Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds
- Move smoothly and steadily, staying relaxed and controlled
- Never ask someone to help you push a stretch further
Now you’ve completed your warm up, we can move on. Circuit training is a big part of commando training. It’s ‘intervals’ are excellent for cardiovascular fitness. Check it out:
The chart above shows an example circuit, which contains the primary exercises Marines would be expected to do as a part of their PRMC or POC (Basic fitness tests). It is important to tailor the circuit to suit your ability, and to go for quality rather than quantity. For example: 10 quality push-ups, are a lot better than 20 rushed ones.
To tailor the workout to yourself, start by working out your ‘starting maximum’, this is the number of repetitions you can complete without stopping for each exercise. Divide this number by two, and this gives you the number of repetitions for your first and last set. Then add 5 repetitions to each exercise for your 3rd and 4th set. (Only add 2 for Pull-Ups) Make sense? Good.
As your body becomes accustomed to circuit training, you will need to increase the difficulty in order to continue improving your fitness. This can be done by using your ‘starting maximum’ number of reps for your 3rd and 4th set, and as you did before add an additional 5 repetitions to make your old first and last set to make your new ones. Got it? Great! You’ll naturally get stronger as time goes on. Don’t make the mistake of trying to speed things up, by compromising on quality.
Suggested Training Programme
To achieve a level of fitness high enough to have competent fitness in the Marines, the Royal Navy recommends that you adopt a structured approach to your training. This includes creating a Weekly schedule.
In the table below, you can see that sessions are separated into ‘Priority’ and ‘Secondary’ sessions. Priority is what you must achieve on those days, where as secondary is what you should try to achieve in addition. Why? Because it could make all the difference! (Or so they say…)
- If you have two sessions a day, try to allow for several hours of rest and a meal in-between, to help regain your energy.
- You must have at least one rest day a week with no physical training. Take a good look at your regular commitments, and responsibilities and try to plan your schedule around them.
- You do not have to do the sessions in order as given in the chart. However, it is important that you do not do two priority sessions in one day (One is plenty!). Secondly don’t do the same session twice on the same day. For example if you’ve done a circuit in the morning as your priority, don’t do another circuit later on as your secondary.
- As a part of their training Marines are required to do a lot of running. The weekly schedule includes three different types of running:
Tempo – Warm up by running at a comfortable pace for about 5 minutes. Then run at a speed where you’re just about unable to hold a conversation (About 7 mins a mile) for 30 minutes.
Intervals – Warm up, then sprint 200 metres as fast as you can. Rest for two minutes and repeat four times. The sprint for 400 meters and rest for two minutes. Then repeat.
Steady – Simply run at a steady pace at which you could hold a conversation (about 8 minutes a mile).
As your fitness improves you’ll be able to run for longer in both your interval, and steady running. If you haven’t really ran before, you can improve your fitness by running for as long as you can, walking for a little, then starting again.
You should be able to swim at least 200 meter breaststroke without any pauses. Begin by Learning the technique and improving your stamina. If you cannot swim 200m continuously, then swim as many lengths as you can, and take a 60 second rest before going again. Continue for 30 minutes, and as you improve you can reduce the rest time.
In conclusion the Royal Marine Commandos aren’t just a badass elite force. They’re also in peak fitness, dedicating hours each week to improving their physical fitness, to meet the demands of their roles. Want to be as fit as a Royal Marine? I don’t blame you. You can start by following everything in the post, recommend by the Royal Navy themselves!
Where to next?