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  1. #1
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    Dec 2005
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    Arrow Preparing for Physical Abilities - Keiser, etc.

    In response to those candidates asking about the CPAT, combat test, Keiser Force Machine, etc. I thought I would start a new thread rather than post under one specific heading over another. Here's my advice. First of all, the Keiser. The Keiser is all about proper body mechanics. First of all, you want to choke up on the shot mallet, about half way down. Be careful not to hit yourself in the nuts with the handle when you strike the I beam. This is self correcting, because once you hit yourself in the nuts once, you'll be careful from then on out. The thing about the Keiser is that you have to hit it about 1500 times before you really get skilled at it. I'm exaggerating but there's nothing like hitting the Keiser to get good at the Keiser - I'm saying this as a relatively small guy - 5'10" and 165# who competed in the Combat Challenge for 5 years. I felt so clumsy at first but now I can beat the hell out of it. The hammer should initially get a good bounce so that it rebounds right back up into your hands. For the first couple of strikes, you hit the I beam at an angle and you remain stationary until the I beam passes beneath your legs. This gives the best bounce. Then, as has already been mentioned, once it passes between your legs, you can get violent. Listen for the sweet "PING! PING! PING! PING!" that lets you know you're hitting it right. Keep it a couple of inches behind your heels. Some guys pick one lower corner of the I beam and keep hitting the same spot as it travels down one side of the sled. I hit side to side. It feels more natural to me as I walk backwards with the I beam. The head of the hammer should go out in front of you, not up above you. You should be bent over at the waist. Your body becomes a piston, with the weight of your *** leading the strike, and your slightly bent arms right behind. You should really throw your *** backward into each strike and keep a rhythm. The most important thing about the Keiser is how clean it is. People who compete are FREAKS about Keiser cleanliness, because they know the deal. Testers couldn't care less. In fact, they like it dirty. This is really unfair, because a little bit of film, dust, grease, or dirt, makes an exponential difference, so there can definitely be variability in between candidates. In fact, sometimes a microscopic orange powdery film can come off of the hammer, and this really slows the I beam down. Also, a hammer can become a "dud" after it is used enough times. This is where experienced guys have a huge advantage over guys who aren't used to the Keiser. You can really make up time here. I've seen big guys waste almost 30 seconds on the Keiser. World class athletes can complete the Keiser in 4 or 5 seconds. I don't consider myself world class, but I can finish the Keiser in about 12 licks on a good day, with perfect weather, and a clean sled. Some of the guys on my team can do it in 7 licks. Our best guy could do it in 4 seconds on a good day.

    As for general conditioning: there's no substitute for task specific exercise when it comes to the Combat Challenge, CPAT, or similar tests. You can perform each tast as an interval (with the rest interval at 1 to 1.5 times the work interval and a 5 minute rest in between sets of 5). This will maximize your anaerobic capacity, which is ALL THAT MATTERS with this type of test. Aerobic exercise means NOTHING. All of the top teams in the World prioritize interval training and plyometrics. If it's an emergency and you need to prepare for the CPAT or a combat-like test in a month or less, and you don't have a team of guys to practice with (which makes a huge difference) you should prioritize stair intervals. Find a 5 story building. Double step on the way up, and single step on the way down (sprint up and walk down). 3 sets of 5 with a 5 minute rest between sets. You'll puke the first couple of times, but you'll know you're in awesome shape when you can complete the last set of 5 without getting sick. It shoud take about 15 seconds to sprint up 5 flights of stairs. You should be able to walk down in about 30 seconds if I remember this correctly. Yes, I know this is 2 times the work interval but it still works. It's tempting to run down, or at least rush. Don't. Take one step at a time, with your hands on top of your head, and breath deeply to blow off carbon dioxide and get out of oxygen debt. Don't hesitate between cycles, but wait exactly 5 minutes between sets. This will give you a HUGE advantage over the other candidates who have not done 3 weeks of interval training. If you're too sick after 2 sets of 5, you can omit the 3rd set for the first week. Your body won't be used to that much lactic acid, but you will develop the buffers over a couple of weeks. The last week should be a taper week. It will push you into a so-called "overcompensation phase" so you can peak for the physical abilities test. I guarantee that your body will be 100% better prepared if you follow this system for 3 weeks. Technique is another story, but at least you won't be dying.

    Good luck! Respond to this post if you have an specific questions.


  2. #2
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    how many times a week do you recommend task specific training? i currently lift weights on a 3 day split, everyother day is cardio (1 day HIIT, one day aerobic) I've done a schedule like this for about 6 months now and i've been very active/healthy for over a year now. I'd like to start task specifics like you mentioned- think i ought to substitue a cardio day for this? im not sure about 6 days a week training like this, what do you think? BTW i'm 23 y/o male with no health problems. thanks for any tips! - matt

  3. #3
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    Dec 2005
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    If you're training for a specific event, and you're already in good shape, I would eliminate your weight training and cardio and switch to task specific interval training at least 3 times a week. Weight training, running, stair intervals (without a weight vest), or the 5 minute drill are all good for preconditioning. When the season gets into full swing, you need to prioritize task specific training, and then lift weights or run as needed, but beware of overtraining. You need to rest in between heavy interval workouts. I haven't done the CPAT yet. My experience is with the On Target Firefighter Combat Challenge, but 3 minutes on the stair machine with a heavy weight vest at 1 stair per second sounds like a serious leg burner. This is anaerobic all the way. You definitely don't want to find out what it feels like the day of the test. Remember, any task can be broken down into intervals, and intervals train your anaerobic energy system. Aerobic conditioning will be a waste of your time if you're already in half way decent shape. I knew a lot of guys who were great distance runners who were terrible at the Challenge. Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by mattw82
    how many times a week do you recommend task specific training? i currently lift weights on a 3 day split, everyother day is cardio (1 day HIIT, one day aerobic) I've done a schedule like this for about 6 months now and i've been very active/healthy for over a year now. I'd like to start task specifics like you mentioned- think i ought to substitue a cardio day for this? im not sure about 6 days a week training like this, what do you think? BTW i'm 23 y/o male with no health problems. thanks for any tips! - matt

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