On Structured Training vs. Free Form Training

A great debate sometimes ensues over structured training versus free form training loosely based on adherence to principles.  The thing is, both methods work and I have used them both with much success.

Unless you are at the lower or upper end of fitness, you can participate in both.  If you are too weak, injured, or immobile to follow a structured program then you need to fix all those things before you start.  If you are an elite athlete then you need a customized program that works just for you and your sport, especially if your million dollar paycheck is linked to your physical performance.

For most people who are in the “normal” range a structured training approach can work wonders because it takes all the guesswork about what you have to do.  I have gone through both the U.S. Army boot camp with U. S. Army Drill Sergeants and the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School with United States Marine Corps Drill Instructors and personally know the wonders of structured training.  In both of these boot camps regular everyday civilians with varying levels of fitness are trained to become professional fighting men and women that meet or exceed the Department of Defense standards.


There are no options or customized programs for sailors, soldiers, airman, and marines.  The only “customization” of the basic programs occur during the running sessions where the groups is divided into the slow, medium, and fast group.  Other than that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time.  Those who give the effort become something members of our military.  Those who find it too difficult quit and go back to being a civilian.

Both the U.S. Army boot camp and the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School are 12 weeks long. This is the perfect time period for your body to learn and adapt to a new stress.  Knowing that things have a beginning and an ending helps a lot psychologically and logistically.  While training is a lifelong endeavor, you are best served by focusing on certain attributes of physical fitness at a time, unless you are decathlete that also does MMA, you do not need to train all the physical attributes to a high proficiency all the time.


What structured training really provides is something we call a Scheme of Maneuver (SOM) in the Navy.  The SOM is a description of how armed forces will accomplish the commander’s intent.  It is the central expression of the commander’s concept of operations.  If you have served in the military then you can know to what level of detail these plans can be drilled down to.

For example:


“From where will the ship depart?”

“What is the time and distance to its next port?”

“Where are the logistical stops for refueling and resupplying the ship?”
“If there is a national emergency how soon can we turn the ship around and be on station at point X?”

“When will the other ships arrive?

You get the idea.

Woe to the officer that is briefing an Admiral and is not able to produce the answers to these questions.
Now, back to training. Having structured training is like having a Scheme of Maneuver for accomplishing a fitness goal.  In the case of Extreme Military Fitness Basic the goal is to give you a great level of conditioning while teaching you the basics of the bodyweight and the kettlebell exercises.  When you “graduate” from this course you will not only have developed a great level of functional fitness and conditioning, you will also have learned and practiced the proper way to use a kettlebell and structure it into your program along with the correct and safe way to perform bodyweight exercises.  It is designed to take the “average civilian” and get them in combat ready shape in 12 weeks.


Extreme Military Fitness Elite on the other hand is for an experienced person at the intermediate to advanced level.  The “commander’s intent” for this program is Strength, Explosiveness, and Mental Toughness.  After 12 weeks you will have learned, practiced and mastered Heavy Double Kettlebell work, Explosive MMA conditioning drills, agility ladders, and mental toughness drills that incorporate bodyweight and strongman exercises.  After 12 weeks all this knowledge becomes yours and then you can integrate it into your own training programs.  Or, you can take one week off and do the whole thing again because you’ll love doing it!

Extreme Military Fitness Elite

Extreme Military Fitness Elite

I developed my programs with the structured approach because one of the pet peeves of a lot of my friends in the military have is the little to no guidance given in some fitness books that just encourage you to “follow some principles”.  Maybe it’s their pet peeve because they are in the military and are expecting structured training.  The thing is that most people that have Extreme Military Fitness love having everything spelled out for them because then it becomes very easy to implement, while not always exactly easy to do.

Very respectfully,
Eric Guttmann

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