“Combat Fitness” Means Combat Ready and Not Just with a Gun

By Rob Orgel, Written For BluePress Magazine

To gain fitness, you don’t need a gym membership. You’ll just need a small investment in gear and the commitment to get it done.

Part of “getting it done” means getting on top of a routine and then staying on it. A great way to stay on a routine is to buddy up. This might mean that you check in with each other on a daily basis or that you meet up several times a week or month. The end goal is to report to each other and keep each other accountable.

combat fitness

What is Combat Fitness?

The US Marine Corps instituted Combat Fitness back in 2008 – this consists of sprints, low crawls, ammo-can lifts and the 880-yard run, as well as several other short-distance, high-intensity exercises. Previously the Marine Corps had been interested in longevity, like three-mile runs, pull ups and sit ups; but identified in 2008 that combat is more of a high- intensity sprint than a three-mile run. Something we can easily relate to our emergency situations. Private military contracting is much the same as a combat fitness test in its interest in short movements and high intensity.

Now, how do we apply this data to ourselves?

Let’s break it down into three categories: mindset, weapons handling, and combat fitness.


Mindset is knowing when to use what tools – the ability to choose whether to run a belt- fed machine gun or draw your pistol in a defensive situation. This means having awareness, ability and maturity to make the right decision in an emergency.

Weapons Handling

Many people will go their whole lives having only done “shooting” and never experienced training. It’s very important that we find a good trainer who can help us gain skills with our firearm in emergency situations.

Combat Fitness

Finally, our physical abilities. When we shoot in our first competition, we feel a high level of stress and anxiety. We’ll often reflect on that first stage and remember several poor decisions. While combat is a very different competition, there are some similarities in regard to anxiety. This anxiety includes both mental and physical stress. This is something we can train to.

Training for combat fitness? Personally, I focus on three major areas:


Anytime we had scheduled physical training in the military, it meant cardio. Meaning we might run or hike, but it rarely involved anything in the gym. This is because cardio is one of if not THE most important thing to focus on.

Core Fitness

Having strong core muscles is key to the ability to get into and out of the prone position, fluidly clear a house, and/or support body armor and a backpack.


Strong shoulders directly support my ability to shoot, reload, fix malfunctions or just keep my carbine up as I flow through a house.

While there are many more areas to work on, this is where I focus the majority of my attention.

combat fitness


I’m a fan of training in what I wear every day or what I wear on the range. As the old expression goes, “Train how you fight.” This takes place as you’re ready for it, meaning you can start out in tennis shoes and shorts if you need to. Then, when you’re ready, let’s transition into combat boots and tactical pants. Once you gain some comfort with that, let’s migrate into body armor as well.

To gain shoulder strength, having a weighted bag we can lift in front of us helps build shoulder muscles. If possible, we’ll do this in our kit. All this can be conducted off the range in our living room or backyard. Having said that, I don’t want a real gun on my body for these exercises. I’ll use an obvious dummy gun. This maintains a “train as you fight” attitude without jeopardizing safety or creating misunderstanding.

 Finally, let’s put it all together and head to the range.

 Range Ops

 Much like physical fitness, we’re going to take slow, steady steps forward. We don’t need to learn how to load our rifle while wearing body armor. However, once we become confident, it’s beneficial to incorporate the “train as you fight” mentality.

 Now that we’re wearing the appropriate gear, and we’ve gained speed and effectiveness, let’s now add a level of fatigue. That can mean doing a handful of push-ups, or a quick sprint to your rifle, then safely take control of it and engage targets with gear on and heart racing. This can help up prepare for the real-world, high-stress combat engagement.

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