Men's Health

SPECIAL OPS FITNESS SECRETS

IT’S 11A.M. ON A BLEAK MORNING AT FORT BENNING,

Georgia. Gunfire barks out from over the hill. Heavy, low clouds spit rain on the 21 obstacles that make up the 1-mile assault course the U.S. Army Rangers use to hone agility and speed. The obstacles are named in blunt military vernacular: the Tough One (a 33-foot-high rope-and-ladder climb), the Weaver (a log pyramid that they wriggle up, through, and down), and the Inverted Rope Descent (a 75-foot slide from a 40-foot tower). Ten Rangers are racing for four places in an upcoming all-service fitness and tactical skills contest.

The competition began at dawn with a maximum-pushups test, followed by a run of undisclosed distance. Most guys banged out 80-plus pushups before a run that turned out to be 8 miles. Next the men faced a “long” ruck with a 45-pound pack and a 10-pound dummy weapon. The distance, which again was undisclosed at the start, was 12 miles. The men have no idea what awaits them; this is a core aspect of Ranger fitness. “Being prepared for the unexpected is part of any mission, so we train for the unexpected,” says Nicholas O’Brien, 34, the human performance program coordinator for the 75th Ranger Regiment. The first competitor, M.Sgt. Joshua Horsager, 38, chugs in with a time of 3 hours and 16 minutes. Horsager has completed three-quarters of a marathon at a 9:48-minute-mile

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