Throughout history, we see examples of how important it is to have soldiers with terrific physical endurance. Endurance is arguably more important than just being able to lift alot or run fast. You need to be able to carry your combat load to the fight, fight all the way through, and continue fighting without slowing down. Endurance is a quality that always has room for improvement and can only benefit you in the long run.
UPPER BODY WORK
Your upper body is going to be responsible for keeping you in the fight. As a fighting force, you will be using a rifle, pistol, or shotgun to perform your role. The weapons that you use will require you to hold them up in an aimed position for the time you are taking your shots and responding to the enemy. Also, you will be required to carry casualties, ammo, pull yourself and push yourself. Your upper body certainly will need constant maintenance in order to keep it ready for the fight.
In my experience, we spend alot of time holding a weapon in the aimed position, so in my opinion it is always a good idea to practice holding your weapon on target for as long as possible. This should be done from good practical shooting stances such as standing, kneeling, leaning around cover, etc. My personal recommendation is to use a target that is roughly the size of your front sight/red dot. You will aim at this target from a proper standing stance, as if you are about to fight against the recoil, for as long as you can keep your sights steady. While aiming, remember to apply a hard grip on your weapon system rather than just letting it rest in your hands. Pull your rifle/shotgun into your shoulder and squeeze the life out of your pistol grip. Hold a good proper sight picture as long as possible and maintain a good stable stance for as long as you can hold your weapon steady. The key here is that you hold it until you cannot hold it steady anymore. Attempts to hold your weapon in an aimed stance while unable to maintain steadiness will not fruit good growth, but rather result in excessive wear on your muscles. This will result in longer healing times, ultimately taking away from your ability to train yourself daily.
I have discussed using your weapon as a training tool, but this does not mean that I feel it is good to neglect regular methods of training our bodies. I personally feel that it is best to conquer our bodyweight in pushes and pulls in order to develop good endurance and stamina in our upper body. Things like push up variations(pike, wide arm, triangle/diamond) and pull up/chin up variations are probably the best ways to build your body without using weights or going to the gym. By conquering your own bodyweight on a bar or on the ground, you will be fully able to conquer the weight of a 10 pound rifle. Holding position in the middle of your push ups or pull ups will help with this growth, as will very slow and deliberate repetitions. Personally, I feel like the slower the better when starting out. The goal is to maximize our time under tension to encourage hypertrophy. After a certain point, I would start doing repetitions at a comfortable and normal speed and count them for score. There are a ton of things that you can do to increase your endurance, but my favorite things are weapon manipulations and bodyweight exercises.
Our legs are responsible for carrying us and all our gear into and out of battle. We must be used to carrying a good amount of weight for a long period of time. Whether it is just walking from point A to point B with no gear, or jogging in full gear, your legs are going to be counted on to keep you going at a good pace for a generous amount of time without requiring a break. In order to build up endurance in our legs, we need to make incremental gains and keep track of our growth.
There are a variety of ways to increase your endurance, such as conquering your bodyweight. As a beginner, I would recommend doing exercises like the simple phantom chair to establish a good baseline for where you are in your leg strength and endurance. Get your phantom chair times up and continue to increase the times in order to keep a good gauge on where your endurance is on a measurable timed scale. This does not mean you should bypass things like squats and lunges, however. Most of your training should involve core exercises like squats, lunges, jumping, and a bit of jogging on flat and hilly terrain. Be capable of jogging up a flight of stairs at a steady pace without getting winded. Things like this will pay dividends for you down the line.
Down the line, I think it would be good to begin adding weight incrementally. Start with holding a rifle or having it slung while doing these exercises. Then put on a loaded chest rig or battle belt. If you have a battle belt, armor, and a chest rig, I would start by putting on the lightest thing possible and getting used to its weight. Gradually start adding your gear and getting used to working with the added weight. I would not expect this process to be quick, but with good deliberate exercise, your endurance with this gear on should increase as you continue to train with it.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
I am not a big believer in being completely burnt out after a workout. I believe in a gradual exercise and training routine with periodic testing that can push you to your limit. When you are performing casual and regular training, push yourself, but quit before you are so burnt out that you will need to rest for a week. I personally like to train a bit daily, which requires me to know when to stop in order to get good hypertrophy without rest for the next 48 to 96 hours.
If you are curious about how you are to train to make physical gains without burning out, think of a graph where the bottom(X axis) is time and the side(Y axis) represents stress. The goal is to add just enough stress to make the training interesting and challenging without creating too much anxiety to the point it is too arduous and you start regretting the training that day. Training should be fun and almost addictive. You can train daily and notice improvement if you follow this method. There is alot to say here to the point that it may even be worth it's own article, but the idea is to train smarter, not harder. The idea is to build endurance, and the best way is to practice it constantly and get your body accustomed to the constant movement. We are training for endurance.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.