Sgt. Billy Farris knocks out some crunches during the Combat Fitness Test preparatory class at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Coordinators say the course should help Marines improve their CFT scores. (Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez / Marine Corps)
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It’s CFT season, and a new course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is preparing Marines for their Combat Fitness Tests with the hopes of improving scores and reducing training-related injuries.
Called CFT Total Athletic Conditioning training, the two-day course is offered quarterly and uses kettle bells, tires, High Intensity Tactical Training equipment and fast-paced cardio exercise to create a workout that focuses on functional fitness — that is, conditioning designed to facilitate movement required in combat.
“Our training gets students involved with hands-on training on a variety of equipment and techniques in a variety of areas that include TRX, Olympic lifting, functional training, dynamic movements, power, agility, coordination, CFT field set-up and monitoring and more,” said Everett Vaughn, the markets and brand manager for Marine Corps Community Services at Camp Lejeune.
About 20 to 30 Marines participate in each session. Vaughn said MCCS hopes the training will have a ripple effect as participants in the course take their new knowledge back to the fleet.
“Training is a dangerous activity if not done properly,” he said. “Our CFT course explains to Marines the proper ways to train in a safe and effective manner. ... The basic philosophy is, if we can teach them the safe ways to work out, they will be able to pass that information onto other Marines.”
To ensure safety and efficacy, the course is taught by fitness professionals, including MCCS-affiliated personal trainer coordinators and certified personal trainers.
If Marines stick with the training program they learn during the two-day course, they should see results within two to three months. Improvements in both strength, speed and endurance should help improve scores on all stages of the test, from the long 880-yard “movement to contact,” to the short and explosive 25-yard crawl or the two-minute ammo can lift.
HITT for CFT
The course is just the latest in a trend toward functional fitness, which goes a step beyond traditional physical training like running, situps, pullups and pushups. In late 2012, the Corps unveiled its High Intensity Tactical Training program, or HITT. Its focus is to strengthen Marines in ways that would help them execute physical tasks in combat without wearing them down during pre-deployment workups.
The HITT program includes hundreds of exercises designed to complement the various phases of a Marine’s deployment cycle, emphasizing injury prevention while helping to enhance and sustain strength, speed and agility. It debuted officially in October after two years of development.
The program received the endorsement of Marine Silver Star recipient and Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor Brian Stann, who said he did irreversible damage to his body during pre-deployment workouts and still wasn’t in peak condition when he went downrange.
The unique CFT Total Athletic Conditioning training at Camp Lejeune is held at the base’s High Intensity Tactical Training Gym. No other installations in the area offer it, according to Vaughn. But anyone interested in attending the course can ask to join one. Just send an email to Lejeune’s MCCS: email@example.com.
CFT season runs from July to December. Two more prep courses will be offered this year, on Aug. 21-22 and Oct. 23-24.