STRENGTH & KNOWLEDGE

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The manual for life and combat.

By Nick Caldwell

Welcome to theMill's STRENGTH & KNOWLEDGE online manual.

STRENGTH & KNOWLEDGE ('S&K') is the complete illustrated guide to building resilience, mental toughness and physical hardiness to elite levels. The S&K is effectively a manual which, when combined with our online programs, will guide you all the way from 'rank-beginner' with no fitness or training experience, to achieving the elite fitness and mental toughness levels of Special Forces Operators. This manual takes you on a continuum which is divided into easy-to-follow stages with simple practical tasks to be completed prior to advancing to the next stage on the continuum.

To  help you define where you are on this continuum and to measure your levels of fitness we have included Progressive Interval Threshold™ ('PIT') tests which will gives you an objective assessment of your level of mental and physical fitness, as to where you are on the S&K continuum including which of our online fitness programs is best for you.

This manual (and its accompanying workbook), is the manual for developing elite-level resilience within yourself which, when you reach a level of mastery, you can apply to your family and your team. It covers techniques used by Tier-1 Special Forces Operators in: mindset development, mental conditioning and mental strategies for developing clarity, managing high-stress situations, building desired habits, solving problems and overcoming adversity; leadership and fostering stronger and more effective teams; diet and nutrition for maximising training effectiveness and speeding up the recovery process; strength and conditioning for building elite fitness, physical preparedness and battle-readiness; the most effective training methods, tools and equipment and information about how to use them to maximum effect; and practical information on preventing injury as well as managing illness, injuries and set-backs during your mental and physical preparation journey.

Note: We will be regularly updating this online manual to give you the latest information on preparing yourself to be a tactical, battle-ready athlete based on recent research and studies conducted within the international Special Forces community. 

The S&K is a holistic and comprehensive guide to building smarter, fitter, faster, stronger and better versions of yourself. It will set you on the path to changing the way manage the adversity in your life and sets you up for living at your 'next-level'.

The S&K is the essential guide for:

  • Anyone seeking to be the best version of themselves. Especially if you want to be fitter, hardier, tougher and more resilient; and
  • Anyone contemplating a career in the emergency services, military or Special Forces. This is the manual which has been written by veteran Special Forces ('SF') Operators with you in-mind. This manual is the guide its authors wish they had prior to embarking on their own SF careers.

Please 'click' on the contents items below to be taken to the relevant sections.

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Onwards.


CONTENTS

  1. INTRODUCTION - RESILIENCE

  2. MENTAL CONDITIONING

  3. BREATH CONTROL

  4. REST & RECOVERY

  5. DIET & NUTRITION

  6. TRAINING TOOLS & EQUIPMENT

  7. TECHNIQUE FUNDAMENTALS

  8. PROGRAMMING - INTENT

  9. PROGRAMMING - FUNDAMENTALS

  10. PROGRAMMING - PRINCIPLES

  11. PROGRAMMING - STRUCTURE

  12. PROGRAMMING - PIT™ TESTING

  13. BATTLE FITNESS - PART 1. COMBAT EFFECTIVENESS

  14. BATTLE FITNESS - PART 2. PATROL EQUIPMENT

  15. BATTLE FITNESS - PART 3. PACK-MARCHING

  16. INJURY & ILLNESS MANAGEMENT

  17. ACRONYMS & ABBREVIATIONS


DOWNLOADS


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MENTAL CONDITIONING PROGRAM

... because you hold yourself to a higher standard

The quality and level of mental resilience in a result of 2-key factors:

  • Mindset; and
  • Mental conditioning.

Mindset is an established set of attitudes held by an individual regarding various aspects of their lives. Your mindset can vary depending on the situation and circumstance but in most cases an individual can adopt a mindset, which governs their view and attitude towards all aspects of their lives in general.

Mental conditioning is the process, conducted over a period of time, which can influence mindset and thereby, inhibit or promote development and growth. An individual initially experiences mental conditioning from birth. This is as a result of the influence of their environment (including family and other extrinsic influencers) and their subsequent intrinsic reactions to their environment and experiences. The process is ongoing and in most cases is a subliminal process of conditioning.

Our mental condition can be a result of very subtle or minute (almost unnoticeable) and subconscious interpretations of events, which occur in our lives. The way we view these events, especially if we are regularly exposed to the events or similar events, shapes our view on the world. Overtime the effect has a long-term psychological effect on the individual and determines their personal philosophy, mindset, characteristics, traits and values. This bias in-turn shapes their opinion of the issues, people and events and how they view the world in general.

This process of constant, consistent and subliminal conditioning can have an adverse effect on the way we view our world. They can influence our perspective and ‘colour’ or ‘taint’ our worldview so much that we can view a particular event, object or person etc. in a completely different or opposite way to the person next to us. We call this tainting, bias.

Bias can be a severely inhibiting factor in personal growth and therefore achieving a level of high-functioning resilience. Being able to recognise, articulate and manage bias is a key tool to developing high-functioning resilience.


Understanding the importance of having the right mindset and mental conditioning (‘MM’) relevant to your goals and aspirations is an important step towards achieving them. MM is a character trait, which gives us insight into the reasons why high-achievers perform well, and other equally skilled exponents do not perform to their potential.

Without this key trait, we cannot achieve our potential. Therefore MM forms an integral part of The Mill Method. To neglect it is to seriously limit the potential of our students.

 

INTRODUCTION

At The Mill we have a program designed to help take you to your 'next-level'. This is the Mental Conditioning Program (‘MCP’). This is a program to assist you with preparing for understanding the minimum mindset and mental preparation required for managing personal performance, fatigue and adversity and, if required, undertaking Special Forces Selection.

 

THE PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT TEAM

Former Special Forces operatives who: each have had over 10+ years of Special Forces experience; who have world-wide operational experience; have served as instructors on Special Forces Selection courses; and have established their own successful businees, have designed our mental conditioning and preparation programs. This program is a result of their cumulative experience.

 

MENTORSHIP

As part of this MCP you will be assigned a mentor. Your mentor, who will guide you through this program, is one of the original members of this development team. His role is to ensure that you stay on track with completing the initial program actions and tasks, and to provide support and clarity to you when required.

This program includes 10 x 1-on-1 (30-min) sessions with your mentor. This may be conducted in-person or via phone conferencing. Contact info@themillgym.com team to schedule your 1-on-1 sessions.

 

MCP GOALS

  1. To give you the knowledge, skills and methods required to achieve your goals (without any help)
  2. Reset your ‘frame-of-reference’
  3. Understand your goals, strengths and weaknesses
  4. Align your values, principles and ethos to your goals
  5. Refine and establish your priorities
  6. Define and forge your mindset
  7. Develop your ‘Actions-on’. E.g. Develop drills to negate negative influencers and influences
  8. Design and implement a routine of excellence
  9. Define and instil key-beneficial habits

 

THE MCP PROGRAM

The Mill MCP is founded on tried, tested and proven methodologies practiced by Tier-1 Special Forces Operatives. Your level of mental resilience is the direct result of the sum total of challenging experiences, which you have subject yourself to, and your ability to overcome the difficulties they present. It is a process developing and instilling habits, which reinforce appropriate behaviour and thought processes for managing stress, fear and anxiety and for solving complex-problems.

The MCP is built on the 4 Resilience Pillars. These Resilience Pillars are:

  1. Rest, relaxation & recovery
  2. Diet & nutrition
  3. General Physical Preparedness
  4. Mindset & mental conditioning

None of these pillars is more important than the other. They must all be addressed with equal priority in a balanced and consistent way. The process for improving and then mastering your skills and knowledge on these pillars will never-end. It is a process of continuous improvement and over time, you will find that constant attention and improvement of the process will help you to relax, build your confidence and improve your mental resilience.

Each pillar supports and impacts on the other pillars so the success of this program is very much reliant on your attention to each of these pillars individually. Often times, for high achieving individuals it is not a matter of implementing the process but knowing which routines and habits to adopt and knowing what 'good' is (i.e. knowing what is the required mindset or outcome for elite performance. What is the mindset and what are the mental conditioning tools used by the most resilient and effective operators). 

The MCP includes a personal GPP program which will compliment the MCP manual and workbook.

Our MCP is designed to alleviate the issue of not knowing what 'good' is or how to get their. It helps you to identify what factors are contributing to this process and what are inhibiting you from reaching your potential. This makes the process of achieving your next level more efficient and effective.

The MCP includes:

  1. A 6-month theMill gym membership
  2. A tailored 12-week General Physical Preparedness Program
  3. MCP Manual
  4. MCP Workbook
  5. 10 x 30-minute 1-on-1 mentoring sessions

 

MCP REQUIREMENTS

The MCP requires you to complete a number of activities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

For example: As a minimum, on a daily basis you will be required to take 5 minutes to develop habits including to complete a journal which provides real-time feedback to your mentor to keep you accountable to the process.

All other tasks are laid out in your MCP Workbook

 

WORKSHOPS AND CAMPS

The MCP includes a 25% discount to:

  1. Initiation and personal training; and
  2. All of our resilience development events including:
  • Mental Resilience Workshop
  • Havoc Camp
  • Chaos Camp
  • Cadre Camp
  • Offroad Survival
  • Modern Urban Survival

These events were designed to progressively immerse attendees in carefully designed experiences which are proven to develop mental resilience and mindset, and instil effective skills for mental conditioning. Depending on your desired outcomes these camps activities may serve as pivotal in your development.


COSTS

$2,500 for 12-week package.

Includes:

  1. A 6-month theMill gym membership
  2. A tailored 12-week General Physical Preparedness Program
  3. MCP Manual
  4. MCP Workbook
  5. 10 x 30-minute 1-on-1 mentoring sessions

If the MCP is something you think can benefit you, or if you'd like more information, please contact our team.

The mind is primary
— Bruce Lee

PROGRAMMING

INTENT

The intent of our program...

Mental conditioning

Health

Function

Habit

Physical conditioning

Work capacity

Standards

FUNDAMENTALS

Posture

Mobility and range-of-motion (ROM)

Nutrition

Rest

Breathing

Mental conditioning

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Energy Systems Development (ESD)

ESD training is specifically focused on developing the following energy pathways:

  • A-lactic (phosphagte)
  • Lactic (glycolytic)
  • Cardio (aerobic)

ESD protocols

Cardio ESD sessions like Endurance >90/Endurance <60 (including Cardio Club and Ruck Club) and to some extent Power-endurance, were introduced because of the impact this training will have on achieving the overall fitness goals for our members - namely increased quality work-capacity. The Cardio ESD sessions are a very important part of a holistic training program for a number of key/vital reasons. From decreased recovery times, to increased power-output, cardio sessions (when coupled with the GAC) makes for a more well-rounded athlete.

The sessions are scheduled as 'purely cardio' sessions which mean they are to be conducted according to cardio training protocols. ie. sub-maximal effort for sustained (>20min periods). The reason for this is because we already train the other energy systems extensively during the GAC.

The training protocol for Cardio ESD is: 

  • Duration: 20 to 90+ minutes
  • Energy Systems Worked: Aerobic
  • Intensity level: Average low to moderate (60 to 75% your MHR)

The benefits of this protocol are well illustrated in the following article:

http://powerathletehq.com/2016/10/19/aerobic-system-football/

I've quoted the most relevant passages below:

"The oxidative system is vital to producing ATP for long periods of time. Developing a more efficient aerobic system will aid in recovery for more intense bouts of exercise by making your body’s ability to transition between different energy systems more efficient. Also aerobic capacity training helps develop cardiac output. Keeping intensity low will drive a maximal amount of blood through the heart and make a more efficient left ventricle. Thus moving more blood with each beat and making for a more efficient heartbeat."
"Aerobic work assists the autonomic nervous system composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. It helps by calming the sympathetic nervous and reducing that “on” feeling that we get when performing any HITT or heavy rep maxes."

Our overall goal is to increase our work capacity and to complete the work with quality. Therefore in the past, we have spent a lot of time training the a-lactic (phosphagte) and lactic (glycolytic) energy systems as part of our normal GAC programming. Relying on the volume of work (and rests) to provide aerobic benefits. But one area which will vastly improve our work capacity is to conduct regular specific aerobic training. Low-intensity cardio-training minimises stress on the CNS and body, and limits any detrimental effect on our bodies due to the already high-workload. Especially if you are doing multiple GAC's per week, have a family and working full-time, etc.

Increasing the workload without overly taxing the CNS increases our threshold tolerance for work and helps to 'normalise' operating at higher workloads. If we were to try to achieve the same outcome by increasing the frequency of high-intensity interval or anaerobic workouts it would take us longer to recover and would diminish the quality of the actual workouts themselves in a short time - negating the benefits.

Strength

Power

Strength and power protocol

Work capacity

Endurance protocols

Recovery

PRINCIPLES

Mindset

General Physical Preparedness (GPP)

Skills

The benefits of consistent regular training

Sub-maximal intensity and volume

GPP domains

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Cardio
  • Endurance
  • Recovery

Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID)

Progressive overload

  • Volume
  • Intensity
  • Density
  • Scaling
  • Training planning for individual athletes

Volume

Absolute volume = reps x sets x weight (kg)

Absolute volume assumes same barbell speed in the movement so force production is the same. Adding force (F=ma) to the equation complicates our measurement which is not necessary when comparing like with like workouts.

The volume of a particular DL strength/power workout => r x s x kg => 5 x 5 x 120kg = 3000kg. Therefore we can compare the amount of work when compared to similar DL workouts.

Intensity

=> Av. HR/time

OR (for the purposes of comparison between like workouts) We could even add duration into the mix to get a comparison on different DL workouts - Volume/time

For example DL workout #1: 3000kg in a 25 minute workout (5 x 5 x 120 / 25) => 3000/25 = 120kg/minute.

Then if we compare it to a different DL workout we will get an idea of comparative workloads.

DL workoutFor example DL workout #2: 3 x 8 x 75 in 30 minutes => 1800kg/30 minutes => 60kg/minute. Which denotes a comparatively lower intensity DL workout.

Scaling

planning your training

 

Specific Physical Preparedness (SPP)

STRUCTURE

GAC phase-cycles

  1. Strength & Power
  2. Power-endurance
  3. Endurance <60 & Endurance >90 
  4. Foundation

Both Endurance <60 and Endurance >90 are scheduled at the same set times and days throughout the cycle. These are the Cardio ESD and Ruck sessions. During the Endurance phase these sessions will be made longer and follow the phase-structure described below.

Power-endurance and Endurance (<60 or >90) are 28-day cycles (4 weeks).

An example Power-endurance phase:

  • Power-endurance - 16/28 days
  • Strength and power 4/28 days
  • Endurance - 4/28 days
  • Recovery and mobility - 4/28 days

This structure is the for Endurance:

  • Power-endurance - 4/28 days
  • Strength and power 4/28 days
  • Endurance - 16/28 days*
  • Recovery and mobility - 4/28 days

*Additional to the scheduled Ruck and Cardio ESD session. For example a Wednesday and Friday session would be scheduled from 0530 to 0700 (Cardio ESD + Endurance GAC). Here you can elect to do <30 cardio, <60 endurance or >90 endurance training. Saturday's GAC schedule would be 0600 - 0900 (Ruck + Endurance GAC).

Strength and power takes the most focus and the longest time to develop. Therefore the standard for a strength and power is a 42-day cycle (6 weeks). Here's an example of a standard strength and power phase/cycle:

  • Strength and power - 24/42 days
  • Power-endurance - 6/42 days
  • Endurance - 6/42 days
  • Recovery and mobility - 6/42 days

Foundation Phase. 

28-day cycle:

  • Power-endurance - 7/28 days
  • Strength and power 7/28 days
  • Endurance - 7/28 days
  • Recovery and mobility - 7/28 days

To allow our members to plan their training and work weeks we schedule specific movements to set-days.

  • Monday - hinge/squat (+ ruck)
  • Tuesday - upper body push/pull
  • Wednesday - push, drag, pick-up and/or carry  (+ Cardio ESD)
  • Thursday - GTO/GTS + STO
  • Friday - hinge / swing / lift (+ Cardio ESD)
  • Saturday - Endurance >90  (+ ruck)

The composition of the individual sessions will depend on the bias/cycle. If we're in a power-endurance phase then the Monday hinge/squat session will follow the power-endurance protocol described above.

Annual structure

  • Foundation - 4/52 weeks
  • Strength - 6/52 weeks
  • Power-endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Strength - 6/52 weeks
  • Power-endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Strength - 6/52 weeks
  • Power-endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Endurance - 4/52 weeks
  • Foundation - 4/52 weeks
  • Rest and recovery - 2/52 (annual holidays)

PIT™ TESTING

Training metrics

Measuring progress

Progressive intervals:

Interval training

  • High Volume Interval Training (HVIT)
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Variable Intensity Interval Training (VIIT)
  • Progressive Interval Threshold (PIT™) training and testing