Dear Brendan

I mentioned in my first letter to you that I would break down the difference between working out and training. I also want to discuss what I mean when I say you must be as strong as you can all the time. In this letter I will address the difference between working out and training. In my next letter I will say a little about the importance of being globally stronger in all facets.

First, ask yourself this question: What do “working out” and “training” mean to you?

In your mind what is the difference if any?

Now I’m going to break it down for you as I see it through my eyes. I’m looking at this through the lens of my background and experiences in the Marine Corps, working for the CIA and working for similar organizations. I’m not thinking like your PE teacher or like a college athlete. I think we can all agree there is a big difference between a professional warfighter or Agency operator and that of a PE teacher or athlete. Our approach and our mindset is different. Our mission, our goals, our requirements are different.

Remember this– true fitness is task oriented.

In my experience, most civilians or John Q public “works out” for their 60 minutes three or four days a week and even that is being overly generous. Let’s be honest, the general public is too lazy to make even that modest commitment and hold to it. Sadly, the simple fact is that in many cases John and Jane Doe do the exercise program that their family doctor recommends because they are both too fat and are going to die young if they don’t get up off their asses. These types of people have the basic goal of maintaining or achieving a general level of fitness. They may have some set goals such as lose 50lbs before my next doctor’s appointment.

Generally speaking these people that do this type of exercise are not competitive athletes. They have set the bar low and have very basic goals. They will likely be happy to just break a sweat and call it a day. Let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with this in basic terms and most in the general public fall into this category.

Now, let’s look at “training” as an entirely different concept.

Training should have very specific goals. Professional athletes train, as do professional warfighters and operators. Here you have a certain bar you must reach and maintain to be proficient in your profession. You have a desired end state in mind that will allow you to operate at a high level of performance in a consistent manner. This requires planning and a program that will ensure you have positive gains. To be fair I will say that our conventional military falls short in its so called Physical Training (PT), so I’m not just knocking Joe Public, where it may seem I’m stereotyping all civilians as fat and lazy. No, I’m simply trying to drive a point home. I understand there are always exceptions to the rule.

So many military units simply go through the motions and check the box when it comes to unit PT. Their unit PT usually lacks planning and goals that translate to functional skill sets that warfighters depend on. I’d like to challenge our military commanders to reassess their units’ PT program. If you are in the infantry and have to chase after the Taliban in the mountains or ISIS in the streets of Mosul, is your fitness program designed around such a mission requirement?

Let’s train smarter and not harder, people.

Again I’ll restate that true fitness is task oriented. It helps to understand strength and endurance conditioning and proper diet and nutrition. These go hand in hand and need to be integrated into your program. The moral of this story is to take fitness very seriously. This is a cornerstone to being functionally stronger in all facets of life. Anything less and you are cheating yourself and half assing it as a man and as a leader. You can be knowledgeable or proficient in various tactics and combative skill sets, however if you cannot perform due to a lack of real world fitness training, you are no good to your family, no good to your team in a time of need.

Remember when all the chips are down, will you be ready to take action and lead?

Next time I write we will discuss the importance of strength.

Stay strong and well,