Dr. Tabata. We hate you!

As the senior enlisted ninja in the company, it often falls to me to devise ways to develop our young non-commisioned officers in preparation for the various leadership challenges they will inevitably face. In my opinion, physical training (PT) is one of the least effectively used tools in our professional development tool-box. Last week I decided to hone my NCOs with a little light body maintenance.

Alright men, now turn around and kick your partner dead in the crotch!”

Simply thrashing a group of Marines into the ground is pretty easy and not a method of instruction I prefer. If they are simply getting their doors blown off without learning anything then I figure I’ve passed up a great training opportunity.

I like to ask Marines why we PT at all. Their answers are inevitably: “To be in shape.” “Be fit.” My personal favorite is: “To look good naked 1stSgt!” I appreciate the honesty.

The bottom line is we conduct PT in order to make our bodies harder to kill. Never mind the idea of being fitter and stronger than your enemy. Fit, healthy bodies tend to survive being shot, blown up, infected, and other rough treatment. It’s only natural the Corps would develop a culture of physical fitness within its ranks.

There are only three exercises I absolutely hate: running, pull ups, and crunches. Coincidentally, these are also the three events comprising our Physical Fitness Test (PFT). My aversion to those three exercises probably has to do with 20 years of repetitively running, pull uping, and crunching. Another pet peeve of mine are PT sessions specifically geared toward passing the PFT. These take the form of long runs in formation followed by a max set of pullups and two minutes of max crunches.

In my ongoing effort to battle monotony and expand the minds of Marine NCOs I try to take a different approach to PT and let learning occur while training. This time I decided it to introduce them to the esteemed Dr. Izumi Tabata and his interval. Of course, my version included rubber rifles and full cammies.

I had them sprint with their rifles for 20 seconds…

“We hate our liiiiiiiiiives!”

…then rest for ten seconds in the prone.

Oof! I miss pull ups.”

This was a great workout. They repeated this scheme of maneuver for eight rounds jumping up and running again and again. The keen observer will note this somewhat resembles how one might move on a battlefield. Hmmm…

“What happened to the ten seconds?”

We don’t even have to do push ups if I just make Marines simply keep getting up off the ground.

“I think I’d rather be getting shot at.”

Despite what you might think, four minutes of sprints can smoke even the fittest if they are putting any effort into it. I brought the Marines in and we set the rifles aside for part two. Oh yes, there was more!

“I don’t have positive feelings about this.”

For the second half we did Tabata intervals again. This time one Marine would fireman’s carry the other for 20 seconds then during the 10 second “break” they would switch out. This is called hell.

It is unclear who is getting the worst of it in this picture.
“Dude wait, I think I’m gonna honk.”

Ideally, for training purposes Marines are matched up with someone of similar height and weight. One of my sergeants drew the short straw and had to partner up with my Company Gunny. He’s in the large land mammal category.

“Gunny…if you… ever really get… wounded… I’m not sure… you’re going to make it.”

To my regret I jumped in to aid the exhausted Sgt as to keep from having to clean up breakfast hash browns off the nice astro-turf. 

Fortunately, O-ring reconstruction is covered by Tri-Care.

Afterwards I explained the Tabata interval can be used with any exercise imaginable and they could do this with their squad and fire teams in any number of ways. The method we used here more or less reflects things they may actually do in combat. I hope to see fully armed and armored Marines happily Tabata sprinting up and down the streets at any moment. They’re doing it for America and so should you.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s 1stSgt
Making Marines Harder To Kill

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  1. …personal favorite is: “To look good naked 1stSgt!” I appreciate the honesty.

    Me too. And I’d appreciate that boy’s email address even more 😉

  2. “They’re doing it for America and so should you.”

    Forgetting your international audience yet again, sigh.

    We used to do this sort of thing in rugby training at uni. I was always paired with the girl 6 inches taller and 10lbs heavier than me… the extra work always justified an extra pint afterwards 🙂

  3. Top, Remind them to keep in shape… They don’t want some old man to have to carry their kit.
    I was the oldest soldier in our BN in Iraq…and one trip we took out to Al Qaim…one of my kids asked: “Boss, can you carry some of my stuff? I brought to much gear.” He was only 24 and I was 49.

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