Winter Warfare Training

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Winter warfare imposes some specific physical training demands on SEALs. During training and deployment, winter warfare operations challenge an individual's skill in protection from environmental factors and ability to move efficiently over snow and ice. Thus, cross country skiing is recommended for those involved in winter warfare operations. This section reviews training issues specific to the winter warfare mission.

Training for Skiing

A high skill level is essential if use of skis is contemplated. Under most operational conditions, cross country skiing provides the highest degree of non-mechanized mobility for travelling over snow and ice. Skiing becomes a very efficient form of man-powered transportation during long transits over flat terrain. However, the advantages of skiing only become apparent after acquisition of specific skills and fitness.

It is extremely easy to sustain a serious immobilizing injury while skiing heel free in non-release bindings and floppy loose boots. The potential for injury is magnified further when the skier is loaded down with gear. Thus, the operator participating in winter warfare must be a competent skier.

The overall fitness level of SEALs may be adequate for cross country skiing because fitness from running and aquatic training carry over to skiing. However, different muscle groups are used; thus SEALs should strive to customize their training programs in anticipation of winter warfare. Use of a ski machine docs confer training specificity and assists with developing the coordination and muscle adaptations needed to ski efficiently. Other real training issues for skiing are skills and technique. There are several operational considerations to consider:

♦ Need to be able to stop and turn efficiently in a variety of snow and ice conditions.

♦ Need to be able to ski safely with a pack and weapons.

♦ Need to be familiar with gear modifications for maximum efficiency.

Turns, Stops, and Technique

Safe skiing with a pack demands aggressive unweighting and the use of parallel ski techniques. Forget about telemark turns while you are wearing a pack; the slow forward lunge required to initiate a turn in back-country snows while wearing a pack puts the skier in a vulnerable body position. This is an invitation to sustain a serious knee injury to the lead leg, particularly because of the extra weight transmitted to the leg due to wearing a pack.

Telemarking is useful when used to stop while traversing a hill. Instead of extending the uphill log to initiate a downhill turn, extend the downhill ski and drift up into the hill. This maneuver is easy to control and is a useful tool for checking downhill speed while skiing heel free and wearing a pack.

Poles are essential tools for propulsion and balance while wearing a pack. It is important to use break-away wrist straps to prevent an injury to the arm or shoulder which can occur if the ski pole basket inadvertently catches on a stump or something else frozen solidly to the ground.

The High Mileage SEAL

Chronic overuse injuries and accumulated minor and major trauma to the musculoskeletal system have a cumulative effect on the "High-Mileage" SEAL approaching the age of 40. The most common chronic musculoskeletal injuries involve the neck, back, elbow, knee, ankle and foot. Table 14-1 outlines the sites and causes of these various chronic conditions. It also presents selected recommendations for treating these conditions. Poor flexibility can be a major contributory factor in all of these conditions. A lifetime program of flexibility, strengthening, and cross-training for aerobic conditioning is essential for minimizing chronic injuries and pain. In the event of an injury, early self-referral for evaluation is an essential part of avoiding chronic injury.

For those having recurrent problems or nursing old injuries, fitness can still be maintained and rehabilitation can proceed. Aerobic activities that may help include the stationary cycles, indoor swimming, a rowing machine, a ski machine, or a climber. However, it is most important to emphasize flexibility, with a specialized PT program that includes stretching. We believe that the Physical Fitness and PT Programs presented in Table 14-2 and

Table 14-3 may help restore function if carried out regularly. However, you must remember not to push yourself too hard so as to avoid a recurrence of previous injuries. Also, it is important to remember that you may need a longer time to recover than you did when you were 18. Listen to your body so it will be kind to you in the future.

Table 14-1- Sites, Common Causes of, and Recommendations for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain


Common Causes

Recommendations (After a Medical Evaluation)








Ligament strain; instability; osteoarthritis; weak abdominal muscles; sacroiliac joint dysfunction; sciatica; poor flexibility.

Ligament strain; Facet Syndrome; muscle strain; disc disease

Tendonitis; epicondylitis

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome; tendonitis.

Impingement Syndrome; instability; rotator cuff tendonitis.

Old fractures with osteoarthritis

Plantar Faclitis

Stretching program morning and evening; back and abdominal strengthening program; manipulations; avoid swimming with a kickboard and running until pain is manageable.

Isometric stretch; avoid freestyle swimming until pain-free.

Ice affected area; wrist and elbow stretching; avoid diamond push-ups until pain-free.

Quad and hamstring stretching/ strengthening exercises; avoid extra trips up and down stairs; avoid jumping activities until pain-free; try stationary cycling.

Rotator cuff stretching/strengthening exercises; ice shoulder after activity; avoid overhead activity, military press, butterfly stroke; do not swim train with paddles; breath on same side of injury during freestyle swimming.

Ankle flexibility exercises; calf stretching; avoid load-bearing and long runs; Try stationary cycling.

Calf and foot stretching; heel lifts; steroid injection.

In the long run it is better to be conservative: injuries do not always go away. In fact, some lie dormant until you push just a bit too hard. Then it is too late. Seek medical care if there is any doubt, as your job depends on your health.

Table 14-2. Physical Fitness Program for High Mileage SEALs with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Day of Week

Activities for the Day


PT/30 min Interval Work-Out (Rowing Ergometer)/Stretch


45 min Steady State Work-Out (Stationary Cycle)/Stretch


PT/45 min Fartlek Work-Out (Rowing Ergometer)/Stretch


Cycle 15/Row 15/Cycle 15/Stretch


PT/30 min Slow Jog

Saturday and

Take one day off and use other day for low key


training in whatever way you choose.

Two to Three Times/Week

Circuit or Free Weight Training


Total Time in Seconds

Jumping Jacks



1/2 Jumping Jacks

25 - 2 count


Up-Back-and Overs



Crunches (All Variations)



Push-Ups (Regular)



Torso Prone Stretch



Butterflies Stretch



ITB Stretch

2 each side


3 Way Hurdler s Stretch

2 each side


Swimmer's Stretch



Push-Ups (Regular)






Supine Back Stretch



Prone Superman

10 each side





Donkey Kicks

20 each side


Posterior Shoulder or Upper Back Stretch



Triceps Stretch

2 each side


Iliopsoas Stretch (Russian Dancers)

2 each side


Standing Quad Stretch

2 each side


Standing Toe Pointers



Gast roc/Sole us Stretch

2 each side


"All exercises (dcscribcd in Chapter 7: Flexibility or Chapter K: Csiltethcnics) should bo done in order.

"All exercises (dcscribcd in Chapter 7: Flexibility or Chapter K: Csiltethcnics) should bo done in order.

Nutritional Ergogenic Agents

Ergogcnic agents are by definition, substances or techniques that enhance performance. Because SEALs are required to perform at a high level both mentally and physically, many arc looking for substances or techniques to improve performance and provide "an edge". To perform longer, to be faster, to be stronger, and to be leaner, if not a mission goal, are personal goals of many SEALs and elite athletes. People have been trying to accomplish these goals for centuries through the use of ergogenic agents. It is our goal to present information about certain products commonly found in retail stores or by mail order, that claim performance enhancing effects. For a detailed discussion refer to The Navy SEAL Nutrition Guide. Specifically, this section will provide information on:

♦ Nutritional Products Advertised as Ergogenic Agents

♦ Protein-Carbohydrate Supplements

Nutritional Products Advertised as Ergogenic Agents

This section lists many of the nutritional ergogenic agents sold by manufacturers with claims to "enhance performance" or have "muscle building" properties. Some have valid claims whereas others do not. It is often difficult to differentiate false claims from valid ones if you haven't carefully researched each product individually. Many claims sound very scientific and convincing but, unfortunately, they are often false or unproven. For each agent described in Table 14-4, the claims, the usual dose used, and a comment are provided.






Enhances endurance performance

400 to 900 mg daily as choline bitartrate or citrate. Foods rich in choline include egg yolk, meat, liver, and peanuts.

No benefit reported - not known to be harmful at above doses. Most claims based on theoretical possibilities.

Octacosanol-Wheat Germ Oil

Improves endurance capacity.

100 to 6000 mg daily with expected results in 4 to 6 weeks.

Some benefit reported.

Arginine, Lysine, and Ornithine

Stimulate growth hormone release.

Variable. Ornithine - 500 mg a day or 250 mg one to three times a day. Arginine - 500 mg one hour before meals and/ or before workout. These items are sold separately or in combinations with varying amounts of amino acid content.

Ornithine - No benefit. Gastrointestinal disturbances are common. Arginine, Lysine - Some benefit reported.

Sodium Bicarbonate, ("Bicarb loading", "Soda loading")

Enhances anaerobic performance during high intensity exercise lasting 1 to 5 min.

0.3 grams of sodium bicarb per kg body weight mixed with 1 liter of water 1 to 2 hours before exercise.

Some benefit reported - Be careful...harmful if taken in large amounts. Discontinue use if abdominal cramps or diarrhea occurs.


"Fat burner, delays onset of fatigue, enhances performance.

4 to 9 mg/kg 30 m ins to one hour prior to exercise.

Some benefits reported, but discontinue use if side effects noted (stomach pain, tremor) interfere with concentration or steadiness.


"Fat burner", delays onset of fatigue.

500 mg daily. Food rich in Carnitine include meat and dairy products.

Little to no reported benefit -not harmful at above doses. AVOID D-carnitine - A carnitine deficiency may occur.

Chromium Picolinate

Increases muscle mass, growth stimulating.

50 to 1000 pg/day as a dietary supplement. Foods rich in chromium include beer, brewer's yeast, oysters, mushrooms, meats, and whole grain cereals.

Some benefit reported.





Coenzyme Q10

Increases energy and cardiac performance. Potent antioxidant.

1.0 mg three times a day. Foods rich in CoQ10 include beef, eggs, and spinach.

No benefit reported in athletes.

Dibencozide/ cobamamide -Coenzyme forms of B12

>.-Oryzanol and Ferulic Acid

Anabolic and growth promoting.

Increases testosterone and increases lean body mass.

500 mg daily in tablet form.

Variable, but commonly found in 50 mg per day doses.

Little or no proven benefit -no harmful effects at given doses.

Little or no proven benefit -no harmful effects at above doses.

Glandulars (ground up animal organs; usually testes, pituitaries and hypothalamus.

Will elevate testosterone levels. The "extra" testosterone will make you more build up more muscle and get bigger.

As a dietary supplement mixed with protein/carbohydrate powders.

Not recommended. Some products could be harmful.


Energy enhancer;

Increases endurance, strength, and recuperation.

500 to 1000 mg 15 min prior to exercise.

No. People with gout should avoid inosine. Dubious effects not worth the risk.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) -Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine

Anabolic and growth hormone stimulator; may protect against mental fatigue of exercise.

There are various products with different amounts of BCAA in them. Example: Leucine 800 mg daily, Isoleucine 300 mg, Valine 200 mg. Usually consumed prior to working out. Foods rich in BCAAs include turkey, chicken, navy beans, and other meats.

Some benefits reported.





Sapogenins -Smilax, Diascorea, Trillium, Yucca, or Sarsaparilla


Increases muscle mass and lean body weight by increasing testosterone levels. A testosterone precursor.

Reverses cold-induced working memory deficit. Positive impact on stress- induced cognitive performance degradation.

Sublingual or capsular as directed. Use prior to workout and before bed.

75 to 150 mg/kg of L-tyrosine 1 to 2 hours prior to exposure.

Little benefit reported. Some products suspended in 18% alcohol. READ the label.

Some benefits reported in SEAL cold weather operations. Branched chain amino acids should not be taken with tyrosine since they interfere with tyrosine's action.

Summary of Ergogenic Agents

Below are brief comments on various ergogenic agents, grouped by purported benefit or effect.



Delays Fatigue/Increases Energy Levels



Coenzyme Q10



Sodium Bicarbonate

Some benefit reported

Theoretically beneficial - remains to be tested

No proven benefit

Little or no proven benefit

Some reported benefit

Some reported benefit


Some benefit reported during SEAL cold weather ops



Fat Burners/Lean Body Mass Increasers

Little or no reported benefit l-Oryzanol/Ferulic Acid

Glandulars Hot Stuff Smilax


Some benefit reported Little or no benefit reported

Testosterone Enhancers

Not recommended

Possible adverse effects

Little or no reported benefit Growth Hormone Releasers

Some benefit reported

Branch Chain Amino Acids Some benefit reported


Some benefit reported

Protein-Carbohydrate Supplements

Go into a retail or specialty store that caters to athletes and you may become overwhelmed by the number of different products available. One of the most highly visible and advertised group of products are the powdered protein and carbohydrate beverages. "Weight gaining", "anabolic", "muscle building" ~ these are just a few of the various claims made by manufacturers. They do share one thing in common however: they are sold as supplements to your diet. These products are intended to fortify your diet to meet the nutrient demands of your body. In general, there are three basic reasons why people take supplements:

♦ Compensate for less than adequate diets or life-styles

♦ Meet unusual nutrient demands induced by heavy exercise and/or

♦ Produce direct positive effects on performance

Your profession and life-style impose unique physical demands that require stamina, power, and strength. Consequently, your caloric (energy) expenditure is greater than the average person.

Supplements are a quick and convenient means for obtaining the nutrients you need. For example, some people find that after eating a normal breakfast they feel ill or nauseous during morning PT. If you can't tolerate exercising on a full stomach, then a powdered beverage may be the answer for your breakfast. You get the calorics you need in the morning, but don't have that heavy feeling in your stomach. Remember that you may not need the full recommended serving size. Count the calorics to suit your own energy requirements and goals.

It is also important to realize that it is not the supplement alone that leads to better performance. Success lies in addressing your goals and analyzing and adapting your diet to meet those goals. It will take some work on your part to calculate how much supplement, if any, you need to use. Read the labels and figure out how many calories you will expend before your next meal. Also, make sure you add up the vitamins and minerals you are getting from all the different supplements you are taking. Many products provide similar nutrients and you may be taking TOO much of one or several nutrients.

Another decision to make is whether or not to use a protein, carbohydrate, or combination beverage. Once again, it all depends on your goals. If you want to increase lean body mass through resistive training, then some protein may be the way to go. Remember that:

You only need 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound body weight per day.

This is equivalent to 105 tol40 grams for a 175 lb. SEAL. Keep in mind that there are food sources of protein that are very easy to come by and tend to cost much less money. For example:

♦ One 6 oz. can of tuna fish has 48 grams of protein

♦ One 4 oz. breast of chicken has 36 grams of protein

♦ One 8 oz. glass of milk (skim) has 10 grams of protein

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