What to Expect at Ranger School and How to Show Up Physically Prepared
BLUF: You must know what the physical requirements for Ranger School are and you MUST ensure you are physically prepared to succeed in those requirements.
Knowing the requirements for success at Ranger School is the first step to ensuring you are correctly physically prepared to take on the school. So before anything else, see below for what you can be expected to be able to negotiate during your time earning you Tab.
From the Ranger Training Brigade Webpage:
Fort Benning Phase
"The Initial Phase is conducted in two parts; the first part, Ranger Assessment Phase (RAP), is conducted at Camp Rogers in the Harmony Church area of Fort Benning. This phase consists of a Ranger Physical Fitness Test:
- Requiring 49 push-ups, - 59 sit-ups, - An individual 5-mile release run event finished in 40 minutes or less, - Concluding 6 chin-ups.
Other physical requirements and tests: - Combat water survival test - Darby Mile Run event - 5-mile runs - Terrain runs with the Malvesti obstacle course - 12-mile foot march - Night and day land navigation tests.
Advanced physical training assures physical and mental endurance and the stamina required for obtaining basic Ranger characteristics; commitment, confidence and physical and mental toughness. Additionally, the student executes demolitions training and airborne refresher training. Airborne Soldiers will exit from a high performance aircraft and conduct tactical assembly area procedures."
To be competitive in any of these physical tests, the future Ranger students must not strive for the minimum standards above, but must maximize their personal physical effort and strive for the following:
- Pushups - 80-100 - Situps - 80-100 - Chin ups - 15-20 - 2 mile run - under 13:00
However, the most important pre-training exercise to do prior to Ranger school is walking fast in your boots with 50 pounds of weight on your back. You will do this everyday you are at Ranger School. Running at least 5 miles, 3-4 times a week and swimming in uniform 2-3 times a week is recommended as well. Pack on 5-10 pounds of body weight prior to going so you have a little to lose when you are consuming fewer calories a day.
The second part of First Phase has obstacle courses and long ruck marches as a major part of the physical fitness requirements. However, the fundamentals of patrolling and small unit tactics are the focus of this part of the Benning Phase. These graded field exercises include ambush and reconnaissance patrols, close quarters combat, airborne operations, and air assault operations. The Ranger student must then demonstrate his expertise through a series of cadre and student-led tactical patrol operations.
The second phase, or Mountain phase lasts 20 days and nights and teaches students to operate in small units while sustaining themselves and their subordinates in the adverse conditions of the mountains. The rugged terrain, hunger, and sleep deprivation are the biggest causes of emotional stress that students encounter. Students will eat, sleep and operate in these conditions for 3 weeks, usually eating no more than 1-2 MREs a day (Meals Ready to Eat).
The third phase, or Florida phase, teaches small boat operations, ship to shore operations, stream-crossing techniques, and skills needed to survive and operate in a jungle and swamp environment. This phase lasts 16 days and nights and tests the patrolling and leadership techniques of every Ranger.
SO HOW TO ENSURE YOU ARE PHYSICALLY PREPARED?
We aren't going to sugar-coat it, its going to take a lot of hard work. You'll need to ensure you are building up not only muscle mass and cardio, but also bone-density and "feet build" as well. People often overlook the aspect getting their bones and feet ready for Ranger, even though it is arguably the most critical portion to train.
Most important training aspects for Ranger School:
- RPFT & RAP Week events
- Full-body strength (Malvesti and Darby Queen is no joke, they both will test every aspect of fitness)
- Endurance and moving under load (you will ruck, all...the...time...)
- Ability to carry, lift, and manipulate heavy objects (you'll get your turn to carry the SAW, and also water cans)
You'll need a plan, don't just wing it. You'll need a plan that includes calisthenics (strength-building exercises), VO2 MAX (cardio improvement sessions), movement under load (rucking), and bodyweight exercises to improve mobility/flexibility. Yes, its a lot. To make it seem even more intimidating, you'll need to make sure that all of this is structured and rotated in a way that in complimentary to recovery. You DON'T want to over-train.
A lot of plans are out there. It can be hard to choose which one, and if you haven't noticed already, they are all different.
The 13-Week Ranger School Fitness Program offered by Gritty Soldier Fitness is a top tier program that has proven to help Rangers earn their Tabs. The program focuses on "total endurance," providing a schedule that maximizes performance enhancement, while ensuring just enough time for appropriate recovery (again, this usually is forgotten in most plans). The structured approach to training is comprehensive, complete, and easy to understand. It brings the candidate from a state of being "possibly ready" to "absolutely ready" to take on Ranger School.
Remember, when you get to Ranger School, the mission of the RIs is to BREAK YOU DOWN. Make sure you are BUILD UP enough to handle it.
You can learn more about the 13-Week Ranger School Fitness Program here.