When going on deployments it can be difficult to maintain physical fitness.  As it turns out many soldiers use this opportunity to pack on some lbs and gorge themselves on pop tarts, monster energy drinks, MREs, and just about every other crappy food that the US Military likes to provide America’s front line in hopes that they can maintain great physical shape.  However, when done correctly deployments can be the perfect time to increase your physical fitness and come back looking better than ever.

While overseas there are several great resources available on the internet and from books that can give you ideas of workouts to try.  Websites such as www.tacticalathleticperformance.com, www.stewsmith.com, and www.crossfitunbroken.com all have free workouts available for the general public and offer a wide variety of exercises all geared towards operational fitness.

When planning out your equipment list first look at the room available to store the equipment as this will drive what you can purchase with the funds available.  It’s recommended to stick with equipment that is relatively light, packs easy and can work a large number of muscle groups at once.  Things like a leg press machine or a bicep curl bench are probably not the best options.

Combat Fitness Deck

Deployment Workout Gear

Below is a list of versatile and functional pieces of gear that can pack easily into an ISU-90/60 or CONNEX for a deployment.

Pull-up Bar

Having a pull-up bar is crucial for any type of fitness and can be used for a wide variety of exercises from weighted pull-ups to leg raises and kip-ups.  Just about every Special Operations entity tests on pull-ups and operators should ensure they have something with them to keep them competitive.  A good option for a pull-up bar is the Stud Pull Up Bar. This simple yet strong design allows operators to transport a pull-up bar with them via a connex or ISU.  The Stud Pull-up Bar is made of welded 14 gauge steel and claims a 600lb max weight load for the Big Tuna Can Tonys out there.  This versatile piece of equipment can be mounted to any sturdy ceiling or wall and taken down after the deployment of conquering and pillaging is over.


Because of the 1001+ exercises, one Kettlebell can offer they make the perfect piece of deployment equipment.  Kettlebells often require a little knowledge to really make them useful but the good news is there are a ton of videos online of people offering different workout plans and exercises.   When ordering a kettlebell consider getting one of every common size (12kg, 16kg, 24kg 32kg)  so you can maximize your workout.  Most kettlebells come in POOD (a Russian weight measurement of 16kg/32lbs) sizes and range anywhere from 5lbs-70lbs depending on the vendor and range anywhere from $10-130.00+shipping.

Stew Smith Fitness E-Book

TRX Trainer

The TRX trainer is one of the best pieces of operational equipment out there and can be taken just about anywhere.  The entire system weighs 1.5lbs, packs up, and fits into its own stuff sack for ease of transportation on deployments or to those various schools that always seem to be placed in the armpits of the United States and nowhere close to a good workout facility.  To use, this system requires a sturdy door or something to hang on… That’s it.  And, the exercises available are truly endless and only limited to your imagination or the imagination of the billions of blog posts and youtube videos already made for it.


Sandbag training is one of those often overlooked workout routines that will mildly get you winded.  However, when done properly sandbag training can greatly increase your strength and maybe even make you regret that pecan pie and 10 Rip It energy drinks you had prior to working out.  When empty, sandbags can weigh a few ounces and pack into a tight area for ease of transportation.   To build one all you need is a traditional sandbag, lots of dirt (usually pretty easy to find), and a few rolls of 100mph tape.  If you want to go a step up there are several other vendors that make their own sandbags and the quality and versatility vary based on the brand.  One company, Brute Force Sandbags makes an excellent and durable product that is used by several special operations units already.  Not to mention they donate a portion of their proceeds to The Wound Warrior Project.

Aquatic Based Selection Prep

Jump Rope

Boxers, cross-fitters, and MMA fighters have known about the exercise benefits of jump ropes for years and they are only becoming more popular as an alternative endurance exercise.  Jump ropes are easy to carry, light, and fit even the most overstuffed overnight bag.  Jump ropes are great for increasing agility, endurance and even strength depending on how you use them.  While there are plenty of different jump rope company’s out there we suggest you skip the ones designed for playground use and go for a professional one made specifically for working out.


Medicine Ball

These little 10-20lb bundles of joy are great for abs, wall ball throws, ball slams, and playing head the ball with your Dundee counterparts.  Medicine balls are easy to transport and can range anywhere from $70-200+ for the good ones.


 Kill Cliff

Yes, you read that right, Kill Cliff.  Invented by a Navy SEAL (of course), Kill Cliff is essential in the recovery process for post workouts as it is chock-full of B-vitamines and anti-inflammatory properties.  Plus it tastes a hell of a lot better than the local swill you will be drinking.  This stuff is already being used by athletes and Special Operations units around the world and is a perfect supplement for the deployment. Kill Cliff also donates a portion of their proceeds to the Navy SEAL Foundation and other Special Operations Foundations.  Oh and don’t forget to test positive for awesome after drinking it.


Workout Gear

While most deploying units are required to wear their respective service’s PT uniform there are some lucky enough to rock what they want.  If you want to get the most out of your workout make sure you buy something breathable, stretchable, and moisture-wicking.  This is especially important if you are planning on crushing some serious workouts in the desert heat.  2Pood performance makes an excellent pair of workout shorts designed specifically for operation fitness.  These shorts come in both men’s and women’s and even camouflage for those mid patrol workouts.   2Pood is also a big supporter of the military and offers a 20% discount for all service members who use the discount code 2POODAPPRECIATESOURMILITARY.