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Bennett Winch SC Holdall

The Film workout vs. the real Bond workout? Part - 2

01 June, 2008

So, the real Bond workout?

So Mr Craig looked good on screen but what kind of training would a real 'James Bond' do? What qualities would he be looking to develop to help him do is job better? Speed? Power? Endurance and cardiovascular conditioning? Yes, all these would help.

Also what do we know about the characters background? Special forces background, interest in climbing, judo etc.

workout training excercise armyForces PT is usually quite prescriptive but 'the best of the best' have always been been allowed a little more free reign to structure their own training. To add to this in more recent years attitudes to training and physical testing in the armed forces has started to change. There has been a subtle move to include more important 'functional' training and tests in many armies of the world and special forces training has reflected this.

By 'functional' I don't mean standing on a swiss ball waving pink 5kg dumbbells in the air. Functional means being able to shift heavy weights, in a safe manner, replicating bodily function and do a lot of it - in a short time.

Physical fitness and physical toughness

Obviously the main aim of a program is to develop fitness but you have to consider what fitness is. It is the ability to do physical work of all shapes and sizes, which means working on qualities as diverse as strength, power, strength endurance and cardiovascular capacity as well as other qualities like balance and flexibility. Most programs won't do this but without all these qualities you are going to be little use to anyone.

Mental Toughness

Exercises as well as other drills and exercises should cultivate develop and test the underlying qualities of mental toughness. The main difference between a member of special forces and you and me is not necessarily their knowledge of weapons or combat or their fitness, it is toughness; the ability to keep going even when in a terrible physical state. Training this in the weights room or track is difficult but there are some workouts that can help.

It's worth noting here that most forces PT is done in groups and for good reason; it helps get more out of each trainee and builds teams work and a team spirit. This is a very important element to remember.

Types of training

There's a lot of qualities to train so this program allows for the the variety you will need to get the job done. To the mixture of high intensity weights training, weight circuits and hard cardio I have added long swims and combat type training. These additions obviously are going to help with conditioning and are intrinsic ingredients of an ex SBS special forces soldier. As you'll see it's much more than a few slow push ups in the morning and the odd swim up the coast.

We'll look at 

1) Strength workouts
not just working mass but training the muscle to work hard for a long time

2) Cardio and energy systems
training not only cardiovascular endurance but high intensity work that courses a build up of lactic acid

3) Martial arts training
This is pretty speculative but including some form of close combat training would be expected, styles chosen reflect the needs.

4) Creating a program
Putting the workouts together

1. The 'Strength' workouts

Here are some workouts I have adapted, made up or just blatantly stolen from other coaches. These workouts cover strength, strength endurance and power. They should be done in the a.m. or lunch time, so that they fall no closer than 4-6 hours before your martial arts training. Don't train within 30 minutes of rising, allow your joints some time to settle properly after being stretched out for the (hopefully) 8 hours you slept.

Again, supersets (where two exercise choices are paired together and done alternately) and circuits (where a number of exercises are put together and done one after another with little or no rest, then start back back at the beginning) are used in this program. Follow the a1, a2, a3 etc instructions as above and remember that where no rest is prescribed, you should push on through trying to not stop.

workout training gym barbellStrength circuit
a1 Barbell close grip bench press
a2 Barbell dead lift

Perform 4 hard reps of bench press, rest for 2 minutes and do the dead lift and again for 4 reps. Repeat that cycle 5 more times

Explosive power and pre-hab
Clean and jerk 5 sets of 2 reps (after a warm-up of a few sets)
Power snatch (from the hang) 6 sets of 2 reps
Clapping push-ups 2 sets of 8 
'Kipping' pull-ups 3-5 sets of 8-20 reps
Ball smashes or wood chops 3 sets of 15 reps
Boxing skills and bag work 4 rounds of 2 minutes 

Go from one set of exercises to the next with minimal rest in a non circuit fashion.

Serratus push-ups
External rotations
Side hip raises

2 sets of 15 reps with 60 seconds rest

Lung busting weights workout
(with apologies to Charles Poliquin)
a1 Dead lift high pull
a2 Pullups
a3 Squat
a4 Dips

4 circuits of 12 reps each exercise resting 45 seconds between movements.

Strength endurance Big 50
(with apologies to Dan John)
a1 Pistols (alternate dumbbell press on a swiss ball)
a2 Lunges (either barbell or dumbbell)
a3 Box jumps
a4 Pull ups
a5 Barbell dead lifts

10 circuits using : 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps with as little rest as possible.

Strength and pre-hab
Dead lift

6 sets of 3 reps not in circuit fashion, but do six sets of the first exercise before moving on to the next rest 1 to 1.5 minute between sets.

Pull to neck
external rotations
Serratus pull-ups and press ups

2 sets of 15 reps of each, again in a non circuit fashion resting 1 minute between sets.

Bodyweight circuit
30 air squats
20 push-ups
10 pull-ups

Set a stopwatch to countdown 120 seconds start the watch and complete the circuit and go for it. When the seconds run out restart. Continue for 18 minutes.

2. Endurance and energy systems

Useful cardio involves more than just sitting on a bike reading the paper for 20 minutes; it involves training heart long and muscles to work hard for a long time. It should also involve useful training methods such as running or rowing as opposed to cycling (I can't see Bond escaping on a bicycle can you?) as well as mixing in higher intensity bouts of activity.

Mixed run
3-7km 'fartlek' style run for time

High intensity and lactate work 
3-5 repeats of 400m sprints (rest 2-3 minutes between)
6, 3 minute rounds on the heavy bag
10-15k steady run slower fun

Long slow and heavy
4-8 km run (with weighted back pack would be the forces choice)
Swim hard for 20 minutes

Long duration row
6-8 km row for time i.e. as fast as possible

Long swim
Swim hard for 30 minutes

Mixed intense and longer slow run 
3-5 repeats of 400m sprints (rest 2-3 minutes between)
6, 3 minute rounds on the heavy bag
10-15k run slower fun

3. Martial arts

boxing workout trainingI know which ones I like and prefer but if you look at a what types of styles people in special forces etc use they fall towards the 'mixed martial arts' end of the scale (but with no holds bared) so a grounding in

western boxing
krav maga

and the like would be useful.

Other useful ones may include Silat, Systema and systems like the 'S.P.E.A.R. system' that are growing in popularity with special police and army units. Remember with all martial arts, attitude is as important as fancy moves; seek out good teachers and train hard.

4. Putting it together

There's a few different ways of putting the training session into a system.

alternate weights and cardio/energy systems training with at least two days off a week

Have a look at the movements involved and train the one that you feel freshest and most prepared for, for example if you shoulders are sore go for the running.

Give each workout type a number and roll a dice to let fate decide (see below)

Dice training and the randomness factor

The random quality of real life means that you are never sure that you are going to be in the best shape or totally ready to deal with a situation. A training program of this type should reflect this. To this end I have stolen an idea from US coach Dan John by using a dice to choose the workout. For example on a 'Strength' day number each workout, roll the dice once, check the number and do the workout.

OK, the down side of 'random' workouts means that it won't be optimum for muscle growth, strength or power development, fat loss etc, but programs aimed at these are not aimed at total performance and besides you will support muscle mass and fat loss with your diet. You should however stick to the structure to allow for proper rest and recovery. The aim is to get fit, not injured.

The last piece of the puzzle: Recovery

Your body doesn't grow or get stronger in the gym. It is outside the gym when you are recovering that it comes back stronger and more able to perform. Proper recovery is based on plenty of good sleep, good diet and the avoidance of stress and bad habits like smoking and drinking. I know Bond was no angel, but when the mission depend upon it he could knuckle down, so should you.

Adding to these plenty of restorative work such as stretching, range of motion work, a little active recovery like swimming, light yoga etc. will only help.

Read more in Part 3.

© 2008 Drew Price -

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This is a great article. There are definately many ways to get into Bond shape. However, Daniel Craig is the bulkiest Bond of them all. If you want to get a lean shredded look you need to focus on burning off all your body fat and then working out with weights to get the REAL James Bond look. For a detailed diet and workout plan go to

Good luck fellow JB fans. And also great job by the author. This is a great site.

MI6 in the 50's and 60's used CQB aka Kora.

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