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Burn the Ships: April Edition

A workout that’ll make you stronger in every way so that you can do amazing things.

Burn the Ships: April Edition


  • Full access to Burn The Ships is for Members. If you want to join us in our epic community Burn The Ships workouts, become a Member. We 2-Percenters get fit, have fun, and don’t die.
  • Membership also gets you full access to the entire archive of Burn the Ships workouts and their accompanying video and audio instructions.
  • Thanks to our sponsors, who make the best products in their categories.

    • Momentous Nutrition: The company that made me feel good about supplements again. The US Military and most pro sports teams trust it.

    • GORUCK: Maker of the best rucking gear (not stuff).

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  • Also, the podcast version of this post is at its bottom.

Let’s roll …

It’s the first Friday of the month. Which means it’s time to Burn the Ships.

Last month, our workout was called “Hit by a 4x4.” It hit hard. Real hard.

But don’t take my word for it. The proof of how tough that workout was is in the post’s comments section. Exhibit A:

Daniel Kiley, if you’re reading this, send me an email. I'll send you a 2% Dad Hat because your comment made me LOL. Also, sorry I’m not sorry.

This month, we’re dialing back the intensity and playing the long game.

Monday’s post covered how I’m training for a 50-mile ruck in Normandy in June.

In that post, I vaguely described my week of training and the strength workouts I’m doing to prepare.

Many of you asked for more details about the strength workouts. So that’s what this month’s Burn the Ships is all about.

This month we’re doing a workout that’ll make you stronger in every way so you can do epic outdoor activities this spring and summer.

  • Climb mountains.
  • Hike, run, or ruck stronger down any trail.
  • Chase down kids and grandkids.
  • Be the Babe Ruth of your rec softball league or the Roger Federer of pickleball.
  • Mostly, it’ll help you have more fun and not die in any active endeavor.

If you’re a regular participant in Burn the Ships and know why we do this workout, scroll down to “This Month’s Workout” to get the details.

If you’re new (or want a refresher), start here so you understand the origins of Burn the Ships and the case for doing one tough workout a week.

The Case for One Tough Weekly Workout

I started doing one tough workout every Friday after my time reporting inside Gym Jones roughly 12 years ago. I’ve maintained the practice.

There’s magic in pushing it once a week. Specifically, the practice makes me less insane.

Scientists at King’s College in London analyzed 53 studies on how intense exercise impacts mental health. They found that it led to “improvements in mental wellbeing, depression severity, and perceived stress compared to non-active controls, and small improvements in mental wellbeing compared to active controls.”

In other words, intense exercise has a mental edge compared not only to not exercising (duh), but also to regular-paced exercise.

Intense exercise also—obviously!—comes with physical upsides.

It has a slight edge over less intense exercise for increasing VO2 max, which is associated with all sorts of good physical outcomes. A rule of thumb: the higher your VO2 max, the farther you are from death and disease.

TL;DR: All exercise helps. But it makes sense to go hard sometimes.

What’s “sometimes?”

The smartest trainers I regularly speak with suggest that one tough workout a week is the sweet spot for health and performance (more info on that here).

More than that, and we tend to get burned out and beat down. Less than that, and we miss out on some health and performance upsides.

Enter Burn the Ships.

Burn the Ships: How it works

On the first Friday of every month, we publish a new workout for Members only.

We do the workout every Friday of the month. (Don’t sweat if you can’t do the workout Friday—just try to do it sometime each week.)

These workouts are safe and effective. They improve your strength, cardio, movement quality, and—in turn—your life.

We’ve provided scaled versions and exercise swaps, so anyone and everyone can do them.

  • In other words, we’re pushing edges and improving safely. It’s easy to be hard but hard to be smart.

This Month’s Workout: Operation Tiger

Why the name?

  • In Monday’s post, we learned how I’m training for a 50-mile ruck commemorating the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied Invasion of Normandy that helped us win the war.
  • The D-Day invasion took training. Lots of it.
  • Operation Tiger was one of a series of large-scale training rehearsals that Allied troops conducted to prepare for the D-Day invasion.
  • This workout is training me for my own assault on Normandy. It’ll train you for any trail, challenge, mountain, etc that comes your way. Hence, we’re calling it Operation Tiger.

Where to do this workout

  • I’ve added swaps for each exercise so you can do this version …

    • … at a gym. The primary exercises include equipment usually found at gyms.

    • … or at home. I’ve included swaps for every exercise that use equipment you likely have at home.

Shoutout to

  • Doug Kechijian.
  • I mentioned in Monday’s post that he’s the one I bounce all my training off of. This workout is largely his brainchild—and it works. (Check out his practice, Resilient Performance, if you live in the NY, CT, NJ area).

Equipment needed

  • The gym version requires:

    • Trap Bar (again, no worries if your gym doesn’t have this. We have swaps).

    • Barbell and weight plates.

    • A pullup bar.

    • A kettlebell or dumbbell.

  • The home gym version includes:

    • You can use a sandbag, kettlebell, dumbbells, or anything else that weighs something to do the at-home exercise swaps.

Time commitment

  • This should take you roughly 60 minutes.

What I’m listening to while doing this workout

  • This is more of a traditional sets/reps/rest workout than a burner.
  • I prefer listening to podcasts when I do traditional workouts.
  • I’m listening to Warriors In Their Own Words. It features vets telling their war story. Here’s an episode featuring men who were the first to hit the beaches on D-Day.

How to do Operation Tiger

Here’s the standard version of Operation Tiger.

It’s divided into four sections:

  1. The Warmup will get you ready for the workout.
  2. The Bulletproofing is a series of exercises that will become more durable and avoid injury.
  3. The Strength and Power work strengthens critical areas.
  4. The Reset helps your body be ready to exercise again soon.

Note one: The names of the exercises link to a video of the exercise.

Note two: If an exercise has a letter after its number, its part of a “superset.” That means you pair the exercises and go back and forth between them before moving on to the next number. For example, the pullups and landmine press are numbered 2a and 2b. You’d do one set of the pullups, then one set of the landmine press. Then you’d repeat that once or twice more, depending on how many total sets you chose to do.

Note three: No worries if this feels like too much exercise. These workouts are adaptable for everyone from 8-year-olds to 88-year-olds. See the “Substitutes and Questions” section.

The Warmup

The 2% Warmup

The Bulletproofing

These exercises will prepare your body for all sorts of adventures and reduce your risk of injury.

Rest as needed between exercises.