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Burn The Ships: February Edition

February's Burn the Ships is a heater. And you never leave the table on a heater.

Burn The Ships: February Edition


  • Full access to Burn The Ships is for Members only. If you want access to this workout, become a Member. Us 2-Percenters get fit, have fun, and don’t die.
  • Membership also gets you full access to the archive of Burn the Ships workouts and their accompanying video and audio instructions.
  • Shoutout to our awesome sponsors GORUCK, Momentous, and Maui Nui. You provide us with our workout gear and the fuel we need to use it well. More details on my favorite stuff from them below (and discounts).
  • Happy anniversary to my wife, Leah.

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

This month we’re leaning into Las Vegas with a Las Vegas-themed workout.

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. Otherwise, scroll down to “This Month’s Workout.”

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 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 some time 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: 7-7-7

Why the name?

  • Seven is an important number in Las Vegas, where I live.

  • It’s an anchor number in craps. And lining up the sevens on a slot machine usually scores you the biggest win. Like below.

  • But the gambling world simply stole the number from humanity. Seven is significant to humans. The psychologist Guy Winch wrote a fun piece about the significance of seven. Here are a few interesting points:

    • It’s important in every major religion.

      • In the Old Testament, God rests on the 7th day.

      • It’s in the book of revelations.

      • Pilgrims walk around Mecca seven times.

      • Hinduism has seven high worlds and seven underworlds.

    • Classic research from Harvard suggests we’re capable of easily remembering roughly seven items of information. This is why phone numbers were seven digits (before our population boomed). It’s harder to remember sequences of information beyond seven.

    • It’s the most popular lucky number, according to surveys.

    • We have seven continents, seven colors in the rainbow, seven wonders of the world, seven seas, seven deadly sins, etc, etc, etc. You get the point.

  • And now the number seven is important for this month’s Burn the Ships workout, too.

Where to do this workout

  • Anywhere. Ideally outside. But you can also do it inside.

Equipment needed

  • A sandbag.
  • No sandbag? A ruck or sand medicine ball will also work.

Time commitment

  • This should take you roughly 30 to 50 minutes.

Artist I’m listening to while doing this workout

  • Any Las Vegas icon like Elvis, Sinatra, or Dean Martin.

How to do it

Note: We have substitutions below if you have trouble with any gear or exercises.

Here’s the standard version of 7-7-7.

Go into your garage, outside, or a gym and do the following:

1. The warmup

The 2% Warmup is perfect to prep for this workout.