Save 17% with an Annual Subscription

Burn The Ships: March Edition

When's the last time you hit yourself with a 4x4? Hit yourself with this one—it'll make you harder to kill.

Burn The Ships: March Edition


  • Full access to Burn The Ships is for Members only. If you want to join us in our epic monthly 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.
  • 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).

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

This month we’re getting you really fit, really fast, with an intense 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 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 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: Hit by a 4x4

Why the name?

  • In Monday’s post, we learned how important having one hard workout a week is. When I asked our guest expert how he’d structure a weekly exercise plan if he had five hours a week to dedicate to fitness, he said he’d dedicate:
    • “(one) hour to high-intensity aerobic exercise or high-intensity interval training. Something that elevates your heart rate more than those low-intensity days. Make it hurt.”
  • The reason: “There's overwhelming evidence that high-intensity interval training is more effective for improving VO2 max.”
  • Hence, “Everyone should be doing some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at least once per week.” So this month’s Burn the Ships is a science-backed protocol for boosting VO2.