| The Holistic Athlete Movement Readiness (HAMR) Program

Author / John

5 - 7 minute read

The Holistic Athlete Movement Readiness program (HAMR) was designed in response to working with the United States Military to create effective training programs for today’s warfighter, Law Enforcement Officers, firefighters, and all whose job is to come home safe each night. 

I was fortunate to start a relationship working with Naval Special Warfare back in the early days of CrossFit Football when Power Athlete was in its infancy. That is a relationship that extends to today. Over a number of years, I taught seminars on the East and West coasts and in Hawaii, where I learned a lot from the interactions and gained an understanding of the demands placed on Soldiers, LEO, and fire. 

When we were approached by the United States Army in 2017 to come teach a series of seminars and discuss the possibility of implementing Power Athlete training systems on a large scale, I jumped. We booked a series of seminars asking for varied Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) so we could get an understanding of the demands and needs of those soldiers. The goal was to make more durable and resilient soldiers in an effort to reduce injuries and create a culture that values training and banging heavy weights. Up to this point the US Army had been focused on a timed run, push up and sit up test as their measure for fitness and their PT only focused prepping for this test. But the head of the 18th Airborne knew there was a change coming and they needed to be ahead of the curve. 

While I had experience working with members of SOCOM, we needed to understand the demands of the conventional force plus the countless jobs and requirements placed on each soldier. 

After working with hundreds of soldiers first hand throughout 2017 and 2018, I was able to assemble the attendees into training groups for remote training via Train Heroic. I pulled the numbers, reviewed the feedback and molded the program to enhance each soldier’s strength, power and speed. Attributes that had not been important up to this point – we were going to make it a priority. 

As we started to work to implement the program on a large scale, the US Army released their new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) and training for that specific test became the priority for soldiers. 

While we never implemented the HAMR program on the large scale with 90,000 troops, we did have the program ready for the commercial market. I hit play on the HAMR program and Soldiers, LEO, and firefighters around the world have been crushing the training ever since.

The HAMR Program

The HAMR program divides in three parts – Strength, Capacity and Speed. 

I use a varying number of strength templates created over the years for various programs. I have found a mix of rep maxes, compensatory acceleration, volume and primal movements allow us to keep driving adaptation and making stronger, faster and more dynamic warfighters. 

Strength

Strength is the platform on which all physical activity is built. That is true for sport as much as it is for fitness and the demands placed on a soldier. The stronger an individual the faster the adaptation to any task the person is applying it to. Since 1982, the Army has focused on body weight movements as a measure for strength. This approach is not the best way to make a stronger, more capable soldier. We have over 100 years of strength training using barbells and heavy implements to make stronger individuals as evidence to refute any program that relies on bodyweight movements as the primary driver for physical adaptation. 

Conan grew bigger and stronger pushing the Wheel of Pain in the movie Conan The Barbarian - not from a steady diet of push ups, crunches and air squats. He grew stronger by pushing a heavy object over a great distance for a long period of time with daily consistency - the same principles are true of any good strength training program. It takes time, attention to detail, and consistency to become strong. If a soldier can follow a smart, well planned strength program designed around sound principles and resist the urge to randomly select movements, reps and poundages in hopes of “confusing” his muscles and body, he can make incredible progress. This strength is vital in doing his/her job more efficiently with a reduced chance of injury. 

The law of evolution dictates that the strongest of a species survives. It is time for the Army to cultivate a culture that involves strength training and the creation of stronger, more durable soldiers. 

The HAMR program is built with this intent. 

Capacity

I put a big premium on Capacity in the HAMR. I define capacity as the maximum amount that can be produced in a given amount of time. It is worth noting that capacity is not conditioning. Conditioning is high rep volume + submaximal efforts. To build capacity we hammer maximum recoverable volume at near max efforts, and introduce longer run and sprint distances than traditional Power Athlete training programs. Therefore many of the capacity days require a participant to produce a lot of reps with some heavier loads in a given time period. These numbers and movements are recorded and tested periodically as a way to understand if the training is progressing in the right manner. If it is, we keep the HAMR down. If not, we make a change and drive things in another direction. 

Speed

The final piece is speed. All things being equal, the faster organism is the one that usually survives the longest. I wanted to implement a speed/sprint program into training for our warfighters because I feel most of those programs on the market don’t understand it and therefore just prescribe volume as they think that will make people faster. 

It won’t. To get faster, you have to run fast. That cultivation of speed requires high quality and less volume.

Better yet, the byproduct of training for top end spend is a high level of inter and intramuscular coordination, which is absolutely essential to do the job at the highest level and maintain a high level of trainability throughout your career.  


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Training For Today’s Warfighter, LEO, & Fire

We are able to focus the strength work on HAMR to keep driving adaptation. I am able to use Capacity work to make sure our participants have a high level of conditioning, so when we head to sprint and run, we can focus on the quality of the movement and keep the intensity high. 

Like I said, the only way to run faster is to run as fast as you can. 

That takes time and a high level of conditioning. 

I was very fortunate to work with some of the best strength and speed coaches in the world during my college and NFL career. Since that ended in 2009, I have even more opportunity to work and train with many more of the best strength coaches and speed coaches on the planet. 

From my last 30 years strength for strength and speed, I learned two things. To get stronger, I would have to lift heavy weights. And to get faster, I would have to run fast. Not just once, but with frequency and execution. And that takes a high level of conditioning to be able execute well and without injury. 

HAMR follows these principals and the foundations developed and practiced over the last 10 years at Power Athlete. 

New to HAMR

HAMR is a warfighter, LEO, & fire specific training program designed by John Welbourn after working extensively with Naval Special Warfare, US Army, Marines, LEO, and fire over the last 10 years. The need for these door kickers to train at the highest level has never been greater. Many of these individuals are taking performance into their own hands actively seeking a specific approach to training as professional sports teams take to develop their athletes - by incorporating strength and conditioning training programs, implementing physical testing, recommending holistic nutrition protocols and using technology to develop and monitor progress.

Power Athlete has often been approached to adapt our current offerings for use with the LEO, fire, & Military. Finding ways to adapt training programs like CrossFit Football and Field Strong to the needs of these door kickers for austere environments has proved tiring. As a result, we felt that something was missing.

With a full implementation of HAMR, we are making the program developed for warfighter, LEO, & fire available to anyone.

Do you like what you’re reading here? Thinking you want to take a run at HAMR?

Click here to start your 14 day risk free trial.

Are you a HAMR Athlete? How are you enjoying the program so far? Comment below and let us know your training experience and feedback.

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PODCAST: Power Athlete Radio Ep. 332 - Improving Military PT w/ The Crew
BLOG: Training For Sport Is Training For War by John Welbourn

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AUTHOR

John

John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

2 Comments

  1. Jimmy on June 6, 2020 at 9:56 am

    HAMR is an awesome program. Here in the UK endurance is king in the military with very little time devoted to strength training, even if you do enjoy lifting the leadership will then throw a 15 mile run at you just to put you back in your box.

    There are however those within certain communities who have realised this is wrong and have been trying to work around this for years. Many of us were on a modified version of Field Strong or just a bastardised form of Crossfit football as we knew this was a better form of training for our jobs. High tempo, maximum speed and maximum output is what we needed. Not long slow runs. They didn’t prepare us for anything.

    HAMR answers all of our problems. I am bigger, faster and stronger than I’ve ever been and have seen huge improvements in my job performance. I am actually faster than I ever was on my longer runs and my strength gains are going through the roof. The training feels specific to what I need it for and it’s clear John and the team really do understand the needs of a door kicker.

    I just hope that the wider military start to understand this and implement this style of training military wide. At the moment it seems to be very much just those of us in specialised units who are looking to use this type of training.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  2. Maurice on June 6, 2020 at 11:46 am

    I am in de 2nd cycle of hamr now. For me I feel it is the right program. Everything is in there for me. I love running, cycling and swimming. So far I have made big improvements in running. The program also helps a lot for my lower back health. There are still weaknesses in my lower back but the trunk work in hamr program keeps my back as strong as possible

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