The Battle of Stalingrad – A History
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most prolonged and deadly battles in history, lasting from August 1942 right through to February 1943. More than two million troops were fighting in close quarters, and nearly two million people were killed or injured in the fighting, including tens of thousands of Russian civilians. However, the battle is considered by many historians to have been the turning point in World War 2 Europe, the Russian Army bled the German’s dry in Russia and after this defeat, the Wehrmacht (German Army) was never the same.
Key to this defeat was the Russian Army’s use of deadly snipers, both male and female and coming from all manner of backgrounds, trained in sharpshooting and put directly on the front line to fight for the motherland. The most famous of these were Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev and Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who between them racked up quite a body count of would-be German invaders.
The snipers who fought at Stalingrad fought on one of the most dangerous battlegrounds in history, they went out in extreme conditions of the Volga winter, far from their fellow soldiers and were required to lie still for hours to avoid detection and await that perfect shot.
The workouts I have outlined below have been adapted from Sniper physical conditioning manuals and Russian Military Forces training manuals and merged to create four gruelling routines that would send a shiver of fear down the spines of any Wehrmacht snipers observing.
Sniper Training Workout
Sniper Training 1 – Speed and Isometric Strength Workout
This stage is intended to test the sniper’s fitness level against the energy expenditure of executing individual movement skills under stress.
Equipment Required: A Filled backpack.
Set and Reps: Complete the circuit below, then move onto Sniper training 2.
- Stand at the starting line wearing a backpack.
- Sprint 50 metres, drop to your hands and knees and execute a high crawl for 25 meters, then low crawl for 25 metres.
- Turn 180 degrees while remaining in contact with the ground and will then execute 20 push-ups.
- Execute a further 25 metres low crawl, 25 metres high crawl and sprint 50 metres.
- As Many Reps as Possible in 10 mins.
Sniper Training 2 – Functional Strength Workout
Equipment Required: A Sandbag.
Set and Reps: We are aiming for 3X Rounds of this workout. 2X Rounds if Beginner. 4X Rounds if Advanced. On completion move onto Sniper training 3.
Overhead sandbag press. From the ground, press overhead and return to the ground. This counts as one repetition. Complete as many repetitions as possible in 2 minutes.
Hold a plank position and continue to maintain it for as long as possible. The time starts once you are in position and stops as soon as any part of your body, other than his forearms and toes, makes contact with the ground.
Broad jump. Using a Sandbag on the shoulders. Take up a squat position standing behind the start line. At the start, execute a standing broad jump forward, pause slightly in a lower squat position before dynamically leaping forward again. Continue the length of the room and jog back. AMRAP for 5 minutes.
Sniper Training 3 – Callout Endurance Workout
Stamina and endurance test after sustained energy expenditure.
Equipment Required: A rucksack (filled preferably).
Set and Reps: We are aiming for X 3 repetitions. X 2 if beginner, X 4 if advanced.
- Run 1 mile with a loaded rucksack on your back.
- At the end of the mile, undertake 30 press ups; static lunge holds for 1 minute on both legs; plank for 1 minute.
- Then repeat the mile.
- On the Final 1/4 mile of the run, consider it an ‘extraction’ run, you have to get out of there, increase the pace to a 3/4 sprint to the finish.
Feeling Tired?… Not One Step Back!!
Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) Workout
Enter the Spetsnaz
Who are the Spetsnaz? Spetsnaz is an acronym of the full title of ‘Spetsialnogo naznacheniya’ meaning “special purpose”. They are the Special Forces of Russia. The actual term Spetsnaz itself is an all-encompassing term for the Special Operations groups of the Russian military.
Prior to Mikhail Gorbachov’s Glasnost and the end of the Cold War, the Spetsnaz were the stuff of whispers and legend. Not very much was known about them at all. Since the fall of the ‘Iron curtain’ their stories and training methods have become legendary inside (and outside) Russia and they are now revered by many as national heroes. There is even a ‘Spetsnaz day’ in Russia (October 24th).
Spetsnaz training is driven in much the same way as that of the British SAS or the U.S. Navy SEALS. They are specialists in covert operations, sabotage, assassinations and reconnaissance. Their training includes include tracking and patrolling techniques; firearms training; long-range marksmanship, field medical training, knife fighting and throwing; wilderness survival; climbing (alpine rope techniques) and rappelling; diving and underwater combat; airborne and parachute training, explosives and demolition; counter-terrorism; language training and Maskirovka (political or military deception).
Their rigorous physical training regimes are the stuff of legend with an emphasis on speed, power, endurance, strength and flexibility. This includes running for speed and distance, endurance swimming, strength and fitness drills, negotiating obstacle courses, and throwing knives and entrenching tools (a shovel that doubles as a tomahawk!).
Many of the Spetsnaz training techniques incorporate cultural and historical military and training methods. These range from Cossack (warriors of Ukraine and Southern Russia known for their fierce and powerful battle methods) fighting arts to Girevoy Sport (kettlebell lifting). There is even an element of training that embraces eastern meditation and control of the emotions.
As with many military training regimes, Spetsnaz training involves functional bodyweight training to improve strength and overall fitness. The difference being between special forces training and the average gym session is that the former train to exhaustion and usually in extreme conditions! Press ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, bodyweight squats are all found here and are usually undertaken to failure.
Russian kettlebells are used extensively in Russian military training. They come in a variety of weights, and when used as part of a regular strength training routine help to increase muscle, stamina and flexibility.
Rukopashni boi, or hand to hand combat, is an important facet of Spetsnaz training. The methods used are based on the philosophy that a combination of power, strength and speed is needed to surprise and quickly defeat your enemy.
This training includes martial arts training using influences from various cultures within Russia’s historical reign and reach. From fighting techniques rooted in Russian history (such as Systema and combat Sambo) as well as traditional Eastern and European combat methods.
Russian Special Forces Strength Workout
Equipment Required: A filled rucksack. Kettlebells. A heavy bag and boxing gloves.
Set and Reps: We are aiming for 2 X rounds of this workout. 1 X rounds if a beginner. 3 X rounds if advanced.
Stations of the workout.
- Rucksack and/or weighted vest run (2 miles)
- Pull-ups (overhand grip) X 12 repetitions X 3 rounds.
- Core session – Weighted sit-ups. KB Windmills. Kettlebell drag through’s. Reps X 4 rounds.
- Kettlebell circuit. Turkish Get Ups (2 Each Side). 20 Kettlebell swings. 20 Cleans Each side. X 3 rounds.
- Kettlebell Cossack squats. 10 Each side.
- Rucksack and/or weighted vest run (2 miles).
- Hand-to-hand combat – 3 minutes all-out rounds on the heavy bag. X 3 rounds.
- Endurance complex test (see below).
- Strength complex test (see below).
This complex consists of four general physical preparedness exercises. 12X reps at maximum speed X 5 rounds.
- Mountain climbers.
- Jump Lunges. You don’t have to jump high but you must fully extend your body. Switch feet every jump.
The above complex is undertaken by special forces in full combat gear (naturally you don’t have to!!). Five rounds is an excellent result. What makes this battery of tests great is the fact that you can test many people at once and you do not need any equipment. A great workout for when the time is short.
Do as many reps as possible of every exercise. Maintain perfect form. On failure move onto the next exercise.
- Pull-ups with an overhand grip.
- Split squat jumps, the same as in the first test.
- Pushups. The chest must touch the ground, the body must stay straight.
The three above exercises are done back to back without rest. 2 min of rest before continuing.
- Situps. The hands are clasped behind the neck, the feet are held by the training partner. Touch your left knee with your right elbow, on the next rep touch your right knee with your left elbow. Keep alternating. Do as many reps as possible in 2min.
- Burpees (max reps in 2mins).
Whichever workout you undertake
Remember to cool down and drink water!