Paintball players since the beginning will tell you that the physical aspect of the sport is minimal, certainly not as important as the mental. For Professional players, however, the ratio changes exponentially. The game is even more about physicality, and even more about mentality and intuition. Players need to be able to think quickly and clearly with a prolonged elevated heart rate. Once the muscles start fatiguing, the mind starts to falter and the opposite is also true. So if we want to compete at a pro level, we need to put our bodies in the best shape of our lives to have the best chance to make the best decision at the best time, and also to avoid injury. Since I gave myself only about 18 weeks to prepare to play against high-level players, I don’t have any time budgeted for injury. So with emphasis on minimizing injury and maximizing benefit, here’s how I biohack the physical aspect of paintball:
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – This is surely the most common form of exercise paintball players use to prepare for tournaments, and for good reason. It involves ramping up the heart rate, bringing it down slightly, then ramping it up again over and over to build stamina. When done correctly, it can be extremely effective. When I ran Track and Field as a Sprinter and Hurdler in high school, most of our workouts were based on this, even if I didn’t know it at the time. One example was called a Murphy:
-Using a football field as a box, Start at one corner of the field. Sprint at 50-75% max to the 50 yard line, then cut across to the opposite side of the field doing high-knees, or skipping driving your knees up into the air. When you reach the end, return to a sprint and repeat, doing a figure-eight around the football field. Three sets of three and you’re toast!
-Another variation involved the track itself. Walk 50 meters, jog for 50 meters, and then sprint for 50, returning to a walk when finished, and repeat the cycle of build-ups
Neuro-Sets – This workout is great for those with a gym membership, although that isn’t entirely necessary if you’re creative. You can get exactly what you need out of an exercise super fast! Using a hypertropic/compound movement like Push-Ups as an example, perform a workout like this:
- Grind – The first movement is 8-12 reps. For this one, we will do 8-12 pushups, but as painfully slowly as possible – hence the term “Grind”. You should just about achieve muscle failure in this rep range if you’ve done it properly. If you didn’t, you didn’t go slow enough!
- Dynamic Power – Next, if you have a barbell or dumbells handy, choose a light weight and bang out presses for 60 seconds, as fast and as powerfully as you can. I usually have to pause at 40 seconds, take a breather and then blast out a few more. Make sure you use good form!
- Isometric Hold – Now we finish in the pushup position again, but we’ll go about halfway down and hold ourselves in that position for maybe 10-15 seconds, or you can go until you’re ready to fall flat on your face.
For more information on Neuro-Sets, their purpose and benefit, Check this out!
Body By Science – This one has Biohacking written all over it. One workout that takes 12 minutes, and you only need to do it once a week. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, believe it. BBS focuses on the Big 5 Movements – Rowing, Pushup/Chest Press, Pulldown/Pullup, Overhead Press, and Leg Press/Squat. These movements take care of every muscle in the body, and they’re hypertropic, meaning they involve multiple muscles the way they were designed to work – together! Each movement is done for One Set, One Rep, as slowly as possible without pausing, stuttering, or holding the breath. Each movement should be no more than 90 seconds, and 30 seconds rest between movements. This seems simple, but the science behind it proves that is very effective, and prevents Overtraining. Try it out!
For more information on this groundbreaking routine, Get the book!
Система Exercises – Systema is all about relaxation. Movement should be fluid and devoid of tension, so as to keep the mind and body in balance and calm, even in danger. One exercise they perform involves Breath Holds, and the training teaches you to keep yourself relaxed and to keep your brain from robbing all of your oxygen by overthinking. If you are tense, or thinking too much, you can’t do it!
-Push-Up Ladder – This exercise starts from a kneeling or sitting position. Relax your body, relax your mind, and put yourself in the basic pushup position. Don’t be afraid to use your knees if you have to. Pay attention to how your mind and body feel before beginning. When ready, take a breath in, exhale slightly, and perform one push-up, focusing only on keeping completely relaxed. If tension arises during the movement, focus on dissolving it, but also notice where it comes from. Does it come from your arms from improper form? Does it come from your chest out of fear of having no incoming oxygen? Complete one push-up and return to kneeling/sitting, and resume breathing. Take this time to notice any tension, and dissolve it. It is very important that you do not continue the exercise until your body and mind have completely relaxed, recovered, and you feel like you haven’t done any reps at all. When you have returned to baseline relaxation, put yourself in the starting position, take a breath in, exhale slighty, and perform 2 push-up reps. Return to kneeling/sitting, and relax. Shake out your arms if you have to. What do you notice? Where did you feel tension? Where did it start? Recover completely.
Repeat this process in ladder form, all the way up to 10 reps, and all the way back down the ladder. This will have you complete 100 pushups with your breath held. What you should notice is that the only way you could do the 10 push-ups without breathing is by building up to it. I’ve gotten as far as 20 reps without breathing, and if you have any tough-guy friends, challenge them to beat you at breath hold push-ups. They’ll rob themselves of all their oxygen worrying about how the hell you’re still going, and you’ll be thinking about, well, nothing. And killing it!
For proper explaination of the exercises, variations, and techniques, visit The home of Russian Martial Art and Spetznaz training.