Corps Strength Fitness Program: Initial Review - ITS Tactical

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Corps Strength Fitness Program: Initial Review

By Bryan Black

I recently received a fitness book called Corps Strength from former U.S. Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Paul Roarke, who had contacted us a few weeks back to see if we’d be interested in reviewing his program.

While initially skeptical, I emailed him back and expressed my interest in reviewing the book and offering my honest perspective of his program based on my experience at BUD/s and with the CrossFit Certification I hold.

Since leaving the Navy, I’ve been involved with CrossFit in some shape or form, but have always struggled to find a program that provides what MGySgt Roarke refers to as “working fitness.”

Working Fitness

Working fitness is defined in Corps Strength as a program that’s effective, flexible, and time efficient. Roarke developed Corps Strength as a program that provides a 24/7 level of conditioning that gives someone the ability to do just about anything, at any given time, and do it all pretty well. It also provides a foundation of fitness that, with a short amount of specialized focus, will allow doing something specific (like a sport) really well.

It was developed to provide the ability to “work,” to get the job done, whenever and whatever that may be. Hence the term “working fitness.”

I really love the terminology Roarke defines, and can appreciate the need for a program like this. While I don’t currently specialize in any sport, I pretty much blew this year’s marathon training and triathlons due to a nasty hamstring injury that occurred last year, I’ve been needing something to build myself back up and my current training regimen has become monotonous.

CrossFit for me has been great, but always leaves me wanting more out of the WODs (Workout Of the Day). I had to also integrate my own program for running, swimming, etc. And when I did start to specialize to work towards marathon training and triathlons, the WODs often felt like too much.

Working fitness also parallels what I’ve been preaching about functional strength and the entire program presented in Corps Strength is all about building functional strength.

Corps Strength

I don’t want to get too much into the program before I have a chance to put it to the test, but in addition to a no BS approach to fitness (no fancy fitness products, DVDs, or supplements), Roarke advocates a three-pronged fitness attack called EPRS (Enhanced Physical Readiness System). I found it hilarious that he says “give me a break-I had to call it something, and as a Marine acronyms are what I know.” I know the feeling!

The program is broken down into SAT (Stand Alone Training), Support, and Active Rest. SAT is the core workout including warm-up and cool-down, Support is an activity or sport that is strenuous and “supports” the SAT (like swimming, biking, or even scuba diving), and Active Rest is not just plopping down on the couch after the day is through. It’s getting out and washing the car, mowing the yard, or even walking the dog.

It’s been great to read Roarke’s perspective on fitness and even eating, as I’m in complete agreement with all of it. You don’t need any more than a multi-vitamin for supplements, and eating right is as simple as eating real food from the earth. This in turn leads to weight loss, coupled with a good fitness program. Of course the book goes into more detail, but I’ll get into that once I’ve put it into action.

I really like that the way I eat is what Roarke recommends. He advocates snacking mid-morning and mid-afternoon if you must, but I’m a big advocate of these snacks and feel it’s what I need. This kind of healthy eating is also the same advice I’d personally give to anyone interested in losing weight, or changing their diet. It’s common sense, which is why it works so well.


I’m looking forward to getting started on Corps Strength and will follow up with this review after I’ve put the program through its paces. While I’ve  offered an initial review of the program,  I want to be honest with a complete evaluation, because I truly feel this program has excellent potential.

Needless to say that I’m no longer a skeptic of the program, and truthfully my doubts subsided after reading just a few pages.

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  • Jordan
  • Benjamin Fasseel

    Bryan I am with you I like to do crossfit but I love to run and swim. When you put the two together it makes the WODs seem a lot harder. I am currently trying to find the right balance for me. Can’t wait to read your review.

  • A Guy


  • A Guy

    Ohh, and root for Ben and Heather from CFNE at the CrossFit Games… Hehe..

  • btmims

    A quick side note about “eating right” as advice: be careful with that. I agree with you completely, but a simple case of depression, anxiety, or stress can make eating right nearly impossible, so if their BMI is in the obese range, it’s probably not so simple as “just eat healthy,” they need to fix something else in their life so they stop needing to fix it with food. Trust me, I know. I’m STILL losing the weight from when I went on a year-long binge.

  • zmtthw

    Looks like a great read, and look forward to reading your review. I might be in and out, but hopefully I can stick my head in more often. Thanks for providing a great site full of valid and up to date information bra.


    • Hey bra, thanks for stopping in! Hope all is well!!

      Stay safe,

  • Art

    Corps Stregnth

    I’ve been using the Corps Stregnth program for about 2 months now and love it. I’ve been working out mainly with weights but also martial arts and some other fittness systems for about 30 years and they just weren’t doing it for me anymore. I picked up and read the book and started out. I will say that these work outs are butt kickers. They don’t look like it but if you follow the system they are great. I’m enjoying a renewed energy in my workouts and feel I’m getting a lot more out of my workout time. Wish they would hae used something like this when I was in the Navy and ARNG.

  • sixfix

    It’s been a while and I was wondering if there is any update coming soon? I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this program.

  • Ken

    Yep, I’m wondering, as well.

    I’ve recently lost a bunch of weight, hit my targets, but now I’m looking at maintaining weight and training for adventure racing. Not a huge fan of running but getting better at it. Functional strength is what I’m looking at. Cross fit looks good, but… I like alternatives.

  • Brad B

    Any update on this? Been a year now.

  • Miklos

    Picked up this book after hitting a slump.. I’ve done crossfit, I’ve done strict gym rat weight routines, various regimens, etc etc… I have to say, I’m liking the “program” in Roarke’s book… its straight forward, it’s not horribly time consuming (compared to hitting the weights for 1+ hours and then doing cardio in the evening…), and best of all I can do it in the field without the need for any kind of equipment… I really do get the feeling that I’m pushing it the whole time I’m doing the workout (both the pre-fatigue and mission sections) and I can vary it to my liking to keep my body guessing… Hell for 20 bucks, you can’t really go wrong… and vest PT! Finally, someone gets it… definately worth a look, may not be to your taste but check it out first…

  • Hi guys,
    Thanks for your support on my book and system. Check out my new “Truth Teller” fitness test. Its not brand new as I have been testing it for awhile on my international students, friends and of course myself. It sounds simple, but an ass kicker to get a high score. Try it and let me know how you made out. Thanks again.
    Semper Fi

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