May ATHLETE Focus

May ATHLETE Focus

Sam Skipp

Progressed through NDP confidently which had him ready physically but more so mentally to take on his selection in the UK Navy at the Defence Diving School. With his focus on being a Clearance Diver, his determination and clear understanding of his own ability instills confidence in us that he is well on his way to achieving his goals. Read ahead to learn more of Sams progress and where he’s at now with being a UKCD.

Prior to Frogman what was your style of training?

Previously, I was alternating my daily workouts between cardio and strength/HIIT/metcon workouts in the gym. The cardio would range between 5 to 8 mile runs or swimming/finning. The gym work would be things like bodyweight circuits, Crossfit inspired workouts that I had come up with and mock selection tests.

There was never any specific plan or progression but I was always making sure that I was working towards the assessment criteria that the navy ask for. (The minimums were 8 Chin ups, 40 sit ups/min, 16 dips and a 30 meter 30kg farmers carry. I used this PDF as a guide)

What were you looking for when you found Frogman?

So I found FP on Instagram a while back, ever since I have been keeping an eye out on IG and Facebook for workouts and programming I could have a crack at and see how I got on. The more I got involved and paid attention to what was going on inside the community the more I wanted to be a part of it.

I started NDP and I made sure that it directly lined up with my selection week with the Royal Navy. So instead of doing test week in week 12 I was at the Defence Diving School on my course.

Before I started NDP I thought I was in pretty good shape and I was confident I was able to pass the course. The reason I chose to start the program was because I was looking for any sort of advantage that would help me stand out in an already over saturated branch of the armed forces. I was told they only take the best of the best. I had been following Ben and FP for a while and it seemed like NDP would take me to that level they were looking for both physically and mentally.

I went on to pass my selection course with a high recommendation to be given a spot on the clearance divers course.

What part of your training has improved since starting FP?

I think my ability to work with bigger workloads and my mobility. I am spending more time in the gym than I was before starting NDP. Mentally I became a lot better at preparing myself for maybe an hour of hard, uncomfortable work. Instead of thinking “Holy shit, I’ve got another 45 minutes of this” I was focusing on each rep/step at a time and making sure that my form was good and making sure that I was being efficient and working hard.

I was also never stretching or doing any mobility work. Doing mobility work before and after every workout made a huge difference to my body. I found that I wasn’t struggling with DOMS as much as I was and certain movements became easier and more fluid.

I think my finning also improved. Under NDP I was finning a lot more often than I was before and I actually had some sort of reference or technique of how to get better at it. I think we must have done at least 10km of it on selection. One of the tests was a duathlon, a 1km fin followed by 2.4km run with a 40 minute cut off time. My legs were a bit sore after that one…

What do you enjoy the most about Frogman?

I really enjoyed the variety of the program. For example, there were mental fortitude tasks where I had to tread water for as long as possible. Physically, this is definitely not the hardest workout in the world but when you’re on your own in the water in one spot the minutes start to seem like hours. There’s also a few different “endurance” workouts, the 5km fin absolutely destroyed my legs and hip flexors but it was a great challenge. I also really like that active recovery days are encouraged instead of just rest days.

Do you have a favourite FP benchmark workout?

I don’t remember the time I got but I really enjoyed Last of the Mohicans. I don’t have a weight vest so I used my bergen that I use for rucks with weight plates wrapped in towels. I thought it was a really fun workout and I got a few strange looks at the gym. I think it played to my strengths. I’m pretty good at all of the exercises that it involves so some added weight and the format made it seem like something a bit different.

How do you stay motivated to stick to the Program? What keeps you pushing and dedicated to complete it?

When I first started training for CD I was very naive and was relying on motivation and something to push me to the gym or through a workout. That became very boring very quickly and I was always looking for new ways to drag myself out and get motivated. Eventually I learned to rely on discipline. Instead of reading some famous quote, listening to my favourite song or looking at photos of Arnie I was trying to be a bit more mature about it. I was trying to get it into my head that working hard now would set me up in my dream job for (hopefully) the rest of my life. Two/three years of tough gym sessions or long boring runs whilst on a seemingly endless waiting list for selection would all be worth it in the end.

What is your current struggle you’re trying to overcome?

Mobility was a big one for me. I could never touch my toes and I was always struggling with sore muscles and cramps. NDP and FP as a whole have a very good approach to this sort of stuff: Don’t skip the boring shit. I didn’t realise how true that is until I started to do it.

Another big one was muscle ups. I had never even thought about doing them before I started NDP and 3 days into the program you’re doing about 20 of them. I had to adapt quickly. I still can’t do a great muscle up but working through the progressions helped massively on selection.

One of the punishments or warm ups we would do was “in and outs”. It’s literally getting in and out of the water over and over again in a drysuit with about 2 foot of clearance between the water and the jetty. They absolutely destroyed my shoulders, we must have done over 100 in the 3 days.

It’s always cool to see what else people are doing outside of physical training. Do you have any hobbies, interests?

I like to get out and camp and hike a lot. I’m currently in a 9-5 office job and it drives me mad. I try and take any opportunity I can to spend a weekend away or go somewhere I haven’t been before. I’d love to learn to surf but I live 2 hours from the nearest beach and it’s a pretty shit beach. The water is cold for about 10 months of the year and the surf culture in the UK is pretty small I think so it’s not easy.

What resources are you currently absorbing? Or what books, podcasts, doco’s have made a impact on you?

Honestly, lots of social media. IG is a great place to find pictures and videos of people who are serving or have served and seem pretty happy to post stuff about the things they get up to and the gear they are using etc. They’re usually fit guys so they’re posting different workouts and stuff like that which is helpful.

There’s also loads of veteran owned stores, business and accounts that just post pictures and videos of different operators. I think it’s great for motivation and a reminder you could be there one day. It’s where I first found FP, I think I saw a video of Ben doing some mad handstand stuff.

This one is a reflection question- If you could send advice back to yourself, what would you say? Would you approach anything differently?

I think I would say to focus more on cardio. Lots of the exercises on selection were run-swim-run circuits in a dry suit. There’s no real way to prepare for that but just being mega fit is a massive bonus. I know I’ve definitely made mistakes in the past or could’ve trained differently/smarter but like everyone says; it’s good to learn from mistakes.

Nutrition – Are you following a specific diet? Have you had any progress or learnt any lessons? What’s your favourite or go to meal?

Not really, my diet is actually pretty bad. I used to be a landscaper and was on my feet 12 hours a day doing about 35k steps. Doing that on top of my training meant I could eat whatever I want. Now I’m in an office and it’s hard to shake the habit of eating anything that comes into my line of sight.

I’ve recently started to count calories so hopefully that should help me out a bit. About 2 years ago I dieted to about 7% body fat and it is probably something I wouldn’t do again. There’s no need for it. The training I do is to keep me functional and hopefully become a strong operator. I don’t train to look good but it’s obviously a nice bonus.

Sam – Out!

Learn more about Navy Diver Prep by signing up to our free intro below.

Want to know more before diving in?