Thursday, February 16, 2012

SE Connecticut Submarine Birthday Ball Committee to Hold Auditions for National Anthem

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball Planning Committee is taking a different approach to this year's annual Submarine Ball by searching for a unique and unforgettable voice to sing the national anthem in Groton April 14.

With the 112th Submarine Force Birthday Ball just less than two months away, the planning committee will hold a contest to track down the best singer to perform the national anthem during the Southeastern Connecticut Birthday Ball at the MGM Grand Hotel at Foxwoods Resort.

Electronics Technician 1st Class (SS) Barry Williamson, Naval Submarine School instructor in the communications pipeline, reflected on why planning committee members chose to utilize the format of several popular television talent shows to select the proper person to perform the anthem.

"We wanted to find a unique way to draw interest to the submarine ball this year," said Williamson. "In borrowing from the popular television singing shows, and applying it to the New London area, we'll not only find the best singer for the job, but also peak interest in a long standing and still wonderful event."

The contest is open to all active-duty military, retirees, dependants, Navy civilians, and the general public from the age of 18 or older.

Williamson hopes that there will be many contestants willing to lend their voices to a good cause.

"At the end of the day whoever has the best voice will get the ultimate prize, to sing the national anthem at this year's Submarine Force Birthday Ball in front of more than 2,000 attendees," said Williamson.

Williamson added that the person selected with the winning voice will receive a complimentary ticket for two to attend the ball, as well as a one-night stay at the hotel during the night of the event.

Those interested in lending their voice, must record a video singing any song, and then link it to the Submarine Birthday Ball's Facebook page, Or, interested singers can submit a video to the committee's electronic address,

Williamson said auditions will be held in late March.

"The ball celebrates the history of submarines, something that everyone in the submarine force and those connected to it should experience," said Williamson.

The Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball Planning Committee is an all volunteer, non-federal entity not endorsed by the Department of Defense.

Gone but Never Forgotten - NBHC Everett Remembers Clinic Namesake

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Branch Health Clinic Everett formally recognized the Medal of Honor recipient and namesake of their clinic Feb. 15.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class David R. Ray, who would have turned 67 Feb 14, was remembered with a birthday celebration attended by staff and several distinguished guests. The event also included staff members who shared comments from Ray's family and another hospital corpsman who served alongside Ray during the Vietnam War.

Ray was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his actions during the Vietnam War at Phu Loc 6 near An Hoa in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, March 19, 1969. NBHC Everett, commissioned in 2002, is located within the David R. Ray Health Center.

"We really decided to do this ceremony for several reasons but primarily because it's the right thing to do. Sharing what Ray did is something that a number of our more seasoned petty officers can relate to. They have deployed like Ray did and have been in the action. But we also have younger corpsmen that have yet to deploy and this clinic is their initial command experience. They need to know and understand that Ray's legacy defines who we are," said Cmdr. Doug Stephens, NBHC Everett officer in charge.

Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, commander Navy Medicine West and Naval Medical Center San Diego, addressed the assembled staff of NBHC Everett during part of his tour of Pacific Northwest Navy hospitals and clinics and stressed that by their actions they were continuing to follow in Ray's footsteps.

"We do stand on the shoulders of giants, much like Petty Officer Ray. All of you are following with that tradition," said Faison.

NBHC Everett Command Master Chief Martin Aquino read correspondence from Ray's sister, Mary Don Bixby, Friends of Fondren Library executive director at Rice University

"I wish that I could be with you today. One of my fondest memories is attending the opening ceremony for the health center. We were treated with such respect and warmth during our visit, and we returned home with the knowledge that my brother had been honored by an exceptional group of U.S. Navy personnel who had chosen to name the health center for him. His love of his country and his dedication to his work as a corpsman led him to give his life to save the lives of others. Every day I am in awe of his heroism. It is hard to believe that Bobby, as we called him, would have turned 67 on Feb. 14. Thank you for honoring my brother in this special way. Even though we've never met, you can be assured that you are often in my thoughts," wrote Bixby.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Krystal Wasson also shared a personal letter, one penned 43 years ago in Quang Nam Province by Ray's friend Hospital Corpsman Tommy Vickers to his family. The letter was received by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Vickers from their son the day before the Rays were notified on their son being killed in action.

It read, in part, "I guess you know by now that Bob Ray got killed last night. They (Vietcong) ran over An Hoa. This is the story I got from a Marine he (Ray) patched up. They started when one got through the wire and pulled a satchel charge under a hutch. When it went off everyone ran outside. They started mowing them down as they ran out. Bob got hit, but was still treating wounded when he was hit the second time. I hope this isn't true, but this Marine said he and Bob were real close. After his mother has calmed down, tell her this Marine said Bob knew his job and was doing it. He fixed my arm. Then he started to cry. He said that the enemy was all over them, plus rockets and mortars as thick as flies."

Vickers worked late in the night and well into the next day helping to treat and care for mass casualties. By 6:30 a.m. March 20, six more choppers from An Hoa landed. Vickers still could not locate his friend and began asking Marines from Ray's outfit if they knew his status.

"Everyone said he had been hit, but no one knew how bad. Then this one kid told me what happened. I couldn't work. All I could do was sit and stare," wrote Vickers.

In addition to Ray, 10 Marines died in the battle.

"This ceremony is a poignant and powerful reminder of who we are," said Capt. Christopher Culp, Naval Hospital Bremerton commanding officer.

David R. Ray's Medal of Honor Citation was also read: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HM2 with Battery D, 2d Battalion, at Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa. During the early morning hours, an estimated battalion-sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the battery's position, and succeeded in effecting a penetration of the barbed-wire perimeter. The initial burst of enemy fire caused numerous casualties among the marines who had immediately manned their howitzers during the rocket and mortar attack. Undaunted by the intense hostile fire, HM2 Ray moved from parapet to parapet, rendering emergency medical treatment to the wounded. Although seriously wounded himself while administering first aid to a marine casualty, he refused medical aid and continued his lifesaving efforts. While he was bandaging and attempting to comfort another wounded marine, HM2 Ray was forced to battle two enemy soldiers who attacked his position, personally killing one and wounding the other. Rapidly losing his strength as a result of his severe wounds, he nonetheless managed to move through the hail of enemy fire to other casualties. Once again, he was faced with the intense fire of oncoming enemy troops and, despite the grave personal danger and insurmountable odds, succeeded in treating the wounded and holding off the enemy until he ran out of ammunition, at which time he sustained fatal wounds. HM2 Ray's final act of heroism was to protect the patient he was treating. He threw himself upon the wounded marine, thus saving the man's life when an enemy grenade exploded nearby. By his determined and persevering actions, courageous spirit, and selfless devotion to the welfare of his marine comrades, HM2 Ray served to inspire the men of Battery D to heroic efforts in defeating the enemy. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."

Budget Proposal Strengthens Nuclear Modernization, Official Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2012 – The Defense Department’s strategy-based budget proposal sent to Congress earlier this week would strengthen the nation’s nuclear weapons enterprise and modernization, a senior Pentagon official said here yesterday.

“We’ve come a long way in the past three years in establishing the context and the programs for nuclear modernization, but significant challenges remain,” John Harvey, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, said during remarks at the fourth annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit.

“On the plus side, the nuclear posture review has defined an integrated, balanced and comprehensive strategy for reducing nuclear dangers,” he said. “The strategy strongly couples our nuclear deterrent to other elements of our nuclear security, including strategic arms control, nonproliferation, threat reduction and [weapons of mass destruction] counterterrorism.”

Harvey said recent budgets have provided more funding toward modernization.

“After more than a decade of serious underfunding the nuclear weapons enterprise, the president put forward budget requests in [fiscal 2011] and [fiscal 2012] that included substantial new investments for this mission,” he said. “We’ve had a very high level of support within the administration for getting these investments funded and sustained by Congress.”

To demonstrate the department’s commitment to these programs, he said, officials agreed to transfer $5.7 billion in top-line authority for fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2015. Later, he added, this was augmented by an addition $2.2 billion to be allocated in annual increments in fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2016.

Harvey also credited Congress for its approval of funding to continue modernization.

“The final funding levels appropriated by Congress for [fiscal 2011] were huge boosts to the enterprise and reflected some of the DOD contribution,” he said. “The recent congressional appropriation for [fiscal 2012], while it did not go as far as we had hoped on the [National Nuclear Security Administration] side, provides a basis for continued progress.”

Harvey touched on some of the challenges facing nuclear weapons enterprise as the nation is “embedded in an increasingly austere budget environment” and warned of serious problems if a “sequestration” mechanism in the budget law adds another $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade if Congress fails to override the provision.

“The Budget Control Act, passed earlier this year, coupled with fact-of-life growth in key programs, has forced us to tighten our belts,” he noted. “The implications of the [sequestration] under the Budget Control Act are so dire that we, in the department, are unwilling to consider it a plausible prospect,” he said.

Protracted government funding delays in recent years have taken a toll, Harvey told the audience.

“The financial gridlock characteristic of recent budget exercises and continuing resolutions has had an impact on all federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy,” Harvey said. In the current fiscal environment, he added, DOD still may receive what it is seeking in modernization, but perhaps not on the intended timeline.

“Our best strategy is solid, cost-effective implementation of high-priority programs that address the long-term state of the nuclear enterprise,” he said.

Harvey said the president’s budget proposal for fiscal 2013 increases NNSA funds for weapons by 5 percent more than last year’s appropriated funds to “maintain our commitment to the programs and capabilities to essential DOD’s strategic deterrence mission.” He cited the president’s last budget proposal as an increase in funding that demonstrates further commitment to revitalizing the nuclear weapons enterprise.

“The president’s [fiscal 2013] request for NNSA basically increases funds for weapons by 5 percent above the amount that was appropriated in [fiscal 2012],” he said. “[It] maintains our commitment to the programs and capabilities essential to DOD’s strategic deterrence mission.”

Guantanamo Bay Fire Department Conducts Live Fire Structural Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin Ailes Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Fire Department personnel at (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba conducted Live Fire Structural training, Feb. 13-17.

The training took place in residential housing structures scheduled for demolition. The evolutions provided a realistic fire fighting training environment in a semi-controlled atmosphere.

"Live fire training in an acquired residential structure is absolutely the most realistic training environment out there," said NS Guantanamo Bay Fire Chief Eric Tucker. "This allows the firefighters to put all the individual pieces of their training together and see the results in real buildings in real time. This kind of training allows not only the firefighters to practice their skills it allows the chief officers to confirm their expectations of the performance of their crews."

Firefighters combated approximately 40 room and contents fires during the five-day training cycle at NS Guantanamo Bay's Evans Point housing subdivision.

"Training in real structures [especially ones that are representative of the other housing units on base] allows the command officers to practice implementing command elements in changing real time environments so it permitted the entire department to see where the strengths and weaknesses are from top to bottom," said Tucker. "There really is just no other way to "train like you fight" except in these live fire situations and it builds the firefighters confidence as well.

Tucker said the acquisition of the housing structures was a group effort.

"It started when base contractor company Toltest approached us about the possibility of using these structures before their scheduled demolition." said Tucker. "As the process evolved we decided that these were actually perfect for live fire training."

During the preparation for demolition, Toltest removed the majority of combustible materials and disconnected the utilities within the housing units.

"After consulting with NS Guantanamo Bay Commanding Officer Capt. Kirk Hibbert and the installation's Hospital, Housing, Public Works, Safety, Environmental, and Security departments, we were indeed given permission to burn in these structures," said Tucker. "As the process of replacing housing continues over the next few years, we are certainly looking forward to continued opportunities to train in this environment."

MCPON Testifies before Congress on Qualifty of Life

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas L. Rosprim, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West testified before Congress Feb. 16.

MCPON appeared before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

MCPON, along with the other top enlisted leaders from the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force, discussed the current status of their respective military branches, focusing specifically on quality-of-life programs and initiatives.

"During the past year, I have traveled extensively around the world to visit, listen, learn and speak with Sailors and their families," said West. "I have observed, firsthand, their tremendous work and sacrifices, and I am constantly amazed and truly awed by their outstanding capabilities and resiliency as they serve with distinction on ships, squadrons, submarines, and ashore."

Recruiting, retention, force management, and professional development of service members were among the topics addressed at the hearing. West and his counterparts from the other service branches responded to several questions from representatives about transition resources in place to assist active duty personnel and families affected by force reductions.

"We want to make sure our Sailors have every opportunity to succeed in the future," said West. "The Navy has lined up a world-class placement consultant to help our separating Sailors transition to the civilian sector. They will provide coaching, mentorship and guidance to prepare our people as much as possible. Additionally, Naval Sea Systems Command, one of our largest components, is driving the 'Shipmates to Workmates' program which pairs Sailors with partner organizations for possible employment opportunities."

Other subjects of discussion included current efforts by the armed forces to combat sexual assault and suicide, promote resiliency and ensure a high quality of education for the children of service members. West emphasized that success in these areas, and a commitment to holistic quality-of-life overall, are main factors in determining how long many Sailors will serve.

"We thank Congress for the historical support of pay and benefit increases and quality of life initiatives. Steady gains in these areas have allowed us to retain skilled Sailors and develop them into the enlisted leaders of the future," said West. "We cannot, however, rest on past success. The civilian job market searches for the same smart, motivated and dedicated people. We must keep pace with pay, allowances, housing, support programs and educational opportunities. And in this time of war, we must continue to make care a top priority for our wounded service members."

West discussed the value of communication with Sailors and families through resources such as, Military OneSource,, and various social networking sites.

"Both CNO and I are committed to using social media because it is another opportunity to connect with our Sailors Navy-wide," said West. "Social media is a great tool in our outreach efforts for getting information out in a timely manner to our entire Navy family."

West spoke of the operational tempo of the Navy and mentioned the nearly 50,000 Sailors, including more than 4,000 mobilized Reserve Sailors, and 40 percent of the Navy's ships which are underway or deployed globally on any given day.

"America's Navy is defined first by its agile warfighting capability ... operating forward and always ready," said West. "Our fleet is deterring aggression, protecting sea lanes, projecting power and delivering humanitarian assistance where needed. Despite fiscal constraints facing our nation, the world's oceans and waterways are not getting smaller. We still remain engaged in every theater of operation. We have the best Navy we have ever fielded and we will continue that trend into the future. We will work the challenges and accomplish the mission."

The master chief petty officer of the Navy periodically testifies before Congress along with the senior enlisted leaders of the other services. This was his fourth appearance before the congressional committee.

Back to basics: Active Army trainers focus on infantry skills

By Capt. Marvin J. Baker
120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas (2/15/12) – After two years of focused observer controller/trainer work, Soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment turned their attention back to basic infantry skills with two weeks of intense field and range training this month.

"It is imperative that we maintain our critical combat functional skills," said Army Lt. Col. Ardrelle Evans, commander of 2nd Bn., 393rd Inf. Regt., 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West.

For the "Dakota" battalion, 2012 started with the planning and executing of the final days of post-mobilization training for the Georgia Army National Guard's 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Now, before the next deploying unit arrives at Fort Hood, the battalion will complete a series of training events aimed at basic infantryman skills.

For the next two weeks, Evans said, Soldiers in the unit will complete a short-range marksmanship range, an urban assault course and a "shoot house" that tests the Soldiers’ room-entering and -clearing abilities.

Starting in 2010, the 2nd Bn., 393rd Inf. Regt. became Division West's first plans, exercise and movement control battalion, a change that required Soldiers in the infantry unit to switch gears from "risk and danger" to "research and discussion."

"Dakota" Soldiers are primarily responsible for planning and resourcing, culminating in the training exercises for Army National Guard and Army Reserve units deploying overseas. CTEs combine individual and collective training events using live, constructive and virtual real-world scenarios aimed at testing the dozens of skills units must perform in combat.

When Army Staff Sgt. John Reese, a trainer in the battalion, is not planning events for the CTEs, he enjoys going to the range. He gets a lot out of the infantry training, he said, and it will help him when he gets back to a line unit.

One reason many "Dakota" Soldiers enjoy getting back to unit-led, infantry-based training is that it helps them relate to the Soldiers they put through post-mobilization training. Although this was not the first time going through the ranges for most of the Soldiers, the importance of it was not lost on them.

"I am an infantryman. So when we get serious on the ranges, I love the intensity of it," said Army Staff Sgt. Ramon Deleon, a member of the “Dakota” Soldiers. "Nothing beats it."

South Carolina Guard hosts UAE delegation, establishes relationships

By Capt. Marvin J. Baker
120th Infantry Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina National Guard welcomed a military delegation from the United Arab Emirates Feb. 3, to tour the Joint Operations Center, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and McCrady Training Center and learn more about National Guard operations.

The UAE currently has a strong interest in establishing a reserve component force, and felt the best way to learn was to see first-hand how it succeeds in the United States.

United Arab Emirates Staff Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Kaabi, senior military advisor to the Crown Prince Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE was personally directed to travel to the United States and visit a National Guard unit. Because of its outstanding reputation, the South Carolina National Guard was selected to host the delegation.

Al-Kaabi came to the U.S. at Zayed's direction to learn about the National Guard because the National Guard is widely regarded as the best, most experienced, and most capable reserve force in the world.

Al-Kaabi's visit with the South Carolina National Guard came after his meetings with Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, chief, National Guard Bureau, Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, director of the Air National Guard, and Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., director of the Army National Guard.

These meetings led to visits to the Army and Air National Guard Readiness Centers in Arlington, Va. and at Joint-Base Andrews, Md. respectively, where Al-Kaabi was provided information on the National Guard at the national level.

McKinley recommended the South Carolina National Guard for Al-Kaabi's field trip because of the top quality of South Carolina Army and Air National Guard forces, their deep roots in local communities, and the strong leadership of the adjutant general, Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston. The significant experience of the 169th Fighter Wing and its F-16s in the UAE was also a contributing factor.

During the UAE visit, the South Carolina National Guard demonstrated the relevancy of Guard forces. The South Carolina National Guard took this opportunity to build relationships with the UAE delegation, and to support U.S. national interests and security cooperation goals by engaging military-to-military.

“The National Guard is woven into the fabric of our nation. It’s truly citizens who give up their time to protect the country,” Livingston said, during his welcome briefing. “We come from the community and that is the fabric of our country.”

One main point stressed to the delegation is the advantages the National Guard has over the active component. Some of the advantages shared included when not mobilized, the National Guard costs about 1/3 less than the active force; the National Guard brings civilian skills to the table; and when the National Guard goes to war, the sense of community goes with them.

Al-Kaabi and his staff were briefed in areas such as the South Carolina Army National Guard and Air National Guard capabilities, operations, civil support teams, training, schools, and family and service member care.

“This visit to the National Guard Bureau and South Carolina was only the first step in coordination between U.S. and UAE national guard programs. We hope we will have many other opportunities to visit in the future,” said Staff Col. AbdelRahman Ibrahim AlMazmi, Defense, Military, Naval & Air attaché, Embassy of United Arab Emirates in the U.S. and Canada.

“It is our intention to establish a national guard-like entity which would be something similar to the one we visited at the national Guard Bureau and South Carolina, but would also be [better] suited and tailored toward the UAE specifically.”

NMCB 3 Relieves NMCB 5 of AFRICOM and EUCOM Seabee Operations

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jesse A Sherwin III, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 Public Affairs

CAMP MITCHELL, Spain (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 relieved NMCB 5 of all Seabee construction responsibilities in Europe and Africa, during a formal ceremony, Feb. 14.

The relief in place and transfer of authority ceremony (RIP/TOA) marked the official end of NMCB 5's deployment to Europe and Africa that started in August when they deployed from Port Hueneme, Calif.

Before the RIP/TOA could occur, a weeklong inspection and review was conducted of all equipment, supplies, projects, facilities, and civil engineering support equipment (CESE).

Unlike a ship, when a Seabee battalion deploys, they do not travel with their equipment. Instead, all of the construction equipment and supplies that they will use are already at their deployment sites. A detailed turnover must be conducted before the oncoming battalion commences work.

The equipment and supplies that the battalion uses is called a table of allowance (TOA). For an NMCB, the entire TOA, which is worth more than $70 million, is designed to support operations and sustainment of a 600 Seabee battalion, conducting forward contingency and humanitarian assistance operations anywhere in the world, said Chief Logistics Specialist Frankie Acevedo, the NMCB 3 supply chief.

"If any tools, parts, or other supplies are found to be missing during the inspection, they need to be on order or placed on order," said Acevedo. "We have to maintain the TOA at 100 percent readiness."

The CESE undergoes a more thorough inspection, in a process called the Battalion Equipment Evaluation Program (BEEP). The BEEP inspection is designed to transfer all special knowledge of CESE maintenance, operations, and techniques to the relieving battalion. During the BEEP inspection, NMCB 3 Alfa Company, consisting of construction mechanics and equipment operators, inspected and received custody of more than 200 units of CESE. When the inspection was complete, a red diamond shaped sticker with a white number three, called a BEEP sticker, was placed on each piece of CESE.

"The BEEP sticker identifies what type, and what specific Seabee unit the CESE belongs to," said Construction Mechanic 1st Class James Gongas, from NMCB 5.

A red diamond identifies the CESE as belonging to an NMCB. A triangle will identify it as belonging to a naval construction regiment and a square is an underwater construction team.

Along with the equipment and supply turnover, NMCB 3 relieved NMCB 5 of construction project responsibilities throughout Europe and Africa.

Some of the ongoing projects include building a school and a bathroom facility for the locals in Gende Gerade, Ethiopia, drilling seven water wells in Ethiopia, and building two health clinics in Djibouti, Africa.

As NMCB 3 completes projects, they will begin new ones, including placing a water line, with the help of local military engineers, for Zagreb, Croatia and extending an existing runway in Manda Bay, for the government of Kenya.

Now that the turnover is complete, NMCB 5 will return to Port Hueneme, Calif.

NMCB 3 is an expeditionary naval construction element currently assigned to U.S. 6th Fleet's Commander, Task Force 68 to provide construction, engineering, and security services that support national strategy, naval power projection, humanitarian assistance and contingency operations.

35, 45 or Older – The Surprising Effects of Blood Pressure in Fitness Training

As most of us know, high blood pressure is one of the leading killers of adults of any age or sex.  Stress, smoking, lack of exercise, excessive drinking, diet, lack of sleep and obesity are the typical factors we think of as contributing to high blood pressure.  However, few weekend warriors over 35 have probably ever thought about the effects of cross-fit or weight training and breathing on blood pressure. 

Since breaking a Guinness World Record in 2011, my training has focused on speed and endurance, and leg and back training. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull throughs, etc. have become my best friends. 

About two months ago, at a body weight of 170 lbs. I was in the gym on my speed day.  The main focus of that days plan was completing 10 sets of 10 conventional deadlifts in 15 seconds with 2 minute breaks at a progressively heavier load.  

I was off and away, 10 reps in 15 second at 135, 225, 245, 265, 285, and 305 and 3 sets of 10 at 315 lb. The last set and all breaks were done in 21 minutes and 50 seconds, cool! 

Muscle wise, I got the weight in my planned time.  Unfortunately, I hadn't taken into account the cumulative effect of blood pressure and breathing in speed work under a progressively heavier load.  The result was my 10th set of 10 reps at 315 in 15 seconds immediately followed by 6 to 10 seconds of blurred vision!  

While not specifically thinking about blood pressure I wanted ensure there weren’t problems I wasn’t aware of.  So over the next month I had, and passed an EKG, echo cardiogram, stress test and blood work.  However, that didn't negate the new respect I was gaining for the cumulative effects of blood pressure due to breathing under progressive loading in intense interval training!

After investigating further, I found research from the Mayo Clinic and the American Journal of Epidemiology - Oxford Journal.
In short, most studies show an inverse relationship between resting blood pressure and usual fitness levels.  The inference is that exercise lowers blood pressure.  Surprisingly however, some studies now show that maximum oxygen uptake during exercise decreases with age; this results in fitness and particularly “high intensity fitness” having a strong effect on blood pressure as we get older. Translated, this data indicates that the “perceived positive” relationship between fitness and blood pressure can actually result in negative effects if you over do it as you age i.e. blurry vision after progressive speed weight training.

Over 35, be safe and monitor your blood pressure and consider your breathing during high intensity cross fit or weight training!  

Walter is currently training to attempt breaking two new Guinness World Records in 2012 For more information on Walter visit