The Seven Military Ps |

The Seven Military Ps

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My daughter is in the British Army.

The application and selection process took just over a year. The British Army is one of the best, and most respected, in the world – they don’t just let anyone in, you have to prove you’ve got what it takes and the qualities they’re looking for in a soldier.

She’s very au fait with the ‘Seven Military Ps’ – but you don’t have to be military to apply them to any area of your life.

There are various versions of the Ps, but the British military favourite is this one:


Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance


I’ve mused on lots of alternative and more polite words for the fifth P but have come to the conclusion it works best with the one the Army chooses to use – it’s VERY clear in its message! It’s blunt, gets straight to point without dressing it up and accurately predicts the status of your performance if you ignore the first three Ps.

I’m a HUGE fan of lists. I can function okay without them but I’m far more effective when I have a list to work from. It’s a written list, too, not just a mental one – that’s just asking for trouble, especially if you have a lot going on in your life.

Putting the seven Ps into a health and fitness context…

First of all, I need to know what it is I’m trying to achieve. Is my primary goal to burn fat? Or do I want to add muscle? Maybe it’s both!

Once I know that, I need to PLAN how I’m going to realise those goals. What training will I need to do; how often will I need to train; and when am I going to train?

This is no different to planning a trip. Let’s suppose your best friend has moved to a new house and you’ve been invited to the housewarming. Before you leave, you’ll need to know how to get there: what is the address? How far away is it? What is the best way to get there? If you’re smart, the very first thing you’ll do is ask your friend for specific directions – after all, they know exactly how to get to where they are, the best way to go and which routes to avoid.

You certainly wouldn’t leap into the car without knowing where you’re going, play ‘heads or tails’ to determine whether you need to go left or right, and genuinely expect to arrive at the right place!

It’s the same with your health and fitness – you need to PLAN where you want to go (your goals) and get directions (training and nutrition programmes) from those who know exactly how to get there (experts!).

SO, now I’ve planed what it is I want to acheive and I’m armed with my training programme, I need to put it all into action!

To be at my most effective in the gym, I have to be know exactly what I need to do. This way I can focus on putting in MAXIMUM EFFORT, rather than vaguely remembering how many sets of which exercises I’m supposed to be doing, and which weight I used last time. (You wouldn’t leave for your friend’s house without your sat nav/map/or written directions, would you!).

The same goes for eating properly. Once you’ve settled into a nice nutritional routine – where you know what you’re supposed to eat, how much of it and when – you’d be forgiven for thinking you don’t need to worry about this element anymore.

In actual fact, this is the time when you need to pay MORE attention to it. Here’s why: when we get used to doing something and it becomes routine, it’s very easy for bad habits to slip in unnoticed – the odd handful of nuts here, the occasional spoon of peanut butter there.

Driving a car makes for a good analogy:

When I learned to drive, I was taught to hold the steering wheel with both hands in the 10 to 2 position – I’m sure it’s the same the world over. I was also taught that crossing your hands over each other would be an instant driving test fail.

I’ve driven pretty much every day since I passed my test, so how do I drive today?

Generally, with my right hand on the steering wheel with my left resting on the gear stick or on my lap. I don’t cross my hands, but often use just one to turn the wheel in circles – the power steering equivalent of crossing your hands! And I won’t lie and tell you I never break the speed limit either!

How long did it take for those ‘bad habits to creep in? Not long at all. And why? I don’t know – because that’s not how I was taught or how I used to drive in the very beginning. I’m sure it’s the same for most people who drive.

Much to my daughter’s amusement, every now and again I try and drive properly; it feels AWKWARD! If I was to sit my driving test today and drive the way I normally do, I’d FAIL.

Thankfully it’s MUCH easier to rein in bad eating habits and return them to the way they should be! You just need to ‘eat aware’, rather than eating on auto-pilot.

Dougal and I plan out everything we need/want to do. The same goes for everyone who has ever been successful – there is only one level of performance we’re all happy with and it’s NOT Ps five and six.

So what do you need to plan and how should you do it? Well, different things suit different people, but here’s what I do:

  1. I grab a sheet of paper and my pen – my lists are always on paper
  2. I write down everything I need to do for that day, in groups. For example, everything SPFGs is grouped together, everything general household is together, training and eating together and so on
  3. Next, I decide what needs to be done first and number each list item accordingly – if the day needs to be executed with military precision then I’ll even attach times of the day to things (these are just a guide, but they do help to keep me focused and goes a long way to ensuring time doesn’t slip away from me)
  4. Then I cross things off the list as I go

My training schedule is printed on paper, it comes to gym with me and I make a note of my weights and reps as I go.

My food and the amounts I need are kept on a spreadsheet on my phone, for easy reference and I use an app called Tap and Track to list how much of what I eat, and when, on a daily basis. And I ALWAYS make a shopping list before going to the supermarket!

Sounds a bit extreme? A far too detailed and suffocating way to live?

Maybe for some, but if you want great results and are getting frustrated because what you’re currently doing isn’t getting you there, then you need to PLAN, PREPARE and PAY ATTENTION to the daily details.

Be absolutely certain of your goals, make sure you are armed with the best training and nutrition programme to achieve them, then execute your plan with military precision and get involved with the daily details.

This way you’ll ensure your performance cannot be described as military P five and six, and your progress and results will improve dramatically.

I’ve made my list for today – how about you?

Pop over to Six-Pack for Girls on Facebook and share your plans 🙂

PS – If you need help with your challenge, goal setting, training programmes or the right things to eat, we can make sure you’re heading in exactly the right direction – all you have to do is ask!

  1. August 14, 2013

    Dougal Macdonald

    Darlene – thank you for letting us know, that’s exactly what we want to hear in order to give you what you need every single week.

    Kristy – super, thank you; appreciate your comment!

  2. August 13, 2013


    Awesome article today about the 7 p’s. Appropriate for every aspect in life!

    Nice work guys!


    • August 14, 2013

      Sarah Macdonald

      Hey Kristy

      You’ve got to love those seven Ps!

      Hope you’re well down there in sunny Joburg 🙂

      Sarah x

  3. August 13, 2013

    Darlene P

    This is great! Not overwhelming, to the point, variety, and yet very informative. Thanks!

    • August 14, 2013

      Sarah Macdonald

      Hi Darlene

      Thanks so much for your comment – I’m glad you liked the military Ps!

      I hope we see you in the comments again and if there are any subjects you’d like us to cover, or you have any questions you’d like answered you know where we are 🙂

      Sarah x

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