Tactical Strength Training
Get tough Fitness is all about functionality but it’s a very specific training system. It’s nothing new, nothing special. It’s simply functional and purposeful while directing the program around:
– Stamina (aerobic)
– Strength endurance
– True grit
We all admire the combination of strength, stamina, and unparalleled grit that typify special operators and SWAT teams. But how do you build it?
Any discussion about the fittest men and women in the world has to include “tactical athletes” at some point. From special operations warriors to SWAT officers, these operatives have to maintain elite fitness not as an option, but as a necessity. For them, being out of shape doesn’t result in failing to set a PR or bailing on a squat. It could be a matter of life and death—theirs or someone else’s.
The training required to be a 24/7-fit tactical athlete is as unique and unpredictable as their duties and schedules, which makes it tough to make any generalizations about how they should train. However, there’s no doubt about the types of qualities that make these men and women effective.
But make no mistake: This style of training isn’t just for special operators. “We can all can benefit from training in a tactical style,” says Steve Weatherford, NFL player and True Grit athlete. “Balancing strategic strength work, power training, and running intervals has been a game changer for me—literally! It leaves me lean, conditioned, and packing more strength per pound than ever. But just as importantly, it trains the sort of undefinable grit that serves helps our fighting men and women accomplish any grueling and unpredictable physical task. Who doesn’t want that?”
If you’re preparing for a career in a tactical field, are a soldier or officer in need of a plan, or just want to train like hell for anything and everything the field can throw at you, this is your plan. This is the gritty world of tactical fitness.
The Operative Word
Depending on the specific needs of his or her job, individual demands for any tactical athlete will vary. There are a few principles that are universally present, however. An effective training program for any tactical operator needs to focus on:
- Injury prevention
- Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning
Injury prevention tops the list of priorities because an injured operator is a liability to themselves and their team, plain and simple.
Aerobic conditioning is also paramount, for several reasons. First and foremost, aerobic conditioning is vital to the job itself. Tactical operators need conditioning that goes beyond the anaerobic system. Whether it’s chasing a suspect, running up 15 flights of stairs to a fellow officer calling for help, or wrestling with someone who refuses to go quietly, eventually the aerobic system plays a significant part.
In addition, many organizations still measure aerobic capacity in some form as a job requirement. Anaerobic training comes into play at those times, when shorter bursts of conditioning are necessary.
Strength and power are also important for any type of combat athlete. When overcoming resistance from hostile opposition, if all other things are equal, the stronger and more explosive person will win. In addition to raw power, there are also more specific strength demands for the tactical athlete, such as grip and neck strength.
How to have it all
Even with all the varying qualities a tactical athlete needs, having an effective program isn’t enough. The program also needs to be an efficient one that doesn’t present needlessly complicated daily demands. For that reason, the program I’ve presented below can be arranged a couple of different ways.
Perform the warm-up before each workout, followed by strength training. As for the conditioning workouts, you can perform them either directly after the strength training or as independent workouts. The former option will help you learn to keep going when your muscles want to stop. The latter will allow more intensity.
You’ll notice a strong emphasis on unilateral movements to develop balance and prevent injury. The strength-training portion is designed to build strength and explosiveness, and is broken into a higher-volume initial phase to develop a strong base, followed by a higher-intensity phase focused on raw strength and power.
The burning sensation you’ll soon feel in your forearms is a sign that you’re also developing grip strength. For the tactical athlete, grip strength is immensely important, whether for controlling an unruly suspect, climbing, or weapon retention.
The conditioning portion of this program follows a similar pattern to the strength training. The first four weeks are designed to develop a strong aerobic base, followed by a higher-intensity block with a higher focus on anaerobic development.
So while your body never gets used to my program you are getting pushed to new levels monthly while making sure your body peaks and hit goals.