As a tactical athlete, the stakes are high, and your level of fitness should be of the highest priority. For those entering an academy or basic training and wanting to excel, you’ll need a well rounded base of fitness as well. For those that want to stand out and not just make it through, this style of programming is definitely for you. It’s time to lead the pack
What Does a Tactical Athlete Need?
What attributes define a high level tactical athlete?
You must be well rounded in all markers of fitness.. This means you don’t have to excel in any one area, but you have to be good across all of them. In particular, I’d want to see:
- High Aerobic Power
- High level of strength-endurance
- Strength in the big compound movement patterns (squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, pull up)
- Mobility and durability: High level of work capacity and general physical preparedness.
- Ability to generate power repeatedly (power-endurance)
- Mental Resiliency: Ability to operate under extreme stress and fatigue.
This may seem like a lot, and it is. Therefore, having a solid program is paramount in building yourself into a well-rounded machine. A balance of strength work, conditioning and recovery is needed to ensure progress without burning yourself out.
My personal view of a tactical athlete is reflected in my programming. I visualize someone who has some muscle and enough size to look like they shouldn’t be messed with. They should be lean, strong and able to run a 6 minute mile. They should be tenacious and able to continue working under extreme fatigue and mental stress.
Without a doubt, getting stronger must be a priority for any tactical athlete. That goes for a police officer as much as for a military athlete or firefighter.
The problem I’ve seen with a lot of programs is that this is taken to extremes to the point that some look more like bodybuilding or powerlifting programs, neglecting other critical aspects of tactical fitness. Yes, you’ll look good.. but you’ll be a 4 cylinder Prius pretending to be a V8 Hemi, and it won’t take long to be exposed.
Another problem is the type of strength being focused on. There MUST be a heavy focus on strengthening the core/trunk. Tactical athletes often have to carry awkward loads or people over unknown terrain and distances. They may have to operate wearing vests and gear for long periods of time.
Again, weaknesses will be exposed, either in the form of injuries or simply breaking down and being unable to perform.
Improve Conditioning – Methods
ST-3 is, at heart, a strength and conditioning program. Out of a desire to remain big and strong and still be able to MOVE, I created this style of programming through a little bit of trial and error and a lot of research.
In basic training, at the age of 34, I was able to run sub-6 minute miles at 240lbs. It was not easy to get to that point, but the methods used were sound and very effective. I simply cut out most of the frequent, longer distance running that put a lot of recovery stress on the body, and implemented high intensity interval sprints, working up to about 8-10 x 400 meter sprints by the end of a 3 month training program.
These were supplemented with full body conditioning (see below) to great effect. This was to become the foundation of my programming.
The high intensity nature of the interval sprints allows us to gain a huge benefit in the form of aerobic power and mental toughness, while only having to perform them once every 7-9 days, or even less than that.
Full Body Conditioning
Aside from the sprints, full body high intensity conditioning is implemented with similar goals in mind.. To improve aerobic power and teach the body to clear lactate more efficiently. It isn’t mindless “WOD’s.” It’s purposeful, progressive conditioning.
Here’s an example of a session from early on in the ST-3 Tactical program of a full body conditioning session.
This circuit is repeated continuously. Early on in the program, you’re allowed short rest between movements to train the body to recover from fatigue and to manage your effort under stress. As things progress, the rounds will increase and the rest will be expected to decrease. More intense movements will also be added to make things even tougher, but you’ll be ready for them.
These full body conditioning sessions use full body movements that are very taxing on the body. Therefore, we do NOT need to implement them more than once per week to gain a massive benefit from them.
Many people suffer from the mistake of performing TOO MUCH high intensity training, which only ends up hurting your progress in the long run.
Core strength is a misunderstood element of fitness. A strong core does not come from performing sit ups. It comes from forcing the trunk to stabilize heavy loads, as you would see in a movement like the Zercher Squat or heavy loaded carries.
Below is a Zercher Squat. Holding the weight out in front forces your core/trunk to work extremely hard to stabilize and maintain upright posture. All of the muscles in the core and the stabilizing muscles of the upper back are working overtime in movements like this.
Loaded carries are another staple set of exercises that don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. For a tactical athlete, these are a crucial addition to your training.
Below are two examples utilized in the ST-3 program of effective loaded carry variations: Single Arm Overhead Carries and Farmer Carries
Get a Solid Program
Training with a structured program is always going to yield better results than just going at it alone. This is even more true for a well designed, progressive program. Knowing exactly what you need to do each day and being able to measure progress will allow you to completely rebuild your engine and become an all around better, more complete tactical athlete.
There are many programs out there, but I’ll stand by the ST-3 against any of them. I’ve used it on myself multiple times to great effect and have utilized the same programming with other athletes as well, always with great results.
The program is delivered through the TrainHeroic App. Every movement has a video demonstration and each training day is fully explained. You also have access to a coach. It is an unbeatable value and a priceless tool for anyone serious about taking their performance to the next level.
Like they say.. Everyone wants to be a beast.. ’till it’s time to do what beasts do. If you’re ready to take yourself to the next level, we’re right here waiting.
Also, if You’ve read this far, I’ll reward you by offering you a 50% off code for the program. This isn’t a gimmick.. People pay the full price, but if you read this far you’re obviously serious about something, and at the end of the day I’d love to help you achieve your goals and beyond.
The Tactical Athlete must possess a high level of ability across the entire spectrum of fitness; Aerobic power, strength, speed, strength-endurance and mobility.
A police officer may need to chase a suspect, then engage in a physical altercation, all while wearing gear. A military athlete may need to sprint, under fire, to a fallen soldier, then carry him/her to cover, while wearing full kit. Firefighters may spend long periods of time with heavy gear on, handling heavy, awkward equipment and running in and out of dangerous situations.
When you need it the most, your level of fitness might just be what makes the difference between success and failure,,, life and death. However you decide to go about it, treat it as a high priority and get yourself a solid plan. Best of luck to you, and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email: Contact@supastrong.net