PROPER TRAINING WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER, FASTER, MORE DURABLE AND MORE PROFICIENT WITH YOUR WEAPONS SYSTEM
Proper training will make you stronger, faster, more durable, and more proficient with your weapons system.
You may not like to hear this, but it’s true.
For the majority of you coaches and trainers out there, everything you know about tactical fitness is wrong. That does not mean, however, that everyone is doing things wrong. In fact, there are a few guys in the game who are doing things the right way, but they seem to exist in the shadows as outcasts.
In the following story, we are going to delve into the rights and the wrongs of tactical fitness.
In some tactical fitness circles, there are groups who are implementing sprinting, heavy lifting and staminabased training into the routines. In these cases, the emphasis is on building stamina. And before we move on, let’s make sure we’re clear on a definition.
There is a fundamental difference between stamina and endurance. Endurance is defined as “the ability to continue, or last, especially despite fatigue.” It is the ability to put one foot in front of the other, and there is no doubt that endurance certainly has its place in some circles. This is extremely apparent in any form of SOF training or mission.
Stamina is “strength of physical constitution.” Stamina has strength at its forefront, meaning you must have strength in order to have stamina. In athletic capabilities, this means you can’t have true stamina without a basis of strength.
For those of us in the tactical world, this is the basis of our training. Although we can explain it in literary terms, it is deeply rooted in decades
“You do not rise to the occasion; rather you sink to your level of training.”
“WITH TRUE STRENGTH TRAINING … YOU BOLSTER YOUR ABILITY TO GO THROUGH OPERATIONAL LIFE UNINJURED.”
of experience. These are hard lessons learned by the SOFLETE (SOFLETE.COM) coaches in actual Special Operations experience. With backgrounds as SEAL’S, MARSOC Raiders, Green Berets and Recon Marines—as well as instructors for assessment and selection, BRC, SQT and Sw—we know the physical demands of selection processes, as well as the demands of an operational team.
Possibly more important, we realize that preparing for a selection is an event-specific training regimen, and the physical necessities are different from when you are actually in a team.
This brings to us to the first thing you may be doing wrong.
Mistake: You’re not strength training for your teammates.
Sometimes it’s not as important to move your own weight as it is to move others. “Tactical athletes” are typically weaker than they think they are, and they are definitely not strong in areas where it’s needed most. More often than not, they’re training for their own benefit instead of the guy on their left or right.
Thus, it’s time for a gut check. Can you take the heaviest guy on your team with all of his kit and yours and sprint with him on your shoulders for 100 meters? Heck, can you even get him up off the ground and onto your shoulders? Can you continue on with him another half mile at a brisk walk? If you’re a firefighter, can the guys on your squad pull you out of a burning building?
Here’s another way to think about it. Can you jump across that 3-foot creek with your 100-pound ruck on? If you’re the machine gunner, is everyone waiting on you to get into the fight, or are you there when needed? Be an asset, not a bag of ass.
To drive this point home, let me convey a conversation on fitness I once had with a Major, who had become a Green Beret. Due to time constraints and operational commitments, he said the job often prevented him from getting in enough workouts. He also told me he cared less about his 2-mile run time. His focus was on his ability to save the lives of his men. Somehow, without knowing it, he hit the nail on the head. Every time I hear somebody tell a guy in the military he sees “no need to go that heavy” or they only need to have good conditioning and be able to move their own body, I cringe.
Sure, a typical day in the military isn’t carrying your friends after they get shot and having to run with them. By the same token, a typical day in the military isn’t slinging lead with terrorists for 12 hours and having to speed reload your rifle because you’re burning it down so much. However, I offer this:
In every aspect of military training, we prepare for the extremes, the worstcase scenario, the unknown and the unplanned. We train for this because, even if you do everything perfectly, you can still die.
Mistake: You are combining fitness with range theatrics when it doesn’t directly correlate to real applications.
For example, doing five barbell back squats at 225 pounds and then shooting doesn’t really correlate to the effects of shooting under stress. But if you do an all-out 400-meter sprint in kit that leaves you gasping for air—with your legs, arms and hands shaky—you’ll see some degradation of accuracy when you immediately run through a course of fire.
Fitness systems that get it closer to right address rotational movements. Think about doing a deadlift, which is a single plane of movement. Now contrast that with rotating your trunk as you load ammo cans into the back of a vehicle (multi-plane movement). This is practical and functional.
“IN EVERY ASPECT OF MILITARY TRAINING, WE PREPARE FOR THE EXTREMES, THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO, THE UNKNOWN AND THE UNPLANNED.”
When is the last time you did a medical package and practiced how to give your buddy ibuprofen and get some rest? In over a decade of combat, we must have learned that failure does not occur in the mundane but rather the extremes.
Just like walking a patrol, the majority of your work is pretty mundane. You’re walking while wearing kit in the heat and that sucks. Injuries and failures do not occur during the majority of your steps; they occur in the mistakes, the anomalies and the few seconds in time in which you move into the extremes of your work. Jumping a wadi, tripping over a rock, sprinting to cover, diving into cover and picking up something in an odd position are when injuries occur. It’s not in the perfect step on flat ground that you twist an ankle.
Now imagine you are of the train of thought that conditioning is all you need and the most weight you ever work with in the gym (a controlled environment) is your body weight or an additional 100 or so pounds. If you weigh 200 pounds and you’re used to working with an additional 60 pounds of kit and a 53-pound kettlebell, the most weight you are used to working with or “conditioned” for is roughly 313 pounds in total—and this is in a controlled linear fashion.
Imagine now you are in combat, again wearing 60 pounds of kit, and you have to jump across a wadi to continue a patrol. The force exerted on your body is exponentially higher than 313 pounds. Even worse is the fact that these forces are hitting your body at a faster rate than you have ever prepared for.
With true strength training, as well as training your ability to perform large amounts of work over and over again with short breaks, you bolster your ability to go through operational life uninjured.
Mistake: You are training past the point of diminishing returns.
The body adapts to different stimuli, and it plateaus when the routine isn’t varied. If you do the same pushing movements every Monday, then it’s just becoming repetition for the sake of repetition. When you feel like you’ve peaked and aren’t seeing gains, it’s time to change up the exercises.
In the end, the right training will make you stronger, faster, more durable and more proficient with your weapons systems. TW