Tactical World - - Contents - By Fish with Dave Rho­den

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.”


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.


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

When you train prop­erly, you will be stronger, faster, more durable and more pro­fi­cient with your weapons sys­tems.

When you strength train prop­erly, you bol­ster your abil­ity to go through your op­er­a­tional life un­in­jured.

Your strength train­ing should ben­e­fit your team­mate.

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