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December 17, 2009
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Jim Guffey Rising Through the Ranks
with Jim Guffey

Modified interval training for a fast but effective workout

In the final installment of this three-part series I’d like to talk briefly about exercise. I personally feel that police officers don’t do enough of it. Given the different diseases we seem to be susceptible to — diabetes, stroke and heart attack to name a few — it seems to me that across the board all officers should spend more time keeping in shape.

Rather than spend my time talking about all different exercises, I’m going to talk about my regimen and then let everyone out there make up their own mind as to what they want to do. My regimen was actually made for me by my son who is an exercise physiologist, or something like that, and I have to admit when you get used to it, it works.

The equipment I use is a treadmill, a 1500 Total Gym machine, and dumbbells with at least 40 pounds of cast iron weights. If no treadmill is available, you can run in place for the same length of time — just make sure you lift your legs as high as possible to increase your heart rate. If you have no Total Gym or universal machine, you can purchase a pull up bar that attaches to any door frame. I’ve never used one so I can’t say how well they work.

I use a modified version of interval training. All things considered, interval training is the way to go if you want an all around training routine. Just lifting weights alone isn’t going to cut it because you need the aerobics. Police work, in particular, requires that your heart be used to stress and unexpected expenditure of energy. Interval training does just that. My routine goes like this:

Treadmill
• Five minutes of fast walking at four miles per hour

Off Treadmill
1. Bicep Curls (Three sets, 12 repetitions a set)
2. Squats and Toe Raises (Put dumbbells on shoulders and do squats and on your way up continue until you rise up on your toes— three sets, 10 repetitions a set)

Treadmill
• Five minutes of fast walking at four miles per hour

Off Treadmill
3. Shoulder Raises (Three sets, 12 repetitions a set)
4. Back Rows (Three sets, 15 repetitions a set)

Treadmill
• Five minutes of fast walking at four miles per hour

Off Treadmill
5. Military press lying on floor (Three sets, 15 repetitions a set)
6. Triceps Curls (Three sets, 15 repetitions a set)

Treadmill
• Five minutes of fast walking at four miles per hour

Off Treadmill
7. Pull ups using a 1500 Total Gym machine (Three sets, 10 repetitions a set)
8. Behind the Back Pull Ups using machine (Three sets, 10 repetitions a set)

That’s it. Eight different exercises (nine if you count the treadmill).  The whole routine should take around 45-50 minutes. The trick is to get your heart rate up and never let it come down. No long periods of resting between treadmill and lifting. No resting between sets when lifting. The whole idea behind it is to get your metabolism up and keep it up the whole time and, because of this, you burn off fat and calories while increasing endurance. Whenever you get acclimated to the routine you simply raise the time on the machine and raise the number of repititions for each exercise.

This is the routine I use twice a week. The other two days of the week I do stretching exercises, calisthenics and some yoga to keep me flexible. There are a host of websites you can visit that show the different exercises you can do. One good one can be found here. This website has descriptions of all three types of exercises, weights, calisthenics, and stretching exercises.

Stretching and flexibility is important. Sometimes in a fight your body has to give a little when hit or kicked and then bounce back to hit harder. That’s where flexibility comes in, so don’t ignore it.

As with anything that involves physical fitness make sure you talk to a physician before you do any strenuous exercising. Remember to start slow and work your way up. Lastly, remember that your profession requires your body to do a host of different activities on any given day. You might have to carry someone out of a building. You might have to wrestle someone to the ground. You might be in a fight for your life if ambushed or surprised.

The bottom line is your body has to be able to take punishment and stress if you’re going to walk away the winner.


About the author

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Jim Guffey began his Law Enforcement career in 1977 with the Pennsylvania Capitol Police. In 1980 was hired by the Ross Township Police Department. He remained there until January 1, 2002. During that time he worked as a plain-clothes detective, on the traffic division, and was promoted on 1996 to Lieutenant. He remained the Administrative Lieutenant until his retirement. Not satisfied with retirement, he became the Chief of Police in Blairsville Borough in August 2003 and remained there until July 2004.





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