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Training like the pros

Due to the physical restraints of our work schedules and extra curricular activities (having a life), maintaining one's fitness is time consuming. What usually happens is that a haphazard approach is taken towards physical conditioning. Taking five minutes to plan a program will ensure economical use of your spare time.

Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, why not use principles already proven in the professional sports arena, that of periodization.

Basically, periodization (a really good book to get is "Periodization Training for Sports" by Tudor Bompa. Other books on this subject can be found at www.humankinetics.com) explains how to break down the year into periods of rest and training. However, this is usually geared towards peak performance of the athletes to coincide with certain times of the year for tournaments.

Unfortunately, in law enforcement, the option or the luxury to choose a time to be at our peak performance is rarely decided by the peace officer. More often than not the choice is made by the perpetrator of a crime, which suggests that law enforcement officers should be at their peak 24/7.

Training at 100% all of the time would eventually be counterproductive (repetitive stress injury, joint problems, muscle strains and interrupted sleep patterns are common ailments), but we can adapt the periodization plan to allow us to train in a manner to be highly adaptable and still be able to have a life.

The year is broken down into various subsections: A macro cycle, a meso cycle and a micro cycle. A macro cycle is one year, a meso is a quarter and a micro is one week. Each meso is divided into twelve micro cycles; these micro cycles are usually grouped into five working weeks and one week of active rest (Hill climbing, walking and swimming, something other than your normal routine).

Each week (micro cycle) will increase in intensity towards the end of week five. Week six, or the micro cycle of active rest, allows our bodies to rest and repair effectively.

Active rest for one week will not be detrimental to your routine. Yes you may feel like you have lost a bit of fitness, but in reality the potential gained is similar to having the chance to run up for a jump. So, the second part of the meso cycle will see better gains, with less chance of injury. If injured, more than one week's rest could be required.

While I am on this subject of rest, training through an injury can be done by concentrating on other body areas not affected by the injury, but do so in a manner which will not stress the body too much. A light regime will suffice. However, training whilst infected by a virus or bacteria could be life threatening as the body needs all of its defenses concentrated on fighting the illness.

I have spoken to several doctors over the years and they assure me that if training is continued, the illness can work its way to other organs of your body, which makes it harder to cure. So, if you have the flu, don't try to sweat it out in a sauna or go for a run. Just REST. If you have a broken leg, work your torso and other leg when you feel able to do so.

As I mentioned in my previous article, using functional fitness movements for warm ups will allow us to be more efficient and grove desired motor skills. These skills could be simple takedowns as a single person drill (form), strikes and kicks or draw from an imaginary holster and move off the line stepping drills. This still remains the most economical use of our time for a warm up, practical to tactical baby (ok, not my quote. Still sounds good though).

Over the continuing cycles, demonstrated in the periodization table, we can concentrate on developing strength, endurance and flexibility by using different types of training methods such as the Swiss ball (core), Aquatics and traditional weight training for each meso cycle. The basic movements or exercises will not change (the similar motions will always be used as the human body can only move in so many ways). The thing that will change will be the stability of the training platform, the environment, along with the time taken to complete a repetition or set.

By changing the routines and training methods we are able to stress our bodies in a manner which will slightly differ each time. This will allow us to maintain an adequate state of fitness without incurring injuries. A change is as good as a rest, the old adage remains true. (If you are unsure always contact a professional or, if you have time, seek the information readily available on the internet or in print...you know, those things we used to have in school...erm, oh yea, Books!)

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