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Tactical fitness

By Trooper Richard Mattson
NY State Police, Mobile Response Team

Many of us in the special weapons and tactics environment believe that if we’re running 3x a week and hitting the weights another 3x, we have the basics covered on fitness. I started to fall into that routine while on a massive manhunt in western New York in 2006. After long work days and on my days off, I started to revert back to my one-dimensional training routine of weights and the same running schedule.

The truth of the matter is that our tactical training is progressive and situational and our fitness regimes have got to be strict and functional. Do you train at the gym with your tactical vest on? How about your drop holster? The ever popular gas mask?

The answer we all know is no. We train under stressful conditions when at the range or during scenarios and that’s where it stops. Our workouts should incorporate all our “specialties” so that we are prepared for the worst situation that could arise during our tactical duties.

These workouts need to be short and brutal to produce maximum results and to fit our crazy schedules. I’m not suggesting that you throw out your new Christmas memberships to the gym, just to think outside the conventional workout room. Exercises and machines are geared to help compensate for large weight or specific movements. The reality is that you’re going to be pushing against doors, perps and heavy weighs that aren’t balanced on both sides. Your workouts must include the basics of endurance and strength as well as adding resistance training, defensive tactics and most importantly, officer rescue exercises.

This calls on the officer to make his training multi-dimensional to cover all his physical needs quickly and efficiently. As an example: I started wearing a 25-50-lbs. weighted vest for warm-ups at the end of 2006. I would do prisoner squats with twists, 10 reps each side, then “gator” push-ups 15 reps, pull-ups 10 reps and finally mountain climbers for 45 seconds straight, all in a row! By this time I would have a good sweat going and was ready to tackle my workout.

I would run 400 meters in under 2 minutes then do 135-lb. power cleans for 15 reps, over to a 75 lbs. heavy bag where I would do takedowns and strikes with elbows, 20 each arm, then transition into burpees for 15 reps. I would do 3 rounds of this for time with 2 minutes rest in between rounds and be completely ruined in less then 30 minutes!

Sometimes I would put my 40 lbs. son in an old tire affixed with a bungee cord and carabineers and drag it up and down my dirt driveway for time, then use a rest period doing body squats with him on my shoulders. Even if I got caught at work I would grab a teammate and push a police cruiser for 25 feet then carry my teammate back to the start, then switch.

After I was critically injured by a rifle in a shootout in April 2007, I needed to rearrange my workouts to compensate for my disability. Today, with only about 25 % usage of my left arm and hand, I thought I would be giving up a lot of great exercises for arms and chest. But with the help of kettle bells and resistance bands I have actually increased my stamina and fitness levels back to pre-shootout form. Plus, with more time at home, my tire and son have been a 3x a week fixture (to his enjoyment!)

Try to keep your workouts short and intense. Train for about 25 -35 minutes at 80-90% work rate with less recovery time in between. Combine push/ pull/ press movements with plyometrics, endurance runs and strongman drills. It could be at playground with your kids or in the backyard in 14 inches of snow. Try flipping truck tires or carrying a heavy bag up playground stairs. You’re only limited to what you want to be. Try to visualize your worst-case, high-risk warrant and adjust to that environment. Push yourself to train in extreme weather conditions and low-light areas like parking lots or playgrounds.

By mixing up your physical training you can adjust and overcome erratic real- life situations. A 400-lbs. bench is impressive, but to be able to lift, sprint, hurdle and fight while in tactical gear is more situational and practical.

If you need some routines or feedback drop me an email at: onearmdog@yahoo.com.

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