Block Periodization Helps to Develop Weakness and Maintain Strengths
Do you need a formula for how to balance strengths and weaknesses when it comes to training? Try a simple 3-to-1 ratio of time spent on them each cycle of training. Learn about Tactical Fitness Block Periodization.
3 Part Weakness / 1 Part Strength
When preparing for challenging tactical professions and special ops level selections, a well constructed program that addresses both the development of weaknesses and the maintainance of current strengths is what you are looking for. The process is not as simple as just doing everything all at once in a program as the time in training will be significant and the amount of recovery is also difficult to maintain at these high levels of training.
Everything from your recovery (nutrition, sleep, hydration, mobility / flexibility) to the training days as they progress into weeks and months need to be part of a systemic plan that in the end yields results. See recovery article for more information as the recovery from today's workout is also preparation for the next day of training. Here is a good way to think about how much time you should spend on all the elements of fitness:
Strength, Power, Speed, Agility, Cardio Endurance (run, swim, ruck), Muscle Stamina (strength-endurance), Grip, and Flexibility / MobilityPhysical fitness elements that the tactical athlete has to engage to remain "good at everything."
It does not matter who you are, you come into this journey with a variety of strengths from natural God-given talents, athletic history, and training age.
|Training age purely refers to the total training time/ experience the athlete has in that aspect of physical training – i.e. whether its strength training, endurance training, weightlifting, running, swimming, etc (NSCA - ScienceForSport.com)|
There are also going to be weaknesses that you have never trained before and maybe events that you do not like (running, rucking, lifting, high rep calisthenics). But guess what - it does not matter as you HAVE to now get good at everything (all the elements of fitness above) if you want to be successful in future tactical training selection programs.
Try the 3 Weeks of Weakness Development /
1 Week of Strength Maintenance Approach
Strength Athlete - If you are a strength athlete and anything over 100m is considered long distance, focus on your muscle stamina and cardio endurance. You may want to do a pure Calisthenics and Cardio Cycle, then after 8-12 weeks, try mixing in some strength maintenance if you are jones-ing for the weight room. Then only either do a few supplemental lifts mixed into your calisthenics / cardio cycle 1-2 times a week, or try the 3:1 ratio of 3 weeks focused on calisthenics and cardio and 1 week in the weight room and use the strength training as a pseudo-deload week from the higher reps, and higher miles running than you maybe used to doing. But, I would still get in the pool and practice technique (swim / tread) everyday regardless of what week you are in as you may find swimming technique training and conditioning to be a quickly perishing abilitiy when neglected.
If you are a big athlete, you may want to progress into cardio focusing on more nonimpact cardio vs running solely as a triathlete would. Do bike and swim primarily and make running about a third of your cardio activity, until you have built your aerobic endurance some, lost some weight (if needed), and also got into swimming shape WHILE avoiding overuse impact injuries that running typically cause new and heavier longer distance runners. The need for 1500 lbs. combined scores (dead lift, squat, bench press) are over, in fact, 1000lbs combined scores are well above average within the tactical athlete prep world. Time to consider your strength a strength and focus on cardio endurance / muscle stamina on a 3:1 ratio (strength : weakness) during your training cycles until you are ready to go to selection.
Endurance Athlete - If you are used to running and swimming for hours at a time but do not know the difference between a bench press and a leg press, it is time to get into the weight room - yesterday! One initial phase that also works well for most endurance athletes is to get into high rep calisthenics cycle first. Build a foundation of PST type exercises quickly as you are made for muscle stamina exercises but you need to develop the pullups, pushups, situps for entrance testing purposes. This is a form of strength training that you can build upon in the weight room after a calisthenics cycle with REDUCED cardio. The need for 4 hour swim workouts or 60-75 miles a week of running are over (unless you are still competing), now you need to consider this ability a strength and focus with a 3:1 ratio of weakness : strength.
For both types of athletes - About 25% of the time MAXIMUM needs to be focused on your current strengths. Even if you do a full seasonal cycle (12 weeks) you will still remain most of your ability and compared to fellow classmates in training you will still be good enough to be in the top 10% of the class in those typical strengths. The question is how well did you develop your weaknesses in this journey? Does your performance with your weaknesses put you in the top 20% of the class? Top 50% of the class? Your weaknesses will be exposed immediately upon arriving in selection training - are you ready? Because whatever you do not work on now, will be a gut check during selection.
About Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization
It all started more than 20 years ago, when I realized I needed a break from an aggressive Summer running program. But to be honest, I had been running similar to this for years - year after year after year. So I started a downward regression that matched the time of day. As the days got shorter in the Fall and Winter, my runs did too. Replaced running with non impact cardio options and lifting weights for the first time in nearly 15 years of training (at age 30). It was my first winter lift cycle. It rebuilt me. Increase joint stability, strength, power, and was ready to try running again in the Spring - but this time was a logical progression of about 10-15% volume increase each week.
This was my first year of training with out injury in a very long time and for the past 20+ years I continued to not only use this method of training myself, but have taught it to thousands of tactical athletes in person and even more through books, ebooks, and online coaching. (see below for more info).
Here is the way I arrange my
workouts throughout the year.
I do not have a workout of the day - I have a workout that fits into my year training cycle. I think of the four seasons as a way to challenge ALL of the fitness elements (speed, agility, endurance (run, swim, ruck), strength / power, muscle stamina, mobility and flexibility) – not all at once but spread throughout the year. You will find you can still be above average in ALL the elements of fitness which is invaluable to your success in any Tactical Profession.
Spring - Calisthenics and cardio workouts. Run / Swim Progression. But there is a mix of weighted regressions, and progression of calisthenics and running. As the days of the year get longer, so do the workout times and running / calisthenics volume. (Element focus: Hypertrophy, muscle stamina - strength mix, aerobic / anaerobic endurance - fast timed run / swim / ruck pace)
Summer - Calisthenics and cardio workouts (advanced). Run max / PT Peak, Swim progression. But with supplemental lifts for people who need some strength focus more than a high mileage focus (runners, triathletes, other endurance athletes). (Element focus: endurance (run, swim, other), muscle stamina (high reps) of calisthenics and some load bearing events.
Fall - Calisthenics and running volume start to decrease. Non-impact cardio workouts start to replace some of the running (bike, swim, row) However, rucking and swim with fins progressive throughout the Fall and Winter to maintain cardio conditioning especially for people who need to lose weight and not focus so much on strength training (powerlifters, football players, strength athletes)
(Element focus: Hypertrophy, muscle stamina - strength mix, aerobic / anaerobic endurance - fast timed run / swim / ruck pace)
Winter – We still warm-up with calisthenics, but this cycle is heavy weights, weight vest calisthenics, more non-impact cardio workouts. Some rucking / More Swim with fins peak. Most people put on 10-15 lbs in this cycle (of muscle and gains in strength) but maintain about a 8-10 miles per week of faster paced running. (Element focus: Hypertrophy, strength/power, speed / agility)
Check out the NEW Block Periodization Cycle we did Winter of 2020-21:
Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus
I just published the book Increase Strength and Crush the PST / PAST - this program will help you do just that and more! For the ebook, check out this link - Increase Strength and Crush the PST / PAST
Other Tactical Fitness Programs Specific to Your Goals
My most recent Seasonal Training programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs.
Calisthenics and Cardio - No Equipment Needed Guide For Body Weight Exercisers and maybe a good option for people of all fitness levels to stay home or get outside and train.Calisthenics and Cardio Workout is built with beginners, intermediate, and advanced in mind and focuses on limited equipment. It would definitely fall into the Spring / Summer part of the programming:
Other EBOOKS (Military, Police, Fire Fighter, Special Ops, General Fitness) – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training.
Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).
Programs that follow Seasonal Periodization Training
BOOKS – Eleven Published Tactical Fitness Books and more than 30 other printed programs specifically designed for a special test, event, or selection training program or training cycle.
Tactical Fitness - Walks through all the phases / seasons of tactical fitness
Tactical Strength - This is my Fall / Winter Lift Cycle with more of a strength / power lifting cycle compared to Maximum Fitness Winter Lift Cycle.
Tactical Mobility - You have to do mobility regularly - year round.
Warrior Workouts Vol 1 | Vol 2 | Vol 3 - All three books of Warrior Workouts contain 100 workouts each. They are organized by calisthenics only, cardio, weights / cals mixed, and weight only. Warrior Workouts 1 is organized with seasonal periodization is mind. These are individual workouts you place into your program ala-carte. These books are not part of system or program - just individual workouts for your choosing each day.
The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness - This is ALL calisthenics and cardio (run / swim). Basically a high rep / moderate to high volume of running and swimming with SEAL training specifically in mind. It is essentially a Summer training cycle.
Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout - This is a Fall / Winter training cycle with SEAL Training in mind - complete with cardio (run, swim, ruck), lifting for logs and boats, as well as still maintaining calisthenics scores.
Maximum Fitness - This is a 52 week program that was my first full year of Seasonal Periodization as discussed above. The Winter Lift Cycle is more of a hypertrophy body building routine with some isolation exercises as it is meant to help rebuild the joints, put on mass in the Winter. But the Spring, Summer, Fall are similar to other programs - just different.
The SWAT Workout - Is a mix of PT Test Prep for Academy training that advances into SWAT Tryouts, and active SWAT Team member. It is a mix of Spring / Summer and Fall / Winter with the Run / lift cycles. But much of the running can be replaced with non-impact cardio if needed.
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Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.
If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching
Online Personal Coaching – Receive one on one training with Stew Smith as he personally designed programs for you that fit your schedule (time per day / days per week), abilities, facilities / equipment, and goals. There personally designed programs for YOU are received one week at a time and each week YOUR feedback helps to create the following week of training. We work around issues that get in the way of our typical training days – injury / aches / pains, work, family, travel, and deadlines. Call and talk to Stew to see if it is right for you.
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