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Beyond Specialization: Why The Jack-of-All-Trades Approach is Crucial for Tactical Professions

Stew smith

Jack of All Trades Goals:  The Need for Above Average Performance in Everything vs The Best at One Thing

Your ability to conquer any tactical training program lies in preparing with diverse workout formats that expose and eliminate your weaknesses. Turning a weaknesses into a newfound strength can be done with patience, persistence, and the grit to do things you may not be good at doing at first.

You might think sticking to what you’re good at is the way to go. Sure, doubling down on your strengths feels rewarding, but it will one day expose glaring weaknesses. If you’re focusing solely on just a few element of fitness (like most athletes), you’ll see gains, no doubt. But brace yourself! When it's time to step into the high-octane world of tactical professions like the military, police, fire/EMT—and especially special operations—you’ll need to be a be good at the things you are neglecting now. Your weaknesses will be exposed on fitness tests and on day 1 of difficult selection programs within the tactical world.

So, let’s dive into the secret sauce of becoming a well-rounded athlete who is not particularly great at any one thing, but good at everything. How do you get this way? By combining different workout formats. The benefits are undeniable. Think high rep calisthenics, sandbags, weight vest training, strength and speed training, swimming, running, rucking, yoga, and fitness testing—all rolled into weekly training cycles spread throughout the year. We call it Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization. You can also call it Block Periodization. With this type of system, say goodbye to training plateaus and stagnant results!

The Basis of Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization (STFP)
- Cycling Through Your Strengths and Weaknesses -

Think of tactical fitness training as having two primary goals:

1 - Consistent Focus on Your Weaknesses

2 - Maintaining Strengths

But tactical fitness training also has 4 phases:

1 - Focused training to get TO the training (ace fitness tests)

2 - Specific training to get THROUGH training/selections (boot camp, spec ops schools, etc)

3 - Active Duty Operator Training - Staying fit to perform the job, stress mitigation, recovery, and longevity. 

4 - Former Tactical Professional - You still want to remain fit and able to enjoy the back half of life. Longevity, mobility/flexibility, mastery of recovery, and maintaining health, and wellness are critical to this phase of life and fitness.  

Instead of scrambling to improve everything at once, focus on cyclic training elements that address your weakest points. This strategic approach keeps your workouts engaging with varied exercises and fresh goals to crush.

Here’s your roadmap to mastering every fitness challenge:

1. Foundation of Strength/Power: Cultivate load-bearing durability. Imagine carrying heavy gear without breaking a sweat. Strength and power form the bedrock of any fitness routine. Without this foundation, carrying loads and enduring physical challenges become uphill battles. Incorporating weightlifting and resistance exercises fortifies your body, ensuring durability and preventing injuries. Start with compound movements like squats and deadlifts three times a week. Gradually increase weights as you progress. Our Fall / Winter Lift Cycles are when we make this goal our primary focus. 

2. Speed and Agility: Elevate your game for obstacle courses and tactical fitness tests. Speed and agility are crucial for navigating obstacle courses and tactical fitness tests. Incorporate sprint intervals and agility drills into your regimen. Practice shuttle runs, ladder drills, and cone exercises twice a week. This not only improves performance but also builds explosive power and quick reflexes. Our Fall / Winter Lift Cycles are when we make this goal our primary focus. 

3. Endurance: Build rock-solid endurance across multiple modes—run, ruck, and swim. You'll be unstoppable. A balanced fitness plan demands endurance across multiple modes—running, rucking, swimming. Rotate between these activities to keep your cardiovascular system engaged. Schedule long runs, weighted marches (rucks), and swim sessions throughout your week. The variety ensures sustained progress and combats monotony. Our Spring / Summer Cals/Cardio Cycles are when we make this our primary goal. 

4. High-Rep Calisthenics: Boost muscle stamina with high-rep exercises. Your muscle stamina and ability to recover quickly will thank you later. High-repetition calisthenics cultivate muscle stamina. Aim for exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. Set weekly goals, incrementally increasing your rep counts. This consistent effort builds the stamina needed for extended physical effort in real-world scenarios. Our Spring / Summer Cals/Cardio Cycles are when we make this our primary goal. 

5. Flexibility/Mobility: Enhance flexibility to relieve pain, discomfort, and prevent potential injuries. Pain-free is the way to be! Flexibility and mobility are often overlooked, yet vital to prevent injuries. Integrate yoga and stretching into your routine. Dedicate at least two days a week to focus on these areas. Improved flexibility alleviates discomfort and enhances overall performance. Mobility/Flexibility are built into every cycle. 

6. Grip Strength: Develop a solid and enduring grip because a firm hold can make all the difference in the heat of the moment. A strong grip is essential for handling equipment and performing various physical tasks. Incorporate grip-strengthening exercises like farmer’s walks and dead hangs. Train your grip two to three times a week for best results. Grip can be enhanced with many options from pullups, lifting, farmer walks, rope climbing and more. 

So, what's stopping you? Embrace the variety, attack your weaknesses, and watch as you transform into a powerhouse of balanced fitness. Strategically cycle through different training elements to keep workouts engaging and address weaknesses, making every session a step toward unparalleled fitness.

Why Jack of All Trades Wins the Fitness Game

By embracing a well-rounded fitness routine, not only do you prevent plateaus, but you also prepare yourself for any physical demand life throws your way. This variety keeps you engaged, challenged, and constantly improving. Having no weaknesses is a confidence booster going into any type of training. 

Empower yourself to push boundaries. Blend diverse workouts into your schedule and redefine what your body is capable of. Your journey to becoming truly fit starts now. Embrace it, crush it, and inspire others to do the same.

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to just about anything. We have a systems where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics.  When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run, less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

My most recent programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


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The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

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