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Spring - Summer PT Cardio and Fall - Winter Lift Cycle Explained

Stew Smith

The Spring / Summer Calisthenics / Run Cycle and the Fall / Winter Lift Cycle Explained: 

Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization

The programs above feature 4 x 12 week cycles of training with a specific weakness to develop and many strengths to maintain. A seasonal approach to tactical fitness training allows for there to be sort of an "off-season" like traditional periodization programs in sports naturally offer.  Over the course of the year of training, you experience ALL the elements of tactical fitness:  strength / power, speed / agility, cardio endurance (run, swim, ruck) / muscle stamina, flexibility / mobility, and grip.  Being a tactical athlete requires being good (at varying degrees depending on the job) at all of these areas of fitness and corresponding energy systems development.  Too often, our training programs tend to focus on the elements of fitness that we enjoy the most or are best at doing.
There is nothing wrong enjoying activities whether in the weight room or on the road or pool.  All can work well together with some create coordination and help you eliminate overuse injuries from cycle after cycle of high miles running or years of heavy lifting.  Both skills of strength and endurance are needed to help with both overall durability and work capacity for your very physically demanding profession. 

                 Are You Good At ALL of These?

There are many ways to train with even more different training goals to achieve, but when it comes to tactical fitness – training for military, police, and fire fighter professions – getting good at all the elements of fitness is not only the underlying goal, but the requirement. Tactical Fitness requires you to take your fitness seriously because your fitness may one day be the difference between life and death for you, your buddy, or someone you are trying to help.  Not only does your health and fitness need to be developed, but your ability to react as you have been trained and think clearly under stress is an absolute must.

Train like your buddy’s life depends on it. 

Your workout today must make you better tomorrow in your job.  This means not only having a healthy heart, blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight, but your workout must help you with the all of the elements of fitness. When we break down the elements of fitness, the tactical athlete needs to develop programming to get good at all of the following:

There are combinations of elements that work well together, and you can improve them together.  Some tend to be more opposed to each other

Our Fall / Winter Lift Cycle focuses on developing more Strength, Power, and even Speed and Agility – Lift heavy equipment, gear, and people too with great force and power when needed.  Together with running and moving fast, stop on a dime, change direction, hit the deck, get back up and move again, this combo of elements of fitness work great together. If you have ever played or did pre-season training for football or other power sports, you will understand this process well. These elements help to form overall durability and coupled with flexibility and mobility enable you to bend but not break – also known as resilience.

There are other useful reasons to lift heavy / gain some mass during the Fall / Winter months - body heat.  If you are in cold environments or diving, you will need the extra mass to help you stay warm.  The lift cycle typically puts on 10-15 lbs on people - even hard gainers. 

Our Spring / Summer PT / Cardio Cycle focuses on Endurance and Muscle Stamina – This combo of elements of fitness work well together and are basically our PST cycles to get TO the training.  Whether you are taking your semi-annual PFT, or preparing for a future competitive selection, these cycles come in handy to help you maximize your efforts. Move yourself and gear up, over, under, and through space for long periods of time and repetitions helps you build work capacity that will help you in long days and nights of selection training.

Flexibility and Mobility – Move easily over uneven terrain and in between obstacles.  You have to add this in ALL cycles throughout the year.  Through warmups, cooldowns, and pure mobility sessions, these elements are recovery and performance enhancers as well as help you prevent nagging injuries. Once a week, you will have a day devoted to this located in the middle of the week.  You will be surprised at how well the following workouts later in the week improve after adding this day into your training – NO MATTER what your age is.

Grip – Hold gear, climb rope / mountain, grab and carry equipment and people without tiring. Though grip can be classified as an element of fitness, it is a combination of strength / muscle endurance and applies directly to the job skills of the tactical profession.  Your ability to climb ropes and obstacles, carry equipment, drag heavy gear or people, and hold firm on necessary tools is where grip comes into play.

Skills – For instance, in some professions, swimming / diving is required. Swim to save a life, to cross a river, meet up with a ship or sub for extraction, and to be effective on 75% of this planet. Climbing, shooting, navigation, medical emergencies, and other tactical knowledge and applications must be learned along your journey in order to put all the elements of fitness into effective use. The better conditioned you are, the easier some of the skills are completed as well as making wise and split decisions under pressure. 

More Than a Year Worth of Workouts in This Trio

Both Spring Summer PT Cardio Cycle and the Fall / Winter Lift Cycle are examples of fitness with a purpose and smart ways to train year round without getting bored of the same routines - year after year.  These are advanced workouts.  If you want a build up program, a good option is the new Calisthenics and Cardio complete with a Beginner Build Up, Intermediate Phase, and a Moderately Advanced Phase that totals about 18 weeks of training - minimal equipment necessary. 


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