Why Tactical Fitness is Built Different,
But Similar in Many Ways Too...
I recently received a fantastic email from a career firefighter about tactical fitness training. It was so good I asked him if I could share his 25 years of experience with others seeking (or currently serving) in the tactical professions. This email applies to all tactical athletes - not just fire fighters, wildland firefighters and smoke jumpers: Check out some of the reasons why we train the way we do, using seasonal cycles, and a wide variety of cardio, calisthenics, weights, and more.
Stew, I really appreciate the time you helped me prepare for the smokejumper detail- I learned a lot! Anyway, while doing my workout today a few things became clear to me about why you do what you do and why I appreciate it so much. The young guys don’t necessarily understand but for people who’ve done these tactical jobs for a while it makes so much sense. These are things that YOU know obviously but some of the young folks looking around for workouts don’t understand sometimes. Hope this is helpful to you in some way:
That said, I’ve been working in the tactical arena as a federal wildland firefighter since 1998 and I just wanted to share a few of the things I’ve noticed about Stew Smith’s methodology that DIRECTLY related to how we get things done on the ground. Check out the job related performance parallels to the tactical fitness training (that I’ve noticed) below:
Don't Skip Leg Day - Multiple leg exercises (squats and lunges) add up to burning quads and long rucks up mountainous terrain to get you to the job site. Lunges with weight equates to long travel leg stretches needed to climb over rocks, boulders, trees etc in the field. Mixing these with cardio (Run and Leg PT) is the ideal mix for getting the job done when carrying equipment on any terrain. You need strong legs, legs with endurance, and strong heart and lungs.
Mentally Pushing Through the Pain / Exhaustion - Pushing through when tired in workouts applies to the long days and nights and it happens all the time. Some days you just have to embrace the suck and push through. Those are the shifts everybody talks about though, not the easy days on the job. Making yourself do things when your body is screaming no happens constantly on the job.
- Another Subset of Moving Through Exhaustion is THINKING CLEARLY Through Exhaustion as Well - Keeping cool under stress is built in the gym too as well as training. Resting in between sets with job related skills or flash cards can be valuable for a stressful thinking job. The jobs not going to change so you have to. Thinking clearly when exhausted is absolutely critical and happens a lot. Train the way you work and you will one day be able to rely on your training in serious life or death situations.
Mixing cardio with strength training - The job is a mixture of moving yourself and your gear around (sometimes in steep rough terrain) and then working, then moving again, then working again. All day long. This is a blend of muscle stamina, work capacity, strength and durability the tactical athlete needs. Most athletes have a weakness in one or the other (strength or endurance). Having both in training and getting good at both is critical to the job.
Off-Season Training - Whether you are working up to deploy in the military or have an upcoming fire season in your region, make training way harder than the real job in the off season. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress heartache and be able to think and make smart decisions when others can’t. This is what Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization methodology is all about.
Load Bearing Skills - Whether it is equipment carry or just rucking with a back pack, it is part of the job so practice it. Some type of ruck or distance run at the end of the workout is similar to the time after a long exhausting shift, you still have to hike your butts back to the rigs! Or a helispot or some type of extraction site- very real world. The final part of every mission is getting back home safely. Be prepared to exfiltrate and extract at the end of the training or mission.
Team Work Training - Get a partner and work together as a team to accomplish your goals both in the gym and in the field. This is something we constantly harp on when you get hired. You do nothing alone. There is accountability, vulnerability, and cooperation/coordination whether its time to PT or you’re working a piece of active fireline. Help each other out! My bad day today might be yours tomorrow.
Lift Weights - Get Big? Or Not? It Depends - You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about lifting heavy weights or having big impressive muscles. These things are just products of the training in my opinion. Strength without muscular endurance can actually be a hindrance on the fireline or in the field. I’ve seen plenty of big buff dudes bonk out after a few hours and I’ve also seen little guys literally tip over from the weight we load them up with (100+ pounds) if they haven’t done any strength training at all. I’ve also seen big guys lose a lot of that size in one two week fire assignment just due to the change in activity level. Training for the job is different than body building. You may end up looking and feeling good after doing Stew’s programs, but more importantly you will be prepared for the job. That is what Tactical Fitness is - being able to do a very dangerous job and come home safely.
Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach / Author Stew Smith?
|I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession. See More at StewSmithFitness.com|
We Have Answers For Beginners to Advanced Spec Ops Level Training Programs (see below)
You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.
It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness
These programs as well as my online coaching programs have Winter Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete.
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