Do You Want a Way to Build Toughness? Both Mentally and Physically? This is the Way...
One thing about losing indoor training facilities over the past few years when large groups could not fill up smaller fitness centers is we definitely got tougher. Not just physically being able to handle colder and hotter weather but mentally too as the "test of your will moment" often strikes at 5am when it is below 20 degrees. Getting used to both the heat and humidity as well as the cold and dry temperatures of both ends of the temperature spectrum has actually been fun. Mind you, we are in Maryland and the Summers and Winters are not horrible but heat indexes in the high 90s / 100+ and wind chills below freezing and in the single digits are common during the peak months of both. So, there is a level of discomfort that is helpful with training in the elements.
Getting used to the highs and lows of each season will add significantly to your overall durability and work capacity. Learning how to dress, hydrate, fuel, cool, and heat yourself are best learned through practice and finding out best practices for any weather situation. Why is this important when training? Well you never know when life will require you to be in the elements and I promise you if you are planning on serving, your training and actual job does not care about what temperature it is. In fact, the worse temperature or weather situation the better chance of opposing forces to be paying less attention to their own uncomfortable surroundings so there are many tactical applications as well.
Obviously, being overheated or freezing is a line you cannot cross as the next step can be heat stroke / hypothermia and death. Limit your total time in the elements and keep moving when in the cold and find ways to cool yourself in the heat. Check out this Related Articles for more details on things to watch out for and bring to workouts when the elements are potentially above or below averate temperatures for the season:
Winter Gear Recommendation
Training During the Heat of the Day
Hydration / Electrolytes for Performance and Life in the Heat
The Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization Model (Latest Block Periodization Program)
Preparing your body to typical challenging elements of the weather creates both tangible and intangible benefits to the tactical athlete and those preparing for these jobs and selection programs. Whether it is heat, humid, dry, cold, well above sea level, or underwater, these situations can make a standard workout twice as difficult to complete. Learning about hydration, fuel, electrolytes, thermal gear, foot wear, gloves, and so much more can make or break your physical abilities being able to complete a task successfully or not.
Whether you call it block periodization or seasonal periodization, the training cycle largely focuses on developing all the elements of fitness important to not just get getting TO and THROUGH the selection training (boot camp, police / fire academy, spec ops assessment / selection), but also the third phase of tactical fitness - the operational maintenance. Learning the differences between the specifics of phase 1 - TO the training, phase 2 - THROUGH the training, and phase 3 (Active Operator), is the first part of this training education as many people do not realize the differences and train incorrectly depending on their immediate and future goals.
Why break up the elements of fitness into cycles? Well - it is difficult to see success with running timed run / longer run pace distances while lifting heavy weights and vice versa. You can do both, but the progress of both is rather limited and your recovery takes a hit. We train elements of fitness that go well together like - speed /agility and strength and power (Fall / Winter). Endurance and muscle stamina go well together too (Spring / Summer). We maintain sufficient strength even while doing more calisthenics and cardio. We maintain a cardio base even though in a strength / power cycle.
These elements of fitness can be viewed in the diagram below:
Strength, Power, Speed, Agility, Endurance (multiple modes), Muscle Stamina, Flexibility, Mobility, Grip are the physical elements that the tactical athlete has to engage to remain "good at everything."
Twenty PLUS Years Perfecting This Training Model
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)
My most recent programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs.
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).
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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.
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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.
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