Why Tactical Fitness Is Important

A competitor carries his teammate during the Marine Corps Community Service and Semper Fit’s Tactical Athlete Challenge The fireman carry was only one of the challenges during the first portion of the three-part event.

Throughout the years, this Military.com Fitness Channel has been focused on teaching skills, passing tips, and hopefully motivating some of you to be more physically active, especially if you are in the tactical professions (military, police, fire/EMT). But do you know WHY we should consider tactical fitness -- not just during our service time, but after?

Tactical Fitness is the ability to perform survival-related skills, such as running, rucking, swimming, buddy rescue, climbing, jumping and equipment carry, which require full-body strength, muscle coordination, stamina, speed, agility and cardiovascular conditioning. But the ability to recover from the physical, mental and emotional stress requires a delicate balance of recovery-related skills: recovery, sleep, nutrition, flexibility and mobility.

Photo courtesy of Stew Smith

ABOVE: Tactical Fitness Venn Diagram describes on half a page how durability is tied to strength, power and speed/agility. Work capacity is a product of your aerobic/anaerobic conditioning and overall stamina. Stability is how you move, think and move, and how determined you are to get a job done (mindset). Stress Mitigation is the ultimate goal, developed by actively pursuing recovery. Sleep, nutrition, mobility, flexibility, meditation,and other relaxing (both physically and mentally) activities can all be used together to further develop the tactical athlete into a more resilient person.

Tactical Fitness is not just working out every few months to pass a fitness test. Tactical Fitness is designed to help the operator better perform his/her job so they do not put themselves, their partner, or people they are trying to save in greater danger.

Tactical Fitness coordinates ALL the elements of fitness: strength, power, speed, agility, muscle stamina, endurance, flexibility, mobility, core, and grip strength into programming. However, recovery, sleep, nutrition, stress management and resiliency are even more important to the tactical professional.

If you make the tactical professions a career, you will be older longer than you are younger. Understanding that what you do today will directly affect your longevity and ability to successfully grow in your job is due to your knowledge of tactical fitness.

America's military and first responders have a higher rate of cancers, stress-related injury and illnesses, cardiac events, career-ending/delaying physical injuries and, worse, mental health issues -- many resulting in suicide. Learning to deal with the stresses of the job and sleepless nights on shift work, consuming nutrition that actually helps you metabolize stress better, and exercising for better overall mental and physical health should be the goal of tactical fitness.

Tactical Fitness is not just a cool word you put in front of fitness to make a new fitness trend. It is literally life or death for the tactical professions.

Maintaining strong bodies as we age is just one goal of tactical fitness. Keeping the mind strong and resilient to handle the stresses of life in the tactical world may seem like an underlying result one receives from engaging in a fitness program, but it actually requires work and an understanding of the physiology of stress. See de-stress related articles, such as Stress: The Perfect Storm.

Learning how to deal with daily stress will help you learn to master mental stress and avoid it from becoming chronic. Just minutes a day of focused time on yourself and your well-being can be all you need to help you prevent a major setback mentally, physically and emotionally. That is Tactical Fitness.

The people who have endured Phase 1: To the Training and Phase 2: Through the Training, to get to Phase 3: Operator/Active Duty need to change the way they learned how to train.

Change things up significantly because the mission has changed. No longer are you preparing for a grueling selection, boot camp or academy class. Now, you are focused on longevity and spreading out your training so that you include all the elements of fitness, rest, nutrition, sleep, mobility and recovery.

All of these components will build a stronger mind and body, with abilities to perform the job like you were trained to do for a longer period of time. Maybe you will build the type of longevity to sustain a 20-year career. In the end, the goal is to retire unbroken, so you can enjoy the second half of your life.

That is Tactical Fitness and why it is so important to be well-rounded in your training and recovery.


Related Links in Tactical Fitness

Three Phases of Tactical Fitness

Tactical Fitness Rules of Training

Tactical Strength: The Foundation of the Tactical Athlete

Tactical Fitness over 40

New Rules for Fitness over 40

Tactical Fitness Conferences


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