There is one major difference between Tactical Athletes and team sport or
individual sport competitive athletes.
Unlike competitive sport athletes, the fitness demands of Tactical athletes are not specifically defined.
Research tells us that the average football play is 7-10 seconds, and the rest
between plays 40 seconds. From a training perspective, it’s easy to see how 10 second sprinting, or sled push intervals, with 40 seconds rest would be a sportspecific work capacity training protocol for football players.
Likewise, we know a marathoner will run unloaded for 26.2 miles, and we can easily find out the vertical gain/loss for the course. We know that professional soccer midfielders will run an average of 9.5 miles in a series of sprints over the course of a 90 minute game.
Record books and past competitions, and even competitive research, competing Olympic and Power Lifters can easily determine what loads they are going to need to make in their lifts, based on their weight class, to be competitive. Same is true for football players, by position, at every level, and rugby players, hockey players, etc.
We can step back and identify the “Base” fitness attributes for the different types of tactical athletes. We know many tactical situations involve sprinting, under load.
What we can’t predict is the unknown or unexpected that often happens during a tactical mission … when a soldier gets injured, and must be carried out during a raid, or the routine patrol welfare check turns into a run and gun firefight.
This unpredictability impacts the strength, work capacity, endurance and stamina demands of tactical athletes.
With our base fitness programming at MHS, we attempt to identify the needs we can, make sure they are addressed, as well as prepare them for the unexpected.
A confounding truth of fitness programming is that time and effort spent improving one fitness attribute, often negatively affect others. Training endurance negatively affects strength gains.
Too much strength training, and work capacity and endurance decline.
Focusing on strength, how strong is “strong enough” for tactical athletes?
n answering, first we are interesting in “Relative Strength” – or strength per bodyweight. Mostly, tactical athletes move themselves around – and their strength per bodyweight is most important.
Second, we’ve developed the following Tactical Athlete Strength Standards. These are “loose” standards we’ve evolved over the years as we’ve learned and improved. Here are most recent. “BW” stands for “Bodyweight”:
TACTICAL ATHLETE STRENGTH STANDARDS
LIFT MEN WOMEN
Front Squat 1.5x BW 1.0x BW
Dead Lift 2.0x BW 1.5x BW
Bench Press 1.5x BW 1.0x BW
Push Press 1.1x BW .7x BW
Hang Squat Clean 1.25x BW 1.0x BW
Squat Clean+ Push Press 1.1x BW .7xBW
Pull Ups 16 8
Most recently, we’ve developed the “MHS Relative Strength Estimation,” which can be completed in a single, 60 minute training session:
MHS Relative Strength Estimation
(1) 3 Rounds
Barbell Complex @ 45/65#
Lat + Pec Stretch
(2) Get on a scale and weigh yourself
(1) Work up to 1RM Front Squat
(2) Max Rep Strict Pull Ups (no kipping, bucking, jerking, etc.)
(3) Work up to 1RM Power Clean
(4) Work up to 1RM Bench Press
Record 1RM’s, max pull ups reps, and Bodyweight.
Add together your finishing loads for front squat, power clean and bench press.
For pulling strength, multiply your max rep pull up times 10% of your bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, and get 12 pull ups, you’d multiply 10% of 200 (200 x .1 = 20) and 12. 20×12 = 240. ** Note on Pull Ups … the Max Number you can use for scoring for this assessment is 20. So even if you tested at 25x pull ups, the most you can use for your scoring is 20.
** Note on Pull Ups … the Max Number you can use for scoring for this estimation is 20. So even if you tested at 25x pull ups, the most you can use for your scoring is 20.
Add your pulling strength total to your other 1RM’s, and divide by your bodyweight. The final number is your score.
Here’s a look at one of our guys who took the MHS Relative Strength Estimation. He weighed in at 168 pounds. His scores are below:
Front Squat – 250
Pull Ups – 16
Power Clean – 185
Bench Press – 250
Pull up Score: 10% bodyweight (16.8) x 16 = 268.8, rounded to nearest .5 = 269.
250+269+185+250 = 954
954 divided by 168 (my bodyweight) = 5.67
Thus, his relative strength score is 5.67
In addition to this overall relative strength score, this estimation tells us much about overall strength balance. A balanced athlete, in terms of upper body and lower body strength will have similar 1RMs for bench press, front squat and pulling strength.
As well, the pull up strength and 1RM bench press should be fairly similar. This would indicate balanced upper body pull and pressing strength.
The front squat, bench press and bodyweight pull ups are simple strength exercises.
The Power Clean is included to fill in a total body exercise.
How to work up to 1RM’s?
My general recommendation, and what we did today, was for lower and upper body strength exercises – the front squat and bench press today – do a set of 5, add weight, do a set of 3, add weight and start doing singles. The goal is to work up to your 1RM by rounds 6-8.
The method for total body strength exercises – the power clean today – is a little different: do a set of 3, add weight, do a set of 2, add weight and start doing singles. The goal is to work up to your 1RM by rounds 6-8.
No warm up … jump in. You can “rest” in the down, hang position – but can’t put your feet on a bench, and most keep both hands on the bar.