Get truly athletically fit with tactical training

Anyone interested in athletic conditioning knows that fitness trends are always changing. From non-stationary resistance to zumba classes, there’s always something new. This time, it’s tactical training. Instead of dancing around a gym floor or ho-hum weight lifting, tactical training borrows from navy seals, law enforcement, the military and other groups who excel in strength and fitness.

While a large number of tactical training courses include firearms, those who look at it only as a way to improve conditioning without being armed, are in the lead of this new trend. It isn’t done in a gym, and there’s nothing static about it. The outdoors is where this kind of training is done.

One tactical exercise is walking with a heavy pack. There are numerous ways to perform this. However, the weight must always be secured to your body so it can’t shift, and must start off with a small amount of weight at the beginning to avoid injury.

Practitioners can use a weight vest, with removable metal bars that allow the adjustment of the amount of weight carried. These range in price for less than $50, all the way up to hundreds of dollars. But you can create your own poundage to carry by connecting a pair of Velcro-strapped ankle weights and fastening them around your waist. Start with two 10-pound ankle weights. They’re inexpensive enough so that you can easily buy a heavier set as you get stronger.

Don’t just carry the weight along a paved and flat sidewalk (although that’s certainly better than not carrying it at all). However, a secured 10 to 20 pound waist belt is light enough to be carried on rugged terrain as you begin this kind of conditioning.

A big part of tactical training includes agility, which is a necessary skill for true fitness. If you live near a narrow and shallow creek with stones poking above the surface, that’s a perfect place to practice agility. Be sure to wear a shoe with a good grip so it won’t slip on the wet stones. Practice crossing the creek by using the stones, not wading through the water. Move a few feet away and cross again. Once you’re agile enough to do this with ease, pick up the speed. That will increase your agility.

Build your own agility course with bricks — or for beginners, small squares of plywood. When you can easily jump from brick to brick, or from plywood marker to plywood marker, create a longer distance apart so that you have to put more effort into jumping to reach each one. Change the pattern every time you use this method of agility training. If you’re going for speed and distance, it’s easy to stumble on bricks, though they are good for balance training. It’s safer to stick with the squares of plywood if you find yourself stumbling on the bricks.

You may have to search for rugged and steep hills to crawl on, but crawling up and down this kind of terrain will build your power and focus. If you live in a city, it’s worth going out of town once a week to train on rugged hills.

But one of the best tactical exercises is the simple pull up. If you can’t do even one, keep working on it until you can do one, then two, then more. Use a gym or use a tree branch (with gloves on). The fact is, being able to lift your own body weight with your hands can actually be a life saver. You may never need to pull yourself up a tree or lift yourself back onto a trail or stop yourself from slipping down an icy staircase. But being able to lift your entire body is an important survival skill, even if you never actually need to do it.


Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly