You get out of the shower and admire yourself in the mirror as you dry off. Suck in that stomach, puff up that chest, and flex those arms--man, what a specimen! I think that all of us have done this at one time or another. We like to think that we are in pretty good shape, that maybe we even resemble one of the pro athletes or bodybuilders that we see on television, in magazines, or at the movies. We can make that person in the mirror more than what he or she actually is, and really believe it! But is that who we really are?
We sometimes have a tendency to lose touch with reality, especially if nothing has recently happened that "snaps us back in," so to speak. We go along doing the same things the same way without any repercussions or serious consequences. We are lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that we really have our act together--that we are operating on all cylinders and with the utmost efficiency. But are we really, or are we just lucky that the challenges that we have faced up to this point have been relatively simple and within our comfort zone?
Let's talk about training for a moment--particularly physical training. What are you doing to reinforce that image that you see in the mirror each day? Is what you are doing in your workouts consistent with just an image, or is your time spent each workout enhancing and honing skills that will keep you and your partners safe and alive? Are you gearing your PT toward an individual sport, to the point of neglecting other aspects of your fitness that are more germane to what you do on your job each day?
Let me give you an example. I've seen officers that love to pump iron. They would spend five days per week at the gym bench pressing incredible amounts of weight that resulted in huge upper body size. The problem is that these same guys spend little or no time at all on cardiovascular workouts, nor did they concern themselves with any physical coordination type exercises. For all intents and purposes, these guys were bench press machines. They were as strong as an ox. However, when it came time to bail out of the car to chase a bad guy down the street, they are spent after one block. Chase someone up several flights of stairs and then subdue and cuff them...for someone with no cardio in his or her program, that's enough to bend them over in exhaustion. Another example--I am partnered with an officer who is a big runner. He or she runs up to ten miles per day, competes in marathons and other races. When it comes time to bail out with this partner, they have no problem running down the suspect. It's when the bad guy refuses to be cuffed that the runner has the problem. Running everyday, but not doing any upper body or strength training, has caused this officer to be weak and a liability on the street. He or she may run quite efficiently, using very little energy, but when it comes to important tasks like DT's, they are at a disadvantage, lacking sufficient upper body strength.
It is natural for someone to practice and enjoy something that they can do well. That officer that can bench press tons of weight with ease, enjoys doing that and strives to continue to improve on that skill. The officer who is a fantastic runner constantly strives to become even better. But what about something that he or she is not as proficient in? How about having that runner include upper body work several times per week to compliment that excellent cardio workout? Why not include pull-ups, dips, and push-ups? For the guy or gal that loves the iron, why not include running or biking to that routine? Yes, I know that the big complaint is that they will lose size by doing that, but cross training not only evens out your body's balance of strength and cardio, but it is directly associated with everything that we do as cops. We chase bad guys, fight with them, subdue and cuff them. Even when we are not involved in direct conflict with someone, we routinely walk, climb, lift, push, and otherwise use ourselves for a myriad of physical things each day.