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Tactical Fitness: Do this Not That for Legs

There is a running joke in the gym.  Monday is chest day with triceps, Tuesday is Back and biceps, Wednesday is leg day so skip that one, Thursday is chest and Friday is back and bi’s again.  Any gym rat or avid lifter knows this to be true and perhaps you are guilty of it!  Then there are those that train legs, but choose to train legs sitting down.  If you have been following my column (which you better be) then by now you understand the need and benefits of training functionally.  Besides it just makes no sense to sit even more and be forced to move by how a machine dictates you should move, in fact this has been proven to put extra strain (sheering forces) on the joint.

I do not need to tell you how dynamic law enforcement is, how much agility, balance and strength matters every day; especially when the call escalates and things get dynamic.  Training sitting on the leg extension and leg curl, leg presses and smith machine squats will simply not prepare you for tactical situations and more specifically tactical or fighting stances.

Training legs involves EVERYTHING from the feet up to the hips and core and folks that’s a lot of muscles.  People skip leg day (Wednesday) because it’s hard and it hurts, but it also burns a lot of calories.  To properly train legs means that 1. You have good flexibility 2. Good mobility.  These principles of flexibility and tissue mobility have been discussed at length in past columns so please go back and get to work.;;

After stretching and mobilizing you are ready for a safe and effective workout.  As I stated, ALL the muscles must work together as they would on the street so standing in a tactical stance while exercising  is imperative.  Keep your head up, feet shoulder width apart, hips hinged and knees flexed slightly; and remember to root the floor!

1. The prone plate push (you can use a sled or other heavy object): Put a weight plate on the floor, while keeping your back flat, shoulders tucked down and hips still push the plate from one side of the room to another.  Similar to a lineman’s drill in foot ball but better as you have to get low and use ALL the muscles in your body.  This exercise is nice as it has a very big hip component.  It will also light up your abs if you can keep your pelvis locked in!

2. The BOSU ™ split squat: Arguable the best tactical athletes have awesome “mostability” movement and stability and this is exactly what this exercise does.  It is a split squat or lunge with the back leg on the Bosu.  You can also hold weights, combine a band row, bounce medicine balls or any other evil combination you can think up, trust me the list is endless.  Just remember to stay upright, imagine there is a stick on your back, head up at all times.  The front leg is working while the back leg is stretching.

3. The TRX™ Hamstring Curl: using either the TRX or a stability ball or a medicine ball or furniture sliders…get it this is a versatile exercise.  You are doing a hamstring curl but your hips and legs are elevated which builds great posterior chain strength, allows the hamstring to fire naturally and is a great back exercise to boot.  Once you are up and stable the only thing moving should be your knees.  You can do both legs together or alternate legs.

As always perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, this workout can be done 2 times a week and will not make you sore, maybe a little stiff but not too bad.  From there we will build in exercise complexity but that is for next month’s article.  Be fit, stay safe!


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About The Author:

Bryan Fass is the author of “Fit Responder”, a comprehensive wellness plan for the first responder, and the Fit Responder Blog. Bryan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine and is certified as a licensed athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning specialist. He was a paramedic for over 8 years. Bryan has authored four books regarding fitness, wellness and human performance. Bryan is available for Consulting and Speaking on Public Safety Fitness Testing along with Fitness, Wellness and Injury Prevention Programs. Contact him via email to