During one of my last Tactical Fitness classes I asked this question, “what is the best tactical fitness exercise?” Then I ducked because the discussion got very hot and very heated. We all have our favorite exercises that we feel helps us to have that edge on the street. While a few good exercises are important I challenged the group to step out of the box and examine exercise that not only give you that tactical edge but also offer a high return on your time investment. Namely will the exercise give you an advantage and reduce your chance of a posturally related trauma?
Since many injuries in law enforcement occur from prolonged sitting and poor posture in the car or at the desk it only makes sense to do exercises that both increase tactical ability while reducing job related disability. So what are the top 3 exercises that yours truly recommends? While this list is endless and will always be open for debate here we go;
1. Core Press: Hands down this is one of my favorite exercises. While officially an ‘anti-rotation’ exercise this is a fantastic core/abdominal, hip, leg, torso and chest/arm exercise. So officially lets look at this one as a full body movement.
With your feet firmly rooted to the floor, hips hinged into a mini-squat, head up and back straight take the cable from your chest and press it out until your arms are “gently locked”, pause and repeat. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side.
As you progress transition to a single arm core press using a rope or add in a side lunge as you press, I promise you will never look at abs the same way again.
2. Goblet Squat: Kettle bells are an officer’s best friend! What an awesome tool that can mimic the constantly shifting nature of law enforcement from a physical standpoint. One of my favorite progressions is to;
a. Begin with kettle bell sumo squats focusing on keeping the feet flat and still, back flat, head up and working on quality of the squat including depth and reps.
b. Progress to the goblet squat, hold the KB by the handles but the bell is pointing UP! The KB should be held at your chest level but just off your body so the abs/core is forced to engage. Keeping your head up and shoulders back but without the KB touching your body continue with the squats.
c. Progress to a single are goblet squat (with a muck lower weight), hold the KB by the handle with the bell UP. Your arm will be held at 45 degrees to your body with the arm/elbow at 90 degrees, make sure the shoulder is tucked in tight as you do your sumo squats.
3. Cable squat to over head pull: Using a low pulley cable unit with 2 handles attached, begin in a low squat position with the handles held away from you at arm length. In one very fluid motion drive up out of the squat, on the ascent pull the handles up and in so as you end up in the fill standing position the handles are above your head. This is a triple extension movement and builds phenomenal power and vertical explosion. Pause at the top to stick the movement and using your HIPS control the weight back down using your legs to decelerate the load. Do 4 sets of 8-10 with NO back extension at the top of the movement, think tall at the top.
As always you must get on the foam roller and hit your calves, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, IT Band, glutes and lats prior to exercise as no level of fitness is right if you cannot move properly. By adding or even starting with these 3 exercises you will see a dramatic improvement in your overall fitness, you will feel better and you will have the advantage on the street where it really counts.