Many police officers don’t possess the physical conditioning to survive a fight. I had lunch a few weeks ago with a veteran police officer and martial arts instructor. As many conversations between two public safety professionals often turn to the job, so did ours. With both of us being fit and advocates for officer survival through proper tactical conditioning and tactics we were lamenting about how un-fit law enforcement has become.
Sure, we can blame part of the issue on long hours, low pay and high stress. We could also, and did, debate the fact that many officers have lost hand to hand combat skills, as most officers are now taught to use their weapons first and foremost with defensive tactics often being taught as an afterthought. But what it really comes down to is the simple fact that many officers simply do not possess the physical ability, through conditioning and combat skills, to survive a physical altercation.
Since it’s the New Year and many of us are trying to start the year on a positive step let’s take a look at some simple things that you can do in a short period of time and only a few days a week to boost your job specific physical ability and conditioning.
1. The Tabata Protocol: hands down one of the best most researched and conveniently quickest exercise progressions that I have ever seen was developed and pioneered by Dr. Tabata. The exercise protocol which was designed to be done on a cycle ergometer (you can use a spin bike) will without a doubt rapidly boost your anaerobic capacity and it will not make you sore or stiff!. Another cool thing about the Tabata protocol is there are many free applications that you can download for your phone to coach you through it. Doing the Tabata protocol 2 to 3 times a week will drastically boost your short burst physical capabilities.
2. Battle Ropes: by now many of you have seen and hopefully used the heavy ropes that are becoming more and more mainstream in physical training. One of the great benefits of using the battle ropes is that they increase balance and stability in the lower body. At the same time you are increasing the upper body muscular endurance and provided you can keep going beyond 30 seconds you will also be increasing anaerobic conditioning. There are literally hundreds of combinations of batter rope drills and movements that can be done in a very short period time with amazing crossover and specificity to your job performance. Jump on you tube and see for yourself.
3. Self Myofascial Release: commonly referred to as foam rolling these devices have been around the physical therapy world for years. Recently they have become very popular in the sports performance world as well. Yours truly has been using in prescribing their use for well over 10 years and I have personally seen officers and operators drastically increase their flexibility, balance and power production while reducing pain. Simply spending 10 to 12 minutes every other day on the foam roller following a toe to head approach will help you feel better, move better and drastically reduce your chance of injury.
As always we humans want to make everything more complicated than it needs to be. So this year do something different, choose to break the cycle and be consistent with your workouts. By simply doing the two exercises and one corrective activity (foam roller) you’ll be in better physical condition, you will feel better and possess a higher level of job specific physical conditioning that can make the difference during a physical confrontation and especially when you’re on foot where we all know the situation can rapidly become tactical.