One thing that I know about a career in Law Enforcement is that it will take a toll on your body; physically and mentally. I have seen countless officers that I have trained early in their career, who were fit and healthy, gain weight and stop exercising because of the job. When did LEO’s stop caring about the one thing that can keep them alive: their ability to survive a fight through superior conditioning?
I got into a conversation with some officers a few weeks ago; we were doing what all seasoned public safety professionals do with some down time - war stories. As the conversation evolved we began discussing fitness and how hard it is to stay fit when you have your shift, overtime and mandatory special events. One of the officers who had “let himself go” asked a great question. “If there were only a few simple exercises I had to do, I would probably do them. So what three should I be doing?”
As a coach it’s very hard to just throw out 3 exercises that you can “just do,” the better answer is “it depends.” It depends on your current level of fitness. Do you have any pain or old injuries that hinder your movement? If you do then maybe you should see a physical therapist that can help you get out of pain first. But, since we all have a short attention span, let’s get to my personal favorite top three exercises for LEOs.
1. Kettle Bell Get up: Hands down my favorite exercise for many reasons. Since you have studied this column for the past few years you already know this exercise as you have seen it many times before. The KBGU is a total body exercise that builds mobility, stability, strength and balance. Use it as a warm up, primary exercise or combine it with other KB movements like the swing.
-3 sets of 3 repetitions on each side will do the trick. You can use a dumb bell as well but the KB allows you to do a lot more as you advance.
1.1. Kettle Bell Swing: The KB swing is a great power exercise and conditioning exercise thrown into one compact package. The swing when done properly builds job specific power and anaerobic conditioning, a win win on many fronts. In fact a recent study showed that the KB swing done for 6 sets of 25 reps. with a 30 rest between sets had the same cardiovascular effect as 15 minutes of treadmill walking!
-3-4 sets of 15-25 repetitions are ideal with 30 seconds of rest between sets. This is a hip hinge exercise and not a squat or a front raise. At the bottom of the movement your butt should be sticking out and your back is perfectly flat, then explode forward through the hips to ‘swing’ the KB up.
2. Step Up: The body weight step up is always a great exercise as it forces you to use your body from the chest down. From leg strength to balance to abdominal bracing this simple exercise will definitely help to get you back in shape.
-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions will do the trick here. Make sure the foot is flat on the step up and down. Keep your head up and back straight. DO NOT let the knee turn in as you step up or down and it’s probably best to start with a step roughly knee height.
3. Core Press: Job specific=Yes, Core=Yes, Power=Yes, balance=yes, total body=yes. That’s why this is always one of my go to movements for LEO strength and conditioning.
-3-4 sets of 15 repetitions will do the trick. Make sure that your feet are firmly ‘rooted’ to the floor and your head and back are up. This is NOT a shooters stance so no rounded backs. Feel free to use bands or cables and vary the height from shoulder to elbow to change the angle.
-Advanced core press: Use a triceps rope and open your hands apart, really advanced? Try using the rope single arm BUT you have to cut the weigh in half or the stress is too great on the shoulder.
So as you can see and hopefully tell from doing these simple exercises 2-3 days a week they are both effective and easy. Anyone can do them in a short period of time and they will get you started back on the path of fitness and wellness but do not forget to get on the foam roller first.