Squeezed for Time? Busy Law Enforcement Training Tips


By Rob Shaul

We understand that only few if any, patrol officers and detectives get time during work to train. Second, it’s not unusual for casework and other duty day responsibilities to squeeze training time.

When you do make it to the gym, it’s not unusual to have just 30-45 minutes to train. So how to make the best of it?

Here is the training session structure I’d suggest. Understand what’s important here is the broader fitness attributes you want to train – you can plug in your own exercises.


Warm up

Make it quick and be sure to include (a) deep squatting movement; (b) upper body pressing movement; (c) core movement and a hip mobility stretch. Keep it simple, for example:

3 Rounds

  • 10x Air Squats
  • 10x Push Ups
  • 10x Situps
  • Instep Stretch

You should finish the warm up in 5-8 minutes.


Strength & Hypertrophy Circuit

After the warm up, move right to Strength for the lower body or total body, and hypertrophy (mass building) for the upper body (both press and pull). Upper body mass can be a huge attribute for Law Enforcement athletes and lower body strength simply keeps you durable. Train these together in the same circuit and include and upper body stretch or mobility drill.

This circuit will be 6 Rounds, of three different exercises (1 leg or total body, 1 upper body press, 1 upper body pull), plus an upper body stretch as “working rest” between rounds – like the lat + pec stretch.

Use reps per set to differentiate between training strength for the lower body and hypertrophy for the upper body.

Use 3-5 reps per set for the lower body exercise, and 10-15 reps per set for the upper body exercises. Use “increase load until hard but doable” – to dictate loading.

Finally, use 1 rack and barbell for one body part, and dumbbells/kettlebells/pull up bar for the other body part. So, if you’re doing bench presses, use dumbbell walking lunges for the lower body exercise and pull ups on a pull up bar. If you’re doing front squats, use seated dumbbell military presses for the upper body press, and dumbbell curls for the upper body pull (I call curls a pulling exercise).

Using just one rack and barbell keeps things tight and efficient.

Without exercises, the Strength and Hypertrophy Circuit will look like this: (For exercises menu and demonstration videos, click here)

5 Rounds:

  • Lower Body Exercise (3-5x reps)
  • Upper Body Pressing Exercise (10-15x Reps)
  • Upper Body Pulling Exercise (10-15x Reps)
  • Upper Body Stretch

Finally, work through the circuit briskly, but not frantically. Aim to finish the Strength Circuit in 20-25 minutes.

It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. See below examples:

6 Rounds:

  • 5x Front Squat – increase load each round until 5x is hard but doable
  • 10x Dumbbell Bench Press – – increase load each round until 10x is hard but doable
  • 10x Chin ups – increase load each round until 10x is hard, but doable
  • Lat + Pec Stretch

6 Rounds:

  • 5x Walking Lunge – increase load each round until 5x is hard but doable.
  • 10x Bench Press – increase load each round until 10x is hard but doable.
  • 10x Bent over Dumbbell Rows – increase load each round until 10x is hard, but doable
  • Lat + Pec Stretch

6 Rounds:

  • 5x Dumbell Hang Squat Clean – increase load each round until 5x is hard, but doable
  • 10x Standing Barbell Military Press – increase load each round until 10x is hard but doable
  • 10x Seated Dumbbell Curls – – increase load each round until 10x is hard but doable
  • Lat + Pec Stretch


3-5 Minute Work Capacity Circuit

Follow the strength and hypertrophy circuit with a short, but intense work capacity effort. Keep it simple and use 5 rounds of 6x reps for just two exercises – one upper body and one lower body.

We’ve found that 30 reps total of two exercises takes 2-5 minutes.

For example:

5 Rounds for Time:

  • 6x Walking Lunges at 25#
  • 6x Clapping Push ups

5 Rounds for Time:

  • 6x Goblet Squats at 45#
  • 6x Burpees

5 Rounds for Time:

  • 6x Bench Press at 135#
  • 6x Jumping Lunges


Core/Foam Roll

After the work capacity circuit, you should be about 40 minutes into the session. If you’re out of time, no worries – you hit the most important stuff. If you’ve got 5-10 minutes left, do a couple of rounds of core work and foam rolling.

I’d recommend this:

2 Rounds:

  • 30/30/30 Ab Bridge Complex (30 sec. side bridge right side/30 sec. front bridge/30 sec. side bridge left side)
  • Foam Roll Quads and Low Back.


Common Questions

I don’t understand “increase load until hard but doable”?

When you get to the strength and hypertrophy circuit, you want to get the load as heavy as you can still make the prescribed reps, but do it as rapidly as possible. In practical terms, you’ll use the first 3 sets to rapidly get up to this “hard but doable” load, and ideally, use this same load “across” rounds 4-6. For example, here’s the circuit:

6 Rounds:

  • 5x Front Squat
  • 10x Dumbbell Bench Press
  • 10x Dumbbell Curls
  • Lat + Pec Stretch

Here would be my loading:

Round        Front Squat      Bench Press     Curl
1                        95                        35                      25
2                       135                      45                      30
3                      165                       55                      35
4-6                  195                      60                      35

How do I pick the exercises?
Don’t overcomplicate it. For lower body exercises stick to front squats, back squats, walking lunges or deadlifts. For upper body pressing – think bench presses or military presses. For the upper body pulling exercises think pull ups/chin ups, curls or rows. Simple, but hard. Don’t get exotic.

How long should I hold the stretches?
10-15 seconds.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run/Ruck Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

More Questions? Email rob@mtntactical.com



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