By Rob Shaul
I was first introduced to “The Burden of Constant Fitness” concept by a Green Beret several years ago.
Ben explained that soldiers never had the opportunity to be out of shape. Their work requires that they always be fit, and this “constant” fitness requirement can become a “burden” as soldiers struggle to avoid overuse injuries and staleness due to doing the same training every day.
Stateside, in garrison, a soldier’s “burden of constant fitness” is driven not by combat or deployment fitness demands, but by upcoming PFT, courses, schools, or training evolutions.
Military athletes have no “off season.”
The Burden of Constant Fitness is even worse for first responders. Law Enforcement officer and Firefighters never get garrison time out of harms way. Every day can be “that” day, and every incident, no matter how seemingly benign, can turn violent and dangerous in a heartbeat. There is truly no “off season.”
Certain times of the year can be less busy, but the danger, and thus, fitness demands, are always present.
MTI Base Fitness cycles for tactical athletes are 6-7 weeks long. Each cycle trains the same attributes – strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, tactical agility, endurance – but with varying areas of emphasis, progression methodologies, exercises, and events.
As well, often within each cycle are assessments and re-assessments – which help motivated athletes and clearly demonstrate improvement.
Our lab rats, including myself, do much of the same programming, and constantly assessing their and my motivation to train. While assuring the necessary fitness demands are trained appropriately takes priority, there are many ways to skin a cat and there is plenty of room to add variety without compromising the intent of the programming.
For example, we’ve designed strength progressions within Base Fitness cycles which use only strongman equipment, dumbbells/kettlebells or bodyweight. We’ve had work capacity built around shuttle sprints one cycle followed by another where athletes only competed gym-based multi-mode work capacity.
This attention to detail counts, and is one way we try to address the Tactical Athletes Burden of Constant Fitness.
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