Article written by Dave Libbey for LiftBigEatBig.com
In my first piece in the Tactical Athlete (TA) series I made no mention of the need for conditioning. I did that for a few specific reasons. First, I wanted TAs to focus on strengthening the Posterior Chain and realize the importance of building functional strength in relation to mission readiness. Secondly, because I do not view my conditioning as part of my strength workout, I view it as a separate event. Finally, well, it got most of your attention didn’t it? So let us now talk about Functional conditioning and the TA and how it relates to the LBEB lifestyle.
First let me give you my rules for conditioning:
Rule 1: Conditioning should above all things be a grueling and miserable experience.
2: If you engage in a group conditioning session and you think it is too easy then that is your fault.
3: If at any time you need guidance on conditioning routines, Refer to rule one.
I fully understand that in our Military and in many Law Enforcement units your standardized fitness test usually consists of a distance run for time. I find nothing wrong with that, I do find something wrong with devoting considerable amounts of time training for it. Your timed two, three or five mile run is something you should be able to knock out without a lot of effort if you are consistently training hard. I spent ten years in the Marines, I was never a big fan of the three mile run but I never failed to obtain a first class PFT. I completed unit runs during PT and then went about my way to the weight room. For all the time spent running distances, I never ran 3 miles in running shorts without gear in in a high threat situation. I did however cover long distances with a heavy ruck, full kit, and a Rifle. Combat, for the most part happens in bursts, in explosive and dynamic environments.
This requires the ability to perform all out, sometimes under considerable load, for repeated short bursts with little rest between bursts. So ideally your conditioning routine should reflect the same. You need to condition yourself to put out a near max capacity effort for 2-10 minutes at a time give yourself just enough time to catch your breath and then repeat. I also think that for the tactical athlete your conditioning should directly apply to situations you find yourself in or at least approximate them.
We here at FOB LBEB have come up with some training techniques for conditioning that you might want to stick in your cargo pocket for training at the individual our unit level. A lot of what we do is based off of our combined experiences and some relevant events from other sources such as Strong man competitions. We use what we have around us, such as our up-armored trucks, our kits, and each other.
1. Buddy sprints/ Fireman’s Carry. Grab a likeminded individual, put on full kit and rifles, sprint 50 yards while you Fireman’s Carry your buddy, switch at 50 yards. Repeat till both are puking.
2. Tire Sprints. A used Humvee tire with wheel and ‘run flat’ with a tow rope makes for great drag on 25-50 meter sprints. We do ours on a slight uphill slope.
3. Tire Drags. Attach a tow strap to a spare MATV tire with run flat (it’s 430lbs) using the tow rope from the MATV, with one end still attached to the vehicle, drag the tire to the end of the rope. It will bring a whole new meaning to “Embrace the suck” into your life.
4. MATV Tire Flips. (insert link to Marshall’s Tire flip video)
5. Farmer’s walks. Because you are always having to carry some heavy shit.
6. Any form of combative training. Going “Hands on” with your fellow War Fighter is great conditioning and is a skill that you should always keep up on anyway.
We engage in our conditioning abuse sessions after our lifting sessions. They are two separate workouts in our mind. We do it in this order for a reason. Strength training, especially when you are talking about picking up and putting down seriously heavy shit, takes more energy and focus. Secondly conditioning is that much harder when you already gave up your lunch to the puke bucket next to the squat rack. I hope this sheds some light on the subject of conditioning for the LBEB/TA. I hope you find some of what I have given you here useful tools to make yourself and those around you better warriors.