In part one and two of this series I looked at the foundational demands for a tactical athlete. We addressed the need to build structural balance to prevent injury and increase longevity, build an aerobic base of fitness, increase strength, and more.
In this third and final article, I discuss the top of the theoretical hierarchy of development, anaerobic training.
Anaerobic Demands of the Tactical Athlete
The demands of the tactical athlete can be highly varied depending on your assignment and mission. The goal of these articles is to prepare you as much as possible for any circumstance you may face in the field. The aerobic development mentioned in part one will give you the overarching capacity to go for hours. Think of long slow grinding work such as rucking. Rucking is predominantly aerobic in nature which is why it forms the base of our pyramid.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, anaerobic work is for shorter, higher power output work, such as sprinting or hand to hand combat. The frequency of these compared to the need for aerobic fitness is relatively lower, hence the priority on aerobic development first and foremost.
Methods to Develop Anaerobic Capacity
Below are some of my preferred methods to develop anaerobic capacity for tactical athletes; this is by no means an exhaustive list – simply my preferred choices. As with all aspects of fitness, the integration of anaerobic work into your program should be done in a progressive manner to ensure consistent gains and improvement.
Here, the AirBike/AirDyne is king. The AirBike generates a high power output in a very short period of time with low impact, no eccentric loading, and a low chance of injury. For those sessions where very short bouts of intense exercise are called for, i.e. <15s, the AirBike is ideal, as the acceleration phase is faster than other methods discussed below.
Sprinting variations such as parachute sprints, flying sprints, banded sprints, and hill sprints are all viable options for anaerobic development. Keep in mind that sprinting needs to be built into your program intelligently as these are not only highly demanding on your central nervous system (CNS), but run a high injury risk if mobility/stability issues are present. It’s also worth considering sprint work has an acceleration phase – this should be taken into account as you’re not able to work at 100% from a stationery position.
Hill sprints, in particular, put additional strain on the Achilles tendon, heel cord, and posterior chain, so it’s important to warm up thoroughly. That being said, hill sprints also generate a huge dump of natural growth hormone, so if muscle mass is your goal then sprints should form a part of your training.
Sometimes affectionately referred to as the ‘vomit comet’, this is a highly effective tool for the development of the anaerobic system. A word of warning though, the stimulus from sled pushes is potent (hence the name), so it’s important to ensure they are programmed in a progressive and intelligent manner specific to your individual capacity. Otherwise, you run the risk of hindering development and losing your lunch on the floor.
The main benefit here is what’s known as reflexive stabilization – your ability to stabilize a load while on the move. This has obvious carryover into the tactical field and serves to increase your work capacity, help injury proof your body, and improve breathing under load.
There are many variations of loaded carry. My preferred options are yoke walks, farmer’s walks (try single arm, double arm, different weights in each hand), and Zercher carries. All of these demand significant bracing and stabilization, which are skills that will serve you well in other movements. The ground reaction force from loaded carries is significantly higher than walking/running/rucking, which is a double-edged sword. Although it will lead to a greater stimulus, we want to ensure that we obtain peak adaptation and don’t over-stimulate and cause diminishing returns (something I’ll be discussing in my next article).
If you integrate the elements we’ve discussed over the series into your training program, you will be more physically resilient, prepared, and more capable than ever before. I hope you’ve been able to take away some value from these and implement them into your training, whatever your goals.
(Image courtesy of dvidshub.net)
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