Military Tactical Training for the High School Athlete

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So, you're a high school athlete and stuck right in the middle of a global pandemic. Not much competitive sports going on and limited access to your normal training environment. Let me help you. I want to explore several different military/tactical training techniques that might benefit your sports performance development during this time. Let's get started.

It's no secret that most military physical training is done before the sun comes up. This is a big part of developing the tactical mindset, and it has its benefits. For one, training first thing in the morning helps to prioritize tactical fitness and removes many of the barriers that might cloud training efforts later in the day. Another benefit from training in the early AM leaves plenty of time later in the day to work on developing specific sports skills and competitive strategies. Now, if you're not an early bird, so to speak, a phase-in approach might be the best bet, but once you get in the groove, you'll find the early morning physical training mindset will be well worth it. One other note is to ensure you have adequate reflective/lighting safety equipment and a personal communication device if training outside in the dark.

Perhaps one of the current challenges you are finding is limited access to strength and conditioning equipment. Hey, no worries. A good amount of military physical training uses very little equipment, focusing primarily on bodyweight exercises and running. When you think about it, this is really a practical approach to training and applies directly to most sports. A couple of recommendations are to use push-ups in place of the bench press, perform split squat jumps rather than barbell squats, and how about going for a timed distance run in place of running all of the lines on a basketball court. For those highly motivated, I challenge you to challenge yourself to incorporate aspects of military-style physical training tests into your regular regimen to include maximal push-ups and abdominal crunches for 60 seconds each, maximal pull-ups or dead-hang time followed by a timed 1.5-mile run. You might be amazed how your global sports-related fitness can be enhanced by training in this manner.

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So, you're a high school athlete and stuck right in the middle of a global pandemic. Not much competitive sports going on and limited access to your normal training environment. Let me help you. I want to explore several different military/tactical training techniques that might benefit your sports performance development during this time. Let's get started.

Create And Early Morning Mindset

It's no secret that most military physical training is done before the sun comes up. This is a big part of developing the tactical mindset, and it has its benefits. For one, training first thing in the morning helps to prioritize tactical fitness and removes many of the barriers that might cloud training efforts later in the day. Another benefit from training in the early AM leaves plenty of time later in the day to work on developing specific sports skills and competitive strategies. Now, if you're not an early bird, so to speak, a phase-in approach might be the best bet, but once you get in the groove, you'll find the early morning physical training mindset will be well worth it. One other note is to ensure you have adequate reflective/lighting safety equipment and a personal communication device if training outside in the dark.

Make Use Of Limited Resources

Perhaps one of the current challenges you are finding is limited access to strength and conditioning equipment. Hey, no worries. A good amount of military physical training uses very little equipment, focusing primarily on bodyweight exercises and running. When you think about it, this is really a practical approach to training and applies directly to most sports. A couple of recommendations are to use push-ups in place of the bench press, perform split squat jumps rather than barbell squats, and how about going for a timed distance run in place of running all of the lines on a basketball court. For those highly motivated, I challenge you to challenge yourself to incorporate aspects of military-style physical training tests into your regular regimen to include maximal push-ups and abdominal crunches for 60 seconds each, maximal pull-ups or dead-hang time followed by a timed 1.5-mile run. You might be amazed how your global sports-related fitness can be enhanced by training in this manner.

Add Some Creative Elements

On the tactical side of the house, physical training can get very creative due to some of the environments' remote locations. Having said that, there are three pieces of equipment I would highly suggest in this regard. An exercise sandbag can add a great deal of versatility to limited equipment training. A benefit here is the sandbags today are easily adjustable in weight due to filler systems of adding or lighting the sandbag load. Sandbags are great tools for squat variations, lunges, cleans, and presses. Sandbags can also be used for adding load to running and can be an effective tool in helping increase aerobic capacity. Five-gallon water containers are another practical tool that can supplement training. Sand again is the suggested filler item and just like a sandbag, water container exercises can be quite dynamic. Weighted water containers are great for deadlifts, farmer carries, and unbalance load carries (using only one container). Water container carries can be added as an element to runs of just about any distance to create an interesting challenge to the cardiovascular system. Lastly, without doubt, suspension training fits in nicely to the landscape of military training for the high school athlete. Developed by a US Navy Seal, this adjustable cargo strap system is at the apex of alternative training resources, in my opinion. It would be hard to think of a weight-room exercise that couldn't be crossed-over in some degree to a suspension trainer. However, suspension training exercise can be somewhat technical, and there is a bit of a learning curve for use of the suspension trainer. I good recommendation here is to purchase a session or two with a suspension training subject matter expert to enhance your experience. Once up and running, the functional aspects of having such a dynamic tool at your expense will certainly be evident. Suspension training also has its benefits in total body, bodyweight training with a good amount of emphasis on core stability/stiffness, lower body dynamic balance and strength, and muscle pathway slings that involve the upper and lower body. These are all prevalent aspects of sports strength and conditioning.

So, there you have it. I've provided you with a handful of military/tactical training suggestions to benefit you, the high school athlete during this time of limited access to training spaces and resources. I challenge you to try some of the suggestions and you might find you never knew what you were missing!

Sample Weekly Military/Tactical Physical Training Program

Monday: "Base Camp" Training (total training time, 45-60 minutes)

  • Dynamic Warm-Up and Flexibility – 15 minutes
  • 60 seconds Push-Ups + 2 minute rest
  • 60 seconds Abdominal Crunch + 2 minute rest
  • Maximal Pull-Ups or 60 seconds TRX Inverted Row + 3 minute rest
  • 30 seconds Split Squat Jump
  • Run 1 mile for time

Tuesday: Active Recovery (bike, swim, etc for 30 minutes, low impact)

Wednesday: "Suspension Training" Basic (total training time, 45-60 minutes)

  • Dynamic Warm-Up and Flexibility – 15 minutes
  • TRX Squat Jumps x 10
  • TRX Atomic Push-Ups x 10
  • TRX Single Leg Squat x 5 each leg
  • TRX Hip Press x 10
  • Sprint 100-200 yards

Rest, then repeat for 4-6 total rounds

Thursday: Active Recovery (bike, swim, etc for 30 minutes, low impact

Friday: "Hybrid Training" Basic (total training time 45-60 minutes)

  • Dynamic Warm-Up and Flexibility – 15 minutes
  • Rounds 1 and 3
  • TRX Back Extension x 5 reps
  • Water Container Deadlift x 5 reps
  • Sandbag Clean and Press x 5 reps
  • Run 400 yards
  • Rounds 2 and 4
  • TRX Push-Ups x 30 seconds
  • Sandbag Lateral Lunge x 5 reps each side
  • TRX Inverted Rows x 30 seconds
  • Water Container Farmers Carry x 10 yards to 40 yard sprint

Saturday and Sunday: Rest/recover + Mindful Training (meditation)

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Topics: MILITARY