Fitness Programming for the Tactical Athlete

The Tactical Athlete must be Strong, possess Explosive Power, maintain exceptional Mobility, and have All-Day Endurance. Creating a Strength and Conditioning program that reaches all of these goals gets a bit tricky, especially when you take into account the constant skills training that operators need to stay sharp in their specific fields. I like to meet these demands with Multiple Daily Workouts and make efficient use of our time by addressing at least a couple of these components during each workout.

First of all, let’s talk about the benefits of Multiple Daily Workouts. If we can keep these sessions short (30-45 min), it’s a lot easier to get them in before & after shifts, during lunch, and between meetings. Also, increasing the frequency of workouts increases the metabolism and, more importantly, gets the body (and mind) ready to perform at any time. Calls to action do not happen on a predictable schedule. Be ready.

Ideally, I like to see three workouts every day. Cardio, Combat, and Strength.


You need to run. When bad things happen, you’re going to be on your feet, and you’re going to have to get going. If running is not second nature to you, you’re not going to be any help to anyone. This doesn’t mean you have to be in 4-hour marathon shape, but you should be able to knock out a 30-minute 5k with relative ease. Running workouts can also be used for Mobility and Explosiveness.


This your Shooting, Fighting, and Rescue Training. Although not exactly part of your Strength and Conditioning program, it does get your blood up and you can incorporate a great deal of Mobility work in these sessions.


You have to be Strong, but you do not need to be big. Massive pecs and biceps are impressive but become a great deal of useless weight when it’s time to go. So skip the curls & skull-crushers and spend your time with the Big Lifts. Warm up with some Mobility exercises and get under that barbell! Yes, I want you in the weight room every day. Yes, I want you doing full-body workouts every day. Keep these sessions short with a lot of variety, and overtraining will not be a problem.

Tony Thomas runs Kilter Fitness in Austin and is an award-winning fitness educator at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Professional Education.