WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL FITNESS?
After over 20 years in the military, I’ve made functional fitness the cornerstone of all my training. But I see many in the military and law enforcement out of shape and even obese. It’s a proven fact that you’re more likely to use excessive force if you’re out of shape for the simple fact that you cannot discharge your duties as trained because you cannot keep up with a given use of force situation, so you resort to an action that may get you in bind.
I chatted with a senior law enforcement officer a few months back and he said, “Some people just have a body type that prevents them from getting in shape.” I was confused and paused before I answered, “Yes, I agree, and that body type is called a corpse.” Sure for some people getting in shape comes a bit easier, but there is nothing that prevents you from being in shape, especially if you’re filling the duties of a tactical/tier 1 operator, or someone who wants to protect their families.
I can tell you from experience that the most practical, scenario-based, and distinctive firearms training you’ll ever get is not found on the range. It’s found at home and limited only by your imagination and possibly your waistline. I had the good fortune of being paid to workout for 20 years as a Navy SEAL and now that I’m retired I understand that’s not the norm.
We were paid to exercise because our lives depended on it and our teammates lives depended on it too. It’s no different for you in a home defense or law enforcement situation. If you’ve got to maneuver around flab to get to your bang stick your chances of surviving are severely diminished.
Even if the only shooting you do is target shooting, being in better share will make you shoot better. You’ll have a better self-image, which will help your confidence and this in turn will make you shoot better.
Being in shape can save your life.
I’m VERY into physical fitness, especially when it comes to trying new things and learning. I love Crossfit…I’ve got a box for a garage! I’ve been studying exercise and fitness for almost 30 years and I’ve tried every kind of workout there is (minus the Shaker Weight). And the one overarching style that I’ve found most effective is functional fitness.
Functional fitness is tailoring your workout around your duties so that you can perform when it comes down to it. Not only should you work out and stay in shape for your own personal well-being, but as a military or law enforcement operator, being in shape can save your life.
We all know those folks in uniform who look like an absolute soup sandwich. Also, if a bad guy is contemplating fleeing or fighting with law enforcement, the chances will increase if they know they have the advantage over someone who is obviously not in shape. It is likely that if you’re not in shape and are overweight, other facets in your job will also suffer. Maybe things like your weapons training, knowledge, and uniform and gear appearance/maintenance.
The Tactical Advantage
Not only is working out a great stress reliever, but it’s great for your body and your confidence. I guarantee that if you’re in shape, you’ll put more into training and get more out of training. That equals successful missions. (It can be expressed mathematically like this: T+T = BZ). Now you might ask, “So what should I do for functional fitness?” That’s a very broad question and I’ll reserve those answers for anyone who asks specific questions about this article. What I will say is that if you work around water, then naturally swimming should be part of your training. Any successful physical fitness routine will incorporate weights/resistance training, cardio, some type of CrossFit style routine, and stretching (after your workouts). Yes, stretch at the end when your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are warm. It’s a proven fact that static stretching prior to lifting weights actually makes you weaker. Stretching fatigues your muscles. If you really want to up your game, use a foam roller every day, like I do.
You might be asking what you should do for a warm-up? If you plan on doing deadlifts/back, then do two to three very light sets (15-25 reps) to get your blood flowing and your muscles warm. If you know how to do dynamic stretches for specific muscle groups, this is a great follower after those warm-up sets, but keep it limited. Keep things fresh and change your workouts every month so you don’t get bored. You’ll limit your plateaus by keeping your muscles confused. A key to getting in shape is consuming the right food. Nutrition is at the core of physical fitness success. The term “diet” is garbage in my book and in my experience. Everyone knows what they should and shouldn’t eat, you just need a little discipline to put down the Twinkie. Remember to give it time to see results. Others will notice it before you do and once they say you look good, the seed will be planted. Then continued growth (no pun intended) is up to you.
Physical Intimidation Works!
When you come face to face with a bad guy in your home or out on the street, being in shape says it all without the need for words. If you’re obviously in shape, everyone knows you’re “about to do work”…and they would be best served to comply with your directions. It says, “I’m not taking s#!t from anyone, and nothing is stopping me from reaching my objective.”
So which one are you? Do you wake up every day to coffee and a few jelly-filled or do you have the mind and body of a real tactical operator?