Tactical Fitness: For the Broken

I have written a lot about fitness over the years, and I find myself in a place where I am not getting any younger, and there are various broken parts of my body. It seems that it may be helpful to post about what fitness I am actually doing, rather than what we used to do ‘back in the day.’ Many of you Patriots are also older, with various broken parts of your bodies.

Firstly, we are approaching spicy times and thus it is of benefit to be wearing, spending time in, and exercising, in your kit. So I want to be wearing my battle belt and plate carrier when I exercise. This is also not such a problem at this time of year, with the cold, but if I am still doing this when summer comes around, it’s also beneficial to get used to it.

At home in Culpeper, we have some property with a walking circuit and some decent hills. It is rolling piedmont country. So I will wear my gear plus a 70lb sandbag. One of the issues is my knee, which prevents me maintaining a regular running program, so I have instead opted for a weighted walk, but adjusted it so that my walks are a ‘heavy carry.’ So I will go walking on a circuit for about 30 minutes, including a set of hill reps. This is hard work, and will get the heart pumping.

If I do PT in West Virginia at the Velocity Training Center I will wear my gear and rifle, because the hills are steeper, and that is enough without the sandbag. I used to go walking with the sandbag (without gear), but that does not give me an opportunity to wear my kit (you will also discover issues with your gear, relevant in case you adjust it or add a pouch or whatever).

You may ask why I don’t wear a ruck? Two reasons: with my gear rigged the way it is, with a back pouch on the plate carrier, wearing a ruck is not ideal – and I prefer to keep the gear the way it is, adjusted for short term kinetic operations. Also, the sandbag is versatile, and one of the options I have with it is to stop as I walk the circuit and do various upper body exercises – sandbag exercises can be found online.

Given the weight of the sandbag, I do have to shift it from one shoulder to the other several times during the walk. Between that and taking it off at work stations to complete an upper body circuit, and the hill reps which are a killer, it is a good workout.

As for the kit itself, I wanted to post the picture of my actual rig so that you can see I’m not messing about. This is not a cross-fit plate carrier with nothing on it, it is actually rigged for combat and is off a decent weight. Stocked. Mags, ammo, TQ/med kit, water, food, radio, night vision, thermal, batteries etc.

I have the ShotStop GT2 plates in the rig, which don’t actually weight that much (3.8 lb), which allows me to load up on required kit without breaking myself. The plates are also thin enough that there is space for some First Spear comfort pads, which are grooved and help with the sweat between the body and the plates.

ShotStop GT2 Plates

Since the corona virus stupidity started, they closed the gym I was going to, and if I went back I would have to wear a mask, so I won’t do it. Instead, I have been training at home since March. For upper body, I will mix it up between body weight exercises, the sandbag, and some kettlebells. So depending on what day it is, I will either do sandbag upper body as part of a work station on the walks, or come back in and workout in the basement.

The point of all this is that you will do what you can and build into it:

  • Wear your operational kit as much as you can, while exercising.
  • Do what exercise you are able to. Cardio fitness is extremely important in a tactical or survival environment.
  • Build into the exercise. Perhaps you walk in kit only, then add the sandbag, at various weights as you build up to it.
  • Of course, if your knees aren’t broken, you could be running! The benefit of a ‘heavy carry’ walk is that is strengthens your body, but it is relatively low impact.
  • This doe snot account for other equipment that you may have. For example, a rowing machine is an excellent workout.