Expertly training the tactical athlete

Professional-level physical training for wildland firefighters and others.

Yesterday the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s Facebook page linked to an organization in Jackson, Wyoming that trains tactical athletes, wildland firefighters, and other individuals. The Mountain Tactical Institute has numerous training programs and plans. Their customers can either purchase a written plan, or train in the company’s gym or “sport-specific cycle”. In light of the two recent serious injuries during physical training on the first and second day of the fire season, some of their guiding principles could be applicable in training wildland firefighters, especially those new to the job.

We are not affiliated with the company, but you may be interested in some excerpts from the company’s website:


Strong Swift Durable develops strength and conditioning which transfers to performance and durability on the mountain, battlefield, urban streets, and fire grounds.

All that matters is outside performance.

Our facility in Wyoming is a Strength and Conditioning Laboratory. At any one time we can be working with climbers aiming for Fitz Roy, female soldiers gunning for Ranger School, fire fighters developing a fitness assessment, airmen trying for PJ Selection, professional ultra runners building offseason strength, stock brokers with a GORCUK Challenge on the horizon and teenage girls preparing for soccer season.


FITNESS GOALS OF STRONG SWIFT DURABLE PROGRAMMING

  • High Relative Strength By “Relative Strength” we mean strength per bodyweight. This isn’t a power lifting regimine focused on how much you can lift. Not is it a body building program designed to make you look good. Our strength training is designed to get you as strong as possible without significant weight gain.
  • Rapid Movement Over Ground Sprinting, mid-distance running, hiking uphill under load. We want to get you faster.
  • High Work Capacity for Short/Intense Events We want to replace the pokey V-4 engine in your chest with a high horsepower, V-8.
  • Stamina for multiple events over a long duration. Stamina for a long event. Be able to go long and hard on day 1. Be able to do it again on day 2.
  • Mental Fitness Mental Fitness can be trained, and de-trained, just like physical fitness.
  • Durability It’s hard to stay fit and enjoy outside the gym sports and recreation when you’re hurt. We use strength training, core strength training and focused mobility work to keep our athletes in the gym, on the field, and in the mountains.

  • Embrace and celebrate the fact that soldiers/LE officers/Firefighters are professional athletes.
  • Articulate the responsibility Tactical Athletes have to themselves to be fit for duty – it’s link to survivability.
  • Articulate the responsibility Tactical Athletes have to their families to be fit for duty – their survivability.
  • Articulate the responsibility Tactical Athletes have to their partners and teammates to be fit for duty    tactical performance and survivability.
  • Fitness Improves Everything.

(For the Unit Fitness Leader)

You’ll need at most two types of group programming to get started – an OnRamp training plan to get guys spooled up, and daily training for everyone else.

[…]

Fat tactical athletes aren’t funny. “Legacy” members aren’t “special snowflakes” and experience is no substitute for fitness. No “slow” fires exist for unfit firefighters. No “slow” bullets exist for unfit soldiers and LE officers. Understand the poisonous effect unfit members and a poor fitness culture has on unit morale. Speak with actions and words. Be steadfast and direct, but never righteous or indignant, and never preach. Be a quiet, steadfast, professional.

[…]

No one can force or convince grown adult men and women to fix their diet and start a training program. Don’t let unit commanders force an adult parenting role upon you by sending you unfit, unhealthy members and expecting you to give them self discipline. You can be a resource for diet/training info, offer encouragement, and invite them to join the group onramp or regular training group, but you cannot make them attend or train.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “Expertly training the tactical athlete”

  1. That last paragraph is the most poignant. Personal responsibility is paramount in physical fitness.

    Please take the opportunity to look up orange county fire authority wefit program. It can serve as an example of a comprehensive fitness training program that has reduced the agencies workers cost claims.

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