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Article – Block Periodisation for Tactical Populations

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Click on the image or here to download a copy of ‘Exercise vs Training: Block Periodisation for Tactical Populations

“If a program of physical activity isn’t designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don’t get to call it training. It’s just exercise.”
Mark Rippetoe

Soldiers are a unique brand of athlete, but are athletes nonetheless. To optimise human performance on the battlefield, every part of the tactical athlete’s preparation needs to be on point – physical training, nutrition, recovery and education. Indeed, their survival in combat may depend on it. Evidence-based methods increasingly support the need for a holistic training program that advocates a preventative approach to injury management, rehabilitation and research.

My thesis as outlined in this article is simple and comprised of three parts. First, I posit that traditional forms of physical training (PT) programming do not offer optimal physical progression for tactical populations. Second, implementation of a program based on a model of periodisation offers a flexible, customizable tool for unit-level physical training that realises and maximizes the benefits of the full spectrum of athletic modalities, fusing them together in a coherent and sustainable system. My third proposition is that the introduction of strength training to unit-level physical training programs has immense benefit to tactical performance and force preservation.

About the author:  Ash Zimmerlie is an Infantry Officer serving as a Company Commander in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. He has served in the Australian Army for 14 years, with half of those in Infantry Battalions. He has no formal qualifications in fitness, but willingly acts as a ‘guinea pig’ for those who do.

One thought on “Article – Block Periodisation for Tactical Populations

  1. Excellent! Love it Ash. Thank you for taking the time and effort to put this together.
    I have utilized block periodisation for myself and those that I train for extensive periods of time with great results obtained, I would consider block periodisation to be a form of linear periodisation just based purely off a gradual reduction in volume and gradual increase in intensity however performed over multiple mesocycles which is what I believe is precisely the type of forward thinking and long term athletic development required in order to construct the “tactical athlete”.

    The only issue I came across whilst I implemented block periodisation was manoevuring the training cycles around the units battle rhythm, and the effects of long duration field exercises and how they impact the individuals physical state and therefore the negative impact this would have on the training program.

    In order to negate this I have recently been utilizing concurrent periodisation. Concurrent periodisation could be best summarised as a training method that targets all training characteristics in a given micro cycle.
    This could almost be seen as a counter argument to a few of your points raised in your article but to use your analogy in a similar way; I would consider gaining physical competence to be learning just one language, and in order to learn that language you would concurrently conduct all the facets of that particular language and link them into a package and gradually build upon those facets.

    If you looked at the big picture the training would be still linear in nature (increase intensity/reduce volume), and would still be managed in blocks that have clear goals, however the blocks would not be as clear cut as the ones you mentioned. This has allowed greater variance within the program, and a reduction in overall volume, which I believe both combined to a greater level of buy in from participating members, and allowed for the work that was being conducted to be of a much greater quality.

    I’d be happy to get in touch and provide you with a clearer overview of what I am referring to. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on how you believe we can gain a greater level of by in from all levels of Army for a targeted long term approach to physical training even within all corps environments.

    Once again, thanks for putting the time into this, it is greatly appreciated.


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