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“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.”
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.