What do those phrases mean to you?
Does it mean train hard every day in the gym? Does it mean to be mentally tough? Does it mean going 100% in everything you do?
There are multiple interpretations of the word “hard”. It’s a catchy word, used in the tactical/LE community. It is thrown around in order to produce an emotional response which will then trigger action.
But how "hard" do we need to train?
How long do we need to train?
Should I be doing more reps, more sets, more cardio, etc?
Sometimes... but more often than not training LESS is better.
I'm sure you are asking yourself "What did he just say?"
"Less is better? He must have had a typo there..."
No, you read it correctly.
Being a police officer or a tactical athlete is stressful.
Our body can only tolerate and handle so much stress. Mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, etc.
As more stress builds up, we need more time to be spent recovering. If we don't balance the two, we can end up burning out or potentially overtraining and getting injured.
You may be asking, well that is my stress threshold of “overtraining”?
The threshold is where you start to decrease in mental or physical performance. The goal of physical training is to ALWAYS grow and get better. Therefore, any decrease in performance would be a sign of you have reached your threshold.
If you went hard in the gym every day: Max reps, max load, max everything. You would see some progress at first but over time you would not be able to recover, you will lose focus and motivation and you put your body at risk for injury.
Not to mention that your ability to perform (physically and mentally) in a critical incident would be reduced simply because you went too hard. Remember, we are training in the gym to improve our ability to perform OUTSIDE of the gym.
Nobody cares how much you bench... But they sure do care if you have the ability to save their life in a situation that requires you to use your fitness outside of the gym.
On days that you experience more stress, your physical fitness program should be modified to prevent an excess of stress build-up.
You may come across a jacked dude in the gym, on IG, or on YouTube telling you that you can pack on 10lbs of muscles in 12 weeks. Sounds cool right? It would be awesome to pack on 10lbs in 12 weeks... but that is close to physically impossible.
Is your goal to pack on 10lbs in just 3 months, or it to be well rounded, healthy, strong, reduce injury, continually progress, and increase performance over a LIFETIME?
Just like fad/crash diets which give you quick results but don't lead to long term success, fad programs might work in the short term, but are you optimizing your time, effort, money to get the results you truly desire in the future?
Training should be looked at as a marathon, NOT a sprint.
I have fallen into this trap before. I followed a squat program for 8 months. My squat went from 315x5 to 405x5. I was STRONG!!! But... what people didn't see was that I felt like shit outside of the gym. My back hurt, my knees hurt, and I didn't have any energy for things outside of the gym.
The day I hit 405x5 I went home and just laid on the floor for 2 hours because I felt sick.
Sure it was a cool accomplishment, but I was done! After that, I stopped squatting for months... It was almost a full year before I returned to training heavy again.
What we are trying to say is, find a program that will set you up for success in 5-10 years. 12-16 week cycles are great... but only when you are looking over a period of 1-5 years of a training plan.
The goal for training is to build a strong and resilient body outside of the gym so you can USE it!
If the mission is to achieve a high level of fitness, shooting ability, and or bjj those skills will require a lot of time in order to achieve some type of mastery. This are only 1440 minutes in one day. How do you spend that time?
It is important to find the right balance between the activities that you must do be a good police officer.
We find that using the minimal effective dose is the way to go!
What that means is we can use the minimal amount of time, training stimulus, reps, etc. to achieve the desired effect. This now will allow us to participate in more things outside the gym without accumulating a large fatigue deficit.
How do we do this?
This is achieved through knowledge, planning, and consistency.
Knowledge is not only what you know but what others know. You need to know how much activity you can do before you do reach your "overtraining" point. You need to understand your stress and how your stress levels affect your performance.
Planning involves sitting down and mapping out a plan for the week. Use a calendar and plan your recovery. Plan your training sessions. Plan this around your shifts and your family time. Do not give up sleep to do more. This leads to further performance deficits and burnout.
Consistency is required for any long term progress. You need to be excited about the process and journey. If you are only training for the end result, you will not succeed.
Finding your minimal effective dose is critical for overall development. Set goals. Devise a plan. Execute Plan.
Training hard does not mean beating yourself up in the gym. It is about properly structuring your plan for periods where you can push yourself.
If you properly plan rest and max effort work, when you do max effort work you will really be able to push it!
If you are just doing max effort work all the time, your body has not recovered to "train hard". Instead, it just becomes "training stupid" as you build up a larger fatigue deficit and increase the risk of not being able to perform in a critical incident.
Train smart. Train Hard.
If you need any assistance in setting up your training plan to achieve the results you have been chasing without overtraining and getting hurt, reach out to us for a free coaching call.
Here is a link to book a call with Coach Matt, our head strength coach and physical therapist:
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Discover what your workout routine as a police officer should look like.