Special Ops Tactical Fitness | Patrol Officers Tactical Fitness

Any discussion about the fittest men and women in the world should include "tactical athletes" at some point. From special operations warriors to SWAT officers, these professionals maintain elite fitness out of necessity. For them, being out of shape doesn't result in failing to set a PR or bailing on a squat, it could be a matter of life and death—theirs or someone else's.

The training required to be a tactical athlete is as unique and unpredictable as their duties and schedules. But make no mistake: This style of unique training isn't just for special operators.

"We all can benefit from training in a tactical style," says Steve Weatherford, former NFL player and the athlete behind the program True Muscle: 9 Weeks to Elite Fitness. "Balancing strategic strength work, power training, and running intervals has been a game-changer for me—literally! It leaves me lean, conditioned, and packing more strength per pound than ever. But just as importantly, it trains the sort of undefinable grit that helps our fighting men and women accomplish any grueling and unpredictable physical task. Who doesn't want that?"

Elite-Level Training

Elite-Level Training
True Muscle is the hybrid fitness program you've been waiting for. It delivers muscle, but also strength, conditioning, and overall badass athleticism.

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If you're preparing for a career in a tactical field, are a soldier or officer in need of a plan, or just want to train like hell for anything and everything the field can throw at you, this is your plan.

The Foundation for Functional Strength Training

Depending on the specific needs of their job, individual demands for any tactical athlete will vary. There are a few principles that are universally present, however. An effective training program for any tactical operator needs to focus on:

Injury Prevention: Injury prevention tops the list of priorities because an injured operator is a liability to themselves and their team, plain and simple.

Aerobic and Anaerobic Conditioning: First and foremost, aerobic conditioning is vital to the job itself. Tactical operators need conditioning that goes beyond the anaerobic system. Whether it's chasing a suspect, running up 15 flights of stairs to a fellow officer, or wrestling with someone who refuses to go quietly, eventually the aerobic system plays a significant part. Anaerobic training comes into play at those times, when shorter bursts of conditioning are necessary.

In addition, many organizations still measure aerobic capacity in some form as a job requirement.

Strength and Power: Strength and power are important for any type of combat athlete. When overcoming resistance from hostile opposition, if all other things are equal, the stronger and more explosive person will win. In addition to raw power, there are also more specific strength demands for the tactical athlete, such as grip and neck strength.

Incline bench press

How To Have It All

Even with all the varying qualities a tactical athlete needs, having an effective program isn't enough. The program also needs to be an efficient one that doesn't present needlessly complicated daily demands. For that reason, the program below can be arranged a couple of different ways:

  • Perform the warm-up before each workout, followed by strength training. As for the conditioning workouts, you can perform them either directly after the strength training or as independent workouts. The former option will help you learn to keep going when your muscles want to stop. The latter will allow more intensity.

  • You'll notice a strong emphasis on unilateral movements to develop balance and prevent injury. The strength-training portion is designed to build strength and explosiveness and is broken into a higher-volume initial phase to develop a strong base, followed by a higher-intensity phase focused on raw strength and power.

  • For the tactical athlete, grip strength is immensely important, whether for controlling an unruly suspect, climbing, or weapon retention. Using fat grips is a great way to develop hand strength, so expect to use them in a range of lifts.

  • The conditioning portion of this program follows a similar pattern to the strength training. The first four weeks are designed to develop a strong aerobic base, followed by a higher-intensity block with a higher focus on anaerobic development.

Tactical athletes need to be able to hit it hard in every single workout. For that level of intensity, you need a pre-workout that's up to the task.

Two Months to Tactical Strength

Warm-up

Warm-Up

1

WARM-UP CIRCUIT

Perform the exercises in order, resting as little as possible between exercises.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

1 set, 20 sec (left side, no rest)




Kneeling hip flexor stretch

1 set, 20 sec (right side, no rest)




Push-up

1 set, 20 reps (no rest)




Band Pull Apart

1 set, 20 reps (no rest)




Single-leg lying cross-over stretch

1 set, 15 sec (left side, no rest)




Single-leg lying cross-over stretch

1 set, 15 sec (right side, no rest)




Bodyweight squat

1 set, 10 reps (no rest)




Lower back SMR

1 set, 1 min




Month 1, Week 1

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Hang Clean

3 sets, 6 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

3 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Ab Roller

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Alternating lunge jump

3 sets, 20 reps (alternating, 10 reps per side, rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Barbell Incline Press

3 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Alternating standing shoulder press

3 sets, 16 reps (alternating, 8 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




3

Flat Dumbbell Press

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Close-grip bench press

3 sets, 10 reps (no rest)




Hanging leg raise

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

3 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Row

3 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

CIRCUIT

Perform the exercises in order, resting 30 sec. between exercises and rounds.

Standing face pull

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell Curl

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Weighted Crunches

3 sets, 25 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Month 1, Week 2

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Hang Clean

4 sets, 4 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

4 sets, 6 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Ab Roller

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Alternating lunge jump

3 sets, 20 reps (alternating, 10 reps per side, rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Barbell Incline Press

4 sets, 6 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Alternating standing shoulder press

4 sets, 12 reps (alternating, 6 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




3

Flat Dumbbell Press

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Close-grip bench press

3 sets, 8 reps (no rest)




Hanging leg raise

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

4 sets, 6 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Row

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

CIRCUIT

Perform the exercises in order, resting 30 sec. between exercises and rounds.

Standing face pull

4 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell Curl

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Weighted Crunches

4 sets, 25 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Month 1, Week 3

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Hang Clean

4 sets, 6 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Ab Roller

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Alternating lunge jump

3 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Barbell Incline Press

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Alternating standing shoulder press

4 sets, 16 reps (alternating, 8 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




3

Flat Dumbbell Press

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Close-grip bench press

3 sets, 10-12 reps




Hanging leg raise

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Row

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

CIRCUIT

Perform the exercises in order, resting 30 sec. between exercises and rounds.

Standing face pull

4 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

4 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell Curl

4 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Weighted Crunches

4 sets, 30 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Month 1, Week 4

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Hang Clean

3 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Ab Roller

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Alternating lunge jump

2 sets, 20 reps (alternating, 10 reps per side, rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Barbell Incline Press

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Alternating standing shoulder press

3 sets, 10 reps (alternating, 5 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




3

Flat Dumbbell Press

2 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Close-grip bench press

2 sets, 10 reps (no rest)




Hanging leg raise

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Row

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

CIRCUIT

Perform the exercises in order, resting 30 sec. between exercises and rounds.

Standing face pull

2 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell Curl

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Weighted Crunches

2 sets, 25 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Month 2, Week 1

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Hang Clean

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets, 6-8 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell forward lunge

3 sets, 20 reps (alternating, 10 reps per side, rest 60 sec.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Pallof press

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Push-press

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Incline Press

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

Incline dumbbell bench press

3 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

EZ-bar skullcrusher-

3 sets, 10-12 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Dumbbell spell caster

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Dumbbell bent-over row

3 sets, 10-12 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Standing face pull

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




EZ-bar spider curl

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Ab Roller

3 sets, 15 reps (no rest)




Lying Leg Raise

3 sets, 25 reps (rest 1 min.)




Month 2, Week 2

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Snatch Pull

4 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

4 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

4 sets, 5 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell forward lunge

4 sets, 20 reps (alternating, 10 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 2 sets.

Pallof press

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Push-press

4 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

4 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

Incline dumbbell bench press

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

EZ-bar skullcrusher-

3 sets, 10-12 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Dumbbell spell caster

3 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

4 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Dumbbell bent-over row

4 sets, 8-10 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Standing face pull

4 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




EZ-bar spider curl

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Ab Roller

4 sets, 15 reps (no rest)




Lying Leg Raise

4 sets, 25 reps (rest 1 min.)




Month 2, Week 3

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Snatch Pull

5 sets, 4 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

5 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

4 sets, 8 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell forward lunge

4 sets, 30 reps (alternating, 15 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Pallof press

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

3 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

3 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Push-press

5 sets, 4 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

5 sets, 4 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

Incline dumbbell bench press

4 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

EZ-bar skullcrusher-

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Dumbbell spell caster

4 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

5 sets, 4 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Dumbbell bent-over row

4 sets, 10-12 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Standing face pull

4 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

4 sets, 20 reps (rest 30 sec.)




EZ-bar spider curl

4 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Ab Roller

4 sets, 20 reps (no rest)




Lying Leg Raise

4 sets, 25 reps (rest 1 min.)




Month 2, Week 4

Day 1: Lower Body

1

Snatch Pull

3 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell front squat

3 sets, 5 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets, 8 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Barbell forward lunge

4 sets, 30 reps (alternating, 15 reps per side, rest 1 min.)




4

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Pallof press

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Chin To Chest Stretch

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Isometric Neck Exercise – Front And Back

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Day 2: Upper Body Push

1

Push-press

3 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

3 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




3

Incline dumbbell bench press

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 1 min.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

EZ-bar skullcrusher-

2 sets, 10 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Dumbbell spell caster

2 sets, 12-15 reps (rest 1 min.)




Day 3: Upper Body Pull

1

Weighted pull-up

3 sets, 3 reps (rest 90 sec.)




2

Dumbbell bent-over row

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 1 min.)




3

TRISET

Perform the exercises in order with 30 sec. rest between exercises and sets.

Standing face pull

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




Seated rear delt fly

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




EZ-bar spider curl

2 sets, 15 reps (rest 30 sec.)




4

SUPERSET

Perform the exercises in order with no rest between exercises and 1 min. of rest between sets.

Ab Roller

2 sets, 20 reps (no rest)




Lying Leg Raise

2 sets, 25 reps (rest 1 min.)




Conditioning

Weeks 1-4 (After strength work or on a separate day):

  • Day 1: 2 miles as fast as you can 
  • Day 2: 4 intervals of 1/4 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow 
  • Day 3:  20 min.  slow jog

Week 5:

  • Day 1 : 4 sprints of 30 sec., rest 2 min. 
  • Day 2 : 4 intervals of 1/4 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow 
  • Day 3 : 2 reps of 1 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow

Running outdoors

Week 6:

  • Day 1 : 5 sprints of 30 sec., rest 2 min. 
  • Day 2 : 5 intervals of 1/4 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow
  • Day 3 : 2 reps of 1 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow

Week 7:

  • Day 1 : 6 sprints of 30 sec., rest 2 min. 
  • Day 2 : 6 intervals of 1/4 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow 
  • Day 3: 2 reps of 1 mile fast, 1/4 mile slow 

Week 8:

  • Day 1 : 20 min.  low jog
  • Day 2: 20 min.  low jog
  • Day 3: Rest 

Strength and Athleticism for Any Challenge

The result of this program is a stronger, fitter, grittier athlete or combatant—no matter what type of uniform he or she wears. When you're done, you can repeat the plan again, building on the progress you've made, or you can begin a different program with different goals.

What you pick is up to you, because you'll be—and feel—ready for anything after this!

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