Tactical Strength & Conditioning: WARFIGHTER

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Be strong, powerful & enduring like a Warfighter with this Tactical Strength & Conditioning Program!

Warfighters need to be strong, powerful & conditioned


Tactical Strength & Conditioning (TSAC) is a training program or methodology to train, direct and prepare tactical athletes to meet the physical demands of their occupations. These people include those working in law enforcement, military forces, fire & rescue operations and even those in special operations forces. The goal of such a program is to help reduce injury risk, improve or maintain overall health and increase specific areas of fitness required by these professionals. So in order to understand the TSAC methodology and program, we must first understand the role and needs of these tactical athletes.

Being able to maintain strong and stable positions is a must


Tactical athletes have an essential role to play in our communities. They use, and in some instances sacrifice their minds and bodies to serve and protect those in their communities. Usually, they are amongst the first to respond and assist in emergencies, accidents, attacks & disasters. Thus, a key duty of a TA is to be ready at all times to be able to face and handle any threat. Due to this need to be ever ready, a vital requirement of a TA is to be in top physical condition.

Readiness – The ability to meet the physical demands of any combat or duty position, accomplish the mission and continue to fight and win

While the duties of most tactical athletes might seem similar, we do have to understand that there are various differences in occupational needs amongst different groups of TA. For example, a fireman might have different physical requirements as compared to a military infantryman. So it is important to perform a job/needs analysis on each specific TA in order to understand their needs better.

Sprinting in different and unfamiliar terrains is a part of the package


A Warfighter is a soldier in combat

One of the key requirements for a warfighter is operational readiness. According to NSCA, readiness is a “multifaceted concept that includes physical performance, cardiovascular health, and musculoskeletal health”.

Being strong and fit enough to help evacuate casualties can be the difference between life and death

In current times, war has become an anaerobic battlefield. Many of the challenges faced by soldiers include load carriage, evacuating casualties, offensive & defensive maneuvers, heavy lifting, and repetitive lifting. Due to these anaerobic challenges, strength and power can be very important determining factors to how well the TA can perform his mission.

Conversely, soldiers also need optimal aerobic conditioning. This is because missions and combat operations are run for lengthy periods which requires warfighters to have optimal work capacity and the ability to endure. Most of the time, these missions are also performed while carrying heavy external loads and under many other operational stressors.

And of course, warfighters are constantly under large amounts of physical and mental stress due to the nature of their job. Thus, it is important for them to have grit, resilience, and tenacity. They must be able to stay sharp and be able to peform even when fatigued.

Sprinting on rocky terrain in an urban setting

It is also of importance to note that warfighters have to traverse many different terrains such as forests, jungles, urban areas, and beaches. While fighting, they would have to move across these terrains quickly and with speed. This means that soldiers also ought to possess good balance, agility, and coordination to meet these challenges.

In conclusion, the warfighter needs to be a hybrid athlete. They must be able to be strong and powerful enough to handle anaerobic challenges as well as possess the aerobic capability to perform for extended durations of time. They must be mentally strong and gritty in the face of stressful situations. On top of all these factors, they must also be able to be quick on their feet and coordinated in order to move well.

The Warfighter Strength & Conditioning Program


While the best training programs will require an in-depth needs analysis on the warfighter’s unit, mission, and training-mission cycles to periodize training, we are unable to do so here. Thus, here is a general off-season training program for the warfighter to build up their physical capabilities prior to mission deployment. Even if you’re not a soldier in combat, this program is also suitable for those who want to have strong and powerful physiques with a good base of aerobic endurance.

We will break down the training into 3 Parts:

  • Strength & Power Training
  • Aerobic Conditioning
  • Grit Circuit

We will focus on a 3-4 day training split for this phase

MondayFull Body Strength & Power A
WednesdayGrit Circuit
FridayFull Body Strength & Power B
SaturdayAerobic Conditioning/Rest
Training days can be rearranged to suit the trainee’s schedule and priorities.
The Strength & Power Workout

Full Body Strength & Power

During Strength & Power Days, we are aiming to build Strength & Power by focusing on 2 main Power and Strength movements. We also have supplemental exercises to help with muscle balance. The main exercises from session A and B can differ. However, it is a good idea to stick to your chosen exercises for at least 8-12 weeks before deciding to change them.

A. Warmup Protocol (Total time: 10-15 minutes)

  • Mobility drills and dynamic stretching
  • Plank/Anti Rotation exercise to activate the core and improve trunk stability
  • Cardio warm-up to increase body temperature and heart rate
Box Jumps are a great and safe way to train for Lower Body Power

B. Power Upper Body – Perform 3 sets of 3-5 in one of the following:

  • Medicine Ball Chest Pass
  • Explosive Push-Ups
  • Speed Bench

C. Power Lower Body – Perform 3 sets of 3-5 in one of the following:

  • Any Jump Variation
  • Any Slam Variation
  • Hang Clean/Power Clean

Rest 60-120s between Power exercise sets.

The Bench Press is a key staple for Upper Body Strength

D. Upper Body Strength – Work up to 3 sets of 6 in one of the following:

  • Bench Press Variation (Flat/Incline)
  • Overhead Press Variation (Strict/Push Press)

E. Lower Body Strength – Work up to 3 sets of 6 in one of the following:

  • Squat Variation (Back/Front/Trap Bar Squat)
  • Deadlift (Conventional/Sumo)

Rest 90–120 seconds in between Strength exercise sets.

Pull ups are an easy way to work on the supplemental pulling muscles

C. Supplemental Pull Exercise – Work up to 4 sets of 8-12 in one of the following:

  • Pull Up Variation
  • Bodyweight Row Variation
  • Lat Pulldown
  • Dumbbell Row

D. Supplemental Loaded Carry Exercise – Perform 3-4 sets of XX distance:

  • Farmer’s Walk
  • Suitcase Carry
  • Kettlebell Front Rack Walk
  • Yoke Walk

E. Supplemental Isolation Work – Perform 2-4 sets of 12-15

  • Face Pull
  • Rear Delt Flyes
  • Tricep Pulldown
  • Bicep Curl

Rest 45-60 seconds in between Supplemental exercise sets.

Running is a great and also specific way to train for Aerobic Conditioning for soldiers

Aerobic Conditioning

For aerobic conditioning, we will be focusing mainly on running, loaded running, or loaded walking (rucking). This is due to the specific nature of these movement patterns for warfighters. Loaded running or walking can be performed with a weight vest or backpack with weights.

Another type of specific training for Aerobic Conditioning can be Rucking

If you are unable to perform these exercises due to injury, utilizing low impact aerobic work such as swimming, biking or rowing is an acceptable substitute.

A. Warmup Protocol (Total time: 10-15 minutes)

  • Mobility drills and dynamic stretching
  • Plank/Anti Rotation exercise to activate the core and improve trunk stability
  • Cardio warm-up to increase body temperature and heart rate

B. Aerobic Conditioning – Perform 1 of the following for 30 – 60 minutes continuous at *RPE 7-8 or 80-85% of Max Heart Rate

  • Running
  • Loaded Running
  • Loaded Walking

*RPE refers to a rate of perceived exertion which is based on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most difficult and 1 being the most easy)

Core Exercises can help improve trunk stability

C. High Repetition Core Circuit – Pick 3 to 4 core exercises and perform for 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions each. Some choices can include:

  • Crunches
  • V-Ups
  • Sprinter Sit-ups
  • Leg Raises
Working out together as a team can help foster camaraderie

GRIT Circuit

The GRIT Circuit is aimed to build anaerobic endurance, aerobic endurance as well as grit (mental toughness) for trainees. It can also be used to foster camaraderie and teamwork should the program be used in a group. These circuit sessions are a mix of anaerobic and aerobic exercises. Here’s how you can set up your own Grit Circuit.

Come up with 4 different types of exercises of the following:

  1. Submaximal Compound Strength Exercise
  2. Low-Moderate Intensity Power Exercise
  3. Loaded Gait Exercise
  4. Aerobic Exercise
  • Perform 4 – 8 rounds of the following circuit depending on your level of fitness
  • Utilize a 1:1 to 1:3 work to rest ratio depending on whether the goal for the day is more aerobic or anaerobic conditioning respectively
  • A good time to utilize can be 30-45 seconds of work
  • Rest between 90-120s between sets

Here are some examples of such a circuit can be:

Barbells & Dumbbells

Example 1: Dumbbell Frenzy

  1. Cleans
  2. Push Press
  3. Farmer’s Walk
  4. Sprints

Example 2: Kettlebell Madness

  1. Thrusters
  2. Swings
  3. Front Rack Walk
  4. Assault Bike
Functional Tools

Example 3: Functional Tools

  1. Sandbag Lift
  2. Medicine Ball Slam
  3. Overhead Sandbag Walk
  4. Burpees

Finishers can also be performed after the circuit is finished in order to help push the TA further mentally and physically.

Get Strong, Powerful and Enduring with the Warfighter Program


If you are a soldier/military personnel, this Tactical Strength & Conditioning program can help you improve your anaerobic and aerobic capabilities during the in-season of deployment. Even if you are not a soldier, using this program can help you become stronger, more powerful and enduring.

This program can be run for as long as you want as long as you are making good progress over time. However, you can consider deloading every 4th – 8th week of the program. It is also highly customizable as there are many different exercises you can switch around with. However, it is recommended to focus on a few basics and only switch when you stall. Enjoy this program and let’s all get fitter and stronger tomorrow!

Feel free to leave a comment or drop a message in my DMs @Strongertmr or @Strongertmrtraining for questions or if you’d like to work together!

Disclaimer: I strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition and be able to perform the exercises competently before beginning any exercise program.

Author: Leon Tan, CSCS

I'm a certified Fitness Coach with a degree in Sports Science. I am passionate in Health, Fitness and helping people become a better version of ourselves.

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