SWAT Fitness
By Matt Brzycki and Stuart Meyers
Operational Tactics, Inc.
P.O. Box 7525
Gaithersburg, MD. 20898

15 August 2004
By peteR

Without a doubt physical conditioning is a stalwart component of any tactical team's program. This 324 page book gives a good representative sampling of the P-T programs loved by some, and absolutely hated by others. It is necessary to be in peak shape and mental alertness for this particular microcosm of law enforcement. Broken down into twenty chapters and in a LARGE 81/2" x 11" page size this tome is more than a casual read.

Chapter One The Importance of Physical Fitness: pretty well nails it down with the reasons physical fitness and conditioning are important. This is also presented to the serious exercise enthusiast meaning those not on a tactical team. I fall into the latter category, being one who "maxed" at lbs. in High School and still metabolizes food at about the same rate in my mid forties. My life goal was/is muscle with high density and long term endurance vs. RAW POWER. Until a recent work related class interacting with a number of officers from various tactical teams where I got "bounced around" by Mass.......

Chapter Two Basic Anatomy and Muscular Function: in eight pages (two being line drawings) simple and easy to understand.

Chapter Three: Flexibility Training (VERY IMPORTANT to us Ol' Codgers) targeting Range of Motion. This is often quite often overlooked during P-T and is the keystone to preventing training injuries. The series of stretches shown should take about fifteen minutes to one half hour to complete and should be done both before (warm up) and after (cool down) an exercise session.

Chapter Four: Exercise Physiology - again kept fairly simple this chapter briefly touches on ATP, Aerobic and Anaerobic data, cardiovascular and pulmonary processes, and briefly - genetics.

Chapter Five: Aerobic Exercise is covered extensively, not just for the spandex clad babes, this is critical to obtaining a good balance in overall physical abilities. Without the ability to maintain your breathing and heart rate, everything else will fail resulting in poor task performance. Don't push yourself to having to wear a barf bag like a non-re-breather oxygen mask, but gradually increase the load times, working out aerobically 3-5 times a week. This will have a much better long term effect on the critical component.

Chapter Six Anaerobic Exercise: this chapter covers for the most part Farlek training which is also very important to correctly developing a universal platform of power and endurance under any conditions.

Chapter 7 Strength Training: starting with a simple questionnaire regarding your existing P-T program, this book then delves into combining the previous chapters and strength training to a maximum of one hour per session controlling balance via limited repetitions within the major muscle groups.

Chapter 8 Free Weight Exercises: covers bar & plate exercise to develop strength in a safe manner. Specifically apparent to me and Kudos to the authors - The use of a buddy or spotter is shown in ALL of the illustrations where one could have "serious issues". Careful detail is paid to how to isolate muscle groups and correctly perform the particular exercise series. The use of hand weights is also shown and these can pay big dividends. I was surprised to find that locomotion and the use of hand weights was not covered. One group of old school very hard core martial artists that I train with uses 2-5 pound hand weights for a number of simple exercises/stretches, and believe me it works! A few years ago after obtaining and reading a free copy of "Heavyhands-The Ultimate Exercise System" my personal training routine was vastly enhanced. I don't walk around outside with hand weights, but the exercises are quite good. Maybe by the next edition of this book, similar techniques will be added.

Chapter 9 Machine Exercises: again correctly demonstrated and the Pro's and Con's of machine types exercise is discussed. One becomes VERY envious when viewing the large array of machine equipment the authors have access to for the purpose of this book.

Chapter 10 Manual Resistance Exercises: The use of a training buddy and performance of these drills can further enhance Range of Motion strength. Sometimes called "Dynamic Tension" and occasionally using light weights such exercise routines are very common in the older Martial Arts dating back about around 2,000 years from China, Malaysia, and the Phillippines - specifically similar to two man Tai'Chi or push hands drills.

Chapter 11 Designing and Varying the Strength-Training Program: this chapter now integrates the previous chapters into the personalized exercise routine specifically tailored to the individual.

Chapter 12 Metabolic Training: High Intensity Training (H.I.T.) to failure is covered here and is also conducive to enhanced OVERALL performance

Chapter 13 Rehabilitative Training: Sooner, or later, something has to give due to age, prior injury, a new injury, or simply failure to safely warm up before/cool down after an exercise regime. This recently happened to me as an instructor during a tactical baton course. I separated a shoulder, and resultantly tore the capsule surrounding the head of the left humerus while hip throwing a very aggressive student about double my physical mass. This freak injury occurred as a result of him literally sticking to my Red Man during impact with the ground! Four months later there are still issues with mobility recovering from what evolved into frozen shoulder, and I was just "cleared" by an orthopedic surgeon, to begin exercising in what was a daily pattern.

Chapter 14 Power Lifting: The how to's of power lifting and applications to a SWAT team member are covered in this brief chapter.

Chapter 15 Skill Training: This chapter covers refining motor skills in a simple refinable and definable manner. The text "Competitive Shooting" by A.A. Yur'yev would be the building block from this training book for those interested in honing their marksmanship skills based on the proven methods of the former Soviet Union.

Chapter 16 Operational Fitness Standards for SWAT Personnel: This chapter targets exactly what standards should be pre-requisite for becoming a tactical team member, and then maintaining that elite position.

Chapter 17 Nutritional Training: In a nutshell "You are what you eat." Kudos to the authors for a very well written dissertation on this subject, including what to eat after a workout. Hint: Its not Beer & Pizza............ The criticality of hydration with proper electrolytic type fluids is covered, and those of us with an interest in tactical rifle marksmanship are well aware of this topic.

Chapter 18 Weight Management: This chapter covers methodologies to stay in you peak weight or mass window. Subjects include Weight gain, or Loss, supplements, and stabilization of personal weight.

Chapter 19 Q&A: Again well researched and directed towards meaningful questions you may have about the subject of physical conditioning.

Chapter 20 Time to Deploy!: The conclusion of the book with some anecdotes from personal experiences of the authors.

Back to Book and Videotape Reviews