It can be incredibly difficult to stay in shape with the busy lifestyle and inconvenient hours that many officers experience. However, exercise is absolutely essential for any law enforcement officer, firefighter, and other first responders. We need to maintain strong cardio and strength for both performing the duties required as well as for injury prevention. This becomes even more important as we age.
My absolute favorite way to stay strong and mobile is by using kettlebells. These are excellent tools for training full body compound movements that often mimic the types of movements we do in real life. Additionally, this type of training is especially effective for the types of movements law enforcement officers must utilize when restraining a suspect as they often replicate natural body movements used in common combatives techniques.
A fantastic kettlebell program that addresses strength, cardio, and mobility is Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple & Sinister program. It consists of Goblet Squats, Turkish Get-Ups, and Kettlebell Swings. This workout can be done in 20-30 minutes, addresses the entire body in compound movements, and leaves the practitioner with plenty of strength and energy to go about their daily routines. I find that it’s an excellent complement to my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training as it give me enough strength and endurance to stay competitive in my training, assists with mobility, and helps with injury prevention.
The other great advantage to the program is that it doesn’t require large or expensive gym equipment. All you need is a kettlebell or two and a gym mat or carpeted room.
Many of the movements that are needed by first responders can also easily be trained by using bodyweight exercises. Again, bodyweight workouts can be constructed to take minimal time and they don’t require any upfront cost unless you want to install a pull-up bar or purchase gym mats.
To get in a full body workout using only bodyweight exercises, try doing multiple sets of Pushups, Squats, and Lunges. If you own a pull-up bar, add some sets of Pull-Ups too. And if you have time to work your core muscles on their own, do some Planks as well. For added cardio benefits, do the workout as a complex by doing a set number of reps for each exercise and move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest time. For additional cardio benefits, shorten the rest time between exercises and sets.
You can do this workout anywhere, and it doesn’t even have to be all at the same time. You could so a few sets of each exercises as you have time throughout the day. Start with a couple sets first thing in the morning, do a few sets on a break, a few more sets during lunch, and a few more sets in the evening. What matters most is that you do the workout however it’s spread out throughout the day.
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to do what’s needed to keep your body prepared for the physical demands of being a first responder. No fancy equipment or gym membership is needed. The workouts can be done almost anywhere and can be extremely effective even if spread out throughout the day.
Incorporating even a minimal strength training program into your lifestyle is an excellent way to stay prepared for the demands of being a first responder and will have the additional benefits of keeping you healthy throughout your life.