What is Optimal?
It doesn't matter what you are trying to get good at doing, there is a chance that pain and injury will start to manifest. Some are minor aches and stiffness that go away with a warmup period, some are more acute pains that require a full RICE regimen (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation plus foam roller). Some will require a trip to a doctor or physical therapist. Some pains are performance lulls which can be mentally challenging for an athlete, and it can affect your tactical profession as well.
These things happen at any level of fitness. But, high levels of fitness come at a cost, especially for the tactical athlete. If you are blessed to be a professional athlete and allowed to take naps after hard workouts and it is your full time job, the physical price to pay is minimal. Tactical athletes do not have that luxury, so why push yourself like a professional athlete? What is optimal for the tactical athlete?
The type of people in tactical professions are typically competitive by nature and will push themselves to extremes just for fun. I am not saying that is wrong. I love to do it – with boundaries. As tactical professionals, you have to ask is the hobby of advanced extracurricular fitness helping or hurting. We all have skills and athletic histories that make certain elements of fitness easier, but when continuous mastery of those easy elements start to hurt and make weaknesses more pronounced, you have to look at your programming and seek balance.
Recent articles have discussed redefining what's optimal for the military, police, and firefighter athlete, aka tactical athlete, and I started with this discussion after seeing many tactical athletes doing professional athlete workouts. Why? The reasons to redefine optimal are twofold:
Your Whole Body Must be in Shape
You do not need to be a marathoner to be an Army Ranger, but you need to be good at running and rucking. You do not need to be a competitive swimmer to be a Navy SEAL, but you need to be good at swimming and confident in the water. Continued below: