21st Mar2012

Can Your Clothing Increase Military Fitness

by A.J.
Compression top for military fitness

Can Clothing Really Increase Performance?

Compression Clothes To Increase Military Fitness

As tactical athletes we definitely put the time in at the gym, for the most part we keep an eye on nutrition, we could do more with our supplements, but we wear clothes made by the lowest bidder. I get pretty upset when I go to a fitness convention or professional sports team for work and notice that as a group we tend to be like 5 years behind the power curve. I think compression tops and compression bottoms are an area that we will see much more in the future, but until then it is up to us to educate ourselves.

Fact or Fad?

The benefit you will notice first when you wear a compression top or shorts is they have a tendency to keep the muscles warm in cool environments and cool in warm environments. The garments achieve this by wicking away moisture and providing a convection effect that decreases the time it takes for muscles to warm up.Doen et al. found a scientifically significant improvement in not only athletic performance but also injury resistance when the athletes utilized compression wear on the lower body and specifically increasing extension and flexion torque in exercise.

Aside from the increase in power during exercise Kraemer et al. found a significant decrease in perceived soreness as well as increased recovery in athletes who utilized compression therapy to decrease tissue damage brought on by exertion. compression tops and bottoms have been attributed with increased removal of lactic acid during exercise because of increased blood flow and that should also significantly improve performance.

 How does this benefit a Tactical Athlete?

Military Fitness and CompressionI have compiled a listing of researched attributes of compression clothing and have decided to include them as they relate to the tactical athlete.

  • Enhanced Blood Circulation to peripheral limbs to delay fatigue
  • Reduced Blood lactate so the athlete can exert maximally for longer
  • Enhanced warm up to increase training time for increased fitness gain
  • Increased vertical height
  • Increased repetitive jump power
  • Reduced muscular oscillation which can help protect athlete from injury and focus power output
  • Reducing muscle soreness so you can train more often
  • enhanced recover so that you get the most from you training sessions

How You Should Use Compression Wear

Typically there are specific compression garments that are designed for a particular sport so they can provide the correct application of compression to specific body parts as it relates to your sport. Unfortunately there is no manufacturer that has specifically looked at applying the use of this technology to the Tactical Athlete  so I have done some research and come up with my top choices which I will include later. Compression undergarments should only be used during training due to the fact that there is no provider of flame resistant compression garments and the risk by far outweighs the benefit in combat. Be sure to get the right size garment so it is not overly constraining or overly loose (which defeats the purpose). Do not attempt to wear compression garments on hot days, under ACU, BDU, or Cami uniforms for long periods of high exertion. Ideally 90 minutes in a moderate environment is best, you can wear these on hot days with high exertion but remain vigilant about hydration status and temperature status. Some clothing provides a better package for training and others will give better results for recovery.

My Picks

Note: Below are my suggestions if you are interested in buying some compression garments, of course there is absolutely no obligation I just want to provide a service I wish someone had given to me 10 years ago. These are affiliate links and if you purchase something a portion of the proceeds go to great charities like the wounded warrior foundation and the green beret foundation but, at absolutely no extra cost to you. I appreciate you checking these out and supporting TacticalAthleticPerformance.com.

Pictured at the top and below is the AIM compression top available in both long and short sleeve. This top is designed for the MMA multisport athlete and it most closely meets the criteria required to push the military athletes performance to the next level.

AIM Short Sleeve Compression Top AIM Short Sleeve Compression TopAIM Short Sleeve Compression Top


which are a thin compression short that provides a lighter compression in a more comfortable package. The third compression garment I have found to be an absolute revolution in sportswear technology is the Men’s Juggler Knickers:

Men's Juggler Knickers Men’s Juggler KnickersMen’s Juggler Knickers


These high performance shorts provide great compression ability combined with pockets that are used to place ice over muscles, after training to increase the recovery effect with ice therapy that has been proven to provide a huge advantage over no treatment or even contrast bath therapy to speed recovery and improve performance. The Juggler knickers also provide knee support which can dramatically decrease damage and injury. I like these so much I am going to give away a set to one person who subscribes to the blog (one the right side) and gives me the most compelling story about how they would use them and how owning these Compression Knickers would help improve their training performance in the comment section ( 50 comments to the drawing). Thank you guys for supporting us and I hope this article has provided you all some value.

18th Feb2012

Survive Out of Your Day Pack

by A.J.


So I was recently talking to a good friend of mine about doing some geocaching and hiking in the Rocky Mountains and we got onMilitary Fitness Pack the subject of how to survive when your day trip turns into a survival situation because of conditions outside of your control (or maybe you just suck at planning). So I asked him for a short list I can use to get ready for the trip and being the ridiculous over achiever he is he sent me this, and I thought it was pretty awesome so I wanted to share it with you guys. For some background I did not write this but the guy who did (we will call him “Matty”) is a former  Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer AST (they fly around in helicopters that look like orange painted Airwolfs and fix people’s bad decisions) who is now a Green Beret who runs an exclusive hiking business and is an all-arounds great guy. So whether you are training for the army or just headed out to enjoy the outdoors I think this is a worthwhile read.

Matty:

A simple system to determine what critical gear to take on the short wilderness adventure.

 

As people who love the outdoors, we cherish our right to grab a small pack on short notice and head out into one of our favorite wilderness area.  The great thing about the “day-trip” is that, ideally, it can be light on planning and gear, letting you maximize your time out of the house.  Anyone who ventures out, though, must be aware that the great outdoors can quickly become deadly for the unprepared.

 

Every year hundreds of people who set out on easy day-hikes, trail-runs, or boat trips find themselves unexpectedly in life-or-death Tactical Athletesituations due to common circumstances—such as weather events, injury, or a wrong turn on the trail.  Over the course of dozens of missions as a Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer, I saw that most catastrophes start as simple outings gone wrong–usually because people failed to plan for the unexpected or neglected to bring the right supplies with them.  Search-and-Rescue organizations around the world, both land and sea, will attest to the same thing.

 

This leaves us with the question, how do we adequately prepare our pack for a short adventure without sacrificing spontaneity and time effectiveness.  Below, I’ve outlined a simple system which you can use to decide what to take in case you find yourself needing to survive out of your day-pack.

 

Most wilderness survival programs use a simple list that the student can use to prioritize their actions in an emergency situation.  You can use a similar list to make sure you don’t miss any do-or-die items when you are stuffing your pack for a quick hike, or your camelback for a trail run.

As an avid outdoorsman and a rescue professional, I have had many experiences drive home the importance of preparedness.  When I sat down to analyze my own decision making process, I realized that I address certain categories to make sure I have all bases covered.  In a pinch, you can use the acronym WWFF.  Think of the old pro wrestling days and then throw another F on the end.  In order, the priorities in WWFF are—

 

  • WARM
  • WATER
  • FOUND
  • FOOD

 

The order of this list is no mistake, so make sure you priorities these considerations from top to bottom when you are deciding what to bring.

 

1 – WARM

 

The Threat:  Exposure resulting in hypothermia.

 

The Solution:  Have the ability to keep yourself Dry, Insulated, and ultimately Warm under whatever circumstances you may encounter during your outing.

 

Military Fitness In the ColdConsiderations:  Long before dehydration or hunger have the chance to kill you hypothermia can do you in.  That is why WARM is the first item on our packing list.  We all know the cold is a threat for winter hikers, but hypothermia regularly becomes an unexpected killer on summer days and in semi-tropical environments.  All it takes is the introduction of an injury, an unexpected delay or stranding, or a prolonged period in contact with moisture to induce life threatening hypothermia.

When operating in a temperate to cold environment, being able to protect yourself from exposure to the elements becomes all the more critical.  You must consider not only the level of protection from clothing you may need within your planned outing, but also what you will need to maintain body heat if you become lost, stranded, injured, or delayed past your return time.  When you put this system to practice, decide what temperature you want to be able to survive in a worst case scenario.  Find out what the temperature low is likely to be in the coming evening, even if you plan on being back before dark.

 

When deciding what to throw into your day-pack to satisfy the WARM requirement keep this low temp in mind, then ask yourself how will I:

1. Stay DRY

2. Stay INSULATED

 3. Obtain SHELTER if stranded

 4.  RE-WARM myself if I fail 1 through 3

 

The How:  Keep in mind you are preparing for worst-case weather events, becoming lost, or an overnight stranding.

–First, throw an appropriately sized garbage bag in your pack so that all of your       carefully chosen items will stay DRY if there is precipitation, or if you fall in a creek.  —–Next, choose your clothing.  To make it easy break it down into:

                                                                                               -Shell

                                                                                                -Insulation

                                                                                                -Head, Hands, and Feet.

 

Try to avoid relying on an all-in-one answer, like a single coat that includes insulation layer and waterproofing in one.  If you go with multiple layers, you will have more versatility over a range of temperatures.  A good Shell for hiking can be lightweight and easy to pack, like a Gortex or similar type of ski jacket.  The shell needs to be able to keep you and your insulation layers dry, and can also trap in heat and cut wind regardless of season.  It should have a hood, and you may also chose a pants shell if the environment calls for it.  You may also want to carry a backup shell, such as a compact disposable rain poncho.  These or other ultra thin shells can fit in a camelback for trail-runs.

 

For your insulation layer, the first consideration is material.  Always remember “Cotton Kills.”  Cotton looses most of its warming properties when it becomes even the slightest bit moist.  Instead, choose synthetic materials such as “fleece”, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, etc., or wool.  These materials absorb less water, retain their insulating properties better when wet, and dry fast.  Natural down can be very warm, but will also lose its ability to insulate when wet.  I usually chose a thin base layer like a water wicking pullover, an efficient layer like a synthetic fleece, and some kind of a lofty layer like a synthetic fill puffy jacket or an additional bulky fleece.  These need to fit under your shell alone or combined.  Follow the same guide lines for pant layers if the climate calls for it.

 

Next, think about Head, Hands, and Feet.  If you’re not wearing a hat or gloves have them in your pack inside a waterproof bag.  If you are wearing a hat and gloves, have back-ups in your pack, as well as an extra pair of warm socks.  Consider the type of materials they are made of as mentioned above.  Now you are able to stay Dry and Insulated through your clothing.

 

Next, consider emergency Shelter in the event you are stranded or lost.  There are shelters you can carry like tents, sleeping bags, and tarps—and shelters you can fashion from the environment.  Most people don’t want to carry a tent or sleeping bag on a day trip, but consider a compact tarp, or survival blanket.  In many environments, primitive shelters that can allow you to survive even the coldest night can be made with ease using only forest litter and requiring no tools (these skills will be covered in later installments).  In alpine environments like the US Rockies, sufficient forest litter may be hard to find.  In this case, I will carry a small very light hand saw which can be used to make an insulated pine bow shelter.  Some people even chose to carry a small shovel for snow cave construction.  Having the skills to make such Shelters will reduce the amount of gear you need to carry and greatly increase your survivablity.

 

Finally, think how you can Re-warm yourself, in addition to your clothing and shelter. Simply, have waterproof matches or a lighter, and other fire making materials in your pack, and know how to use them.  The reason I put fire so far down the list is because in heavy wind or precipitation fire is not a substitute for good shelter.  Other Re-warm options include hand-warmers, emergency blankets, or extra clothes.

 

2 – Water

MSR FilterThe next priority on our list is staying hydrated.  Although a human can survive for up to 3 days without water, this time will decrease greatly when exertion, difficult weather, or an injury are introduced.  When operating in the outdoors, severe mental and physical impairment can result from just a few hours without water.

 

-The Threat:  Insufficient water resulting in dehydration, heat injuries, impairment, or death.  Environmental water which is unfit to drink due to biological contaminants or pollution.

 

-The Solution:  Know how much water to carry.  Know how to obtain drinkable water from the environment.  To sum it up, have the ability to:

 

1. Carry water.

2. Create drinkable water.

 

-Considerations:  Dehydration and heat-injuries are all season killers that take the lives of many people in the outdoors every year.  I often marvel at how little water I see people carrying on the trail.  If you only carry enough water for your planned route and time, you are tempting fate.  In hot climates carry at least one liter or quart of water per hour.  This may be scaled back if it is colder, but I never carry less then one liter or quart per two hours.  If you have extra water left when you are done, you are doing it right.

 

Clearly, this can present a problem during longer hikes or on trail-runs when we don’t want to be bogged down with so much weight.  An easy solution is to choose a route where moving surface water is available–but remember, even the clearest mountain stream likely contains biological contaminants (such as giardia) which can impair or kill.  These can be easily removed with a purification system such as a backpacking filter or UV light.  These devices can provide a steady supply of purified water, but never rely exclusively on any mechanical devise.

 

Emergency water

 

Commercial water purifiers are also great when lost or during a stranding, but you are going to want a few other tricks up your sleeve.  A container of iodine tablets is small and light, and an easy way to purify water.  Unpurified water can also be boiled, so fire making devices and know-how again become a crucial tool.  When all else fails, one should be familiar with a range of skills to procure water from the environment including seep holes, catches, solar stills, and water producing plants.

 

 

3 – Found

 

-The Threat:  You become lost, injured, or stranded on an outing and are unprepared to either find your way out or call for help.

 

-The Solution:  Have the tools and ability to determine your location, and navigate to safety.  Use high or low-tech means to call or signal for help.

 

-Considerations:  The outdoors is a big place, and trails aren’t always as easy to follow as we would like.  A short lapse of attention can find even an experienced outdoors man or woman lost.  Add unexpected weather or and injury and now you have a stranding.

 

GPS Survival GearNavigation:  Carry a map and compass and know how to use them.  Some people like to use GPS devices, and this is fine, just remember batteries die and technology fails.  Direction finding and navigation without a compass are important skill sets which will be taught in later posts.

 

Signaling:  Know the capabilities and short comings of your cell phone.  Sometimes your phone is all you will need to call for help, but in the outdoors you can never count on reception or battery life.  One thing you can always do with your phone is send a text to someone you trust telling them where you are going before you take you are out of range.  There are also effective electronic signaling devices such as ELTs and EPIRBs that are available at outdoors stores.  These devices send a signal through a network of satellites that can launch a rescue mission and help pinpoint your location.

 

There are also simple low-tech ways to help you get Found.  Glow sticks, head lamps, and flash lights are all small and easy to carry, and will help searchers find you.  Again, fire becomes an indispensable tool.  Remember, the rule of threes.  One fire looks like someone camping.  Two fires is just a coincidence.  Three fires next to each other is a hard to ignore signal.  Almost anything you are carrying potentially can be used for emergency signaling.  A space blanket carried for warmth can also make a highly visible signal, and the silver reflective side creates a strong radar return when at sea.  When it comes to getting Found you are only limited by your imagination, but carry the right tools and you can avoid a worst-case-scenario to begin with.

 

4 – Food

-The Threat:  Impairment or death due to lack of nutrients during a survival situation.

 

-The Solution:  Carry efficient trail food.  Be able to procure food from your environment.

 

-Considerations:  The reason Food is at the bottom of this list is because it can take weeks for a human to expire without eating.  Still, under the conditions you are likely to face if lost or delayed in the outdoors, you can face life threatening consequences in a much shorter period of time.  Aside from the impairment and weakness that can come from a lack of essential proteins, carbohydrates, and sugar, a deficiency in electrolytes can become quickly fatal.  If you are in a situation where you must constantly hydrate—such as a high exertion hike on a hot day—electrolyte levels can plummet quickly.  Without a replacement of sodium, potassium, and other electrolyte rich compounds you can quickly loose mental and physical faculties.

 

At a bare minimum carry some sort of electrolyte packet to add to your water.  You may also substitute or add Granola bars, sports bars, trail mix, or several other food options in your pack.  Beyond the nutrients you carry, know what wild food sources are available in the area you will be, and know what skills and tools you might need to obtain them.

 

The amount of detail we can go into on each of these subjects is boundless, and much of it will be dealt with in future posts.  For now, just apply the WWFF framework, think about the environment you will be operating in, and ask yourself “will I be able to keep myself WARM and dry, provide myself WATER, get myself FOUND if lost, and obtain FOOD when needed.  Satisfy these questions and you will already be far ahead of the curve.           


12th Feb2012

Top Sites You Need To Visit

by A.J.

Military Fitness sitesI am always looking for new places to get info for our profession. Becuase it is such a small niche it is sometimes difficult to find good accurate info. The last couple of weeks I have been in a course for shooting, CQB and Urban Combat (which is why the post have slowed down for two weeks). While here I have been talking to my buddies about some lessons learned, TTPs and where to go for more info, so in the interest of getting that info out to the dedicated few who make a living carrying a firearm and wearing body armor I have put together a short list of some of my favorite places to go. Feel free to bookmark this post for future reference and if it turns out to be a post you enjoy share it with your buddies on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Leave a comment about your experience.

#1. Stew Smith, The Daily PT

Stew is a great buddy of mine and he is an absolute encyclopedia of military fitness techniques. I placed Stew at number one because I wanted to start out of the gate pretty strong. One of the unbelievable things about Stew is he answers all his non spam emails and I have seen him take time out and personally train guys that are getting ready for the military and advanced selection courses. You may never meet such a genuinely nice guy with the SEAL credentials he brings to the table.

#2. Kyle Lamb, Viking Tactics

Kyle Lamb is a former Delta Operator and Seargent Major in the Special Operations community, now Kyle is arguably the best tactical carbine instructor in the world. Besides being a great instructor he is a great guy who takes the time to answer questions and train interested parties in the military and the civilian sector but, be warned he is generally booked out many months in advance. His book “Green Eyes and Black Rifles: Warriors Guide to the Combat Carbine” is an absolute must ready for anyone in our profession.

#3. Ben Greenfield, Get Fit Guy

Ben Greenfield was NSCA’s Personal Trainer of the Year 2008, which is a great distinction. I personally do not know Ben but I have followed his blog and podcast for some time. Ben brings things down to a very basic level and anytime you spend on his site is well spent.

#4. Pistol-Training.com

Pistol-Training.com is a great resource when you are looking to add some variety to your training. This site has a huge library of drills, targets and information. Be sure to stop by and check out the original F.A.S.T. drill.

#5. R.E. Factor Tactical

R.E. Factor Tactical is a site dedicated to the needs and wants of operators and military members alike. R.E. Factor is owned by a Special Forces Master Breacher who I have worked with on a few operations and he specializes in creating special purpose items for breaching and other tactical needs. If you have a question about the tactical application of explosives there is no one out there I would rather ask.

#6. BodyBuilding.com

Body Building.com has a huge selection of supplements and shipping second to none. They provide free shipping to APO addresses which comes in super handy when deployed overseas. They also have a great tool to help develop supplementation regimens as well as workout programs. One thing I like to do is buy stuff while over seas so I have a constant influx of carepackages I send myself and besides, without some supplements you are forced to limit your fuel intake to stuff you find in the chow hall. “There is no point in treating your body like a temple in the gym if you treat it like a dumpster in the chow hall.” I would suggest getting over there and checking out all the new features they are adding all the time. In the interest of full disclosure the above is an affiliate link and I will get a small commission on anything you buy, but the prices are the same for you so thank you for using my link and helping to support this site.

 

#7. The Sniper’s Hide

As a military sniper it is often very very very difficult to get reliable info that you can use plus with everything else you gotta do staying up on the latest info and tactics is also hard, that is where The Sniper’s Hide comes in. The Sniper’s Hide has great info and if you are a sniper that wants to stay on the cutting edge or just a professional warrior who understands that marksmanship solves a huge number of tactical problems then this is the place to go.

 

#8. Matt Hathcock CrossFit Unbroken

I know there a ton of Crossfit fanatics out there and this site is the one I really like. Matt and his guys do a great job be sure to check them out. Based out of the Denver Metro area working out at Unbroken you not only have to contend with super human workouts but, also the altitude.

#9. Brownell’s

Brownell’s has been outfitting soldiers and police officers for over 70 years.  They have a great selection and if you are as interested in shooting as I am there is no one out there that can get you a better price so you can shoot more often. Get over there and get the best new optics for your pistol or rifle and just watch your performance improve. Like the Bodybuilding.com link this one is also an affiliate link so I thank you if you use it the next time you need to plus up your zombie apocalypse cache at better than Walmart prices.

#10. Andy Holmes, Complete Nutrition

Andy doesn’t have a super web site but, I think I would be remiss if I left him out. At one of my former ODAs we hired Andy to come in and get all the guys on the team squared away with what supplements we should be using for different phases of training. Andy is a two sport Olympic Athlete and well as a 4 Sport athlete in college. Andy specializes in military athletes and if you send him an email and mention that you got his info from T.A.P. he will waive his $125.00 consultation fee and provide phenomenal no obligation recommendations just tell him your MOS and what your goals are. You can contact him at Email Andy

#10.Tactical Athletic Performance

Of course you knew I was going to have this site in the list. I started this site to fill a void I found because you can probably find 100 sites on how to play some superhero video game but, there is literally no one stop shop for all the stuff that keeps us alive on the battlefield or get us some tips to share the best way to close with and destroy the enemy. T.A.P. was built as my attempt to help push the ball down the field but, it can’t work unless we get feedback from other guys who have been there and actually fired their weapons in combat so please whenever you find something relevant or maybe even off target give us your perspective. Thanks for reading to the end talk to you all soon. Be Safe.

28th Jul2011

The Art of the Rucksack

by A.J.

Recently I was in Leadville Colorado on a WET exercise (Winter Environmental Training). For those of you that don’t know, Leadville Colorado is the highest altitude incorporated city in the United States (10,152 feet).  The training exercise started out normal enough; Scarpa Boots, check jet boil stove, check cross-country skis, check fully loaded rucksack containing enough snivel gear to bivouac on the dark side of the moon, check. My team and I got up to the mountains conducted skills training most of the day and in the afternoon headed off to find a suitable site to RON (Rest Over Night). The snow cave I constructed was rudimentary but would have to do, and after a frigid night of -20°F when 0400 rolled around it was time to bug out and link up with the rest of the company.  This is where we get to the point of the story, if it is -20°F and (more…)