Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC)
Reserve Forces S&C
TSAC Forum Readers,
I am a current member of the Minnesota Army National Guard and hold ATC and CSCS certifications with about five years experience working in S&C. The TSAC initiative, along with other S&C programs, targeting military personnel is undoubtedly having positive effects and is inspiring to me. Recently, I was moved to a medical unit and have had the good fortune of meeting other like minded people, a few with S&C or related back grounds.
I do not have a specific question, but would like to raise a discussion, if there is interest. The national guard (NG) and other reserve forces have an issue with members meeting physical fitness standards. My collegues and I have simply started a discussion and are brainstorming solutions to the problem. Active duty programs (THOR3, 101st Airborne's ETAP, 75th Rangers RAW, etc) are excellent, but full implementation of those programs to the reserve components seems unrealistic. However, the need is just as great as our nation has leaned on this aspect of the military significantly during the past 10 years. I believe improving the athletic performance and preventing injuries in this population is important and should be addressed. With that, a couple notes....
1. Are there any members with past or present experience working with reserve force units? How did you approach development and implementation of a training plan? What worked, what didnt?
2. I am beginning a search for academic literature specific to this population. If anyone out there knows of studies, documents, contacts, etc, the information would be much appreciated.
I appreciate your time in reading this and hope for a productive discussion. If anyone would like to contact me directly, my email is below.
Matt Tentis, CSCS, ATC
You posted so long ago I wonder if anyone got back to you. I'm Canadian (don't hold that against me) and with the time difference I just received this. I have worked with a thousands of reservist in my time with the military.
Here is my brief opinion on the subject of fitness in the reserves.
1. The units that did well in fitness testing made it part of their mandate (I like the quote "If it's important we do it everyday"). Other groups that did very well had testing at least 4x a year where others did the minimum of one-a-year had high failure rates and injuries.
2. It starts with a directive from the Superiors. If it is important to them it will funnel down if the reservist wants to succeed. This is important in workplace wellness programs as well as in military organizations.
This is what we did:
1. We hired a fitness professional with stellar qualifications and trained interested individuals at the unit level.
2. We taught courses on fitness leadership and advanced training techniques that made sense to the members. These courses are called PSP's Tactical Athlete User Clinic. We taught these courses to the people who ran training (even though this was not their purpose) and I added my own elements of proper principles, progressions, working on weakness, and how to do a little to get a lot.
3. Following exercise testing I gave information on how to properly pass testing with minimal effort (maybe not the right word) and time. I also offered to meet with people who had other concerns (injuries, etc.).
4. We used and developed online tools at www.cfexpres.ca & www.dift.ca that gave a fitness programs, meal plans, and excellent tips and fitness & lifestyle. This was targetted to members who didn't have access to a trainer.
I have to get back to work but if you want to discuss further I can be reached at email@example.com
I too apologize for not seeing this sooner. I have been working with Marine Reserves for almost 6 years now. We actually don't train the drilling Reservists, though. Our population is the Active Duty componet at the Reserve Training centers (RTCs) that are responsible for training them during Drill weekends and AT. The average full-time staff size ranges from 10-20 on-hand, which in turn train an average of 50-120 Drilling Reservists.
We have been hosting what used to be the Combat Fitness Trainer course, which has now been converted over to the Marine Corps High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) program. The 4-day course consists of education/lectures on injury prevention, nutrient timing, and training for performance as well as hands-on education on a modified FMS (Deep Squat, Shoulder Mobility, Stability Trunk Push-Up, and Straight leg Raise - not for score but to assess any pain associated with the movement), agility (cones, ladders, hurdles, etc.), Olympic Lifts, KBs, buddy drills, ammo can drills, and speed mechanics (acceleration and max speed).
It is all designed to train them like the athletes that they are vice just pushing stell around in the gym.
It is very challenging to get the Reservists on a consistent program; however, we have been succcessful with the following:
1) we fly in the designated unit PT Chief (all branches seem to have a different name for them) to a central location. This is the most optimal scenario so they can go back, armed with the information and materials and implement
2) We cap the course at 40 tops and usually split them up into two groups for more direct instruction - too many gets info lost and doesn't give someone the opportunity to get specific corrections
3) They all go thru the movement patterns to know how they feel and have some specific workout templates for implementation
if you are going to TSAC this year, maybe we can connect. i will be one of the instructors for the hands-on HITT session, where i believe we will be doing Acceleration speed. Youc an reach me at work as well using the signature below.
Davis Murphy, CSCS, FMS-1, USAW-1, TRX-2
Semper Fit Director
MARFORRES - MCCS
Mr Lyle and Mr Murphy,
A sincere thank you for your responses and no worries on the delay. I dont think this topic is going away anytime soon! From your responses, I gathered the following details:
1. Leadership MUST make it a priority in terms of training the trainers on improving human performance, physical testing and paying for the qualified resources (trainers). Military components have these already (Unit PT Chief, etc.).
2. Bring qualified people in to teach the necessary material. You both listed a wealth of topics that should be taught.
3. Reach out to the drilling members (those who train once per month) through online means and through their military leadership.
Obviously, you gave greater detail than that, but that seemed to be basic idea.
I would like to touch on the topic of bringing qualified people in to the units. The Army has a Master of Fitness Trainer course to train soldiers in the topics you discussed. The idea is that that soldier can return to his unit and the units PT trainer. At least, that is how I understand it. I have been in the national guard for almost 9 years and never once have I heard of this course being a priority to any leadership. I have also known of several soldiers with similar qualifications to mine, yet their expertise was rarely, if ever tapped into, unless that individual stepped forward.
My question is, how did you go about selling your train-the-trainer plans to unit leadership? From my point of view, I think the interest is there, BUT time and money are not, especially in the U.S. where we are in the middle of a draw down, budget cuts and the demand on the guard isnt expected to go away.
What we are doing:
1. Publishing a monthly Strength & Conditioning Newsletter for the soldiers. The issues will first focus on passing the physical fitness test and will then move to warfighter specific training and other topics you both have mentioned.
2. Initiating a research study exploring a take home program for drilling members. Focus will again be on the fitness test, but we expect it may have application more broadly. This is very early in the planning process though.
Mr. Murphy, I would like to attend the TSAC conference, but I can't afford to go this year. I fully plan to attend conferences in the future, as I am able.