Using Complexes to Help Improve Tactical Job Performance

by Jay Dawes PhD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
TSAC Report August 2018
Vol 48, Issue 3


Just as any athletic team can benefit from sport-specific training, tactical professionals can benefit from occupational task-specific training as well. Combining pushing, pulling, pressing, and total body movements into complexes may help mimic the demands and movements of job tasks that tactical personnel may encounter.

Tactical personnel, whether they serve in fire and rescue, law enforcement, or the military, regularly encounter physically demanding tasks. Firefighters often encounter close spaces that also require them to push, pull, carry, and lift objects or people in those close quarters (3). While law enforcement and military personnel may occasionally find themselves in small confined spaces, they are more likely to be in open spaces that require the same physical demands. Specific physical requirements, such as grip strength (for pulling hoses, opening fire hydrants, dragging a victim to safety, and firing a weapon) and to more general muscular and cardiovascular endurance (for pursuing suspects on foot and climbing steps) is crucial for reducing fatigue after repeated bouts of effort (3,4). Therefore, in order to physically prepare tactical personnel to perform these tasks, specific muscle qualities, such as muscular strength and muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and aerobic fitness should be targeted in a comprehensive strength and conditioning program for the tactical professional. One way to improve these qualities is through the use of complexes.

This article originally appeared in TSAC Report, the NSCA’s quarterly, online-only publication geared toward the training of tactical athletes, operators, and facilitators. It provides research-based articles, performance drills, and conditioning techniques for operational, tactical athletes. The TSAC Report is only available for NSCA Members. Read more articles from TSAC Report 

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Jay Dawes is an Associate Professor of Applied Exercise Science at Oklahoma State University, and the Co-Director of the Oklahoma State University Tac ...

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