Tactical Conditioning to be able to meet the physical demands for self defense

As most of us in this group respect the right to protect ourselves, I would bet that the vast majority regularly train with our firearms. Therefore, I am not trying to discuss that type of training here, but physical training for our bodies. Yes, a firearm is the great equalizer, but not the only part of the equation. To me, personal protection must be looked at from a wider lens.

Personal protection, and thus protection for your loved ones is a major reason all of us have joined USCCA, and I am sure we share the same mindset. Still being good with a gun but unable to move effectively to either shoot or move to cover can seriously hinder us. Therefore, we must also be in the best physical shape and health that we can. I am not saying we must all be super athletes, as now at 57 I am not as fast or strong as I once was, but I strive to do my best.

My background is that I am a retired police officer and I am currently a Master Fitness Trainer and Tactical Conditioning Specialist among some of the certifications I hold, and was the lead fitness instructor for the University of Akron’s Law Enforcement Training Center . Long story short, I have been training people in fitness for 28 years now, and that includes cops, fire/rescue and military. Those of us that are concerned with the 2A and protecting ourselves and family also fall into this same category!

Tactical Conditioning is different than other types of fitness training as we must be “jack of all trades.” The bodybuilder trains for one thing, to be as physically massive as he can be. The powerlifter, although maybe not as physically imposing as the body builder must be able to lift weights that may exceed what her body builder counterpart could do. The tactical athlete (that would be us) need to be strong, fit, quick, fast, you name it. Not the best at any ONE thing, but good at them all. Now I know that is a relative. If you are in your 60’s fast and quick is not to be compared with someone that is in their 20’s or 30’s, but my point is to train to the best of your ability for your age and health and try to maximize it. If someone here has a disability or injury, make it work to the best of your ability.

I recommend a program that uses resistance training, cardiovascular training, getting good sleep and have a nutritious diet. Additionally, I suggest adding in training that could mimic what you MAY need to do if SHTF! Perhaps, grab your bug out bags, put them on and hike through the woods with that weight. If you plan on carrying weapons, do that as well and if that is not a possibility where you live, carry some weights similar to what your weapons and ammo weigh. Make it AS REAL as possible in the training scenario.

If you are physically able, add small sprints from areas of cover that you may need to run to, similar to drills I am sure we have all done on the range. If you only do that type of training on the range, you are missing out. In a situation where you must defend yourself, you MAY need to run to cover before defending yourself if you are out in the open (think active shooter). We can improve our performances in fitness and in shooting by adding this type of training into our daily workout programs. Train like we may have to fight and defend ourselves.

When I taught police officers in tactical operations, I would have them run a mile and then immediately engage targets on the range when they made it back to the range. This to me was a great way to simulate the affects that adrenaline will have on you should you need to defend yourself with a firearm. Adrenaline gets the heart pumping and your breathing rate is elevated and running prior to shooting can simulate that. If you can’t run a mile, run as far as you can until your heart rate is up. Make it work for YOU!

There is an old saying that the more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in combat. Maybe the same can be said that they more you sweat in training the less you bleed should you need to defend yourself with your firearm.



Scott, you have just described how the normal life looks like. :slightly_smiling_face:


Sleep, eat, work, exercise, enjoy time with family → repeat.

This is how we should spend our whole life: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”


This ties in with some of what I was discussing in the making training as realistic as possible thread.

One technique I find really good for getting the heart rate up before shooting is Tabatas. It is 8 rounds of 20 seconds of working out close to your max effort ability followed by 10 seconds of rest and repeat. You can run, bike, do kettle bell squats, burpees, sit ups, pushups, etc. or rotate through several of them. The key is to push yourself as hard as you can for that 4 minutes. If you are pushing yourself hard enough you get an intense mini workout that I guarantee will show just how hard it can be to shoot accurately with your heart beating at its max rate.

Warning tabatas can be really intense when you first start doing them. Consult a physician before trying these if you have heart or other health issues. Though my doc said I was OK to do them even with my damaged ticker. An easier though still challenging version of Tabatas is to go hard for 30 seconds then pause for 30 seconds if you find the 20/10 to be too intense to begin with.


I disagree. Most people…not of our mindset get up, work come home home watch TV and go to bed. People I am assuming like most of us do those things but also prepare for what COULD occur. We are not of the same mindset of most people in this country!


I’m not calling this a normal life. It is a lazy life.
When you do only things that keeps System running, you are only small gear in the System. What is the meaning of such life? I know watching TV is fun… but lack of your own system / body / mind everyday improvement is nothing more than laziness.

I’m glad you brought this at this Community, hopefully those who never thought they need to be prepared will start do more. They hopefully start living the normal life.


I love that Shamrock. i wasn’t saying running was the only way to do it. Just to think ouside the box. it could be burpees for 10 reps or whatever! There is no PERFECT way to train, but training for prefection is our goal. We must all do what we can to push ourselves, yet live within what we can personally do. I am sure that is happening in Ukraine. I mean they have guys as old as sixty fighting. That can be old for a fighter, but when someone is coming after your country, we all would do what we can!


Thank you. Sadly I don’t think many think about it, especially as we age. Listen i found out I have a bad heart valve so my training is far less than when I was a cop, and played rugby, but I do what I can.


Also, do lots of leg stretching, stay loose for kicking, keep those legs in shape.

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Absolutely! Posts like this are always hard as you can never cover everything without making it so boring no one reads it! hahah


We do what is adequate to age and health. We sprint being in 20’s - 30’s, we run in 40’ - 50’, we walk in 60’s and up. Everything other than sitting and doing nothing is beneficial to our body.

I never thought that active life will give me more than satisfaction. When I stated carrying the firearm few years ago, I was thankful to myself for all the previous years which prepared me well for new reality. :muscle:

So yes. Please be active as much as you can. Age or health doesn’t matter. Do even something small, but don’t be an easy target, man who cannot even turn around and run away… (sometimes this is the best defense) .


We are on the same page my brother in arms!


I’ve trained in the martial arts/self defense arena for about 25 years and I 100% agree with you. Too Too Too many regular folks don’t do what I call “Take Care of The Machine”. At 65 years old I have limits but at the present they aren’t physical. I tell people my age JUST DO SOMETHING, Get Up, Get Out. Walk Run Swim Cycle, fight… anything. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you but for others on here, The Bad Guys ARE TRAINING, they lift, they run, they fight, they shoot, they practice. @ScottGaran makes a very good point here, please consider doing something…


Remember this guy?

This is what he looks like now,


Been physical my entire life. Still go to gym at least 4 times/week and do at least 20 minutes of cardio and 1hr of weight training each time. At my “advanced” age, resting pulse is still well below 50 and I can still go at max heart rate for a fairly long time. To your point, I do need to incorporate more of that high intensity into my weapons training.


The harder you train the easier you fight.


Keep on livin’ my friend. Dick VanDyke (age 98) tells a joke like this … “If I’d known that I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

I’m now on a first name basis with most of the specialists in Colorado, thanks to a stroke in 2019, two knee replacements and one hip replacement, and a diagnosis of joint destroying RA. The days of me running (or even walking) three miles a day are behind me. Every day on this side of the grass is gift. Don’t waste it.


I love this! Thank you!