PEAK FITNESS FOR DUTY

The SWAT operator needs to be in good physical condition,…

The SWAT operator needs to be in good physical condition, but having a body-builder physique may not be a good option as you’ll need flexibility for various missions.

When discussing performance enhancement, one first needs to define what is meant by performance. There are many types of performance, each usually optimized for a particular type of activity or field of endeavor. In law-enforcement, the goal is often to develop a large, muscular physique.

When one thinks about what is required of a patrol officer, it is quite different from that which is required of a SWAT operator. In patrol, one tends to use uniform/command presence as a primary tool when contacting the public. The amount of physical activity required tends to be less and is definitely of a shorter duration. In contradistinction, the SWAT operator tends to require a great deal of stamina in order to withstand the long training evolutions and lengthy deployments while carrying a heavy equipment load. Due to the differences in job characteristics, the approach that one takes to optimizing or enhancing the performance can be quite different.

Mission-Specific Metabolism
For the patrol officer, size is important—in other words, bigger often seems to be better. A larger, more muscular officer is more intimidating and therefore enhances the first level of the force continuum—uniform presence. It makes sense that an officer who is muscular and appears to be in good physical condition is less likely to need to resort to physical persuasion in order to gain compliance. An officer who is smaller, or obviously out of shape is seen as softer and an easier mark, and is more likely to need to assert their control over a given situation. Additionally, an out-of-shape officer offers a poor image of their self-esteem and the quality of other members of their agency. In the SWAT world, the optimal body type is a balance between strength, size and endurance. In order to achieve and to maintain this, certain principles need to be understood and applied. Certain methods for increasing strength and endurance and the types of exercises, nutrition and supplements can help with attaining that goal.

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