Mind, Body and Spirit

The importance of a holistic approach to fitness training

By Greg Amundson  |   May 26, 2015
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During a recent podcast interview on “The Squad Room,” a law enforcement website, forum and podcast created by Garrett Teslaa, a Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff, I was asked the following question:

“Greg, if you only had 15 minutes a day for fitness, what would you do?”

I paused for a moment to reflect on my answer—after all, 15 minutes was not a lot of time and for me training is a matter of life and death.

Then the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.

I explained to Garrett I would divide my daily-allotted training time into thirds in the following manner.

  • Five minutes would be dedicated to constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement. I would physically train my body the right way.

    I would do CrossFit.

  • Five minutes would be dedicated to preparing my nutrition and hydration plan for the day. I would support my body, health and fitness by eating and drinking the right way.

    I would drink one gallon of water throughout the day. I would eat a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, with an emphasis on lean protein choices and fruits and vegetables as my primary source of carbohydrate.

  • Five minutes would be dedicated to prayer, silence, mediation, and stillness of my mind and body. I would strengthen my spirit.

Over the course of the next several articles, I will address techniques and methodologies for proper physical training, nutrition and practices to strengthen our mind, body and spirit. Together we will investigate the implications of a balanced approach to holistic fitness training.

Train The Right Way
Keep in mind that I equally divided my fifteen minutes of training time throughout the day. Physical training, nutrition and spiritual development are all equally important in a holistic fitness program and the achievement of health and wellness. However, we will get right to the blood, sweat and tears of the matter: CrossFit training.

Years ago I was with CrossFit founder, Coach Greg Glassman, when he was asked the following question: “Coach Glassman, what is CrossFit?”

Glassman replied, “CrossFit IS what CrossFit DOES. We do constantly varied, functional movement, at high intensity.”

This formula for training the body is perfect for the professional warrior athlete—the law enforcement officer.

Let’s look a bit closer at Glassman’s definition of what CrossFit is to understand why.

Functional Movement
We begin with the actual techniques that make up the foundational CrossFit program. It focuses on compound, multi-joint movements that move a large load, a long distance and very quickly. These same movements are recognized by their natural occurrence in nature and their universal motor-recruitment pattern. These movements were not “invented” by CrossFit, nor by any fitness program or trainer. Rather, these are the movements humans would be doing if the traditional gym were never invented.

Picking up an object from the floor is a deadlift. Bringing the same object to the shoulder is a clean, and putting the same object overhead is a press. Whether the object is a patrol K-9, a box of ammunition on the range or a weighted barbell in the gym, the mechanics and “functionality” of the movements are the same: They accomplish a task.

Of significant importance for the LEO is the fact that functional movements, by their very nature, solicit a wave of lateral contraction from core to extremity, and develop powerful and controlled hip extension. Developing awareness of these two principles of movement enhances an officers ability to perform a multitude of patrol-related duties, from sprinting to jumping to tackling to striking.

High Intensity
Training with intensity has been likened to heart rate, sweating, V02 max, grunting, and even puking. However, these are only loose correlates to what intensity actually is.

Exercise psychologists have determined that intensity is power, and that training at a high level of power output is relative to training at a high level of intensity.

Intensity as power can be measured, and anything measured can be repeated and improved upon. The beauty of the functional movements that comprise the CrossFit program is their unique ability to move a large load (force) a long distance (distance) and very quickly (time). Simply put, functional movements allow officers to train at a high level of intensity.

Force x Distance / Time = Power

Take for example a basic air squat, which will be taught in an upcoming video series. If I take my bodyweight of 200 lbs. and measure my center of mass, just below my navel, and perform one air squat, I travel a distance of two feet to the bottom of the squat, and two feet back to the start position, for a total of four feet of travel per repetition.

Now, if we only counted the force of my body against gravity from the bottom of the squat to the top, I would perform two feet of travel per repetition. However, I can also perform 60 squats in 1:00, which when plugged into the equation, equals 24,000 foot-lbs./minute, roughly 2/3 of a horsepower. And this is just using my bodyweight. Imagine the increase in power if I added a barbell, dumbbell or medicine ball to the equation.

The significant power output, and therefore intensity, of the CrossFit program is the reason why quality of time for training, and not quantity, is so important. In three to five minutes, a combination of basic movements such as a thruster and pull-up can completely exhaust an officer, leaving them feeling like they’ve just endured the fight of their life.

Constantly Varied
What is routine about the profession of law enforcement? Absolutely nothing.

In fact, the mindset of “routine” has been attributed to officer injury and even death. When was the last time you approached a vehicle stop with the mindset, “Oh, this is just a routine car-stop.” Hopefully never!

Therefore, when we come to the variance of the CrossFit program, it makes perfect sense that professional warrior athletes would embrace variance in their training.

Our intention in training is to develop capacity across a wide range of skills, drills, time domains and fitness modalities. Our goal is to be good at everything. When we hit the street, our mindset, from the variance of our training program, is—and repeat after me: “Whatever I face on the street today, I’m ready, because I’ve exceeded the demands of the street in the gym.”

CONCLUSION
What officers or agencies call their fitness programs is irrelevant. What matters is adherence to the formula of constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity.

Until next time my friends, train like your life depends on it – because it does.

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Greg Amundson
Greg Amundson is the owner of CrossFit Amundson and Krav Maga Santa Cruz, and the Law Enforcement Liaison for CrossFit Inc. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, South Bay Regional Public Safety Academy and the U.S.DEA Federal Academy, Amundson started his CrossFit training in Dec. 2001 at the original CrossFit Headquarters gym in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he was coached and mentored by CrossFit founders Greg and Lauren Glassman. A former U.S. Army Captain, SWAT operator with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and Special Agent with the DEA, Amundson continues to serve as a Reserve Peace Officer in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Greg Amundson

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