Emerson Combatives: Combat Conditioning And Functional Strength

Ernest Emerson | Contributor

Is it time for you to move your conditioning routine into the 21st century?    Conditioning routines have traditionally been categorized into two categories: strength conditioning and cardiovascular conditioning and most serious training routines are a combination of both categories and this is the way it has been done for nigh on 100 years.

People who have jobs that do not require a high level of conditioning and strength to carry out their duties and tasks -desk jobs- generally use training that revolves around what merely makes them feel or look good. But there are some whose jobs demand a higher level of physical conditioning and at times may require the strength and conditioning of a world class Olympic athlete. If you ever have to fight for your life or save the lives of others, you’ll wish you did have the conditioning level of that world class Olympic athlete. However, Police Officers and soldiers suffer just like everyone else from too much to do and too little time to do it.

Whether you are an LEO, soldier, a fireman or someone who just wants to be prepared for a worst case scenario, there are ways to get you to that elite status of strength and conditioning better faster, and more efficiently.

I’m going to break conditioning down into its basic categories and components allowing you to understand the conditioning process. It can then be tailored to suit your specific needs to get better results without having to increase precious training time.

By understanding the specific categories of physical conditioning, you can then apply exercises, drills or routines to address the various systems either in a general way or specifically to improve particular aspects of your conditioning and strength.

The components are each separate and individual, yet cannot exist without the other, and are all integral parts of the whole. Think of it like a brick wall. It is made up of bricks, cement, sand and water. Each of these can have many variable individual characteristics.  The stronger and better quality each of the individual components is, the stronger the wall.

As a Police Officer or a soldier you don’t need to be able to run a marathon, and you don’t need to be able to bench press 500 lbs. You certainly don’t need to look like Mr. Olympia.  Your actual needs, your real survival needs, will be somewhere in between all of these things. An operators conditioning and strength needs are actually much the same as a football player. You need the ability to perform for extended periods of time at moderate levels of activity, punctuated by bursts of intense physical speed, power and exertion. You need to possess the strength to tackle, subdue and control another human being against his will.

Here is a breakdown of the individual components of strength and conditioning for the human machine.

The Chemical System

This is the system that actually supplies the fuel to make the muscles work.

It starts with the ATP system. Adenine Triphosphate is the chemical that the muscle burns to do its work. Although it varies slightly with each individual, we all carry stored in our muscles enough ATP for about 10 – 20 seconds of all out muscular activity.

After the initial ATP fuel is exhausted then Glycogen (Glucose) in the blood is used to convert to ATP. We carry enough of this glycogen for about 60-90 seconds of activity before it is in turn also used up.

The ATP and the glycolic system are both classified as anaerobic systems (using no oxygen). After the glycogen is in turn depleted, the body then switches to the aerobic system which requires oxygen.

Oxygen is provided by breathing, combined with fat stored in the liver to provide glucose to the blood which in turn is used to provide and replenish the ATP fuel once again.

Under any level of physical activity the body is constantly striving to provide the lost fuel to each of these systems while at the same time providing the energy necessary to maintain the physical activity being undertaken.

Many are unaware that just as you can increase your aerobic capacity such as in the case of bicyclists and marathon runners you can also increase your capacity in both of the other anaerobic systems. However, these increases will be in much smaller increments, measured only in seconds and not minutes or miles.

The principle for increasing the capacity and efficiency in each system is the same. In very simple terms you use the amount of stored energy (chemical fuel) and then try to force the system a little farther, rest and then do it again.

If you are a weight lifter you already know that if you exhaust your muscle doing any particular exercise with a heavy weight, the overload principle, during your recovery time between training sessions your muscle repairs itself and grows back a little bigger and stronger to handle the heavier work load you are placing on it. The basic principle for the chemical system is the same.  You push it to do more and it gets ready to do more.

Bear in mind though, that for an increase to work in the ATP and Glycolic systems you would gradually be adding seconds to the exercise or drill. The ATP and Glycolic system is grueling, gut-wrenching work and most people don’t ever get close to taxing these systems. If you recall the dreaded wind sprints of High School football practice, you’ll know what I mean.

Ernest Emerson is the owner of Emerson Knives, Inc. He is a tier one Combatives instructor, Master at Arms, noted author and lecturer, Black Belt Hall of Fame member and a connoisseur of fine whiskey.

Click here to visit EmersonKnives.com. Mr. Emerson offers a 10% discount on his knives to Daily Caller readers. Use the discount code – tdc (all lower case). Click here to visit the Emerson Training Center.

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