T Nation

Getting Back in Shape for Private Security Detail


I was in the Army a few years ago. Released on a Medical due to a broken ankle. I was in decent shape while I was in, but due to injuries, I couldn’t workout for about a year, and I got lazy.
Now I have the chance to join a Private Security Detail, but I have to get back into top shape - better than before.
I need help developing a workout routine that gradually gets harder with time. My main focuses are calisthenics, natural movements, endurance, and A LOT of strength.

The one thing I’m having the most trouble working around is my bad ankle. I can run, but it swells and aches for days.

Any help / advice is greatly appreciated.


Maybe move your cardio to lower impact stuff. Bikes, rowers, swimming, running on grass, pushing sleds.

For the “get really strong” part. Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. It’s right here on this site.


Ok thanks. I haven’t heard much on the 5/3/1 but I’ll check it out.


Curcumin. Everyday. See a pt or ART guy.


Ask some questions in the ‘Combat’ forum part of the site -some military and special forces guys post regularly there


Tactical Barbell may be the answer?


If you are previous army, i assume you have a general working knowledge of what you are getting into. From 2003 to 2006, I was team leader for a PSD team in Iraq before being assigned to another unit. You question is very broad about what you asking, but, from my experience, you should concentrate on the three basics:

Skill: weapons, tactics, and a strong mental mindset.

Conditioning and endurance.


I have been in the business a long time and PSD work is not done in friendly places and the weather is your second worst enemy , I never worried about my bench press total, when wearing 60 lbs of body armor and weapons, while spending 8 to 12 hours a day in 110 to 120 degree heat. If you are carrying any excess weight, get rid of it. Can you run to cover in that heat ,carrying that weight? How do you shoot under pressure? How is your mobility with that ankle? if you cannot cover ground fast or exit a disabled vehicle on the run, then you are going to die and get another team member killed. PSD is reactive work, you reactive to an ambush against whom ever you are protecting, so, you are already behind the eight ball.

There is no room for anyone doing PSD work in a combat AO, who cannot first take care of themselves, so, your first focus (physically) is to be as conditioned as possible. Yes, you have to have strength, but, it is third on the list of useful tools, skill and endurance are more important for survival.

That said, you must train for the real world. Tricep kickbacks and bosa ball balance routines are for people in the civilized world. Work on the basics, build a sold “combat frame”. CT was kind enough to exchange with me on this issue and his advice was to follow the “Zombie Apocalypse” workout. This is what I roughly follow myself. I have to modify some of the recommendations because I don’t have access to all the equipment needed. ( currently assigned to Afghanistan). I believe this will help you get started, good luck.


Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I have good weapons skills, and the mindset. I had the opportunity to be a spec ops sniper before the wreck.

I can run enough to do my job. I was just asking for alternative cardio to keep excess stress off my ankle while training.
I’m still doing exercises to strengthen it, and it’s gradually getting better. I’m just trying to play it safe while getting back into shape so I don’t accidentally re-injure it.
Once I’m in better shape, and after I’ve built it back up more, I’ll feel more confident in running.


I would focus on conditioning exercises that do not really involve excessive stress/pounding in the ankle. Good options could possibly be time based circuits of:

Battle ropes
Medicine ball slams in various directions
Heavy bag work
Farmers walks (can be used as additional ankle rehab due to stabilization requirements)
Overhead carries
Sled push/pull
Kettlebell swings

Those are just off the top of my head. Some of the exercises I mentioned also would double for great core work (OH carries and farmers walks). If you use dumbells or kettebells for these with an asymmetrical load you can enhance the challenge even more and make the exercise more "chaotic " to more resemble the unpredictable nature of what you may encounter doing your job. The only one that might be a problem for the ankle might be the sled work but you would have to use your own judgement .

Hope that gives you some ideas!


Thanks. I’ll definitely be adding those to the list. I really appreciate


Hey Idaho. I wanted to ask you about this. A number of times I’ve seen you emphasize the importance of endurance/conditioning for “tactical athletes” over strength/speed. As a guy who has been there done that, I wonder if you could expand on that and maybe clarify what you mean by “endurance”.

A lot of the material you see now emphasizes the importance of short duration, maximal effort for combat/tactical applications (e.g. being able to sprint to cover, drag a casualty off the x, slam a bad guy to the ground etc.) over long endurance activities (e.g. max pushups test, 3 mile pft run etc).

LE demands are slightly different from military, mainly in that we don’t generally need to hump anywhere near as much gear anywhere near as far, so most LE specific plans seem to place even greater emphasis on speed/strength. For myself, it’s a bit different as I’m semi-rural and have aspirations to be a tactical officer and later a dog handler, so distance work over rough ground is important to me.

Either way, completely agree that skill, awareness and MINDSET are paramount. I’d also add mobility/durability work. If you’re too broken to apply your skills and fitness, you’re not gonna be as much of an asset as you could be.

Thanks for your thoughts. Stay safe Brother.


Well, as you know , I am not a certified trainer, and, I am probably using the terms "endurance and conditioning " wrong. My meaning is really very basic, can you do the job? can you perform physically when something goes FUBAR?

For example: Once on a situation, the weather turned to shit and the bird could not get in. We had Tommy Taliban on our ass and being a very small unit, not enough men to engage, wasn’t our main objective anyway, so, the option was a 9 hour hump through the mountains in shit conditions. The thought of not being able to maintain a fast pace never entered my mind, I knew I was in shape, knew I could last.

Another time, we were looking for a HVT in Basra, once of the most hellish places on earth, with 120 degree temps and humidity, 11 hours of searching in small goat huts and always looking for IED’s left behind. I think I loss about 12 pounds of water that day, but, it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do it, because in our free time we worked out in that heat, doing axle carries, sand bag carries, etc. just to be able to function.

one time on a hostage situation, my team was deployed for over 15 hours in extremely high humidity. After about 3 hours , I had to start rotating them because, I had two on the verge of heat stroke. There were the strongest on the team, but those huge numbers on the bench don’t mean shit in the real world.

I guess, what i mean is, its far more important to me for someone to complete a 15 mile fast hump, set up an ambush, and still be able to fight and to do that you need physical and mental “endurance” and no, for others reading this, i don’t mean running ten miles a day. I bet , I don’t run 3 miles a week.

After I took some minor shrapnel in my left leg, I spent lot of time with loaded carries, including carrying dumbbells on a treadmill. When available, I worked the heavy bag to near exhaustion, and ( i know right, embarrassing isn’t it) when people were not around that I worked with, got on the StairMaster that females use for their butts. In full disclosure, that fucking thing kicks my ass, especially carrying dumbbells:))

In the future, when you make tactical and K-9, you will be called on to out perform your dog, especially if you are assigned to find a missing child. Start gearing your training to long rucks, with around 25 to 35 lbs (good pack) because you will need to carry water for you both, food, and unless you have someone with you to cover, while you search, a long rifle or carbine.

As far as training, I am in agreement with you, hard intensity training for 30 to 45 minutes, if done right, will leave you exhausted. Over the past year, except for bag work, I have tried to eliminate “rest periods” . I dont run around like a madman, but, keep a steady pace and do the work.

After reading Sento’s and Irish’s posts for about the past year, I am taking their experiences and started doing more body weight training. Sento is ( I think) going the gymnastic route for a lot of his training and Irish has started doing some NATMOVE (?) with his boxing.

I pay attention to both of them and so have increased my mobility training, especially since i have to be smarter now due to age, wear and tear.

There are a couple of sites that usually have some good information on tactical training, so, out of respect for our hosts, just Google up Combat Strength Training, Solider Daily Systems , Mountain Tactical Athlete, National Tactical Officers Association, Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara, etc.

I hope this convoluted answer helps. Be safe,


Thanks for the reply. Pretty much what I thought you meant, and I agree. Not too convoluted, pretty clear and plenty of good info there.

Good google suggestions, have looked into a few already, one in particular and am getting rollling on a plan now.

Agree that no amount of tabata/HIIT/XFit whatever can replace just grinding it out over rough ground with a ruck.

Thanks again

Stay safe.


Another tip that you may find useful. Again, to respect T-Nation, Google up Combat Strength Training’s Instagram page for some short training clips and suggestions. Also, Craig Weller, former NSW and a writer for T-Nation has published some work here. I always respected responses from “Boatguy”, miss his information, wish he was around more often, because his advise on training was solid.


Thanks man. Checked out combat strength training. I really like what he’s doing and he’s fun to watch. A lot of his videos seem improvised, just going hard with what’s on hand in the time available, which is kind of my speed. He also likes to shoot guns, which is cool.

I say that tongue in cheek, but I think physical exertion is a big missing link in a lot of firearms training. It seems like gunfights rarely happen when you’re standing still, calm, relaxed and breathing easy (although I believe that type of training definitely has a place to build good muscle memory in a low stress setting). I always most enjoyed ‘stress shooting’ and force on force drills that bridged that gap. Incorporating shooting with conditioning (as safety permits) just makes sense.

I like what Rob Shaul at Mountain Tactical Institute/LE Athlete is doing as well. His plans/progressions seem very well thought out. Lots of structure, which can be good and bad, IMHO.

I remember reading and enjoying Weller’s articles on here as well. Third world workouts and such I think?

Appreciate the insight, as always.