T Nation

SWAT Competition Training


My mother is the physical director of our local YMCA. She is in charge of the all of the aerobic programs and the weight/nautilus/cardio rooms among other things.

One of her PTs just got approached by a man in his late 30s who is starting to train for an upcoming SWAT competition. This is not really the kind of training that the YMCA specializes in so she asked me for advice because she knows I am interested in more elite methods of training. However, I am no expert, I am asking all of you for some advice to relay back to her.

This is all I know so far:
1) This guy has weight trained but never too seriously. The trainer had him do some lunges and squats on the smith and he was dead for days after so his GPP probably isn't great.

2) He is training for a SWAT comp. I don't know when yet or what sort of events they use but I assume they are all similar. I will get more detail soom.

3) He is kind of intimidated by the young guys who are all in good shape and is worried they are going to wipe the floor with him.

What kind of training program whould you put him on? Should he be concerned with maximal strength? Endurance? Strength endurance?


Here's what I was thinking just to get this started. Strength endurance will probably be at least as important as max strength. I would not spend too much energy on the weight training.

Here's what I think would be essential exercises: Chins, dips, power cleans, push presses, deadlifts, single leg exercises.

Here is how is an example of how I would set it up:

Mon -
A1 chins
A2 push press or DB military press

B1 deadlifts
B2 dips

Tues - GPP
sandbag power clean + press
wheelbarrow walk

Wed - low intensity energy system work
jogging EFX, etc for time

A1 overhead squats
A2 barbell lunges

B1 DB bench press
B2 bb rows

Fri - GPP
sledgehammer striking
sandbag lift and carry

Sat - HIIT
100m sprints + walks

Sun - off day

I also like CTs Renaissance Body Delevopmet except for the rep schemes and I think CWs last few programs would work well except this guy doesn't have much recovery ability to start with. What do you think?


Check out crossfit, they usually cater more towards the military/ law enforcement type stuff.


I just read through Heavythrower's thread before you suggested that is seems pretty cool. Here's what I gave the guy's trainer to read through:

  1. Renaissance Body Development
    A Holistic Approach to Bodybuilding
    by Christian Thibaudeau

  2. Drag Your Butt Into Shape
    General Physical Preparedness: Westside Style
    By Dave Tate

  3. The Overhead Squat Article, Dan John

  4. Iron John: One Hard Thing
    by Dan John

  5. The Art of Waterbury
    by Chad Waterbury

  6. Triple Total Training
    by Chad Waterbury

  7. The Tabata Method, by Dan John

  8. www.crossfit.com

I just got more info on this guy and I think that some of my stuff was on the wrong track for his goals. He weighs about 185 @6'ish. He does an upper/lower split with everything 4x6. Bench, lat pulls, chins, cable rows and BB + DB militaries one day, and legs is just leg press, extension, leg curl, calf machine.

Although he gets tested for things like carrying a 200lb person over his shoulder, his personal goal is to bench 300. He can only bench 225xcouple right now. I think WSSBII would be the best thing for him to increase strength plus have a strong man/GPP day and still be able to run a few days. How does that sound? Oh and I thought CW's Art of W. would be good for a 4 week cycle first.


Get him doing farmer's walks with a weighted vest(if available), this threw my conditioning up pretty quick. Other lifts: DB snatch, weighted pullups(he will be doing pretty much everything in full call-out gear), bench(only since that is his goal, it won't do much for the comp), weighted dips, squats. One thing that will really send his conditioning throught he roof would be doing the Bear in an EDT zone. And get him doing various sprint intervals-40 yd repeats, band sprints, ladder sprints, etc. after each lifting session. Repeats-sprint 40, jog back, repeat. Band sprints, you need big bands like Westside uses and a partner. Both of you get inside the band, your partner in back. You will sprint a distance(pre-determined), with you partner sitting back in the band and giving resistance. When you reach the other end, the partner sprints while you sit back and resist. You are trying to jog while he is sprinting, timing your footstrikes with his to keep tension on the band. Ladder- football field works best, but any 100yd area will work. You need the 100 marked each 10. You will sprint the full 100 and back, rest 60 seconds. Sprint 90 and back, rest 60. Repeat all the way down to 10 and back, you will reduce your rest time every few sprints.

The Bear:
power clean, either from floor or from hang, followed by front squat(bar in rack position from clean), push press to back squat, push press to front, lower weight. Repeat.

This should be done as fluid as possible, continuously go from movement to movement.

For the EDT Zone, set a timer at 20 minutes, and he does as many reps(full set front to back to front is one rep) in that 20 min as possible. Number of reps done at a time are up to him, so are rest periods. The goal is each time he does the Bear Zone, he tries to beat his previous performance, either by increasing weight or by increasing reps.

Just some of my thoughts. SWAT comps are like firefighter comps, extremely physical and dictated by the clock. Some of the stuff will be a short sprint or carry followed by a room entry, where they will be scored on time and accuracy. He should be doing team practices, if so hopefully they are doing stress fires, i.e., running short O-course in full gear, then running up on line to fire at a target for score and time.


Do me a favor and ask him why a Swat officer Needs to GET INTO shape for a competition. He should already be in phenomenal shape to have the job, or is it a preliminary test for the job. Either way the only thing a SWAT officer should be concerned about for training is get to the range and practice rapid fire drills and speed reloading drills for his weapon. Swat officers usually have a fitness requirement and fitness tests the go through including the obstacle course and body weight exercises. He should probably be doing an obstacle course w/ all his gear on for training, or running stairs cycled w/ push-ups and pull ups to failure. No matter what training he uses he's gonna have to become a running fool.


At first I was told it was for a competition but it is actually just for the tests he has to pass for his job. For example he just had a test where he had to pick up and carry a 200lb person over his shoulder.

More than that I don't think he has ever gotten that serious about training off the job. He is in above average shape compared to most people but compaired to the 20 something year-old swat guys he works with I think he feels he is a little lacking. I think that is mostly what he is worried about, not training for the tests.

In that case I think that WSSB with a third "strongman/gpp" day like in WSSBII would be good for him.

I already suggested to the trainer that the GFH Diet would be the easiest way for him to improve his situation but I don't know if that will ge passed on.


I would concentrate on endurance and strength endurance.

In my department, SWAT tryouts are a week long affair involving call outs at odd hours, lots of push-ups, pull-ups, obstacle courses and fighting. It seems like the biggest obstacle to most applicants is the lack of recovery time.

If I were going to try out for SWAT (I like sleep and comfort too much to consider it at the moment) I would run every day, even if only for 20 minutes. I would do lots of pushups and pullups, because applicants are graded on the max number of each. I would do things like sprint 100 yards, do 20 pushpups, sprint 100 yards, do 10 burpees, sprint 100 yards, do whatever. Tabata squats, jump roping, dumbbell snatches for time, 20 rep squats and hybrid or complex lifts like the Bear would be good too.


I am not police officer, but I am a firefighter and I have competed in many firefighter combat challenges. I find the most important exercises are the the ones geared toward what he will be facing during the swat comp. What I mean by this is if he has to sprint 100 yards, hurdle a fence, crawl on his belly, etc,etc. Then he should find a way to train just like that. All of the other suggestion are great but I truly believe he must train just like he will tested. Best of luck to him.


My opinion is that this thread can stop right now! You guys had truly GREAT replies! If he can put some of these ideas to work (given enough time) he'll do well. Good job guys (for what it's worth). I was thinking of adding but I couldn't do better than what is already here.