The Worst Case Scenario Workout

by Pete Loeschner

A Tactical Conditioning Challenge

Whether you’re a first responder or just a citizen caught in a bad situation, it pays to be conditioned. This workout will get you there.


Tactical Athlete Workout

This is Christopher Amoroso. Officer Amoroso was one of many who responded to the attack on our country on 9/11.

In the photo, he’s helping a woman to safety, but he didn’t stop there. He saved several lives by re-entering the danger zone repeatedly. While everyone was running away from extreme danger, he kept running towards it.

Officer Amoroso had valor beyond measure and a heart of a warrior. He was ready for that moment. His first priority was to save others. Even though he lost his life, he won the battle by doing what he set out to do – serve others above himself.

Emergency Rescue Conditioning

Little can prepare you for such a tragic and high-stress incident as 9/11. But there are some practical things you can do to better prepare for an officer or citizen-rescue event.

This is called the Lift-Carry-Drag Complex. It consists of suitcase deadlifts, one-handed farmers carries, a sprint, and a backward sled drag.

The exercises simulate the stressors associated with picking someone up more than once (because it never works the first time!), carrying them, and finally dragging them to safety as quickly as possible. It’s also a good supplemental exercise for the deadlift. The benefits:

  • Increases spinal stability, which translates to increased stability during heavy deadlifts
  • Increases core stability, which is activated during the suitcase deadlift and ramped up while walking (dynamic core stability via anti-lateral flexion)
  • Increases grip strength required to move heavy loads
  • Increases in quad strength and knee health via backward sled drag

Equipment and Setup

You’ll need…

  • One barbell with either bumpers or plates that can be dropped in a dynamic, deadlift-style fashion (a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell will work too)
  • A sled (or tire) to pull
  • 20 yards of space

The setup…

  • Load a bar with about 25% of your deadlift max
  • 20 yards ahead, place a heavy weighted sled with pull handles positioned towards the location of the barbell

How to Do It

  1. Start the complex by performing the suitcase deadlift for 3 reps. Focus on keeping the upper body/torso as upright as possible.
  2. At the top of your last rep, walk briskly while carrying the bar 20 yards. Focus on walking tall and upright. Don’t let your upper body slouch to either side.
  3. Set the bar down. Try not lean to the side while lowering it.
  4. Turn around and perform 3 suitcase deadlifts with the other arm.
  5. At the top of your last rep, walk briskly while carrying the barbell 20 yards
  6. Sprint to the sled.
  7. Grab the handles and drag the sled backward to the starting point as fast as possible.
  8. Do 2-3 sets after your deadlift or lower-body training day.

Keep your time! Beat your time week to week to progress.

Too easy? Try going 40 yards per carry and sled drag. Your quads will be screaming after the sled pull.

Mental Training Aspect

To ramp up this complex, visualize yourself in a crisis situation where you’re required to enter a danger zone, whether a house fire, combat zone, or hostage rescue. Train for that moment.

More training for the tactical athlete.

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