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How I Trained for the Tactical Strength Challenge

May 21, 2003 10:41 AM

Head Strength Coach, University of California Riverside

The TSC hosted in Vista, CA on 3/8/03 brought out some great competition. Fortunately for me, I had a good day and was able to beat out some great competitors for a 1st place finish. Before I get into my training leading up to the event, I just want to tell you what a great experience that day was. If you haven't been to one of these things you need to get out to the next one. Taking it a step further, you need to start training and compete in one. I was so impressed with the intensity and commitment of everyone entered. Each and every guy got after it and pushed himself to the limit. To me, that's fun to watch. All the competitors cheered for one another along with the crowd. There was no stupid trash talking or posturing going on. In fact, each person wanted to see the others perform at their best. There was a definite sense of camaraderie and mutual respect, creating a great atmosphere. After the competition, the day was made complete by a question and answer session where we got to pick the brains of Pavel, Mike Mahler, Mike Burgener, and Brett Jones. Are you kidding me? I would have paid 5x the entry fee for that session alone. Like I said you need to get to the next TSC.

Now for my training. Well, if you're thinking about competing in a TSC and are looking for a training protocol, I wouldn't necessarily follow this one, but you might still get some good ideas from my approach. My goal for training wasn't to win the TSC, so I didn't train for that specifically. I also compete in Olympic weightlifting, but I don't follow a strict Olympic lifting program either. At this point, competitions are just a hobby for me. Back when I was a college athlete, I was 100% committed to my sports. I woke up every morning and I thought to myself "How can I make myself a better athlete today?" These days, my focus has shifted from athletics to "how can I become a better strength coach?" With that said, I still get after it in my workouts, but now my goal is simpler?. To Be Strong. I want to be able to be placed in any situation and be strong. I want the type of strength that transfers to every situation. I want people to say, "that's a strong dude" regardless of age or size. I just want to be considered strong, not for a little guy (5'9" 182), but just plain strong. Put me on a football field, in a weightlifting, powerlifting, TSC meet, or in a bar fight and I want respectable strength for all situations. To me that is the definition of "real" or "functional" strength. That is my goal of training. Having said that, here is how I went about it the last 6 weeks before the TSC. One final disclaimer: If I'm genetically gifted when it comes to my work capacity. What would constitute overtraining for most works for me.

  1. Power clean: (multiple working sets at the top weight 1-4 reps sets on the minute density style)
  2. Front squat: 10 sets of 2 adding wt. each set. Sets performed on the minute. One week heavy, the next week light.
  3. Pistols: 1x5 BW, 2x5 with a 75lb DB or a 2 pood KB.
  4. RDL: 3x5
  5. Abs
  6. Later in the day: 20 minutes of bleachers: sprint up, walk down, jog to the next flight, repeat.

  1. DB or KB snatch: 1st 4 weeks DB snatch 5x2 working up last set with 100lb. Last 2 weeks KB snatch with a 2 pood. I performed density training, my PR was 30 snatches in a row so I wanted to do 35 reps in training. I performed 7 sets of 5 reps density style.
  2. D.B. Incline: 3x20
  3. Single arm D.B. Incline 3x5 each arm
  4. Chins: 1st 4 weeks 4x10 in between sets of incline followed by 10x6 density style. After I borrowed a KB 3x10 followed by 10x2 density style with the 2 pood
  5. One arm pushups: 3x10 (as presented on Steve Maxwell's video)
  6. Bear Crawl: 2x15yds forwards and backwards
  7. Abs
  8. 20 minutes of stationary bike alternating 30 seconds of "sprint" pace with 1 minute of "jog" pace

  1. 3 position snatch: 3 sets (high hang, hang just below knee, floor)
  2. Snatch High Pull: 3x3
  3. Snatch grip shrug from floor: 3x3
  4. Pressing Snatch balance: 3x3
  5. Snatch balance: 3x3
  6. Back Squat: 3x5 alternating light and heavy weeks. If FS was heavy that Monday then BS was light on Wed.
  7. Abs
  8. 20 minutes of bleachers same as Monday

  1. Behind the neck jerk: go for max
  2. Bent Rows: 5x5
  3. Military Press: 5x3
  4. Military press: 8x8 with 30 seconds rest between sets (painful!!)
  5. Crab walk: 2x15yds forwards and backwards
  6. Abs
  7. 20 minutes stationary rower

  1. Track workout 5x200m 25-27 seconds w/ 2minutes recovery

  1. Snatch: max
  2. Clean & jerk: Max
  3. Some type of KB snatch workout. I train at Mike Burgener's on Saturday and sometimes I'd just do whatever some of his high school kids were doing but my most frequent workout was probably 1x10-15 snatches w/ 2pood followed by 2-3 sets of 5 with the 2.5 pood
  4. Abs

There you have it. Lots of variety. Good full body lifts for all around strength. That is how I train my athletes and it is how I love to train myself. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me. See you at the next TSC.

Josh Everett, RKC is the Head Strength Coach at University of California Riverside and the winner of the 2nd Tactical Strength Challenge, Division I. He offers clinics for general public and coaches. Contact him at or (909) 787-2890.