A 10-Minute Investment
By Jay Martinez, Former U.S. Recon Marine, Retired Detective, Active Sheepdog
I recall being deployed on a UNITAS float. That was a combined Naval, Marine Task Force that patrolled the lower Central-South American region. Although I had spent plenty of time deployed aboard several ships, I had never been on such a spatially challenged vessel. As I mentally prepared for this eight-month deployment, I realized that I had to plan to train physically in a very scant environment. Our floating palace would be an LST (a flat bottom bathtub). The USS Sumter rocked more than James Brown and Bon Jovi playing a duet for charity at an old folk’s home.
Ironically during this period, I was educating myself on the fundamental concepts of extreme calisthenics. At the time, the universal master of this very functional type of physical conditioning was an Israeli, Gilad. Gilad was way before his time. He was the pioneer of all of the current trends of athletic movements that carry the potential of taking a person from a lower physical tier to a very high tier. His focus was the nucleus and the core. I would watch his shows attentively! I took notes and even drew out certain exercises. This was no mediocre training session. This had nothing to do with lifting weights and deadlifting your pickup truck. This had to do with nonstop, core-based intensive fitness.
So, for the next eight months I watched my nutrition like a Russian ballerina, and busted my gut and redefined my fitness level one exercise at a time. I spent and invested my effort, time, and every bead of sweat on building my core and my legs. Through this premise, I was able to re-establish my endurance, stamina, coordination, agility, endurance, strength, and power.
Close to thirty years later, I still pride myself in kicking ass on most guys half my age in calisthenics. I may not be able to do 22 pull ups in 30 seconds (my American Gladiator tryout), run a 24:20, 4 miles, or an 8:25 1 ½ anymore, but I can still do 80 roll outs with the wheel and easily plank for 5 minutes, soon after kick out 200 flutter kicks, swim like a fish and run for miles in the dead of the summer. In other words, true fitness. Some debate that muscles have memory. I beg to differ. You are what you train to be, as Vern Gambetta most ingeniously wrote. If you train to be defeated, believe you will be.
Now, this is the part of our session that I want you to get. By nature of police work, family, sleep, and your commute, there are only so many hours in a day. Early in my career, I became a fluent master of the 10-minute workout. Meaning, I carried several fitness mantras. Number one, something is better than nothing. Number two, “get it in!” Feeding off those two theories, I was able to prioritize and carry a very high fitness level throughout my career. From the age of 23 until 49, my fitness time, (10 minutes or 1 hour 10 minutes) would never, ever be compromised. To my family, it was called dad’s ticket home every night.
When designing your 10-minute session, you must understand that every second is accounted for by performing some gut-wrenching exercise. At first, your intensity and approach probably won’t meet the expectations of this type of session. But the more you train (especially in core-based exercises), the better your fitness level will improve. So, transition time must be swift; no breaks. All in all, you want to focus on several areas, such as isometric exercises-planks, stationary aerobic movements-jumping rope-running in place with high knees, plyometric-power jumps, stretches-ballistic-static, one-legged exercises- core based for balance, pull ups –pushups (varied grips and widths), core exercises and kata type techniques for blocking, weapon retention, striking and take downs. This is your 10-minute blueprint. With these ideals, will eventually come a new version of you, 10 minutes at a time. Believe me, these workouts will do more for you than one hour in the gym.
Time is a factor
When I am challenged for time, my training sessions do not suffer. I am able to maximize my 10 minutes by prioritizing intensity and engaging in muscle confusion. Meaning, I can tell by someone’s physique whether they apply intensity and change in their fitness or they are all about dumbbell curls and more dumbbell curls through studied kinetics.
We want to emulate what awaits us. As sheepdogs, the greatest personal battle you may encounter may only last 30 seconds or perhaps two minutes max. But this encounter will be ferociously intense- does your current fitness program hold up?
Well, not if you are doing absolutely nothing (you have one foot in the grave, my friend). Through the pursuit of this concentrated workout – 10 minutes of intense activity – you will be more prepared to purposefully handle the rigors of the street, courtroom, tier, and highway. But you must intensify and maximize your core muscles, elevate your heart rate with short bursts and blasts of heart-elevating exercises. In other words; punish yourself. Your training must be a duplicate of what you will encounter. The takeaway is supremely beneficial when counting apples to apples and being fit for duty.
As I complete this article, I see how some officers train. You are nowhere on track when your focus is placed on the cosmetic end of fitness rather than sharp-focus on the reality based, real world, real time. So overall, I hope you are buying what I am selling. And what I am selling is graciously a better, more fit, more direct version of you. And the most attractive part, your investment only costs 10 minutes. Stay safe, God bless. Jmartinez@warningorder.net