• From the Field with Ryan Massimo
    Ryan Massimo, CSCS, TSAC-F, USAW, currently serves as a Combat Fitness Specialist at the Headquarters for the United States Marine Corps (HQMC) Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division. Ryan's primary duties and responsibilities are developing policy for field staff at the installations, and heading up the High-Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) program.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Ryan MassimoRyan Massimo, CSCS, TSAC-F, USAWRyan Massimo is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa), Club Level 1 Coach from United States of America Weightlifting (USAW), as well as a Certified Tactical Strength and Conditioning-Facilitator (TSAC-F).Looking for videos and training techniques? 
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    1. What Tactical population do you currently work with?
    I currently work at the Headquarters for the United States Marine Corps (HQMC) Semper Fit and Exchange Services Division as the Combat Fitness Specialist for all active duty and Marine Reserves spanning the world.

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?
    I have been a strength and conditioning specialist for over 16 years with a direct emphasis on improving functional fitness performance with regards to speed, power, agility, strength, and injury prevention. Before becoming the Combat Fitness Program Manager for the United States Marine Corps, I held positions as the Fitness Director at George Mason University and the Sports Performance Director and Center Director at Velocity Sports Performance in Ashburn, VA where I was in charge of all sports performance training for all professional and elite level athletes. Prior to that, I was the Olympic Sports Strength and Conditioning Coordinator at Duke University, supervising and coaching over 300 athletes competing in 15 of the Blue Devil Olympic Sports. I also played professionally with the Atlanta Braves organization as well as worked as the Strength and Conditioning coach for the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts.

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education?
    I attend as many National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) sponsored conferences, workshops, and seminars. The National Conference and the TSAC Conference are the two that I feel are the most valuable to my position in the tactical strength and conditioning field. They are specific to training sport athletes and tactical athletes, not the general public. The Strength and Conditioning Journal (SCJ) and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) are also extremely valuable resources in the field.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?
    I always look for strength and conditioning specialists that hold the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®), Tactical Strength and Conditioning-Facilitator (TSAC-F), and United States of America Weightlifting (USAW) certifications first, but I believe that above and beyond that, the most important credential/characteristic to have is previous hands-on experience in coaching sport athletes and tactical athletes. I am a firm believer in that although certifications are a necessity, having the experience through hands-on learning is what makes the difference and sets the field apart from the rest.

    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?
    As a Combat Fitness Specialist at HQMC, my primary duties and responsibilities are developing policy for field staff at the installations. Along with policy development, I am also in charge of the High-Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) program. The HITT program is a comprehensive combat-specific strength and conditioning program that is essential to a Marine’s physical development, combat readiness, and resiliency. Program emphasis is on key components with relation to superior speed, power, strength endurance, and overall combat readiness while reducing the likelihood of injury and ensuring that all Marines are physically prepared for real-time combat/tactical situations. The HITT program takes into consideration the physical demands of operational related activities in order to optimize physical performance while in combat.

    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
    Always make sure your target audience is appropriately prescribed with the most mission-specific programming available in order to maximize their results. Never prescribe an exercise if you do not know what the end result and goal will be.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?
    Understand your audience and remember that prescribing a sound strength and conditioning program is essential to their mission.

    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?
    1. Injury Prevention and Mobility - To minimize the risk of injury and maximize the training effect, all workouts should begin with a warm-up. A proper warm-up includes gradual movements and allows the muscular and neuromuscular systems the opportunity to reach training intensity without underworking or over-fatiguing muscles. Warm-ups increase the blood flow to the muscles and increase the body temperature. Warm-ups also stimulate the nervous system and increase mobility of the joints and as a result, reduce the risk of training injuries.

    2. Strength and Explosive Power - Employing a periodized, progressive strength training routine is an effective approach which helps Marines develop maximal strength and endurance gains. Olympic-like lift exercises like the clean and jerk, snatch, and deadlift support training for explosive power. These exercises enable muscles to reach maximum strength in short time. Power is also viewed as the product of strength and speed. Activities such as throwing, jumping, striking, and moving explosively from a starting position require power.

    3. Speed, Agility, and Endurance - Examples of exercises that improve speed and agility include sprints, plyometrics, lower body weightlifting, and strengths exercises. Progressive speed training has been shown to increase agility as well as jump height, jump power, jump length, squat strength, and sprint speed. Endurance training leads to increased strength and improved stamina. Marines can enhance their endurance though training such as long-distance running, swimming, foot marching, cycling, and low-weight, high-repetition strength training.

    4. Core Stability and Flexibility - The core supports the spine and all movement of the body, which includes the trunk. Core stability training targets muscles deep inside the abdomen which connect to the spine, pelvis, and shoulders. The core supports body movements that take place along three planes, in the forward and backward movements such as bicep curls, sit-ups, and back extensions; and in side-to-side movements such as side bends or lateral raises. The core also supports movements that require rotation, including movements such as floor to overhead diagonals with the arms holding a medicine ball. Physical performance is enhanced when a safe and effective flexibility training program is a part of the Marines’ workout. A flexible joint can move through greater range of motion and may reduce the risk of injury. Static stretching movements have also been proven to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.

    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?
    1) Develop a valid testing and evaluation protocol and procedure; 2) Develop a sound and effective program that encompasses different and specific phases including pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment periodization; 3) Incorporate a comprehensive program to include components with relation to superior speed, power, strength endurance, and overall combat readiness while reducing the likelihood of injury; and 4) Identify, correct, and enhance biomechanical movement patterns conducive to the combat specific methodology.

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?
    Science based programming proven by results is what will gain the trust of Marines to partake in a program. The HITT program is built on NSCA guidelines and standards, and that fact has proven to make a huge impact on their decision to implement HITT. 
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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