• From the Field with Stew Smith
    Stew Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books, such as “The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness” and “Maximum Fitness.” As a fitness trainer and author, Smith has trained hundreds of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue Jumpers, Ranger Training, and other law enforcement and firefighter professions through his Heroes of Tomorrow program.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Stew SmithStew SmithStew Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness books, such as “The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness” and “Maximum Fitness.” As a fitness trainer and author, Smith has trained hundreds of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue Jumpers, Ranger Training, and other law enforcement and firefighter professions through his Heroes of Tomorrow program – www.heroesoftomorrow.org. Visit Stew's web site at www.stewsmith.com.
     
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    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?
    Candidates who wish to serve in the military, special ops, police, and firefighting professions through my Heroes of Tomorrow program.

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?
    As a Navy SEAL and instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, I started working with those who did not pass the fitness and swimming tests as well as preparing Navy SEAL candidates for SEAL training after graduation.

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education?
    NSCA Regional Conferences, NSCA National Conferences, TSAC Conferences, NSCA approved gear instruction courses (e.g., TRX), and other online resources.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?
    I like trainers with actual military, police, special ops, or firefighting experience of some sort and who have college level education or credentials from the NSCA (i.e., Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)). I also like trainers and former athletes who wish to work with the tactical population with degrees in health, fitness, or nutrition. We all learn a lot from each other.

    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?
    Create and/or oversee suggested training programs while working with candidates who need to pass a fitness test to get INTO their profession as well as oversee the training academy, school, boot camp, etc. Monitoring and critiquing exercise technique in running, swimming, lifting, and calisthenics testing are critical to performance.

    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
    Personally, I wish I were a better instructor when it comes to running form. Now with easy access to slow motion video equipment, it is much easier to dissect expert running form as well as spot improper fast movements.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?
    Personal experience is key – I recommend either serving in these units or volunteering to help train some local military, police, or firefighters and listen to their needs. Watch them work and apply that knowledge to training programs. See where the weaknesses are and develop sound strength and conditioning programs to answer those weaknesses.

    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?
    I think it differs a bit depending on the profession but all groups should have a foundation in strength, power, speed/agility, cardiovascular endurance, muscle stamina, and core flexibility/stability. But if I had to pick the most important of the several physical elements (requirements) I would recommend:
    For students preparing for military, spec ops, or police academies: Muscle stamina, cardio vascular conditioning, and core flexibility/stability
    For active duty military, special ops, or police: Core flexibility/stability, strength, and speed/agility
    For firefighters: Strength (especially grip), muscle stamina, and cardiovascular conditioning
    .

    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?
    Any population or group of people training is first a group of individuals. Not all programs work for each person. Everybody has a weakness embedded somewhere and I try to find that using basic calisthenics, weight lifting, running, and swimming exercises to check for form, balance, technique, and overall athletic ability. In these professions, one will find athletes and non-athletes, visual learners and some who will only learn through repetition and practice. Finding the weaknesses of each individual and figuring out how they learn new skills are critical in getting groups to grow together.

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?
    My greatest successes are when I am able to make someone realize their own motivations to serve. I tell people that “a person who has to be motivated is not worth motivating.” Then I follow that with “your fitness level will one day be the difference of YOU living or dying, your partner living or dying, or a victim you are trying to save from living or dying – so take your fitness seriously.” Regular maintenance and steady progression is critical for strength and conditioning program successes as well as tactical athlete buy-in. 
     
  • 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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