• From the Field with David Frost
    David Frost is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, where he works on the development of training strategies to enhance and maintain the capacity of the tactical athlete so that they can withstand the physical demands of their lives.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | David FrostDavid Frost, TSAC-F

    David Frost is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. Having worked as a strength and conditioning coach and an injury prevention and performance consultant to organizations in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, Frost’s teaching and research activities are directly informed by the challenges faced by practitioners. 

    Frost has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles pertaining to the physical preparation of tactical athletes and written a book on injury prevention and exercise program design for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). His current work is focused on the development of training strategies to enhance and maintain the capacity of the tactical athlete so that they can withstand the physical demands of their lives. 

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    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?

    Most of my work has been with the fire service, although I consider it applicable to any tactical population.

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?
    I find the noble acts of tactical athletes incredibly inspiring. I got involved with the TSAC field because I wanted to help the men and women that place their own lives on the line to protect/save people they have never met and will probably never know. 

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education? Are there any resources your recommend staying away from?
    I use peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, conferences, and professional workshops for continuing education. Organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the International Associations of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also provide many excellent resources specific to the fire service. I would encourage professionals working in the TSAC field to place more weight on educational resources that are grounded in science.

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?  
    I would look for someone who is genuine, inquisitive, and hard-working, with excellent interpersonal and leadership skills. This would include an ability to critically think and problem solve.
    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?
    Much of my time is spent on the development (research) and implementation (teaching, coaching, and consulting) of training strategies to enhance and maintain the capacity of tactical athletes. In addition to holding a faculty position at the University of Toronto, I am working with the International Association of Fire Fighters on the development of their Peer Fitness Trainer Curriculum..
    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?  
    1) Be humble; you will never know everything. The more you learn, the more questions you will have.  
    2) Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want something in return; being genuine goes a long way.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?    
    I would recommend that they do everything in their power to understand the demands of the population that they will be working with. It is important to appreciate the breadth of physical activities performed on and off the job, the culture and any preconceived ideas regarding exercise and training.
    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program?

    The specific details of any TSAC program will vary depending on each individual’s demands and capacity; however, the following three things should be emphasized: 1) Fitness (strength, endurance, cardiorespiratory efficiency, etc.); 2) Whole body control and coordination (e.g., control of spine and knee motion while lifting, squatting, running, etc.); and 3) Transfer of training; progress should not be limited to the training environment. 
    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?  
    I use the following steps when writing training programs for any population:  
    1. Determine the individuals’ DEMANDS – I seek to better understand why they need or want to train in the first place. For instance, a firefighter’s demands may reflect the skills necessary to safely fight a live fire and effectively assist at the scene of an accident, but also encompass those activities that are performed at the end of the day such as going for a run, doing chores around the house, or playing with their kids.  
    2. Establish the individuals’ CAPACITY – I seek to determine their ability (e.g., strength, endurance, flexibility) and awareness (e.g., perception of risk, understanding of the task, experience) to perform safely and effectively. With regards to training, I often describe capacity as being “FIT to move” without compensation. In other words, there is a frequency, intensity, and time (FIT) at which everyone will lose control of their knees, low back, or shoulders, for example.  
    3. Define training objectives – Once I have determined the individuals’ demands and conducted a formal or informal evaluation to establish a “baseline” capacity, I am able to outline relevant short- and long-term training objectives. I include information provided by the individual(s) regarding how often, how hard, and when they want to train.  

    4. Design a training week (i.e., microcycle) 
    During this step, I give consideration to:  
    1. How many and what type of training sessions the individual(s) will perform.  
    2. The movement patterns that will be included in each training session.  
    3. The modalities that can be used (or are available) to accomplish the training objectives while keeping the individual(s) engaged.  
    4. The exercises that can be used to accomplish the training objectives while keeping the individual(s) engaged.  
    5. The structure of each training session.  
    6. The demands (i.e., frequencies, intensities, and times) that will be assigned to each exercise.       
    5. Decide on a suitable means of progression (e.g., microcycle and macrocycle)  
    During this step I give consideration to:
    1. How many times the training week will be repeated.  
    2. How the demands of the training week (or phase) could be altered to enhance or maintain capacity.  
    3. The demands of the individual(s) – Has there been a transfer of training.  
    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program?

    In my experience, I have found that TSAC programs need to be:  
    1. Challenging, but not for the sake of being hard. They must be sustainable in the long-term, because unlike athletes, there is no off-season.
    2. Relevant to the demands of their lives; their job is just one aspect of their lives. Many incumbents train so they can participate in activities outside of work.
    3. Enjoyable; taking advantage of the social aspect of training can improve adherence in the short- and long-term. 
  • 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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