Review: 2015 Tactical Strength Conditioning Annual Training Event

TSAC event review.

The 2015 Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) annual training event delivered a comprehensive learning experience for all who attended.  The TSAC is a program under the National Strength and Conditioning Association that solely focuses on the mental, physical, & tactical performance of military, law enforcement, and fire fighter and EMT professions.  The term "Tactical Athlete" originated with the people who form the backbone of the program.

The Annual Training gathers some of the best Tactical Athlete Trainers in the world as well as many Tactical Fitness equipment suppliers for a three day training program.  The trainers who present and offer fitness training to participants work for various groups, but all have the same goal of creating a better equipped, physically and mentally stronger, and healthier performer both at work and at home.

Many presenters at the 2015 TSAC Annual Training spoke about a common theme: mental toughness.  Defining mental toughness has been an interesting project for many of these trainers over the last decade.  The spectrum of Mental Toughness is broad for the Tactical Athlete as you have to consider the type of mental toughness to get to and through challenging training and selection programs. But you also must consider the Mental Toughness and Resilience required to endure traumatic events during and after your military, police, or firefighter career.  This topic is a major concern for all involved with Tactical Human Performance.

The Keynote Speaker, Mike Asken, PhD and psychologist with the Pennsylvania State Police and Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) emphasized the importance of the mind-body connection with his presentation on the first day.  Dr. Asken has authored many publications and books, including Warrior Mindset:  Mental Toughness Skills for a Nation's Peacekeepers, co-authored with Colonel Dave Grossman ofOn Killing fame.

As a participant in the conference, you can pick and choose from several presentations and hands-on training programs occurring all day, or walk around the exhibitor hall to see the latest in tactical strength and conditioning innovations in gear and equipment.  The presentations were represented by nearly every tactical fitness group in the business. 

Representatives from numerous groups joined the event: Navy SEALs, Rangers, Special Forces, MarSOC, AFSOC, local fire departments, state and local law enforcement, SWAT teams, FBI, and DEA.  These experts are the actual developers of training programs used by all of our tactical athletes in the United States, Canada, and Australia.  Here are some of the highlights from this year's conference.

Beyond Pushups by Nick Tumminello of Performance University:  I actually went into this presentation with an open mind but thought there was not much I could learn on the pushup.  I was wrong.  I learned a dozen new pushup variations as well as a better way to teach the proper pushup.  Check out the videos in the link for a thorough understanding of the new exercises.

Performance of SWAT Operators:  Demands, Training, and Research Advances by Brian Schilling, PhD and Jay Dawes, PhD.  They discussed the current demands of SWAT callouts, physical tasks, training procedures, and future research on SWAT performance.

Training Fire Fighters On Duty – Recommended or Irresponsible? By Mark Abel PhD. This presentation reviewed research on whether or not exercise decreases a fire fighters physical ability when on the job.  Both the benefits and consequences of exercise while working were discussed amongst the presenters and group.

First Responder Mobility – The Pain Connection by Brian Fass ATC, EMT-P. Improving mobility among military, police, fire fighter and EMT population is critical and a simple, tested, and proven process was taught in this program.

Muscular Endurance with Kettlebells by Nico Rithner. This class used the six lifts of the Bolt KB Competition to reduce running injuries.

Speed, Agility, and Quickness of the Special Operator (Mason Bagget CSCS). This presentation focused on how to add the required skills of speed, agility, and quickness properly to a population of special ops that often do not practice these events during team workouts.  Re-teaching the biomechanics of acceleration, deceleration, and body positioning is key to building a healthy special operator.   

Some of the most interesting equipment designs were built by Sorinex and TRX.  In fact, they teamed together to create the coolest deployable training systems to date.  Everything you see fits perfectly into the container box in the middle.

The event closed with a final question and answer session with many of the top trainers in their fields.  A special salute from the group to Mark Stephenson (Former TSAC Director) was given since the TSAC program was his brain child (former Marine MS, CSCS, ATC) when he worked for the NSCA and who is now a Department of Defense employee as a Human Performance Program Manager for military special operations personnel. 

Over the three day event, there were more than 60 different presentations and hands on training programs.  Between meeting and discussing the latest in tactical training and conditioning with some of the best trainers and equipment makers in the world, it is difficult to see even half of the presenters.  But the education, connections, and workouts gained from the TSAC Annual Training is priceless.  Look for more information on the National Strength and Conditioning Association's website ( for more information on the online training opportunities and next year's conference in San Diego!

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles on Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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