Thirty-two 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and 97th Military Police Battalion, Soldiers learned the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs on proper form and technique to enhance Soldier readiness physically during the week long Tactical Strength and Conditioning Practitioners Course May 6 through 10 at Craig Fitness Center.
"The TSAC practitioners Course is put on by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the certification, the TSAC certification, is a national certification program," said Maj. Sean McFarling, medical plans officers, 1st Inf. Div. "
On top of the nationally recognized certificate, the Soldiers -- noncommissioned officer or company grade officer -- will be able to work with new additions to their battalion -- two strength and conditioning coaches, a registered dietician, an athletic trainer and a physical therapist -- to develop regiments and routines for their Soldiers to enhance their training for the Army Combat Fitness Test. The additions will also allow for Soldier recovery time from injury to be reduced because they are "down at the battalion level that provide them that proximity and the availability and access to care," McFarling said.
"(It's) similar to what [U.S. Army Special Operations Command] has right now with the [Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning] Program and what 75th Ranger has with their Ranger Athlete-Warrior Program," he said. "They are looking at implementing this across the majority of the Army."
According to a June 2012 article in Government & Fitness, "THOR3 Program Building Modern-Day Warriors" by Paul Ragusa, the THOR3 program is based on the athletic training model used today by professional strength and conditioning coaches in sports settings, is building stronger, more resilient special operators who are in peak physical shape for deployment, less likely to get injured and able to return to action faster from injury than ever before.
Joel Raether, director of Sports Performance with Authentic Performance Center, lead a lecture on May 8 on agility. As a former NFL trainer, Raether likes the shift in mentality the Army has when approaching the training of Soldiers.
"When you realize how many things we know now that we didn't know 50 years ago, in terms of biomechanics, in terms of physiology, in terms of a lot of things that are related to performance," he said. "Acknowledging that the need for change and the need for us to take better care of our folks by providing those resources to do things better than maybe we have in the past, is really probably the coolest part."
Staff Sgt. Chaz Gill and Staff Sgt. Robert Reynolds, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt., 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., took part in the course and said they had learned a lot from the instructors.
"So far, it's been very educational like for physical wise how to do everything properly, correct ways and how beneficial (it is) in the long run," Gill said.
Both see the class as a way to minimize the risk associated with injuries.
"More knowledge to show my Soldiers if they're doing stuff in the incorrect way, I can teach them how to minimize injury," Gill said. "Teaching the correct way to do it."
"Same, minimize injury and then rehabilitate those who are injured," Reynolds said.
The class is another tool for the units as the Army pushes to a more holistic approach to health and fitness, McFarling said.
"On the old [Army Physical Fitness Test], if you wanted to get better at push ups -- do more push ups," he said. "If you want to get better at sit ups, do more sit ups," said McFarling.
The new ACFT adds a new dimension to testing Soldier's physical fitness.
"Where [APFT is] focusing on function versus the ACFT, between the deadlift and power throw, is focusing on explosive functional movements that are tied to what Soldiers are doing on the battlefield," explained McFarling. "The ACFT is an 80 percent predictor of Soldiers being able to do all their duties in a combat environment."
After completing the course, Soldiers will have 90 to 120 days to complete the certificate exam. While preparing, they will get one to two hours of training and mentorship with strength coaches, dietician, and physical therapist, McFarling said.
This one-on-one time will give the Soldiers another resource to take their plans to a new level, while learning new ways of implementing them within their team, squad, platoon, or company level formations.
"The folks that are here, that are in this course, have a resource to go to, professionals that can guide them and give them better training that maybe didn't exist before," Raether said. "And a lot of folks that are in this class, are going to be a conduit to carrying out training out into their battalions and things like that, where they're going to be in charge of leading groups. Whether that's with PT (or) day to day things that there's going to be directed from the strength conditioning coaches that are just recently put in place."