What is TACFIT?
TACFIT is the original Tactical Fitness System, created by Scott B. Sonnon. Tactical Fitness is defined as:
• Tactical: Of, relating to, or constituting a series of actions, carefully synchronized, coordinated, planned and executed to achieve a specific end.
• Fitness: methods, protocols and principles to physically, mentally and emotionally prepare, mitigate and compensate for specific occupational, recreational and lifestyle stressors.
• Tactical Fitness, therefore, is a contiguous approach for specific physical preparation to enter, overcome and recover from stressors in such a way that the individual and team become stronger, better and healthier from the stressors, rather than deteriorate from them.
The number one killer in the world is not guns, bombs or fires, but stress-related disease. Those in the tactical community – law enforcement, military, fire fighting, emergency rescue, and aviation – have a national average mortality rate of 54, compared to the average civilian mortality rate of 78. Over 20 years of life are sacrificed due to occupational and lifestyle stressors in the tactical community, which is why TACFIT was designed for their support.
What increases longevity, fortunately, also best improves safety and enhances performance. TACFIT has proven in the US Department of Justice to eliminate training-related injuries, and to improve physical performance over all prior tested metrics.
TACFIT achieves this 3-pronged objective (Longevity-Safety-Performance) by asking the most important question: What Are You Fit For? If your physical potential is limited to power output alone, then your fitness is a liability. Your fitness – in order to be relevant – must give you the ability to remain pain-free, injury-free, and able to access your 4Tʼs: Tools, Techniques, Team Tactics and Technologies.
Most exercise programs are merely designed to make you lose fat, build muscle or move weight in simple, short ranges over time. In order for your fitness to be relevant, you must experience physical high intensity, but then be able to rapidly recover back to where you have the ability to use your 4Ts.
It is a simple system to implement, but it is a highly sophisticated system of coaching psychology, applied biomechanics, stress physiology and exercise endocrinology.
TACFIT, as a result, is a specific system of preparing the body in three integrated domains of preparation: the Biomechanical, the Neurological and the Endocrinal.
1. Biomechanical: TACFIT develops two opposite and complementary forces:
i. Driving Forces: Develop the specific driving forces to create operational platforms for skills to be delivered.
ii. Restrictive Forces: Remove the specifically-adapted restrictive forces so that the body doesnʼt develop dysfunctional compensations from repetitive positions.
Occupational and lifestyle activity loads specific positions. Those loads create adaptations in the body. If you donʼt specifically compensate for those loads, you create postural changes. Tightness develops in joints (which were meant to be mobile), and shortness develops in tissues (which were meant to maintain resting length). That tight shortening causes stable joints and tissues to substitute the motion that the mobile joints and tissues now lack due to those adapted changes. The nervous system communicates this destabilization as soreness, aches and pains, which, if ignored, result in injuries, hospital, physician and physical therapy expenses, lost work, and disability.
TACFIT, first, disengages these padlocks on performance, through a system of mobility drills, an incrementally progressive system of platform development, and a system of occupational compensation drills. Then, once mobility has been restored, specific platforms of strength, endurance, agility and functional range of motion are enhanced. TACFIT insists upon the maxim: disengage the emergency brake before stomping on the accelerator.
2. Neurological: TACFIT addresses both sides of the nervous system:
i. Sympathetic Nervous System: the “Fight or Flight” alarm system of quantity of physical performance.
ii. Parasympathetic Nervous System: the “Rest and Digest” recovery system of quality of physical experience.
In order for fitness to be relevant, it must be recoverable to where skills can be accessed and executed. Research has shown that at 65% heart rate maximum, fine motor skill and hand-eye coordination deteriorate; at 85% heart rate maximum, complex skills erode; and as heart rate rapidly approaches and exceeds 100% heart rate maximum, cognitive impairment occurs: including a host of psycho-tropic phenomena such as tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, short term memory loss, speech impairment, time warp (tachipsychia), error detection inability, et cetera.
Therefore, TACFIT teaches a step-by-step training technology of progressions/regressions that allow you to recover quality technique through an embedded methodology of Biofeedback Training and Coaching Psychology. How rapidly the heart rate can be recovered from exercise-induced high intensity determines how fast you can reacquire necessary tools, techniques, tactics and technologies; as well as the mental awareness, response time and cognition to execute them.
Furthermore, without restoring Parasympathetic Tone, even general wellness is not accessible for those in high stress occupations. You can have the most extreme fitness approach in the world and the most optimal nutritional program ever created, but if you canʼt get quality sleep and proper digestion, then not only will your exercise and nutrition not help you, youʼll store your food as fat, youʼll cannibalize your own muscle, youʼll sabotage your structural integrity and physical capacity, and youʼll create an inhospitable internal environment. This leads to the third domain of preparation:
3. Endocrinal: TACFIT helps your biochemistry find homeostatic balance of the internal environment, by utilizing both hormonal pathways:
i. Dopamine Pathway: Dopamine is your “memory and motor control hormone” – which gives you clarity, accuracy, coordination and the euphoria, confidence and wherewithal which accompany them. Dopamine depletion leads to moodiness, fogginess, depression, rage, apathy, boredom and fatigue.
ii. Serotonin Pathway: Serotonin is your “quality of life hormone” – which allows you to appreciate your family, feel gratified in your work and and feel fulfilled in your self. Serotonin depletion is associated with drug addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, divorce, abuse and suicide.
Excess stress down-regulates dopamine and serotonin production. Intense exercise releases dopamine, causing you to feel stable, controlled, lucid, confident and precise. Unfortunately, exercise stress added to occupational and life (financial, relational, parental) stress combines to ʻfatigueʼ dopamine production over time, so the intensity of your physical experience has to be higher and higher over time, in order to receive the same feeling of restored control.
TACFIT addresses this depletion by using a wave of exercise and recovery protocols. The exertionally-induced dopamine release gives you the opportunity to access the serotonin pathway through “progressive compensation.” These protocols allow you to restore quality of life through exercise.
But “you canʼt get there from here.” Most Resilience Programs (cognitive therapy, yoga, tai chi, massage, etc) fail on their own without tapping into the dopamine pathway, so that you restore motor control long enough in order to exhale and finally relax. If youʼve ever felt unable to sit still and calm down, you know precisely this feeling. If youʼve ever needed a highly-adrenalized activity to feel relaxed, and crashed again 2-3 days later, you know exactly this phenomenon.
Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and is used as a biomarker to determine the effectiveness of stress managements strategies. Unfortunately, cortisol and DHEA (your “anti-aging hormone”) are made from the same building blocks, so if youʼre always switched on with chronic stress, youʼre not producing DHEA in sufficient quantities. Youʼre suffering from potentially irreversible accelerated aging, as a result.
TACFIT reduces cortisol, by switching off the catecholamines (your fast release heart and blood pumping hormones), glucocorticoids (your slow-release stimulation hormones) and vasopressin (your anti-diuretic hormone). This gets you over to the quality sleep, nutrient absorption and bodily repair of serotonin (and acetylecholamine).