Please select your location

UK, Europe and Middle East


Feedback IconFeedback
NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning

NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning


Available As


    The physical demands of tactical professions such as military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue require those workers to be in top physical condition to perform their jobs well and decrease the risk of injury. NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning contains scientific information to assist in implementing or restructuring strength and conditioning programs at commercial or government fitness centers that work with these tactical athletes to achieve those goals.

    Designed primarily as a preparatory resource for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) certification, the text is also useful as a manual for government agencies or a daily reference for strength and conditioning professionals. Editors Brent A. Alvar, Katie Sell, and Patricia A. Deuster have extensive experience as scholars and practitioners in their respective fields. They have assembled a team of distinguished contributors who bring to light current trends in strength and conditioning through their combined experiences as professionals in the fields of academia, athletic training, firefighting, law enforcement, military, nutrition, physical therapy, and strength and conditioning.

    The contributors not only provide foundational knowledge of exercise physiology and biomechanical movement patterns, but they also comprehensively review all of the components necessary for TSAC Facilitators to design and operate successful training programs for tactical athletes. Separate chapters focus on the specific physiological issues related to military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue personnel, including how a strength and conditioning program should directly correlate to their critical job tasks and the specific environmental, occupational, and exposure concerns for each population.

    Topics such as nutrition, supplements, injury treatment and rehabilitation, wellness interventions, and assessments and evaluations are discussed for professionals who work with tactical populations. Additionally, exercises, drills, and techniques targeting the specific needs of tactical athletes in areas such as flexibility, mobility, speed, agility, power, and aerobic endurance are described in great detail and accompanied by full-color photos.

    Each chapter of NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning begins with learning objectives and incorporates key terms, diagrams, detailed photographs, and key points throughout the text to help guide readers and facilitate comprehension of concepts. Sidebars and sample programs are included in some chapters to help readers apply theoretical concepts in their professional practice.

    Additionally, for instructors using the book, or the TSAC-F exam prep symposia, a presentation package plus image bank with more than 300 photos and illustrations is available, making preparation easier with the use of predeveloped materials that correspond with the book’s content.

    Ultimately, the goal of NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning is to help prepare those seeking TSAC-F certification and to serve as a resource for professionals so that they can implement an optimal strength and conditioning program targeted for tactical athletes that will decrease their risk of injury and optimize performance.


    Preparatory guide for those seeking to obtain National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) certification. Also an applied reference book for health and wellness professionals who work with tactical populations such as military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue personnel.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Tactical Strength and Conditioning: An Overview
    Brent A. Alvar, PhD, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D, FNSCA
    Katie Sell, PhD, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F
    Patricia A. Deuster, PhD, MPH, CNS
    NSCA TSAC Program
    Duties of a Tactical Athlete
    Job Analysis of a Tactical Athlete
    Assessment of the Individual
    Program Design
    Chapter 2: Cardiopulmonary and Endocrine Responses and Adaptations to Exercise
    Denise Smith, PhD
    Cardiovascular Structure and Function
    Pulmonary Anatomy and Function
    Acute Cardiovascular Responses to Exercise
    Acute Respiratory Responses to Exercise
    Acute Endocrine Responses to Exercise
    Chronic Adaptations of the Cardiopulmonary and Endocrine Systems to Exercise and High-Stress Situations
    Chapter 3: Skeletal Muscle Anatomy and Biomechanics
    Michael R. Deschenes, PhD
    Raymond W. McCoy, PhD
    Bones and the Skeleton
    Skeletal Muscle
    Muscle Mechanics
    Neuromuscular Anatomy
    Neural Responses During Exercise
    Biomechanical Principles
    Types of Muscle-Strengthening Exercises
    Biomechanical Factors Affecting Muscle Strength
    Chapter 4: Physiological Adaptations and Bioenergetics
    Todd Miller, PhD, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F, FNSCA
    Bioenergetics and Metabolism
    Physiological Adaptations to Exercise
    Detraining and Retraining
    Chapter 5: Basic Nutrition for Tactical Populations
    Steve Hertzler, PhD, RD, LD
    Amanda Carlson-Phillips, MS, RD, CSSD
    Guidelines for Dispensing Nutrition Information
    Step 1: Understand the Demands of the Tactical Athlete
    Step 2: Understand Basic Fueling Concepts
    Step 3: Provide Nutritional Guidance
    Step 4: Create Nutritional Recommendations to Support Performance and Recovery
    Providing Guidance on Energy Balance and Nutrition Tools
    Chapter 6: Tactical Fueling
    Maj. Nicholas D. Barringer, PhD, RD, CSCS,*D, CSSD
    Maj. Aaron P. Crombie, PhD, RD
    Nutritional Needs of Tactical Athletes
    Nutrient Requirements of Tactical Athletes Under Various Conditions
    Nutrition-Related Conditions and Chronic Diseases of Tactical Athletes
    Chapter 7: Ergogenic Aids
    Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA
    Colin D. Wilborn, PhD, CSCS, ATC
    Eric T. Trexler, MA, CSCS
    Regulation of Dietary Supplements
    Anti-Doping Agencies and Dietary Supplement Resources
    Risk Stratification of Supplements
    Common Performance-Enhancing Substances: Potential Benefits, Risks, and Side Effects
    Illegal Performance-Enhancing Substances
    Signs and Symptoms of Ergogenic Aid Abuse
    Chapter 8: Testing and Evaluation of Tactical Populations
    Bradley J. Warr, PhD, MPAS
    Patrick Gagnon, MS
    Dennis E. Scofield, MEd, CSCS
    Suzanne Jaenen, MS
    History of Fitness Testing in Tactical Occupations
    Types of Performance Tests
    Testing Procedures
    Evaluation of Performance Test Results
    Use of Performance Test Results
    Chapter 9: Development of Resistance Training Programs
    Nicholas A. Ratamess, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA
    Needs Analysis
    Resistance Training Program Design
    Chapter 10: Periodization for Tactical Populations
    G. Gregory Haff, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA, ASCC
    Defining Periodization
    Goals of Periodization
    Principles of Periodization Models
    Structural Components of Periodized Training
    Sequencing and Integrating Training
    Applying Periodization Theory to Deployment-Based Tactical Athletes
    Applying Periodization Theory to Nondeployed Tactical Athletes
    Chapter 11: Resistance Training Exercise Techniques
    Jason Dudley, MS, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F, RSCC, FMS-1, USAW-1
    Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA
    Performing Exercises With Alternative Implements
    Warm-Up Before Resistance Training
    Guidelines on Body Stance and Alignment, Breathing, and Spotting
    Resistance Training Exercises
    Chapter 12: Flexibility and Mobility Exercise Techniques and Programming
    Mark Stephenson, MS, ATC, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F
    Daniel J. Dodd, PhD, CSCS
    Comparison of Mobility and Flexibility
    Types of Flexibility and Mobility Exercises
    Exercise Technique and Cueing Guidelines
    Program Design
    Chapter 13: Plyometric, Speed, and Agility Exercise Techniques and Programming
    Mike Barnes, MEd, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
    Jay Dawes, PhD, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
    Plyometric Training
    Speed Training
    Agility Training
    Chapter 14: Aerobic Endurance Exercise Techniques and Programming
    Matthew R. Rhea, PhD, CSCS,*D
    Brent A. Alvar, PhD, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D, FNSCA
    Warming Up Before Aerobic Endurance Training
    Exercise Techniques and Cueing Guidelines
    Step 1: Exercise Mode
    Step 2: Training Frequency
    Step 3: Training Intensity
    Step 4: Exercise Duration
    Step 5: Exercise Progression
    Program Design Recommendations
    Chapter 15: Evidence-Based Approach to Strength and Power Training to Improve Performance in Tactical Populations
    Dennis E. Scofield, MEd, CSCS
    Sarah E. Sauers, MS, CSCS
    Barry A. Spiering, PhD, CSCS
    Marilyn A. Sharp, MS
    Bradley C. Nindl, PhD
    Overview of Occupational Demands
    Optimizing Occupational Performance
    Applying Principles of Strength and Power Training
    Chapter 16: Care and Rehabilitation of Injured Tactical Populations
    Danny McMillian, PT, DSc
    Common Injury Prevalence and Risk Factors
    Phases of Tissue Healing
    Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome
    Maintenance of Training Status During the Rehabilitation and Reconditioning
    Guidelines for Injury Care and Rehabilitation
    Chapter 17: Physiological Issues Related to Fire and Rescue Personnel
    Katie Sell, PhD, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D
    Mark Abel, PhD, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, USAW
    Joseph Domitrovich, PhD
    Critical Job Tasks for Firefighters
    Environmental, Occupational, and Exposure Concerns
    Injury and Illness Risks in Firefighters
    Optimizing Functional Fitness
    Program Design and Sample Training Approaches
    Chapter 18: Physiological Issues Related to Law Enforcement Personnel
    Ben Hinton, MSc, CSCS
    Sgt Mick Sterli, BPhysEd, MExSc, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D
    Robin Orr, PhD, MPhty, BFET, TSAC-F
    Critical Job Tasks for Law Enforcement Personnel
    Environmental, Occupational, and Exposure Concerns
    Injury and Illness Risks
    Optimizing Functional Fitness
    Key Program Variables
    Chapter 19: Physiological Issues Related to Military Personnel
    William Kraemer, PhD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA
    LTC David Feltwell, PT, OCS, TSAC-F
    Tunde Szivak, PhD, CSCS
    Critical Job Tasks for Conventional Military and Special Operations Personnel
    Environmental, Occupational, and Exposure Concerns
    Injury and Illness Risks
    Optimizing Functional Fitness
    Program Design and Sample Training Approaches
    Chapter 20: Physical Training Considerations to Optimize Load Carriage
    Paul C. Henning, PhD, CSCS
    Barry A. Spiering, PhD, CSCS
    Dennis E. Scofield, MEd, CSCS
    Bradley C. Nindl, PhD
    Impact of Equipment Load on Biomechanical Demands
    Physiological and Biomechanical Demands of Load Carriage
    Practical Considerations for Training Programs to Optimize Load Carriage
    Chapter 21: Wellness Interventions in Tactical Populations
    Robin Orr, PhD, MPhty, BFET, TSAC-F
    John R. Bennett, MS, CSCS, EMT-P
    Chronic Illnesses and Diseases Common in Tactical Populations
    Risk Factors Requiring Wellness Interventions
    Operating Wellness Programs for Tactical Populations
    Chapter 22: Organization and Administration Considerations
    John Hofman, Jr, MS, CSCS, USAW, USA T&F, FMS
    Frank A. Palkoska, MS, CSCS
    Layout and Organization
    Policies and Procedures
    Safe Training Environment
    Answers to Study Questions
    About the Editors

    About the Editor

    About the NSCA

    The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is the world’s leading organization in the field of sport conditioning. Drawing on the resources and expertise of the most recognized professionals in strength training and conditioning, sport science, performance research, education, and sports medicine, the NSCA is the world’s trusted source of knowledge and training guidelines for coaches, athletes, and tactical operators. The NSCA provides the crucial link between the lab and the field.

    About the Editors

    Brent A. Alvar, PhD, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D, FNSCA, is a professor of health science at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with distinction, registered strength and conditioning coach with distinction, and a fellow of the NSCA. Alvar was named the NSCA’s Educator of the Year in 2016 and is a past member of the NSCA Board of Directors.

    At Rocky Mountain University, Alvar served as the director, the associate dean and vice president of university research, the concentration track director for the doctoral program in Human & Sport Performance, and the codirector of the graduate program in health promotion and wellness. Alvar also served as the sport performance director and faculty member at Chandler Gilbert Community College while simultaneously having an appointment as an assistant research professor in the department of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Alvar’s primary research focus is in the area of physical activity related to human performance and occupational preparedness as well as the muscular strength and health-related benefits from resistance training.

    Katie Sell, PhD, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F, ACSM EP-C, is an associate professor and coordinator of the undergraduate exercise science program in the department of health professions at Hofstra University. Her NSCA certifications include being a certified strength and conditioning specialist with distinction and a tactical strength and conditioning facilitator. She is also an exercise physiologist certified with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

    Sell has been a volunteer assistant coach for the Hofstra women’s tennis program, a member of the NSCA Tactical Strength and Conditioning Special Interest Group Executive Council, and a consultant to FireFit, which is an interagency wildland firefighter fitness task group. She serves as a physical fitness standards and programming consultant with various professional firefighting departments in the Salt Lake City, Utah, region.

    Sell’s primary research interests are in the areas of physical activity promotion among college students and firefighter health, physical fitness, and exercise programming. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Utah, her master’s degree from Southern Illinois University, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin.

    Patricia A. Deuster, PhD, MPH, CNS, is a professor in the department of military and emergency medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP), the Defense Center of Excelleence in the area of human performance optimization. A certified nutrition specialist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Deuster is a coauthor of The Navy SEAL Nutrition Guide and The Special Operations Forces Nutrition Guide and the editor of The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.

    Deuster received the Special Operations Medical Researcher Award in 2014 by the Special Operations Medical Association. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and has served the Department of Defense on its Dietary Supplement Subcommittee, Food and Nutrition Subcommittee, Human Performance Optimization Committee, Population Health Working Group, and Operational Supplement Safety Initiative.

    Deuster received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of William and Mary, her PhD from the University of Maryland, and her MPH from USU. Among her athletic achievements, she has been a tennis professional, nationally ranked marathoner, and qualifier for the first women’s marathon Olympic Trials in 1984.


    All ancillaries are free to course adopters and will be available online.

    Presentation package plus image bank. Includes almost 900 PowerPoint slides of text, photos, artwork, and tables from the book that instructors can use for discussion and illustration. The slides in the presentation package can be used directly in PowerPoint or can be printed to make transparencies or handouts for distribution. Presenters can easily add, modify, and rearrange the order of the slides as well as search for slides based on key words. The image bank includes all of the illustrations, artwork, content photos, and tables from the text, sorted by chapter to provide instructors with flexibility when creating their own resources, including customized presentations, handouts, and other resources.

    The presentation package plus image bank is also available for purchase • ISBN 978-1-4925-1380-3