Executive Protection — My Interview With a Tactical & Sports Performance Expert

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For the longest time, I’ve wanted to write an article about strength & conditioning as it relates to Executive Protection. The only thing preventing me was the fact that I know that I don’t know anything about strength & conditioning, plus the phenomenon where nearly every military / LE professional thinks that they are all experts by the coincidence that they’ve studied fitness peripherally for X years.

So, I asked my good friend, Ryan Byrnes MS, CSCS (Kinesiology and Exercise Science, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), who trains LE professionals for several agencies in Southern California and who has a great understanding of the latest research in the field of exercise science, to weigh in on this topic. Additionally, Ryan has trained high level athletes and tactical populations for 6+ years (and he’s a fellow Marine Corps MP!).

Physical Requirements of the Job

Everything starts with this question: What does the role of Executive Protection Specialist or Residential Security Agent require when it comes to physical output?

Generally, our roles consist of any combination of the following:

  • Standing for long periods

  • Sitting in vehicles

  • Lifting & carrying heavy things

  • Jogging to retrieve an item for a principal

  • Sprinting to prevent an undesirable outcome

  • Explosive movements to stop a threat in a violent encounter

Q1: Given that these are the primary physical tasks of an executive protection specialist, what should their strength & conditioning goals look like and how should they go about achieving them?

Since a day in the life of an executive protection specialist is unlikely to resemble a “Taken” film, it’s safe to say the majority of your time is spent performing the first four tasks listed above: standing, sitting in vehicles, lifting and carrying heavy things, and retrieving items for your principal. Now, that’s not to say the ability to perform explosive movements such as sprinting, jumping, and striking aren’t important to your role as an executive protection specialist−because they ABSOLUTELY are−but you need to first consider your not-so-sexy day to day tasks when designing a training program.

After taking your tasks as an executive protection specialist into consideration, your strength and conditioning training should prioritize these two goals (in the following order):

(1) Longevity

(2) Performance (These are actually more closely related than you think)

Standing the Test of Time: How to Improve Your Longevity

Let’s define longevity as the ability to perform the tasks required of your job completely free of pain and/or injury. In order to maximize longevity, your training should focus on improving three qualities:

Mobility, Stability, and Movement Quality

Training Mobility

When it comes to mobility, you NEED to have the mobility required of your specific tasks. Mobility, as it pertains to you, means having the mobility to assume good posture when sitting and standing for long periods of time, having the mobility required to assume proper lifting technique when lifting heavy items, and to maintain proper posture when holding and transporting those items, as well as possessing the mobility to stop a threat (i.e. fight). Luckily for you, none of those tasks require extreme levels of contortionism, so it’s unlikely that you will need to spend much time drastically improving your mobility. Whether you need to improve your mobility, or would just like a routine that will maintain your current mobility levels, you can start by following this simple routine a few times a week:

Foam Roller (spend 30-60 seconds on each body part)

  • Glutes

  • Hamstrings Calves

  • IT Bands

  • Quads

  • Groin

  • Lats

  • T-Spine

Followed by...

Stretch (spend at least 60 seconds on each body part)

  • Glutes (Pidgeon Stretch)

  • Hamstrings (Standing/Seated Toe Touches)

  • Groin (Splits)

  • Quads (Couch Stretch)

  • Calves (Wall Stretch: Bent and Straight Leg)

  • Shoulder: Internal Rotation (Sleeper Stretch)

  • Shoulder: External Rotation (Towel/Wall Stretch) T-Spine/Lats (Bench Stretch)

*To maximize your general mobility, go through this routine 2-3 times per week.

Training Stability

When it comes to longevity (and performance), stability (specifically of the core) is easily your most important quality. If you can stabilize the structures of your hips and torso, your extremities will end up in good positions. Without proper stabilization of your pelvis and torso, repetitive actions such as lifting, carrying, running, and even sitting and standing will inevitably lead to pain and injury. As much as I love to geek out over the scientific details, I’ll avoid venturing down that rabbit hole and sum up the importance of core stability in one statement:

“The safest and most efficient way to transfer force is through a stable core.”

  • Want to run faster? Learn to stabilize your core while running.

  • Want to punch/kick harder? Make sure you’re not leaking energy through a weak core.

  • Want to stay healthy? Being stable at your core (pelvis/torso) ensures your extremities (knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists, etc.) move in a safe and efficient manner.

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About the EP Nexus Blog

The EP Nexus executive protection blog, is a comprehensive resource for security professionals involved in executive protection, protective intelligence, threat assessment, and related fields.

Launched in March of 2016 as a resource for executive protection professionals, command center gurus, and close protection know-it-alls, EP Nexus is quickly becoming a resource for those seeking to quench their thirst for executive protection reading.

The most popular section of the blog is Executive Protection HacksEP Hacks is a series in which we address complex topics (one topic per issue) in a convenient collection of tools & writings. I am actively collaborating with industry leaders to produce future issues. If you're interested in taking an active approach in moving your industry into the future, contact me below.

Outside of EP Hacks, I explore the following topics in writings, tutorials, and webinars: online tools for executive protection professionals, open source intelligence investigations (OSINT), threat assessment, protective intelligence, travel security, and more.

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