Much like the rigor and demands of being an elite Spartan athlete, the training to become an Air Force Special Warfare Operator is some of the most intense in the world. It requires dedication, resiliency, and fortitude — both mentally and physically — to push yourself beyond your limits. But to do that, it takes the help of advanced fitness technology that provides real-time feedback for military servicemen and women.
Motion Capture = Performance Optimization
Nearly every aspect of a Special Warfare trainee's physiology is analyzed before, during, and after a workout. The U.S. Air Force uses a motion capture system to study how each trainee’s body moves through a series of jumps, flexes, and balances to see if they favor a certain muscle over another, which could eventually lead to an injury. Their hydration levels and sleep cycles are also closely monitored to ensure that they remain physically and mentally prepared.
Heart Rate Monitors = Customized Training and Recovery
During workouts, Special Warfare trainees wear a Zephyr Performance Systems HxM heart rate monitor strapped around their chest that records over 25 different data points, including ground impact force, fatigue and recovery time, readiness levels, and heart rate. This information is then analyzed by a performance technician who is searching for warning signs of weaknesses. That technician then customizes the training program to avoid injury and optimize performance.
“Technology that lets us monitor heart rate and training load adds another layer to the training, which makes it more detailed,” Special Warfare Strength and Conditioning Specialist Zach Kinninger says. “This allows us to elicit the proper training response as well as to make sure it is properly progressed and mitigated to produce a healthy tactical warrior.”
If the performance technician detects any indication of a potential injury — or if one does occur — Air Force Special Warfare utilizes everything from sensory deprivation tanks, cryotherapy units, and anti-gravity treadmills to help rehabilitate the trainee and get them back into the program.
How Specialized Training Programs Generate Superior Results
Long gone are the days when one training program fits all. Most Spartan athletes have their own customized regimen that caters to their unique abilities and race goals. Likewise, the training to become a Special Warfare Operator is also highly individualized to maximize their potential for success. In addition to the technology used to monitor their progress, Air Force Special Warfare also relies on specialized coaches, technicians, and experts in various disciplines such as strength and conditioning, endurance, running, swimming, nutrition, and psychology.
This team of professionals work together to make sure every trainee receives the individual attention they need to make it through the rigors of the Special Warfare pipeline without breaking down.
During a Spartan race, every single athlete on the course must push themselves to their absolute maximum if they hope to finish, not to mention come out on top. During a military operation, Special Warfare Airmen must also perform at an elite level every time if they hope to fulfill the mission and return home safely. That’s why it’s essential for both groups to train hard and long while utilizing the latest fitness technology and training techniques so that when the time comes, they’re ready.