One of the most important factors of being a successful Close Protection Operative is good health. No one wants to hire an unhealthy CPO it goes against everything we stand for. Physical health and fitness are essential to the job, how can you expect to look after your principal successfully if you can’t even look after yourself? Whether you are a male or female bodyguard, one of your biggest priorities should be to maintain the highest levels of fitness to look and feel as healthy as possible.
During these unprecedented times of Covid-19, it can be harder to maintain good health and fitness levels but not impossible, there are certainly no excuses now more than ever. Yes, gyms were closed for several months and remain so, but there is still plenty we can do to maintain fitness levels. We have generally got more time on our hands now than ever before. Not many principals are travelling so our schedules shouldn’t be so hectic as normal. Most CPOs are either probably jobseeking, working secondary jobs, or covering RST tasks, with 12 hours off in-between shifts, and potentially up to a week off in between rotations leaving you absolutely no excuses.
Below are 3 simple but effective methods you can utilise during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown to maintain, if not increase your health and fitness levels so that when this is all over, and you are deployed back out onto the ground you will be fully prepared.
Cardiovascular fitness (CV fitness), also referred to as aerobic fitness, is our bodies ability to take in, transport and use oxygen whilst exercising. CV fitness is essential to good health and well-balanced fitness levels.
To maintain or increase CV fitness, you need to be performing regular Aerobic exercise 3-5 times per week, the body will make numerous adaptations over time, resulting in improved CV fitness.
There are several ways we can do this from walking, running, cycling and rowing. Starting with something small like setting daily step goals is a good place to start, 10,000 steps per day is a good goal and over time will accumulate some extra miles and calories burnt.
Stepping it up as this will not be enough alone, performing regular aerobic training in the form of running is great for CV fitness. Running is one of the most simple but effective forms of exercising. No equipment is needed except for a good pair of running trainers. So, there are no excuses not to get out and clock up some mileage.
Cycling and rowing are also great ways to increase CV fitness but clearly dependent on equipment. If you are fortunate enough to own a good bicycle, spinning bike, or rowing machine, use them regularly. Cycling and rowing utilise many different muscle groups in a rhythmical fashion essential for improving CV fitness.
We recommend you perform 30 minutes or more moderate to high-intensity CV fitness exercise 3-5 times per week depending on your body’s ability to recover. Don’t be afraid to mix it up, e.g. you could do one long slow-paced run, one faster-paced shorter run, and one interval running session utilising short bursts of all-out maximum effort followed by active recovery or rest. For more information on this look into ‘interval training for runners’.
Resistance training or more commonly known as weight training, or strength training, is a form of exercise that improves muscular strength, endurance, and muscular size. During resistance training exercise you move your limbs against resistance provided by free weights, resistance machines, bodyweight, gravity, or resistance bands.
Like CV fitness, to maintain or increase the body’s muscular strength and endurance, you’ll need to perform regular resistance training to build muscular strength and endurance.
There are various forms of resistance training but for this article let us consider that gyms are currently closed, so resistance training by lifting weights or using machines is probably limited unless you are lucky enough to own or have access to that type of equipment.
Yes, it is self-explanatory: using your own bodyweight. It is often overlooked but a great easy, pure type of resistance training. You can do various exercises using your own bodyweight like squats, lunges, calf raises, push-ups, chin-ups, and so on. We recommend doing these in a circuit style fashion to make it more challenging for the body.
A step up from bodyweight training, suspension training uses gravity and your body weight for resistance. For more information research TRX exercises. TRX is the most common brand that utilises suspension training with lots of different highly-effective exercises. You can pick up a good suspension training system for around the £30 price mark online.
Imagine a giant rubber band, that’s essentially what resistance bands are, they provide resistance against the body when stretched. They are more challenging than bodyweight exercises, so a nice step up if you can get your hands on some. Resistance bands are cheap, easily portable, and can be adapted to most workouts using guides or YouTube videos for reference. You will be surprised what can be achieved, a great way to challenge the body’s muscular strength and endurance. Again, you can purchase a good set of bands online for around the £20 mark, and most will come with a workout guide.
The most well-known type of resistance training is free weights in the form of barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. If you have access to these, you have no excuses but to use them. Free weights offer many benefits for the body’s strength and endurance and will be the most effective way to build muscle for keen bodybuilding enthusiasts.
If you are extremely limited on equipment, you can be creative and use household items for resistance training. Take inventory of your cupboards, kitchen, and garage. With just a few household items, you can replicate dumbbells and kettlebells. You can get a backpack and load it with items like packs of sugar or flour, canned beans, water bottles, anything to increase the weight, and then place it onto your back and perform exercises like squats or press-ups and pull-ups. With the extra weight adding increased resistance exercises are more difficult, which is good for our bodies.
Bottles of water, milk, or juice can be great for makeshift dumbbells or kettlebells. The gallon jugs will be your best bet weighing in at about 10lbs/4.5kgs, two of these and that’s 20lbs/9kgs of weight. Or if you can get your hands on the 19-litre office water cooler bottles, fill those up with water and they weigh about 42lbs/19kgs each! great for resistance training.
Lastly, call it extreme but needs must, you could even use a partner, housemate, or family member to climb on your back during squats and sit or lie on your back during press-ups. Any added resistance is better than nothing.
We would recommend resistance training 2-4 times per week again depending on your body’s ability to recover. Just like CV training don’t be afraid to mix it up you could resistance train 3 times per week, one session utilising bodyweight exercises building muscular endurance, one session utilising suspension training/resistance bands building a combination of endurance and strength then finally one session using free weights building strength and muscular size.
Maintaining a balanced diet is essential to good overall health and goes hand in hand with maintaining fitness levels. During the initial outbreak of Covid-19, it was somewhat difficult to get your hands-on essential foods like fruit and veg because everyone was trying to stockpile in case of a full lockdown. But now things have calmed down and starting to return to “normal”. It is not a battle to buy the things you need from local shops, so there’s no excuse to be eating unhealthy foods and takeaways all the time.
Having a balanced diet with adequate macronutrient protein, fat, and carbohydrates will do wonders for your health. A balanced diet will also help the body recover from all the CV and resistance training you should be doing. Micronutrients are also essential, these include vitamins and minerals which are essential for the immune system and many other important bodily functions.
Supplementation is useful but not essential. If you have a well-balanced diet, you will get most of the micronutrients your body needs from food alone. Without going into too much detail, everyone has a fairly good idea of what a healthy balanced diet should look like: 5 pieces of fruit and veg per day for your vitamins and minerals, good carbohydrate sources like rice, pasta or potatoes, good quality complete protein sources like lean meats and beans for your veggies, and good fat sources in the form of nuts, avocados, and eggs.
Also key to maintaining a healthy body is drinking plenty of water to keep the body well hydrated and in full working order.
This may seem like a lot of information to take on board, but the moral of the story is this: if you invest your time and effort in maintaining good health and fitness, you’ll have one of the core foundations to be a great Close Protection Operative. You want to stand out, separate yourself from the masses, being mentally and physically fit for the challenging role we face. CPOs are meant to be the most highly trained, professional, and well-paid in the private security industry, so earn it. It is up to you to live a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Finally, think of this current pandemic as almost “pre-deployment training”. Military men and women who have deployed on operational tours into theatres across the world will know exactly what this means. Essentially pre-deployment training is a period before an operational tour that you prepare the body to be physically and mentally ready for. If you put the hard work in now when the close protection sector is incredibly subdued, then you will be better prepared to ‘deploy’ back out onto the ground when things return somewhat to normal.
Stand out from the crowd from what has become a very oversubscribed industry over the years, and take the highest levels of pride in your job role. Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, and most importantly; STAY HEALTHY.
Westminster Security provides professional close protection security services in London, the UK and worldwide.