Metabolic Stability Series

Metabolic Stability Series – March 2016

How Tactical Fitness Training Builds Real World Strength

It only took us four years, but we got a special guest! The truth is we were waiting to have professionals that could offer a new spin on what functional fitness and Metabolic Stability could be all about!

That is why while shooting some new material for upcoming DVRT projects, firefighter Captain Jordan Ponder and I were talking about his concepts and Metabolic Stability. Of course what Captain Ponder shared really inspired me because he wasn't trying to create novel, or overly specific drills for firefighters.

Does it work? Well, Captain Ponder has been part of the Milwaukee Fire Department initiative that has developed a specific program of functional fitness that has resulted the department $1.3 Million while reducing injury claims 57%. You may not think of these results in terms of gym numbers, but THESE are the numbers that REALLY matter!

How did they accomplish such an amazing goal? As Captain Ponder told us, the number one thing firefighters need is quality MOVEMENT! The number one cause of injury in firefighters is slips and falls, the second is strains and sprains. These are all things we can begin to train and improve through systematic, movement based training.

Hearing such information instantly made me realize that the information that Captain Ponder was sharing was not only important for firefighters, but everyone interested in a healthy life. What was awesome is that Captain Ponder has organized such concepts into a progressive and highly accessible system.

While the Milwaukee program uses great functional fitness tools such as medicine balls and suspension trainers, Captain Ponder wanted to share two of his favorites; Ultimate Sandbags and Superbands. Why does Captain love these tools so much? There are a few powerful reasons…


Wearing heavy and awkward equipment is only the start of the challenge for a firefighter. Navigating tight, dangerous, and unstable spaces makes understanding how to move, anticipate, and perform in an efficient manner crucial.

Dealing with odd objects is another challenge. "Nothing is perfectly balanced", Captain Ponder shared with us. So, learning how to optimal lift and maneuver such items is critical. In fact, they learned it has its own skill set.

These tools also allow them to work with the unique angles, positions, and strength curves that on the job training demands. This represents a real world type of strength that most fitness programs just miss!

Inexpensive and Highly Accessible

These tools can easily be used in a team or department environment and deliver a big "bang for the buck" effect. It can be used for older and younger trainees and the quick ability to regress and progress the movements make them ideal for effective and efficient training.

What I loved most about what we were able to share about Captain Ponder's program was it looked to find the REAL need of a population that so many fitness professionals would like to help and empower. This means learning to work with police, fire, and military is about educating yourself on the real needs of the job and providing specific programs and movements that will address the operators' requirements.

If you are interested in learning more about Captain Ponder's Firefighter Dynamic Performance Training program, check out his website:

Josh Henkin, CSCS is an international speaker on the topic of functional fitness and has been published in over 15 mainstream magazines as well as working with SWAT, Fire, and Military Units. You can learn more at