What does it take to reach and sustain an optimal level of health and performance? How do you get there? As with any journey, a roadmap can point to the best path. Total Force Fitness (TFF) is your military community’s roadmap to peak performance. First introduced to DoD in 2009, TFF is a framework that helps Warfighters, their family members, and military units reach and sustain optimal health and performance in a way that aligns with your mission, culture, and identity. It’s time to hit the road!
Starting point: What does it mean to be healthy?
When you think of being healthy, chances are you tend to focus on your physical health. You might think about the last time you got sick or maybe your workout routine. TFF suggests you reconsider what it means to be healthy. Beyond just physical fitness, TFF encourages you to focus on your whole self and those life domains that are key to health and performance. Your total fitness includes 8 domains: your social, physical, environmental, medical and dental, spiritual, nutritional, psychological, and behavioral health. Physical health and good nutrition can keep you mission-ready, but you still need a social-support network, mental health resources, and spirituality that you can tap into for mental resilience. Your surroundings are also important—whether you’re training in heat or humidity or deployed in an austere environment. When it comes to your medical and dental health, it’s essential to focus on prevention and recovery—of/from disease and physical defects—to sustain readiness as well. It’s important to be fit in all elements. Your participation in your own fitness also contributes to—and helps achieve—TFF. Embodying the TFF framework means paying attention to all of these domains in your quest for peak performance and readiness.
Your personal route to TFF
Given a certain situation, you pull on all the TFF pieces you need to perform well. Say you’re getting ready to take your Physical Fitness (PFT) and Physical Readiness Tests (PRT). Although the emphasis is on your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, many other things—such as the quality of your sleep, what you’re eating, and reactions to any supplements you might be taking—matter when it comes to your performance. Your mental focus, environment, and support system of training partners play a role too. For example, you might get motivated to exercise by thinking about how being physically fit keeps you mission-ready and loyal to your core values, sense of purpose, and duty.
Along the way: Mission, culture, and identity
Each Warfighter, military family member, and unit is unique. Try asking Navy SEALs if they’re the same as Army Rangers. Or ask Infantry Marines how they’re similar to Marines who work with the Air Wing. TFF moves away from a one-size-fits-all model for health and performance—and allows your identity, culture, and mission to shape your quest for total fitness.
For instance, what works for a Coastie might not work for an Airman. Their mission demands, occupational risks, culture, and mission-essential skills are likely different, so their approach to sustaining health and performance needs to be different. Maybe one Sailor’s MOS suggests a focus on mental skills would help sustain performance in that job, whereas a Soldier’s MOS suggests a focus on social skills would benefit the team environment. You can adapt those TFF pieces to your unique role, culture, MOS, KSAs, and identity within the Armed Forces to help reach peak performance.
Turn left of bang
TFF also broadly includes prevention, performance, and restoration. This contrasts with the way some health professions think of health. For example, some healthcare providers might only interact with Warfighters after illness or injury—referred to as “right of bang.” In this instance, the “bang” is anything that challenges the health and performance of a Service Member. In addition, efforts to rehabilitate and restore Warfighters often stop at health and don’t help Service Members move towards reestablishing an optimal level of performance at their jobs.
TFF, combined with human performance optimization (HPO), engages Service Members, their loved ones, and units while they’re healthy and performing well. The TFF framework also provides you with tools to prevent your health and performance skills from weakening. This focus on prevention is what’s called “left of bang.” Coordinating efforts from both left and right—including taking steps to prevent injury, boost resilience, and promote recovery—are essential to sustaining Warfighter health and readiness.
Next stop: HPRC
For Service Members to meet and excel in their performance, it’s important to pay attention to those life domains. HPRC offers information across the TFF domains you can use separately or together to achieve your own total fitness.
HPRC is your one-stop shop for information on TFF. For example, visit the Social Fitness section to read articles on managing your relationships—whether you’re at home or on deployment. Learn how to manage stress or sleep better with helpful resources in the Mental Fitness section. Or learn about training, exercise, and how to prevent injury in the Physical Fitness section. Visit the Nutrition section for resources on managing your weight or Warfighter nutrition. And find out about the connection between mind, body, environment, and relationships in Total Force Fitness. Visit Operation Supplement Safety for up-to-date information on how dietary supplements might impact your performance as well.
You can find out how HPRC explores the intersection of the TFF domains too. Did you know you can manage depression by leveraging your social relationships, changing your diet, and/or getting more exercise? Or learn how your cardiovascular health is related to your mental health, how mental imagery can help fight food cravings, and ways to encourage your kids to be more physically active.
HPRC is here to serve your TFF needs. If you need information about a performance-related topic, and you can’t find it on our website, use the Ask The Expert feature for guidance on your journey to total fitness and performance optimization.
Destination: Peak performance
As a Warfighter, your participation in your own total fitness contributes to your readiness and helps achieve TFF. To do your part, turn to HPRC for support.
You’ll know you’ve reached peak performance when you’re performing at your best and thriving in all aspects of your life. You have great relationships with the people around you, and you feel happy and fulfilled. You’re physically healthy and fit, you feel a sense of purpose in the things you do, and you’re able to bounce back and grow from the curve balls life throws at you. HPRC is your go-to resource to help you get there.
Mullen, M. (2010). On Total Force Fitness in war and peace. Military Medicine, 175(8S), 1–2. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-10-00246
Mullen M. G. (2011) CJCSI 3405.01: Chairman’s Total Force Fitness Framework. Retrieved 18 April 2019 from https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Library/Instructions/3405_01.pdf?ver=2016-02-05-175032-517
Jonas, W. B., O'Connor, F. G., Deuster, P., Peck, J., Shake, C., & Frost, S. S. (2010). Why Total Force Fitness? Military Medicine Supplement: Total Force Fitness for the 21st Century: A New Paradigm, 175(8S), 6–13. doi:10.7205/milmed-d-10-00280