Total Force Fitness: Your roadmap to peak performance and military wellness

What does it take to reach and sustain an optimal level of military fitness, health, and performance? How do you get there? As with any journey, a roadmap can point out the best path. Total Force Fitness is your military community’s roadmap to peak performance. First introduced to DoD in 2009, Total Force Fitness is a framework that helps Warfighters, their family members, and military units reach and sustain optimal, holistic 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 about your workout routine. Total Force Fitness suggests you reconsider what it means to be healthy. Beyond just physical fitness, Total Force Fitness encourages you to focus on your whole self and those life domains that are key to holistic military wellness. Your total fitness includes 8 domains: your social, physical, environmental, medical and dental, ideological and spiritual, nutritional, psychological, and financial 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 extreme environment. When it comes to your medical and dental health, it’s essential to focus on prevention of and recovery from disease and physical defects to sustain readiness. It’s important to be fit in all elements. Your participation in your own fitness contributes to—and helps achieve—Total Force Fitness. Embodying the Total Force Fitness framework means paying attention to all of these domains in your quest for peak performance, readiness, and military fitness.

Your personal route to Total Force Fitness

For any given situation, you draw on all the Total Force Fitness pieces you need to perform well. Say you’re getting ready to take your Physical Fitness (PFT) and Physical Readiness Tests (PRT). The emphasis is on your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance, but 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 compare to Marines who work with the Air Wing. Total Force Fitness moves away from a one-size-fits-all model for health and performance. It 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 different, so their approaches to sustaining health and performance need to be different. Maybe one Sailor’s Rate suggests a focus on mental skills could help sustain performance on that job, whereas a Soldier’s MOS points to a focus on social skills to benefit the team environment. You can adapt the pieces of Total Force Fitness to your unique role, culture, MOS/Rate/AFSC, Core Tasks, and identity within the Armed Forces to help you reach peak performance.

Move left of bang

Total Force Fitness is the roadmap to reach human performance optimization (HPO), which focuses on optimization, prevention, restoration, and recovery. HPO takes a “left of bang” approach, which acts to prevent an event or condition that challenges the health and performance of a Military Service Member. This contrasts with traditional healthcare models, where providers interact with Military Service Members mostly after injury or illness, or “right of bang.” Total Force Fitness provides the framework to address domain-specific gaps to keep you operating left of the bang.

Next stop: Human Performance Resources by CHAMP

For you as a Military Service Member to meet and excel in your performance, it’s important to pay attention to all 8 life domains. The Human Performance Resources by CHAMP (HPRC) team offers information across Total Force Fitness domains you can use to achieve your own total fitness.

HPRC’s website (HPRC-online.org) is your one-stop shop for information on Total Force Fitness. For example, visit the Social Fitness section to read articles on managing your relationships—whether you’re at home or on deployment. Learn about stress management or how to get better sleep with the resources in the Mental Fitness section. Or learn about training and exercise, as well as how to prevent injury, in the Physical Fitness section. Visit the Nutrition section for resources on managing your weight or performance nutrition. Visit Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) for up-to-date information on how dietary supplements might impact your performance.

You can find out how the HPRC team explores the intersection of the Total Force Fitness domains too. Did you know you can manage depression by leveraging your social relationships, changing your diet, and getting more exercise? Or learn how your cardiovascular health is related to your mental health, how mental imagery can help fight food cravings, and how to encourage your kids to be more physically active.

The HPRC team is here to serve your Total Force Fitness needs. If you’re looking for information about a performance-related topic, and you can’t find it on our website, you can use our Ask The Expert feature to contact our experts 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 Total Force Fitness. To do your part, turn to the HPRC team 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. When you have great relationships with the people around you, and you feel happy and fulfilled. When 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-online.org is your go-to resource to help you get there.

The Total Force Fitness framework consists of life domains that are key to health and performance. Each domain contains information that empowers Military Service Members to make smart choices about their well-being throughout the deployment cycle. Social domain includes family and community engagement, cultural inclusiveness, peer-to-peer networks, leadership skills, and unit cohesion. Physical domain consists of strength and agility, aerobic capacity, muscular endurance, and functional mobility. Financial domain consists of debt management skills, responsible money management, insurance and emergency planning, and investment wealth strategies. Ideological & Spiritual domain includes sense of identity and belonging, awareness of meaning and purpose, embracing service core values, and ability to cope. Medical & Dental Preventive Care domain consists of health assessments, screening, immunization, and prehabilitation. Environmental domain includes heat and cold, altitude, noise, air quality, whole-body vibration, and blast exposure. Nutritional domain consists of access to quality foods, mission-driven macro and micro nutrient requirements, dietary supplement use, and healthy dietary choices. Psychological domain includes proactive recovery for thriving, cognitive function, mental acuity, and self-actualization.

 


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References

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