Training for Your Life

Training camp starts between the ears

By David Magnusson  |   Nov 8, 2017

Under my names are a few sentences that describe who I am and what I do. It reads something like this: Chief Magnusson is the chief of Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. He is a graduate of American Military University with a Master’s in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years.

I am very proud of my 33 years in law enforcement. I am equally proud of being a historian. Suffice it to say, I am more than proud of my association with boxing. I had boxed from 1978-2004. Since then I have refereed amateur matches.

I have three to four lines to express myself professionally, and I mention boxing? What does boxing have to do with law enforcement? Not a whole lot in the overall scheme of things. But what does training, as if you were preparing for a match, have to do with law enforcement?


Here’s Why

You either think you can handle yourself or you don’t. Unless you’re psychotic, you will not look in the mirror and lie to yourself. You—maybe no one but you—know for sure what your strengths are, as well as your weaknesses.

Let’s say, you can bench 350 lbs. but can only do eight pull-ups. Do you continue working towards 400 lbs. or are you more concerned with double-digit pull ups? Ideally, both would be the right answer. But assuming one over the other, you should probably shore up your weak areas before improving on things that you are already great at.

In police work, do you have what it takes to get into the scrum when you need to? I am not talking about when five other officers are there too. I am talking about you and your partner alone or perhaps you, solo, if you found yourself in such a predicament. It can happen. And here is a warning: YOU BEST NOT GET WINDED AFTER 20 SECONDS!

The Answer Lays in the Training

First of all, if you are overweight, I will make the assumption that you are not in the condition you wish to be. But put all the diets to rest until you learn the magic formula. 3,500 calories is one pound. So if you are overweight but stable, meaning you have not gained or loss, then do the following:

  1. Right down everything you eat. Log down those calories;
  2. Find a calculator to learn your Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR); and
  3. Determine how many calories you naturally burn a day.

Again, assuming you have not lost or gained, what you need once you determine your steady calorie intake is to reduce (slowly, so it sticks) a calorie deficit. If you cut out just 500 calories a day, you will lose a pound a week, all things being equal.

But we did not factor in calories burned via working out. There are many calculators available to accurately determine how many calories you have burned by running or even walking. If you walk 90 minutes a day, you can theoretically burn close to 500 calories. But who has the time for that? Once you get medically cleared, a good run, at a decent pace, can burn close to 500 calories in under 40 minutes. A combination of walking and running will work as well.

I am not lecturing on what to do or the form needed to execute these workouts with excellence. There are far better people in Calibre Press to explain all these things in greater detail and expertise. What I will say is that you must aerobically and anaerobically increase your threshold to go further and further into the fight. Losing weight is not rocket science. Decrease your caloric intake and increase your activity level. Be happy with a very doable one pound a week. How would 52 fewer pounds feel after one year, if you were so inclined?

You must push yourself (again, after medical clearance) to want to say “that’s enough,” but relish in the fact that you “took it” further today than you ever have. It means double-skips while skipping rope, interval sprints, painful burpees, and mountain climbers. It includes ALL THE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO BECAUSE IT KICKS YOUR BUTT! That’s why you must do it.

You fight as you train. While you are making excuses and slacking off, your opponent is not. He will offer no quarter. You, in return, must feel the same.

Think Like a Fighter

Train hard, notice your improvements, keep records of your workouts, and reward yourself. Never settle for mediocrity. Life swallows mediocre people who do not strive to improve. Get in there and feel as though you are training for a match and you got to get in shape or you’re going to get a whoopin’.

It all starts in the mind. Feel as though you can do it and watch how your workouts improve. Negativity is a drug that will get you addicted. You will cling to it like a good friend. But you will be torn down when it ditches you for someone else.

Police work requires a positive mindset, with the goods to back it up. Your goal should be able to spar for two full rounds (one minute rest in between) in order to have inkling of what it would be like fighting for your life. Do you even how you will fight? Did it ever enter your mind? If you were thinking like a fighter and if you had been training, that question never needed to be asked.


Yes, I am most proud to have been a boxer. I think I can still lace ‘em up, walk “the walk” get in the ring, and still do myself proud–even at 55.

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David Magnusson

Magnusson is the chief of police for the Village of El Portal Police department. Prior to this, he was police chief of the Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He also spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. Magnusson is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years. You will find his passion for history and boxing in many of his writings. Magnusson and his wife Rosa reside in South Florida, where they have five children and two grandkids.

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