Take the Tactical Strength Challenge

(Image credit: Unknown)

Loosely based on the entry requirements for the Soviet special forces, the Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC) is a one-day, three-event test of strength and cardio that you’ll need to be in top shape to do well in.
The test
The first lift is the biggest. Simply hauling a heavy bar off the floor is a classic test of strength and a superb all-round muscle-builder. It’s also works your grip, core, legs and lower back.

How to do it
Load up the bar and lift it – no straps allowed. For safety reasons, attempts only count if the bar moves upwards in one continuous motion. In competition you’re only allowed three attempts to find your best, but in the gym you’re likely to be worn out after that anyway.


The test
Being hefty can help with the deadlift, but it’s a disadvantage in the pull-up test. Here, the aim is to be as strong as possible at the lowest bodyweight.

How to do it
Start from a dead hang, palms facing away from you. Pull up until your chest or neck touches the bar, then lower. That’s one rep. You can hang from the bar to recover, but as soon as you fall off the test is over. No swinging, by the way.

Kettlebell snatch

The test
The TSC’s final challenge is also its toughest. High-rep kettlebell snatches demand technique, strength and sheer will – but in return for your dedication, you’ll build power, explosiveness and an enviable six-pack.
How to do it
You’ve got five minutes to do as many kettlebell snatches as possible. That means swinging it from between your legs to directly overhead, standing up straight with your arm locked out. If it touches your shoulder or you use your free arm the rep doesn’t count, but you can change hands as often as you like.

To find out what your score says about your fitness, get the June 2013 issue of Men's Fitness.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.