Cart 0

PFT Anxiety - Master the Present and Any Test

stew smith Air Force Army CrushthePST firefighter Navy PFT Police PST PT test USMC

PFT Anxiety - How to Relax and Crush the PFT

Anxiety is prevalent in our world. It occurs at home, work, social situations, playing sports, and test-taking. Academic testing anxiety is very similar to physical test-taking anxiety. Before taking a chemistry test at the Naval Academy, I felt the same when I took the Navy SEAL PST. Those symptoms were: headaches, nausea, (butterflies) feeling too hot or too cold, etc. The adrenaline flows through your body before any of these events and can adversely affect your performance.

What the Romans Say About Anxiety

This is nothing new - as humans, we have been dealing with this - here is what many of the ancient Romans have to say:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied, for he that is wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not”

- Seneca

“It’s ruinous for the soul to be anxious about the future and miserable in advance of misery, engulfed by anxiety that the things it desires might remain its own until the very end. For such a soul will never be at rest; by longing for things to come, it will lose the ability to enjoy present things.”

- Seneca

About Optimal Performance on the PFT

Regarding the physical fitness test, the ways to combat anxiety are similar to those of academic testing-taking anxiety. The PFT anxiety-removing techniques are as follows:

Be well prepared for the test. Do not start "studying" (exercising) for the PFT a week or two before the test. Fitness is a daily habit that needs to be developed 4-6 times a week. Get on a PFT program that specifically addresses the events of your test. If your workouts are not looking like the PFT - you are not training for the PFT.   See ideas at (any job in military / police / spec ops / fire fighting)

Test yourself. Take the PFT once every other week or so. The stopwatch causes most of your anxiety, so train with the stopwatch when doing pushups, situps, running etc...

Warm up with the first event of your test before workouts. For instance, in the Navy PST, the swim is first. Before any swim workout, warm up with a 500yd swim. Then, do your normal workout.  By doing this, you can actually say, "this is just my warmup." Then swim your swim. 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat more fruits and vegetables than fast foods, sleep regularly, drink more water, and exercise 4-6 times weekly. Feeling recovered will build a more resilient mind and body and the confidence to crush any event. 

Name it and Tame it - This mental trick requires you to name your anxiousness. Call it "pre-game jitters" or "PFT anxiety," and this will allow the brain to find the proper file for this fight or flight feeling of adrenalin pump. 

PFT taking meals. In the evening before the PFT, drink water, eat more fruits and vegetables, such as in salad, and lean forms of protein like fish and chicken. Pasta is a pre-race favorite among runners and swimmers. On the morning of the test, eat fruits like apples, bananas, or baby carrots - all high on the glycemic index and provide blood sugar for immediate energy. (See Food for Energy Article) Do Not Eat or Drink TOO Much, or you will likely see it again.

Test the way you train. Do not do something for the first time on test-taking day like eat a protein bar or energy drink. Find out what works for you during your workouts and practice tests and repeat for testing max performances.

Relax. Take deep breaths before the stopwatch starts, and think positively.

Treat yourself. Reward yourself IF you reach your training goals.

Once you arrive at your test well-prepared, the PFT becomes "just another workout," and the only anxiety you will get is a healthy dose of adrenaline that enables you to compete with your counterparts. This healthy dose is similar to competing in a 10K race.

Remember - if you are not assessing - you are just guessing.  Assess REGULARLY...

Training is What We Do: 

Need Programming for Fitness Tests and Beyond?  We are all about getting you TO and THROUGH your future training program.  See how that works.   If you want help, that’s what I do… Check out these resources that have helped spec ops candidates succeed where others have failed for the last 20+ years!

There is More To than a You May Know

(In fact, there are more than 40 books, 1000+ articles, online coaching - and more) 

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks) 

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army / Air Force Advanced Fitness / Special Ops 

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout
Air Force Special Warfare IFT / OFT / Selection Prep


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram)
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Stew Smith Fitness 



Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published