To ADD Workouts to Spec War Prep Training Or Not?
Photo by D. McBurnett See website
The Special Ops Training Pipeline within the military often begins immediately after boot camp. Depending on the branch of service (Navy / Air Force) you will be pre-screened for Special Warfare (NSW / AFSW) while the Marines and Army have a few more schools or time in service required to screen for the SpecWar / SpecOps Training.
Some Guidelines to Help You Focus
Here are some rules when you are ALREADY on an official training program in the pipeline as to what you should be working on 6-8 weeks before or during selection (if rolled / recycled):
Taking Current Situation / Recovery Seriously - It is official. You are in the pipeline and the last thing you want to do is ruin your chances to remain in training by doing something stupid that gets you in trouble, jeopardizes recovery, or gets you injured. Your optimal performance throughout selection and any follow on advanced training depends on your personal mastery of recovery.
Mastering recovery is your number 1 goal especially when recycled for injury or illness. It is your job to heal and do everything you can to speed healing and everything you can to do to stay in shape (if possible). You maybe limited to non-running activities depending on the injury, but you can still get back into shape or stay in shape with a wide variety of methods (swim, bike, row, elliptical, stair stepper, etc).
Recovery is all about setting up a routine / system so you can ensure you can do all of the following to prepare yourself for the next day of training:
- Sleep - When your sleep time is reduced due to long days that run into the late evenings and even early mornings on occasion, receiving quality sleep matters most.
- Nutrition / Snacking / Hydrating - Nothing ruins your performance and abilities to exceed the standard like no fuel, water, and electrolytes. Becoming a heat casualty due to insufficient water / electrolyte consumption is far too common as it is easy to push through sipping water when busy working - even in the heat (humid or arid).
Snacking - Having food and drinks that are healthy forms of protein, carbs, fats, and electrolytes will aid in recovery and preparation for tomorrow. Usually, supplements are not allowed in selection, so you have to be clever with foods like nuts, rice, beans, fruits, and meats in your room as additional calories when needed. Some of my personal favorite snacks were beans and rice, honey, peanut butter and bananas. Treat the fuel requirements of getting through selection the same way you would being a hard gainer trying to gain weight. In sports and life, if you want to be big, you have to eat big. In spec ops selection, if you want to be fueled, you have to consistently fuel yourself.
Super hydrate in the evenings to play catch up from the long day and get ready for a similar day working hard. A gallon of water a day should be standard intake.
- Flexibility & Mobility - Improving flexibility and joint mobility can make you feel better and even perform better with techniques and skills such as swimming, treading, running, and similar activities. Streamlined body position in the water require mobility as does many of the kicks and treading drills. In a short period of time, you can improve both your flexibility and mobility and become a better swimmer, treader, and runner because of it. Think ankle mobility to help with swimming with fins, ankle, knee, and hip mobility to help with swimming and treading kicks (egg-beater / scissor kick), and shoulder mobility to help with streamline body position when gliding.
- Self-Care - Stretch, massage, foam roll achy muscles and joints, plus foot care, and cleaning any cuts and blisters need to be a daily focus as these types of nagging injuries can become over-use injuries, infections, and just painful to perform at your best.
- Taking Your Situation Seriously - Now is not the time to do things that get you in trouble, ruin your recovery (drinking alcohol), or risky behavior that can injure you and delay or end your ability to stay in the pipeline.
TECHNIQUE The Second Most Important thing you can do during this time is improve technique. Running, swimming / treading, rucking, lifting, carrying, performing calisthenics more efficiently and other tested skills all have a techinique to performing well. Can you make yours more efficient? This is something you need to spend extra time on when your day is done.
Improve Conditioning? Finally, depending on your current conditioning, you may be able to improve your aerobic / anaerobic conditioning, but you want to avoid doing too many miles on the road at this time and build your base using the "triathlon method" with non-impact cardio being 2/3 of the cardio and running being 1/3 of the cardio combination.
Running miles per week - It is not wise to crush running workouts that place you in the 40-50 mile a week zone on top of what you are doing in Prep. Focus on faster goal pace runs so you can be in that 7 minute mile run pace for your longer distance 4-6 mile timed runs. The last thing you want is to be burned out and "almost overuse injured" before you show up to week 1 of training. Here are some ideas if running is your weakness you need to focus on after getting out of running shape at boot camp (Navy) or BMT (Air Force) compared to where you were before basic training. It is more important to be well - rested and not pushing the line between running volume and injured from it during prep just weeks before selection.
Swimming / Pool Skills - This is something you can work on and improve upon in a short time with daily time in the pool. Focus on perfect form, efficiency, and mobility to be able to produce power with kicks and streamlined glides with your shoulders. Treading can improve immensely in this period and also help you with daily recovery from Prep training as well. Practice swimming straight in open water - that will help you perform at your best on 2 mile swims each week.
Other nonimpact cardio - If you need to work your cardio conditioning base, make most of it non-impact and avoid the impact of running on hard surfaces for the majority of your conditioning. Workouts like bike or rowing tabata intervals (20 secs sprint / 10 secs easy), pyramids (EMOM increase resistance), and heart rate zone training on any device.
High rep calisthenics - Just like high mileage running right now, high rep calisthenics in addition to current levels of prep is a potential for joint pain / tendonitis. If you have spent significant time prior to boot camp, during boot camp getting in countless reps of calisthenics so you can ace fitness tests, in this situation LESS IS MORE. (read important) Work on pacing and techniques so you can be well rested for the volume of repetitions that are about to be your life for the next several months. Though getting legs used to lunging is something you should have done long before boot camp, but adding in leg pt so you do not get sore during the week is wise.
Lifting - Secondary lifts are not recommended as it will be difficult to recover from any lifts if you are trying to increase strength or even just maintain strength. Unless you are rolled and need to rehab / strengthen from an injury after long periods of little activity to recover properly, lifting will offer little use other than psychological. Ego lifting is not recommended. Getting stronger takes time and recovery time which you do not have during Prep Phase.
Getting Your Mind Right - Are you mentally ready? Special Ops Level Tactical Fitness Training Ideas for the future:
For You Special Candidates
(Get in Shape LONG Before You Join)
High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week
(Special Ops) – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training.
Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).
It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness
These programs have Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete.
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