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Army Ranger / Special Forces Training Pipeline / Programming

stew smith

Army Ranger / Special Forces Programming

The training pipeline to become a member of the Airborne Infantry Units, 75 Regiment as an Army Ranger, or Army Special Forces are challenges that require many months or even years of preparation prior to and while serving in the Army. You may ask, “What do you mean by pipeline?” A training pipeline is a set course you will take to go from Recruit to Soldier to Ranger or any other MOS in the Army.  Here is what you need to do and understand if you want to join the Army and become a soldier first after Basic Combat Training (BCT), then Infantry School, then more advanced training such as Army Airborne, Army Ranger or Army Special Forces.  Maybe even Army Air Assault School...


Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan - You will need to run and ruck more, but also lift to get ready for the Army Combat Fitness Test. 

The Updated Army PFT Workout also has programming for both the calisthenics and cardio Army PFT, but also the lifting tests are seen in the OPAT and the ACFT.  This is your first step toward success in this training pipeline.

From Soldier to Ranger / Special Forces

 As with any candidate seeking to become a member of the military special operations group that requires a challenging selection course, you need to be preparing your body now and not enlist until you are ready physically and mentally.  You also need to do some more research on the process of becoming an Army Ranger as well as the training and time it takes before you are in actual Ranger Training.  But first – yes there is a program you should mention to your recruiter and make sure it part of your contract to enlist before you sign anything.

18x (xray) Special Forces Contract - There is an enlisted contract that a qualified recruit can earn prior to Basic Combat Training. After BCT, AIT, and Airborne, recruits will attend Special Operations Prep Course (SOPC) and then the actual Special Forces Assessment & Selection (SFAS). Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection / SFAS has been creating Special Forces operators longer than any of the branches and are able to use the Army training pipeline to its advantage to prepare those interested in Special Forces (Green Berets).  

11x Option 40 – This is the Army Infantry with Ranger Option enlistment program you need to mention to your recruiter.  This program will guarantee you get to attend Airborne training and Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP) immediately following. However, do not even talk to a recruiter until you are ready to enlist – meaning physically prepared for what you are about to endure.  You must be able to run, ruck, lift, pt on advanced levels by the time you are ready to serve. See Ready To Serve Article.  Your training will include Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) together in a 15-week course for the 11B/C – Infantry MOS.  After OSUT – One Station Unit Training – in Fort Benning, GA, you will then go to the Basic Airborne Course (BAC). 

After BAC, you will attend RASP, not Ranger School (there is a difference).   RASP is an 8-week selection course for candidates seeking to join the 75th Ranger Regiment as an Army Ranger.  Soldiers out of Basic Combat Training (Option 40 enlistment) as well as soldiers from other MOS’s are eligible to attempt this course and must pass and get selected to join the Ranger Battalion in order to wear the tan beret as an Army Ranger.  Many Rangers will also attend Ranger School, but it is not required.

Ranger School is not affiliated with the Ranger Regiment and is considered more of an elite Army Leadership Course.  It is open to members of the Army (and other branches) who will not become Rangers upon completion, BUT will be qualified to wear the Ranger Tab on their shoulder – just not the tan beret of the Army Ranger. 

Physical requirements – You must meet these minimums, but do not just strive for the minimum standards, you should be well better than the following:

Pass the Ranger Fitness Test 
Push-ups 58
Sit-ups 69 
5 mile run in 40 minutes or less
Pull-ups 6

For both Ranger and Special Forces, there will be a water survival assessment so knowing how to swim is required. Take lessons if you must, but you will have to learn how to tread and move in the water with your gear/uniform which is impossible if you cannot swim.

Complete a 12-mile march with a 35-pound rucksack and weapon in less than three hours.  Learn how to run and ruck. You need to build up your running so you can handle the strains of many miles of running and load-bearing activities.  See Special Ops Running Plan.

There is More To than a You May Know

Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, eBooks, local 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

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

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.  

Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

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.

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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.


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  • Anthony on

    I want to be a army ranger.
    I always wanted to be a ranger.

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