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Assessment Week - AKA "Tactical Groundhog" Week

Stew smith

4-6 More Weeks of Winter Lift Cycle or Start Spring Training? It Depends...

You know the story of Groundhog Day. The groundhog comes out to assess the weather situation to determine if it will be an early Spring or 4-6 more weeks of Winter. That is what we are doing as well. Depending on the scores of various lifts, calisthenics, and cardio events, you may need to do a few more weeks of lifting or be ready to shift focus and get into more calisthenics/cardio-based training. 

Depending on your goals, if you worked hard all winter to get stronger and more durable and put on some mass, you may need to continue that for another month or so. If you have met your goals, it is time to move into muscle stamina and progressive endurance (run, ruck, swim) focused cycle - aka Spring Training. 

These are two classic transition options built with Block Periodization that will take 3 weeks of your focused element of fitness and do a 4th week of a deload from that focus and work on the opposite. For instance, the Winter Lift Cycles below have 3 weeks of lifting and 1 week of calisthenics/cardio as a deload week from the lift. The Spring Training Cycles below have 3 weeks of cals/cardio progression and 1 week of lifting (running miles decrease). The 3:1 ratio continues for 12 weeks in both cycles, with week number 13 being the "tactical groundhog" assessment week.  Because - "if you aren't assessing - you are just guessing."

The other option after the Winter Lift Cycle is to get on a program that specifically addresses the events of a future selection if you are months away from getting TO and THROUGH a tough spec ops level assessment course. 

The Tactical Groundhog Assessment Week

As the Winter Lift Cycle draws to a close, excitement mounts as the warmer months draw near. But before switching to the Spring / Summer phase of your training, self-assessment is critical. Consider your strengths and weaknesses after a week of testing, and let the results guide your fitness plan. Here is what you should focus on before transitioning to Spring / Summer Cals / Cardio / Running Progression Cycle:

Day 1: Your Fitness Test - For example, the PST / IFT Test (500yd or 500m swim, pullups, pushups, situps, 1.5 mile run) is the day's main event. Questions to ask yourself: What are your weaknesses? Then work on improving your weaknesses with PT Pyramid, a 50-50 swim workout, and 10 x 400m goal pace runs.

Day 2: Leg Lifts / Speed / Power- Dedicate this day to a 3RM Deadlift and Squats. Mix in 5-10-5 agility tests, a standing long jump, and a 300yd shuttle run. Can strength/power progress be observed when you ask yourself if you can lift 1.5x your body weight or 2x it?

Day 3: Mobility Day calls for a 1000m swim with fins for time, followed by Treading, Pool Skills, and Drownproofing / a 100m swim workout to evaluate your pool skills. Questions: Are you facing issues with mobility after adding mass? Does your comfort in the water need work?

Day 4: Upper Body Lifts - Challenge yourself with a BW Bench Press max reps and a 20lb Pullups max reps. Top it off with a 4-mile ruck carrying 40-50 lbs in less than 40-50 minutes. Can you get double digits in both bench/pullups? High teens or more? 

Day 5: Cardio Check - Run 4 miles at a 7-minute mile pace.  See if you can run 1.5 mile run in 6 minute mile pace. If you cannot do either, might be the Spring Training running progression cycle is needed. 

Day 6: A Sandbaby Devil Murph - This is a high rep calisthenics, carry, crawl, lunge durability/endurance test.  A classic combination of the Sandbaby Murph, Devil's Mile, and The Murph workouts, will challenge even the most advanced students. Can you handle this level of work? Are you sore after? 

What To Do After Assessments? 

After this week, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Your findings should guide your choices, whether embarking on an additional lifting or starting the Spring Training Cycle. Consider the 3:1 Block Periodization Model, which is particularly effective for tactical fitness. This type of training is particularly beneficial for those preparing for the Navy PST or the Air Force IFT, enhancing both performance and preparation for rigorous training. Here are your options depending on your results of assessment week: 

- 1-2 more cycles of lift (3 weeks lift / 1 week cals / cardio focus)

- Start Spring Training Cycle (3 weeks cals / cardio focus / 1 week strength)

This is IF you want to use the 3:1 Block Periodization Model. The other option is to focus on future events, tests, or selection programs. But you may find the Spring Training options will do the same level of preparation depending on the selection course you seek.

The 3:1 Block Periodization model works well for adding to a program. 

So YES, you could do three weeks of the Spring / Summer Cycle and 1 week of the Winter Lift Cycle and get a similar model to this program.

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.


Questions?  Just email -

At - List of Products and Services

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