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Avoid These Mistakes - Save Your Spec Ops Dream

Stew smith

As Humans, We All Make Mistakes
Learn From These

Are you ready to serve in the U.S. Military? Are you looking to join Special Operations? If you are, then you’ve come to the right place. Every month for over 20 years, I have seen at least 4-5 of these mistakes made by recruits/spec ops candidates. 

My ebook, “Get Ready to Serve in the U.S. Military - How to Avoid the Common Mistakes That Keep You Out of Special Operations” is the perfect guide for military recruits and special ops candidates to learn the ins and outs of military life. As a former Navy SEAL and coach, I am well-versed in the physical, mental, and emotional demands of the military spec ops training and I share my knowledge to help you prepare for your future career.

The Two Biggest Mistakes People Make: 

If you have listened to or read any of my advice over the years, you may have heard that I am not a fan of 18-year-olds going straight to spec ops training immediately after high school. I say this ONLY due to statistics as the bulk of the attrition rates in spec ops training are teens who are in way over their heads - typically speaking. The other thing that I see people get wrong more than anything is walking into a recruiter’s office not already able to crush a fitness test. The setup for failure comes quickly for the unprepared. But there are many more mistakes people make that ruin their spec ops dreams. See the list below and the full ebook on avoiding these mistakes at the Store link HERE. 

Ten More Mistakes That Crush Your
Spec Ops Dreams

Mistake #1: "Trusting Everything the Recruiter Says"

"Do your research on the process to join the military. Trust but verify everything the recruiter says to you. Do not leave the next several years of your life in the hands of a recruiter because you failed to know the details of the process OR what you even want to do in the military.”

Do your research - Spec Ops Research One Stop Shop (articles / podcasts)

Mistake #2: “Over 200 Jobs to Choose and You Can't Decide? Treat this like a job interview, not a job hunt."

"Do not go into the first interview with a recruiter asking what is available. Know exactly what you want to do in the military, and do not settle for anything else. This is NOT a job hunt. It is a calling to serve your country doing a job you will be proud of and enjoy doing for your military career. If SpecWar is mentioned by the recruiter and it is your first time hearing about it - Do NOT even try."

Go in ready to crush the PST and the recruiters will take you seriously. 

Mistake #3: “Thinking Boot Camp / Basic Training Will Get You in Shape(You Have to be Ready Physically)"

"Don't think basic training is preparing you for special ops. If you are new to physical fitness or even an athlete in high school and college, you still may be lacking critical elements of fitness and specific training for your future job requirements."

If you are going Army / USMC, those basic training programs are much tougher and many do improve their physical abilities. But Air Force and Navy boot camps do not have the advanced level requirements to even help you maintain advanced levels of fitness. Consider BMT or Boot Camp a training deload and focus your attention on learning to be a sailor / airmen. 

Mistake #4: “Not Practicing Fitness Tests and Specific Selection Events to Assess Your Strengths/Weaknesses."

"If you are not assessing, you are only guessing. You will be tested in many events, from fitness tests to daily physical challenges at Spec ops training. You should be good at these selection events NOW."

This one is different for different athletes. A powerlifter will need to get out of the weight room and work on muscle stamina / endurance.  A runner will need to reduce running miles per week and get into the weight room (both cals and lifting). All non-swimming athletes may need to swim 5-6 days per week and practice treading and pool skills. But if you are not assessing yourself you will never know what you need to work on. See assessment tool. 

Mistake #5: “Not Understanding the Differences Between Phase One and Phase Two of Tactical Fitness"

"You have to pass a fitness test to get accepted into the training. You also have to pass specific events in selection to get THROUGH the training. These are the two phases of tactical fitness - getting TO and THROUGH the training. Most people neglect one or the other and end up an attrition statistic."

Phase 1 of Tactical Fitness

Phase 2 of Tactical Fitness

The To and THROUGH Series

Mistake #6: “Not Starting a Training Plan Months Before Basic Training."

A lifetime of athletics may build some needed strengths that will help you get to and through selection, but everyone comes into this Spec Ops journey with a weakness (or several). Weaknesses will be exposed on Day 1 of Spec Ops training and even in your first fitness test. Get Ready Now!

Some people need a year or more to adequately prepare themselves for the variety of physical demands placed on them getting TO and THROUGH training. Where most people screw up is they set a timeline vs. a performance starting line. 

Mistake #7: “Not Taking Your Training / Nutrition / Recovery Seriously…Optimal Performance = The Mastery of Recovery."

"People have big dreams, but they need to be more serious with the specifics of training, rest, recovery, nutrition, and sleep. The mastery of recovery is vital to your optimal performance."

Start taking things seriously with your training. 

Mistake #8: “Not Having the Right Gear or Programming to Prepare Specifically."

"You need a program and some equipment – but not a lot. Train specifically for your future selection. This may mean backpacks, boots, fins, mask, weights, sandbags, and pull-up bars and places to run (hills/stairs, beach, track/grass)."

You do not need to buy a lot - just know that running, swimming, rucking, load bearing, and calisthenics require equipment that if creative can create for yourself or find cheap online (ebay). 

Mistake #9: “Not Learning Stress Coping Skills - Learn How to Manage Physical, Mental, and Emotional Stress."

"Here is the honest truth. The military and other tactical professions are stressful. You experience and see things that are hard to forget and that weigh on a person. Start building stress-coping skills now so you are more resilient when the stress increases."

Mistake #10: “Not Researching MEPS Requirements, Training Options, ASVAB Scores Needed, Physical Demands, etc.…."

"The administrative process to join the military can be a long one full of medical waivers, ASVAB test taking, medical exams, and supplying the documentation to be able to join. "

This last one is the easiest to avoid but the most common that people manage to screw up (sometimes no fault of their own). But most can be avoidable with some practice tests and organizational skills. 


Get FREE with FREE999 Coupon code
(with purchase of book or ebook)

This ebook is designed to help you PREPARE PROPERLY and understand the military recruiting process and physical training requirements so you can feel confident in your abilities and knowledge. You’ll learn how to avoid the common mistakes that can keep you out of special ops, as well as practical advice and examples to help you get TO and THROUGH training. By the end of the ebook, you’ll see what you need to do to get the job done.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the ebook and get ready to achieve your goals. The journey starts today.

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.

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

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  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  

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