Cart 0

Be a Better Recruit Timeline

Stew Smith

Being a prepared recruit for any branch of service is on YOU.  There are processes to enter military service to learn, physical fitness standards to crush, and tough selection programs to prepare for. Many people ask how long that preparation must be - to be honest - it depends on you, your current fitness level, your general state of readiness, and of course - your goals. 

Here is a general timeline, that varies (longer or shorter) depending upon the recruits age, athletic history, and current fitness abilities. * Note - these are MY recommendations and not the US Navy or Department of Defense. 

* Note - these are MY recommendations and not the US Navy or Department of Defense.

Here are my recommendations to helping yourself along this journey:

1 - Crush the PST / PFT / PAST test before you ever talk to a recruiter.  Make your first PST an awesome event and a good first impression to perhaps one of the first special ops members you have ever met (or at least applied for a job in his world).  Consider this a job interview. 

2 - Now you can maintain your PST scores and focus on getting better at future events like longer runs and swims (4 mile runs / 2 mile swims with fins BUD/S for instance) or longer runs and rucks for Army and USMC preparation.  This may require some strength training if you are having issues with load bearing events (rucks, logs, boats, equipment, gear etc).  This progression can take some time if you are coming from an endurance background (strength building) and it can take some time if you are coming from a strength background (longer runs / swims).  Neither are easy processes and take time so be patient and give yourself time to focus on any weaknesses you may have. 

3 - Give yourself time to get through some training cycles. This may include a strength cycle or a high rep calisthenics and cardio cycle or both depending on your abilities.  Having the maturity to acknowledge weaknesses is critical. 

Here is a video podcast that Jeff Nichols and I did discussing the process and being a better recruit.  Also one of the highlights is when we pretend we are the Sec Def or CNO and share how we would fix the process.  

However, the process is the way it is mainly because of the influx of unqualified candidates entering the pipeline through the recruiter process.  Really in the end, there with no excuse to not being a better recruit. 

More References:

Official Navy SEAL / SWCC Website -

 So You Wanna Be a Frogman?  

The Difference Between Getting TO and THROUGH the Training


The Pipeline of Training Options:


Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book  

It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. This is ideal for people who have come from an endurance athlete background.  Athletes like swimmers and runners will also require some strength training as you will be exposed to challenges under logs and boats during the first phase and many miles of rucking 50+ lbs of backpacks and gear in 2nd and 3rd phases of BUDS.  Do not skip lifting in your year of training prep.  However, if you are coming from a powerlifting / football background, supplementing a few lifts into your endurance / muscle stamina focus plan is something you may enjoy especially if training for a year or more during your prep phase. 

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 



Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as personalized training programs member's only program and the new :

Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Stew Smith

Prep: Spec Ops Periodization



The Heroes of Tomorrow program was developed by former Navy SEAL Stew Smith, fitness author.  We can help prepare you for ANY profession that requires a Physical Fitness Test and YOU pay nothing for the training!  Warning - it is rather advanced but we can scale it back a bit and teach running and swimming techniques and help you build up to your goal level of fitness.


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published