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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 / IFT 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.  Are you a cardio machine? 

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. 

Official Military Special Ops Recruiting Links:


Navy SEAL / SWCC  - (if going SEAL or SWCC)

Army Special Forces - Special Forces, Ranger, 160th SOAR, Civil Affairs / Psy Ops are jobs within Army Special Operations Command.  

Air Force Special Warfare - ParaRescue, CCT, TACP, Special Recon, SERE are jobs within Air Force Special Operations Command - ground fighters. 

Marine Corps - RECON Recruiting and MarSOC Info   

For You Special Candidates
(Get in Shape LONG Before You Join)

High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Building Programming:

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.  

Training is What We Do: 

Need Programming for Fitness Tests and Beyond?  We are all about getting you TO and THROUGH your future training program.  See how that works.  

There is More To than a You May Know

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

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

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

  1. FREE Articles
  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  

Stew Smith Fitness 

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