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Beyond the Grind: Utilizing Rest Days to Sharpen Essential Special Ops Skills

Stew smith

The Journey to Special Ops Selection:
Embracing the Power of Rest and Recovery

Preparing for special ops selection is no casual endeavor. Many treat spec ops prep like they are doing pre-season training for a sport and fall dreadfully short. Spec Ops Prep requires relentless physical conditioning, mental fortitude, and the ability to learn tactical skills quickly. It's natural to feel unsure and question whether incorporating rest days into your intense training regime will set you back. While you've noticed an improvement in your performance when resting every two to three days, the fear of falling behind can be overwhelming. But rest assured, there's a strategic way to balance rest and continued preparation without compromising your recovery and ultimate goals.

Rest days, often seen as a necessary evil, are pivotal to the success of your training. As a coach for over 25 years, I will pull the reins back on the people I am training more than I must push them. Recovery days allow your muscles to recover, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall performance. However, the concept of resting doesn't necessarily mean complete inactivity. Instead, consider these periods opportunities to refine and develop other crucial skills essential for special ops selection.

Consider focusing on techniques that often get sidelined during high-intensity training days. Swimming, treading water, and drownproofing are vital skills to master. Spend your rest days in the pool, improving your form and efficiency. These low-impact activities will help maintain cardiovascular fitness without putting undue stress on your body. They also help in building stamina and resilience — qualities indispensable for selection.

Flexibility, mobility, and grip are equally critical components of your training. Incorporating activities like yoga or targeted stretching can do wonders. They aid in muscle recovery, improve flexibility, and enhance your range of motion, making your body more adaptable to the strenuous demands of special ops training. Many will do techniques days with martial arts as well to work on certain skillsets that can be useful in the future. 

Beyond physical preparation, developing your tactical skills can offer a productive change during your rest days. Hone your land navigation skills by practicing with a map and compass. This not only improves your orienteering skills but also keeps your mind sharp. Alternatively, spend time on the shooting range to enhance your marksmanship or practice tying the various knots used in special ops training. These essential skills require precision and repetition, making them perfect for lighter training days.

Remember, the journey to special ops selection isn't just about grueling workouts and pushing your body to its limits. It's about smart training — balancing intense physical exertion with skill development and active recovery. Embrace your rest days as a strategic tool in your arsenal, confident that they contribute significantly to your overall performance and readiness. NO need to feel guilty with your day's off. You will be better off because of them especially if you work on various techniques. 

In Closing

My experience has taught me the significant value of enhancing one's comfort of movement in water, an indispensable skill for any aspiring special forces member. This is why I recommend using the rest days to perfect your swimming strokes, your efficiency in treading water, and your proficiency in drownproofing.

Moreover, embracing flexibility and mobility training, activities that I consistently emphasize in my training programs, can transform your body's recovery process on off days. Introducing yoga or dedicated stretching routines aids not only in recovery but also in preventing potential injuries.

As you prepare for the selection process, remember that thoughtful rest is not an interruption of training; rather, it is a complement to it. This balanced perspective is one I've strived to impart through my coaching, knowing that it’s about arriving at selection not just with peak physical fitness but with all the skills honed to their finest. Trust in active recovery and skills development to guide your journey – a more complete, more resilient candidate is the result.

There is More to Than You May Know

Dive deeper into the world of Tactical Athlete training and mental toughness by exploring Stew Smith Fitness Programming for the Tactical Athlete online store. Uncover the strategies and techniques used by elite forces to push past physical and mental barriers. Visit now and equip yourself with the tools for success for many special ops level selection programs in the military and police world. 

New Tactical Fitness Training Course!

Getting TO the training does not guarantee you get THROUGH the training. Learn about the two phases of tactical fitness you need to develop thoroughly before getting to BUDS. Check out the Online Course - Getting TO and THROUGH Special Ops Selection.

Who is Stew Smith? Coach, Trainer, Author, Podcaster 

I'm the former Navy SEAL that special ops 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 just about anything. We have a systems 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.  

My most recent programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

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
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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