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For All You Spec Ops Candidates Out There – Do You Have Doubts About Your Preparation?

Stew smith

 For All You Spec Ops Candidates Out There –
Do You Have Doubts About Your Preparation?
Read About Freddy!

Like many of you, Freddy is an aspiring special operations candidate who dreams of becoming a special forces operator on an elite team. He has been active all his life with sports and workouts, but now needs to focus on the PST as he is good shape, but not able to meet the standards to get a contract. 

Currently, Freddy realizes he has to crush the fitness test as well as prepare for spec ops selection. However, right now, he is still in school, training on his own with additional calisthenics and running, during a sports season. Due to time, he cannot go swimming right now, but his recruiter wants him to sign up in the delayed entry program and take a PST as soon as possible.  


Freddy is 18, about to graduate high school so why not start the process rolling with the military branch you want to join - right?  WRONG.  If you are still playing sports, trying to get better PT scores, not even swimming yet, you have no business even talking to a recruiter! Be patient – just because you turn 18 and can join the military does not mean you should – especially if you are no where near prepared for your Spec Ops goal. Besides, your extra workouts could be making you ineffective with your team or you could be just wasting your time and not seeing results because you are over-training.  Both are not good for you mentally or physically.  

Give it time to play out and finish your sports. Then get on a training program where you have time to specifically train for the PST.  This is PHASE 1 of Tactical Fitness Training – if you cannot ace this fitness test, you do not get to go to your dream job.  Obviously, phase 1 is your starting point and devoting time and energy to that will build the best results.

Right this minute, Freddy would be ecstatic if he could learn how to train for Phase 1 of tactical fitness as crushing the PT test is part 1 of this journey. Depending on your current fitness level, strengths, and weaknesses, this may take some time (several months to a year even). But you will also need to invest time to learn how to prepare for Phase 2 of tactical fitness before you go to boot camp.  Phase 2 of Tactical Fitness is how to train to specifically pass the selection process.  We call phase 2 of tactical fitness – getting THROUGH the training.


Besides, seeing progress and learning how to train to achieve goals, not get injured, and feel confident in their preparation journey is the ultimate solution.

Here is where the extended timeline can come in handy.  You may need more time like Freddy. Unfortunately, Freddy still needs to figure out how to get rid of some specific physical weaknesses (such as swimming and running).  But also building mentally toughness, and maintaining his durability and work capacity he gained from lifting weight and playing sports for years is also part of the equation to success.


Freddy is also very excited to join today, but also really frustrated by the fact that this is a long process of preparing for special ops but relatively easy to join the military.  Like Freddy, your training timeline may not match up with your performance end point or the military branch’s ship date.  The best advice is be patient and do not set an arbitrary timeline to join, set a performance starting line.

This road is not easy - it's more competitive to get a slot to training than you realized you need those competitive scores in the performance starting line link.  You may also just need more time even though it is relatively easy to get TO the training, but it's much harder to prepare yourself to get THROUGH the training. Your preparation journey needs time to engage phase 2 of tactical fitness significantly. This could also take several months as well.

Bottom Line – People who do not make it through selection missed something in their preparation – period. Or, they just did not want it bad enough.  

                   This picture captured by @mcteams3842 

Besides, Freddy still feels he needs to get the answers to these questions before he can even attempt to move forward with any success: 

  • Coming from a strength background, I feel good about my strength numbers, but cannot get my PT scores up to competitive levels – How can I do that effectively? Even quickly? See Classic Week 

Freddy is also still hung up on the elephant in the room on top of everything else, he asks, “Am I mentally tough enough to handle the training? If great athletes quit all the time, how am I going to survive training?”

First, we all have doubts and the best way to overcome doubts is to work on your weaknesses to give you more confidence in yourself as your weaknesses become on the same level as your strengths. Keep training hard and each day you will add another notch of mental toughness – it does not occur at once.  It is a gradual process of hard work, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and never quitting. His athletic history and team sports helped him create some mental toughness and a competitive mindset. You will need to develop that competitiveness even more because I promise you, you will not think about quitting if you think about winning.  (in anything in life).

You are going to have moments like this…cold, wet, alone with your thoughts... 

                  This picture captured by @mcteams3842 

Many of these moments and the b/w photo adds to the emotion felt here - this was my journey as well. We all need to realize that we all have these bad moments (in training or life). Your next step and thought matters - make it a good one that keeps you moving toward your goal!  People lose sight of their WHY in these moments – don’t do that. 

When all is said and done, Freddy just wants to be able to pass selection on the first try and not even consider quitting during training. If you are like Freddy, I invite you to check out my article fully explaining the tactical fitness training phases and the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Training System:

Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System

Getting To and Through your selection program of your dream job by following a step by step plan without having to worry whether you're on the right path or not.

If you have questions about your journey, just ask, - but give details so I can better answer – Learn How to Not Ask Stupid Questions. But check out the article first as it will fill in some holes in your thinking and training.

Programs that follow Seasonal Periodization Training

BOOKS – Eleven Published Tactical Fitness Books and more than 30 other printed programs specifically designed for a special test, event, or selection training program or training cycle.

Tactical Fitness - Walks through all the phases / seasons of tactical fitness

Tactical Strength -  This is my Fall / Winter Lift Cycle with more of a strength / power lifting cycle compared to Maximum Fitness Winter Lift Cycle. 

Tactical Mobility - You have to do mobility regularly - year round. 

Warrior Workouts Vol 1  |   Vol 2   |    Vol 3 - All three books of Warrior Workouts contain 100 workouts each.  They are organized by calisthenics only, cardio, weights / cals mixed, and weight only.  Warrior Workouts 1 is organized with seasonal periodization is mind.  These are individual workouts you place into your program ala-carte.  These books are not part of system or program - just individual workouts for your choosing each day. 

The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness - This is ALL calisthenics and cardio (run / swim).  Basically a high rep / moderate to high volume of running and swimming with SEAL training specifically in mind.  It is essentially a Summer training cycle.

Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout - This is a Fall / Winter training cycle with SEAL Training in mind - complete with cardio (run, swim, ruck), lifting for logs and boats, as well as still maintaining calisthenics scores. 

Maximum Fitness - This is a 52 week program that was my first full year of Seasonal Periodization as discussed above.  The Winter Lift Cycle is more of a hypertrophy body building routine with some isolation exercises as it is meant to help rebuild the joints, put on mass in the Winter.  But the Spring, Summer, Fall are similar to other programs - just different.


The SWAT Workout - Is a mix of PT Test Prep for Academy training that advances into SWAT Tryouts, and active SWAT Team member.  It is a mix of Spring / Summer and Fall / Winter with the Run / lift cycles.  But much of the running can be replaced with non-impact cardio if needed. 

Special Ops Workout -  Is a mix of foundation building program for aspiring Special Operators with specific training programs for Army Ranger / SF, Navy SEALs, and Air Force PJ.  This program was written before MarSOC was part of SOCOM, so we offer the MarSOC / RECON workout EBOOK for free with the purchase of this program.  I would call this a good intermediate to advanced level of fitness preparation. 

Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training?
Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local
Stew Smith Training programs. 

Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching

Online Personal Coaching – Receive one on one training with Stew Smith as he personally designed programs for you that fit your schedule (time per day / days per week), abilities, facilities / equipment, and goals. There personally designed programs for YOU are received one week at a time and each week YOUR feedback helps to create the following week of training. We work around issues that get in the way of our typical training days – injury / aches / pains, work, family, travel, and deadlines. Call and talk to Stew to see if it is right for you. 

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.

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