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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.


If you want help, that’s what I do…. Check out these resources that have helped spec ops candidates succeed where others have failed for the last 20+ years!

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.  

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)

Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus 
(16 weeks)

These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

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 / 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.

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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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