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For OGs Like Me, 80% is the New 100%

Stew smith

For OGs Like Me,
80% is the New 100%

There will be a time for all you OGs still getting after it with high levels of fitness to check the ego at the door and consider a new saying of mine: 

80% is the New 100%

Whether you call it an 8/10 on the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) or my new 100% quote, this will help you decrease training injuries and help with your recovery time as well. Think about the previous injuries you have experienced since you started athletics and training hard for the tactical professions or other sporting events.  Seriously, do a complete assessment of everything from traumatic injuries to training injuries - even if they no longer affect your daily life.  For instance here are some of what I deal with personally:

History of Traumatic Injuries

1 - Ankle sprains - About 20 ankle sprains over the years from 13-33 has caused some lateral movement weakness, years of taping it up and going hard (sports / spec ops), and eventual ankle surgery. 

2 - Broken Leg - Though it occurred while roller skating when I was 10 years old, this injury caused me to miss a year of baseball and some minor imbalances that have been corrected with smart physical therapy. 

3 - Neck / Lower back injuries - From contact sports to carrying heavy loads in both spec ops work and training have led to years of stiffness, general aches and pains, and decreased mobility. With a smart mobility and flexibility training with warmups and cooldowns, most of the pains from training / living are gone. 

4 - Broken / Jammed Fingers - Years of football and rugby took its toll on some hand and wrist mobility still affected today. 

5 - Shoulder Separation - Grade 3 separation caused a a few month's delay in training while serving in the military. In fact, it has limited lifting too heavy with bench press and military press and even doing dips. 

6 - Concussion - Though the concussion protocol was not a thing in the 80-90s multiple concussions from contact sports and a few when serving in the military have been an issue in the past.  Not sure what the future will bring with those?

Surgery report - I only had ankle surgery in my life, though I could have had shoulder surgery but declined and focused on rehab and being smart with the joint.  So far these two injuries only limit me from running laterally and heavy 1 rep max bench presses. 

Non-Traumatic Training Injuries 

Running Injuries - Too Fast - Pulled hamstring, Achilles tendonitis and hip flexors from running too fast - PERIOD. Ages 14,18,28,35 have been years when these injuries occurred  Over the years, as I have aged into late 20s and early 30's these injuries re-surfaced and caused a few months of having to stop running even swimming with normal kicking. After 40, I decided not to try the full - all out sprint and keep fast running in the 80-90% effort. 

Running Injuries - Too Much / Too Often - Jumping into running with little to no progression has caused a few aches and pains that caused a decrease / quitting of running for a short period in order to heal. Injuries like plantar faciitis, shins splints (younger), knee tendonitis (patella, ITB)and a stress fracture (I had all the above). Running also caused a 3rd phase roll at BUDS about 5 weeks before graduation. But I came back faster with the next class with smart nonimpact cardio workouts and progressive running plans. 

Lifting - Too Heavy - Pulled muscles - luckily nothing torn. But strains in the chest, hamstring, lower back have been the result of either lifting too much without a good warmup progression or just improper form in the weight room. Some of these injuries were just awkward carries of people and equipment that caused some long term pains. Luckily it has been decades since I have hurt myself lifting largely due to changing training goals as well as improving form / technique. Now, My goal lifting challenges is to do as many reps as I can of my body weight with bench press and up to 1.5BW with other lifts like dead lift and squats for a moderate number of reps. 

Calisthenics - Too much volume.  Over the years, doing hundreds of repetitions in a workout has caused common aches and pains like joint tendonitis.  Largely easy to handle with ice and compression, these injuries are nagging and will cause you to have to change your training program.  That matters when you are on a timeline to ace a fitness test and cannot do pushups or pullups due to shoulder / elbow tendonitis. 

These injuries are part of your history and if you are lucky you may have experienced a few, recovered well from them, or have to get creative to work around them.  We all have them, but it is how we deal with them when they have a reoccurring theme associated with them is what is important. We should also be aware of what DOES NOT HURT US and start getting good at them. 

Avoiding These Injuries Is Key When Older

You ego stays at the door - every day.  Here is how you can keep the ego in check as well as not experience long term injuries from over-training again.

Running - Stop running several days a week and add in non-impact cardio activity in between days of running, or once again, make 80% of your cardio non-impact options and 20% a variety of running. Be smart with progressions when in running cycles. If you are a heavier person (200lbs +), you should change the frequency of running and decrease your time, distances, speed, and frequency as you age. But if you enjoy it and are lighter in bodyweight, you will likely not see the typical pains a bigger person would see. Obviously - when it comes to sprinting into your 40-50s and beyond - give it the old 80% effort as a new sprint level. 

Lifting - Consider avoiding the heavy for a 1 repetition maximum effort lift.  You can still do 1 rep, but leave "one in the hole" just in case - even when doing multiple reps.  I just prefer not to do them if there is a chance I am going to fail with the next repetition. Having a spotter who knows this is also helpful as the spotter can help you before the weight starts to go in the opposite direction in which you intended it to move. That is when lifting injuries occur the most. 

Calisthenics volume - Same goes for calisthenics, instead of pushing to that point of failure and not getting that last half repetition, pull back and leave a few on the table. You will find your recovery for future sets will improve and the likelihood of pulling something is decreased as well. Tendonitis sets in a little quicker in your later years, so listen to the body, control volume from levels you are not accustomed to, and monitor form with every repetition.  

As I age in the next 20-30 years and become the real OG in the fitness business, I hope to continue to do all of the above methods of exercise, keep experimenting with new ones (ie. surfing, skiing, paddle boarding), but will likely be replacing running with harder intensity non-impact cardio activity either in the pool or on stationary equipment (bike, elliptical, rower).

I definitely see me doing more swimming, calisthenics, stretching, mobility with yoga based exercises in my future years. But the run and the lifts will be part of the training process as well - just different from now just as what I do today is slightly different from when I was 30 years younger. 

Things That Do Not Injure Me

These are the things that do not injure me:  Swimming, yoga, calisthenics when done at 80% max effort, lifting at 80% 1 rep max, and goal pace running vs sprinting or long slow distance running but mixed with other nonimpact cardio activity (bike, elliptical, rowing) on an every other day basis. 

Feeling No Pain at 50 and Over...But - There are some activities that actually leave me to say as I am walking out of the training area, "Man, I do not feel any pain right now in any movement I do." When you can say that - especially at 50+ years old, consider that activity to become more of a staple of your training.  For me it is when I swim, tread water, do dynamic stretches in chest deep water, stretch on mobility days, and do yoga classes. 

Change Your LIfe with this Once a Week Workout - Mobility Day

Change Your Life with Mobility and Flexibility

Find New Ways to PR

To be honest, my new way to achieve PRs (personal records) is to push old swim scores, max reps on bodyweight bench presses, get some yoga poses without pain, and crush health screenings to include blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and body weight. Crushing the health screening test is my new annual PFT...and of course coaching others to be their best so they can serve our country and communities with pride and be an asset to help others.  

Who Is The Coach, Trainer, Author Stew Smith?

 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

What Programs Are Right For YOU?

It depends on your scores compared to other successful students.  See the Assessment Tool to Make it To and Through Selection and se where you stack up with all the elements of fitness - not just a PST score. 


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.  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 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.  

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. 


More Options:   

Special Ops – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training.


Seasonal Tactical Fitness Programs 

Especially These That Are Used For Local Spec Ops Candidates Last Year


 OR Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?

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.

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