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Great Questions - How To Not Ask Stupid Questions - Tips, Tricks & Secrets to Success

Stew Smith

Many people look for information on the internet and that is great as the internet has long been dubbed the Information Super Highway. Google and other search engines can help you with 99% of the effort, but when asking someone online for help by email, DM, IM, or other methods, you may want to take a lesson from the following question types of questions:

First, here is what NOT to do:

Do not ask for tips, tricks, secrets for passing BUD/S, special ops training or any training for that manner. This is just a lazy question as I will answer, SURE, I have tons of tips - books worth in fact. See my list of tips and tricks!

Do not ask for minimum fitness standards to join the military, police, or fire fighting professions.  In a job that someone's (or your) life could depend on your physical abilities, you need to be shooting for higher than the minimum standards.  Plus, any special ops profession typically do not deal in minimum standards, they expect maximum effort scoring.

Do not ask for how you prepare for _________ WITHOUT giving information about your athletic history, training history, PT test scores, height/weight, timeline, age, facilities, equipment, days per week training, time per day training. If I have to ask you more follow on questions, you offered an incomplete question. See this assessment tool and provide more information in your question as the answer is IT DEPENDS on all of these variables. 

Don't say, "I'll never quit" when you have not even joined the Navy because YOU DON'T KNOW and no one cares so keep that statement to yourself.  If you ask about help with getting more mentally tough so you won't quit, that is a tough one to answer as you have to do that yourself by practicing not quitting every day. But I have written many articles on the topic.

Mental Toughness   |  Defeat the Quit Demon   | Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable


Try Asking These Type of Questions:

Before you ask, check the Google Machine, as you would like to start practicing "taking the initiative" and find out somethings for yourself as the answers are out there. Besides, this is YOUR future, you should be doing research. Check out this ONE STOP SHOP I have actually done for you!  Seriously, I have written over 1000 articles in 20 years of working out and writing about tactical fitness.  Simply ask your question and add "Stew Smith" and you will find an article about that topic that I have written in the past. If you do not, then ask. OR, please ask if you need to follow up with more detailed or personal questions.

Ask questions that will produce an answer that actually matters.  For instance, if you ask about the running surface you will be doing a timed run on, the type of pullup bars, or how many laps in a pool equals 500m or 500yds.  1) It does not matter as you know you have to run a certain distance - be prepared for shoes, boots, pants, sand, dirt, track, trail, pavement, etc.  2) You know you have to do pullups so get good at them on all types of bars.  3) Same for the pool - 25m or 50m pool - big deal - practice both if possible and if not be prepared to do either mentally and physically.  Be prepared for any and all types as you may see several options depending on your recruiting district and service branch. 

Sample GOOD Questions over the years:

 I am a football player (lineman) for a D1 university and plan on preparing for BUDS after my last game.  I would like to lose this weight before graduation - any advice? Anything you recommend to practice during my season training?

This question gives me plenty of details and tells me he is a big fella with plenty of strength and speed / agility. He will need to lose weight and turn into a PT and cardio animal to improve endurance and muscle stamina during post season training / graduation.  Though, I did not receive PT scores, I would not expect good ones anyway as we will be starting from scratch with the run, swim, PT test anyway but with a foundation of strength. His timeline will depend on his weight loss and PT score progression. His journey will be different from the lighter weight endurance athlete. 

 Specific Requests are Great Questions

Can you and Jeff do a podcast on recovery at BUD/S? If not, what are the top five things I need to focus on with healing from all types of injuries from blisters, chaffing, to soreness and overuse injuries? Thanks.

Great question.  I wrote something similar several years ago, but there is some updated information that Jeff Nichols and I discussed in the Tactical Fitness Report podcast

After some research / searching, ask a specific question that is timely issue / trend:

Stew, I have not seen a face mask article done by you on the Fitness Pages and was wondering do you think we will see more due to our current situation with Coronavirus? Do you find any uses for them other than keeping your face warmer when you are running in colder weather? 

Are You Good Enough?  Assess Yourself

Having strength and not having strength is typically a function of your athletic history long prior to joining the military.  Many candidates come from sports that require lifting like football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, many come from endurance programs too that can crush any running or swimming test in the military – even on a bad day.  Both groups come with weaknesses.  Spec Ops Good Enough 

“What is a good enough strength - weight to body weight ratio should someone have prior to going into selection?”

If you ask a question with some specifics to them, I may ask WHY do you need to do that?  For instance this is a good question, but the thought process needs to be re-directed:  For instance - getting better swim times when swim is good enough already...

Stew, I currently swim an 8:30 500yd Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS). How long do you think it will take me to get to a 7:30? And what workouts do you recommend to get to that pace? Thank you for your time sir.  

My questions for YOU are, “What is good enough for you?”  What are your other scores? Are you struggling with the PT or the run at the end?  My answer is IT DEPENDS - Swimming is solid, now work on another weakness. 

Changes to PT Tests, Training Events, Selection Pipeline...

Asking questions about the latest changes that have limited information about them is a smart question. There is a new fitness test called the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) which is a better test for other elements of tactical fitness that  the current Physical Fitness Test (pushups, sit-ups, 2 mile run) does not address. 

Mr. Smith, I was wondering if you knew anything about the changes to the Army fitness program.  I have heard there is a new test at Basic Combat Training and maybe even a second one still in the works. Any adjustments to my PT, weight, rucking / running prep plan I am currently on (Tactical Fitness)?   Yes there is the OPAT at Basic Training and the ACFT that is being implemented into the Army in 2020. 

Asking about specific programs that are relatively new and difficult to find information are obviously great questions after you have done your research:  

Stew, I am already a volunteer firefighter and EMT and want to take my skills into the Navy and perhaps work with Marines as a Hospital Corpsman. Perhaps later in my career, before I am too old, I would like to also try RECON or MarSOC so I am looking into the SARC pipeline. Any recommendations on what I need to train for physically? Academically? Thanks!

Good Questions Conclusion

Good questions are specific in their request.  Asking general questions about tips and tricks to succeed at a program that can take years to prepare for is something that does not exist.  There are NO TIPS, TRICKS, or SECRET is your preparation, your will to want to become a member of any of these tactical professions, and NEVER QUIT.  See Article on The Moment of Truth when it comes down to you and your will. 

 Which Program is Right For Me?
It Depends...
- Special Ops Candidates

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.   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!

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 

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

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness store if you're looking to start a workout program to get you TO and THROUGH any tactical fitness training program OR create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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