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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 in "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, if you need to follow up with more detailed or personal questions, please ask.

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


The Heroes of Tomorrow program was developed by former Navy SEAL Stew Smith, fitness author.  We can help prepare you for ANY profession that requires a Physical Fitness Test and YOU pay nothing for the training!  Warning - it is rather advanced but we can scale it back a bit and teach running and swimming techniques and help you build up to your goal level of fitness.



Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book

The Pipeline of Training Options: 


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. 

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.  Athletes like swimmers and runners will also require some strength training as you will be exposed to challenges under logs and boats during the first phase and many miles of rucking 50+ lbs of backpacks and gear in 2nd and 3rd phases of BUDS.  Do not skip lifting in your year of training prep.  However, if you are coming from a powerlifting / football background, supplementing a few lifts into your endurance / muscle stamina focus plan is something you may enjoy especially if training for a year or more during your prep phase. 

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - 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. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Other EBOOKS (Military, Police, Fire Fighter, Special Ops, General Fitness– 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. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).


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

Tactical Fitness - At the core of this program is the Tactical Fitness Test which measures 12 standards for your physical capacity, including: cardiovascular conditioning, strength, muscle coordination, and stamina. Tactical fitness means having the skills needed to save lives and extend the limits of your endurance whether you are in the military, police, firefighting professions, or just an everyday hero. Also featured in the Tactical Fitness Test called the Dirty Dozen.

Tactical Strength - Tactical Strength is the lifting program used by Stew Smith and his Military, Police, Fire Fighter fitness program called the Heroes of Tomorrow. It is designed to build strength in the upper body, legs, and core to prepare you better for any load bearing activity (rucking, boat carry, log PT, etc). The program also does not neglect cardiovascular activity and will end workouts with rucking or swimming (or other non impact options (row, bike, elliptical) if needed. The cardio workouts will be quick and fast focusing more on speed and agility than long slow distance. We also use the Tactical Strength Test to test elements of speed, agility, and strength / power.

Tactical Mobility is a comprehensive fitness guide for greater mobility, flexibility, and performance—designed for the men and women serving in military, special ops, law enforcement, emergency services. Tactical Mobility is a perfect fit for any fitness program as a stand alone "Mobility day" supplemented into your regular routine and will help you reach the pain free level of fitness. Gaining flexibility and mobility is the goal of the program and it will help with performance and help reduce injuries.

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. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as 
personalized training programs member's only program and the new :


Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

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