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Have You Ever Seen a Spec Ops Candidate Cry?

Stew smith

Don't Shatter Your Spec Ops Dream -
Prepare Well and Pass Selection On The First Try

Photo by D McBurnett (@mcteams3842) Uncommon Grit

Common Mistakes People Make And Fail to Get 
TO and THROUGH Training

Now that I grabbed your attention, first of all, I am not making fun of people crying. It is normal to cry when something or someone you love is lost - so don't go there as you will miss the most important part of this article - how to avoid having your dreams shattered. If you want to make it TO and THROUGH training, you want to read this: 

The military is full of former aspiring special ops candidates. In fact, hundreds of special ops candidate join the ranks of the conventional branches of service each year. To avoid being part of the 75-80% of the special ops candidates that fail, it is up to YOU on how hard you prepare and how bad you want it. 

Here is a list of ten mistakes that a majority of people make every year somewhere during their journey:

1) Lack of Research and Preparation Time Prior to Enlisting - This is the start of a new career. You would think you would want to give yourself time to prepare - really prepare and actually learn something about the profession.  This may actually take a few years to do it right. Just because you are 18 and eligible to serve, does not mean you should - yet. Set a performance starting line not some arbitrary timeline that sets you up for failure. 

- One Stop Shop for Spec Ops Research

- Set a Performance Starting Line - Are You Good Enough?

- There is NO excuse in not having read every page of the Official Navy SEAL / SWCC website. 

2) Know Your Why. Not many have really thought this one through. Why are you doing this? Your WHY has to create a strong answer when you are tired, cold, wet, sandy, and miserable and alone with your thoughts. What will you tell yourself? This is the test right here you have been waiting for - be ready to crush it and "talk to yourself - don't listen to yourself." There will be a moment of truth - how will you answer that test? 

3) Focus on the PST ONLY and Fail to Prep for Selection Events - Too many candidates just get good at the PST as they joined DEP too early and spent all of DEP just trying to get a contract to get TO the training and did not have the time or ability to focus on the next level:  Getting THROUGH the Training.  If your training is not including 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swim with fins, some rucking and load bearing to prepare your body for what it needs to endure, chances are you won't even make it to Hellweek. Here is a link of an average of outstanding physical scores that will help you if you can get close to them with both phases:  TO and THROUGH.  Assess Yourself before you Wreck Yourself. 

4) Are You Mentally Ready?  Mind games and negative feedback are constant. Can you handle it? Can you handle not being the best at something?  How about being the worst at something and you struggle with all your ability to meet the standard? You have a lot of new skills to learn on a steep learning curve, in a new environment, that is high stress, in a new city, missing home, getting asked to perform at levels you once thought impossible, and being challenged by instructors every day. Are you ready for this snowball of stress? Most people are not. 

Are You Mentally Tough? You Can Develop It BUT It Takes Time

5) Are You Ready for a Full Day's Work? BUDS is not 100% working out, but you rarely stop moving and when you do you have to be learning something new. Some training days turn into nights as well. Being able to workout for a few hours, work the full day in manual labor jobs, prepping gear late into the evening, and repeat over and over is a grind.  Are you really ready for the grind - because there is no nap time at BUDS - unless your boat crew wins a race on day 3 of Hellweek. Most people are not ready for this. 

Getting Prepared for a Hard Day's Work vs. Just Good at a Fitness Test 

6) "Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong."  You will have to learn new skills quickly.  Some of these are physically demanding, some are tactically challenging and your ability to acquire the ability to learn what you were just taught is part of the training. Can you follow procedures that will one day save your life in a high stress training environment. This may mean spending weekends at Prep or BUDS in the pool practicing drownproofing, knot tying, treading until you cannot get it wrong!

6) Pool Skills - Neglecting your water confidence when it comes to treading water, drownproofing, and other challenging SCUBA events is a way to get dropped from training. Once again,  "Don't practice until you get it right. Practice until you can't get it wrong." This comfort in the water may take time, lessons to learn techniques, and tons of practice getting in shape physically and mentally. The water, whether it is too cold or too uncomfortable is a great equalizer with the toughest of candidates in the pipeline. Get in the pool or go Army. 

7) Over-Confident and Under-Confident - These are Two Danger Signs That Will Affect Your Success.  You know who these are. The ones who won't shut up about making it through training and the ones who feel completely overwhelmed by the anxiety of actually starting. Many have a bad day in prep and decide, "if I cannot handle BUDS Prep how am I going to handle BUDS?". Their journey has just ended inside their own head.  Or you say, "I have a lot to work on, better start putting in the time to learn this skill or get into better shape".  Typically neither one of these guys make it. When we talk about maturity - this is what we mean typically. 

8.  Injuries - These just suck. Most of the time they are just bad luck and accidental. But sometimes a candidate will get involved in sports, martial arts, or over-train very close to leaving for Boot Camp. I have seen many get dropped before they even can join the Navy due to an unnecessary injury (broken hand, leg, concussion, motor cycle accident, etc). I cannot tell you how many were medically disqualified within months of shipping out over the years. Be smart and take your health seriously. Training accidents happen, you do not have to increase your chances of injury by doing additionally dangerous activities. 

PC: D McBurnett (@mcteams3842) Uncommon Grit
9) Team Player - You have to be able to work well with others. Use your strengths to balance out your team's weaknesses and the same goes for you. Being able to offer techniques, useful advice, and just be helpful will pay off with huge dividends along your journey. You do not make it through any of this alone and you need your teammates to offer you the same assistance along the way eventually.  We all do. BUDS has a way of exposing weaknesses that you may not have realized you had, but being part of a good team will help everyone. Don't be a dick. Peer evaluations matter. 
10) Finally, DON'T BE STUPID.  This one is really important because every year people will get kicked out of the program for lying, cheating on tests, or breaking rules. Too many good people who decided to not follow the rules have been kicked out in 2nd and 3rd phase for no other reason was they sought an easier route.  BUDS is hard.  It is supposed to be hard. Expect it. 
Most of these mistakes above are within our control and you can enjoy this journey if you have some patience with the process, join when you are READY to crush the PST on day 1, and make good decisions along the way.  Eventually, if you want to do a serious job, you have to start taking your life and training seriously. 

 More Options Available

Or Try Workout Programming Specifically Designed for any Tactical Fitness Goal:

Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates 



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. 

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


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

 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.

Join the Online PT CLUB:
One On One Coaching with Stew Smith

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

Over weight? Out of Shape? Not meeting personal and professional standards of fitness and health? Try some one - on - one personalized assistance with your training goals and consider Online Coaching by Stew Smith CSCS. No matter what your goals, you and Stew will create a program together that works for you. 

VIDEO TESTIMONIAL:  Jim started with me several years ago needing help with his fitness and health. Over the years, we became friends and even business partners on a few joint ventures - I still send him weekly workouts. Here is a video testimonial that was placed in the middle of his podcast - I was shocked but wanted to share as it is a great story and quite typical of clients on any of the Online Training Programs.

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