Cart 0

How Good is Good Enough - Strength (part 2)

stew smith

In a recent article, Special Ops – How Good is Good Enough? focused on explaining the process of training as we strive to get good at all the elements of fitness that make us successful in challenging spec ops selection programs.  Understanding your strengths and weaknesses should drive how you create training programs and invest your time training. These elements include but not limited to strength, power, speed, agility, endurance (run, swim, ruck), muscle stamina, grip, flexibility and mobility.  Depending upon the branch of service, you may need to be good at other elements that include load bearing (carrying logs, boats, people, gear), treading (with / without fins), and other skills.  However, in the previous article, tactical strength was not discussed with regards to getting THROUGH the training. A young man on the spec ops journey called me on it and asked about the strength exercises – bench, dead lift, squat, and others. “What is a good enough strength - weight to body weight ratio should someone have prior to going into selection?”

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.  Typically, the powerlifting athletes do not need to focus too much on strength throughout the year and can limit their training mostly to endurance, muscle stamina, swim skills, and losing weight if needed (220lbs+).  However, the endurance side athletes need to work on strength / power in order to be able to handle the impact forces (if swimmer) as well as the load bearing activities listed above.

Performance drops are occurring at BUD/S during log PT these days.  If you are unable to handle the load for the duration of the log PT session during Hell week which can last up to 4-5 hours, you could be out of the program. So, how important is strength.  It is the absolute foundation of tactical fitness that all other elements of fitness thrive. However, without endurance and muscle stamina built upon the strength foundation, the term tactical athlete heading to selection does not apply. 

According to a recent study / statistical analysis at BUD/S (see full study), the tests score ranges for strength that have a better chance of finishing hell week are the following:

Strength / Power Exercises (good enough)

Weighted Pullup (25 lbs)


Get good at doing 100 in a workout

Bodyweight Bench



Dead Lift

1.75 -2x bodyweight – 1-5 reps


300 yd shuttle run

60 seconds or less


Standing Long Jump

90 inches or more


Other Strength Events (not in study)


1-1.5x bodyweight – 5 reps



Chest carry lunges 400m (40lb)

Simulate log PT lunges

Hang Clean

.50 to Bodyweight 5 -10 reps


Sandbaby Murph

Do to completion (see link)

Get Good at doing

The scores and numbers on the top half of the chart represent good enough scores in strength to perform well enough to complete hell week statistically.  The bottom half of the chart are my additional exercises and workout recommendations to also be able to do that focus on strength as well as muscle stamina.  Many of the events of BUD/S and other selection programs will require you to take a strength exercise and make it a teamwork endurance drill. (log pt push press, up boat / down boat, hundreds of pushups, and grip – obstacle course and pullups etc). So, when you ask yourself what you should work on this cycle, consider your weaknesses and focus on the activities required to get THROUGH the training.  That should be the number one answer, then maintain your strengths.

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.  

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. 

More Options:
                                                     Tactical Fitness 40+ Series
and many more options as well as personalized training programs member's only program and the new :


Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published