What Your Question About How to Prepare Actually Depends Upon...
You may have read or heard my reply to others (or yourself) when you ask a question such as, "How should I start training for ___________?" My answer really depends on SO MANY factors that answering this question by email, text, or even in person does not give it justice. There are a few things you need to realize when you start the journey to prepare for any job that requires elevated levels of fitness such as any of the Special Ops programs in our military as well as SWAT programs in law enforcement. All will require a high level of fitness and certain capabilities (water confidence, load bearing ability, mental toughness, and the ability to learn new skills and information quickly).
Previous articles have addressed many of the things you need to consider when you start your journey and how long your preparation phase will take in order to get TO the training. Then you will have part two of that journey, preparing to get THROUGH the training. Bottom Line Up Front - This is where most people make their mistakes. They spend their time getting TO the training and think that is enough and completely miss the boat on more challenging events in order to get THROUGH the training. Whatever you are preparing for you have to first realize the standards that make you above average NOT just passing on the PT Test and Selection Events.
Articles to read before you go further:
Four Step to Prepare for Spec Ops Profession (see links in this article for important information)
"How Do I Prepare for _______________?"
It DEPENDS ON...
The answer to this question that you may think can be answered in a sentence is quite involved. Here is what this answer depends on:
1 - What is your athletic history? (Strength athlete, Endurance athlete, Multi-Sports, None of the Above) Do you understand what it means to become a tactical athlete now compared to prior experiences?
2 - Work experience? Manual Labor jobs? Can you perform a hard day's work?
3 - Age, Sex, and Current Fitness Level? This is NOT what you used to do, but what you CAN or CANNOT do NOW. Not knowing because you have never done the following events is an answer as well. For instance can you do these events / what are your scores:
4 - Do you know your strengths and weaknesses and how they compare to others who have succeeded in spec ops training pipelines? See assessment tool.
Cardio Events: (Run, Ruck, Swim)
Mile run pace for 1-2 miles. For 3-4 miles? 1.5 mile time, 2 mile time, 3 mile time, 4 mile time, 5 mile time?
300yd shuttle run - 12 x 25m time
5-10-5 agility test - aka PRO Agility Test
Illinois Agility Test - The Illinois Agility Test is a challenging 15-20 seconds test that requires the students to run fast, stop quickly, change directions, and move the body from a laying position to a running stride as quickly as possible. The course is 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. Place four cones 10 feet apart at the 7.5 ft. line and the first and fourth cone at the zero and 30 ft line. A picture is worth a 1000 words. (mostly used in law enforcement)
- 50m/50yd pace with CSS? Can you do the 50-50 workout?
- 1000m swim with fins? 2000m swim with fins? 2 mile swim with fins?
- Do you know the differences between Navy CSS and Air Force LATA?
- Tread Water 5 minutes - no hands? yes or no
Spec ops Triathlon - Run, Swim, Ruck: 4 mile run, 4 mile ruck, 1 mile swim with fins - done back to back to back. Times for each / total time______?
PT Scores and Other Exercises
Pushups 1-2 minutes or Hand release Pushups (Army)
Situps 1-2 minutes or Plank pose 2-5 minutes?
Push Press 30 lb ammo can - max reps 2 min
Dips - max
Leg Tucks - max (hanging knee up to elbows - Army)
Standing Long Jump
Fireman Carry Same bodyweight 100m
Bear Crawl 400m for time
Strength Scores and Other Events
Bench Press 1 max weight
Bench Press - max reps of your bodyweight
Squats - 1 max weight
Dead Lift - 1 max weight
Dead Lift - 5 max weight
Dead Lift - Max reps of 1.5 times your bodyweight
25lb pullup - max reps
40lb chest carry walking lunges 400m
Why Do I Have to Know This?
Why is it important to know these events? This also give me a good picture of your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to your particular journey. Obviously, not all of the events above are specific to your training pipeline, but all the elements of fitness definitely are and will be tested. What are the elements of fitness?
We build tactical athletes using a Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization Training Model (read more).
Being a tactical athlete means being good at EVERYTHING not necessarily being great at any one thing. BUT GOOD means pretty darn good. See some of the tactical fitness tests used by our military / special ops units. You will not know unless you tried them and somewhere during your training or during your job, you will be challenged in one of the elements of fitness you fail to practice as often as you should.
Special Ops Level Tactical Fitness Training Ideas
EBOOKS and BOOKS
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.
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.
What Programs Are Right For YOU?
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. 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.
I Have Not Forgotten the Old Guys Still In the Business
Check out the best-selling series release for fitness over 40. The NEW Rules For Fitness Over Forty are an excellent eye opener to what you maybe missing. Created by Stew Smith CSCS, former Navy SEAL and 50 year old. Working through the history of a young life of athletics, into the military, advancing into the special ops world can be painful. Learn how to adjust your training to reduce pain and gain performance and perhaps even be better than you were in your teens and twenties.