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New to Tactical Training? Make a Fitness Budget - AKA Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization

Stew smith

Train Foundationally to Improve ALL Elements of Fitness - Train Specifically for the Individual Events of your Future

Yes - Fitness Training is THIS Important!

Are you getting ready to take on the challenge of becoming a tactical athlete? You’re likely already familiar with the importance of physical fitness in this role, but it can be difficult to know how to budget your resources to get the most out of your fitness training. Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization IS that budgeting system. 

If you are prepping to serve your country or community within the tactical professions (military, police, Fire / EMT), your athletic history and current ability will determine much of HOW you should prepare yourself physically for a physically demanding job. Depending on how you prefer to serve, many of these screening and selection programs require peak performance in both your physical and tactical (job specific training). Both require a high level of fitness and some are so competitive that an advanced level of fitness is the “minimum standard”. But it can be difficult to stay on top of all the elements of fitness needed to succeed. To help you make sure you’re on the right path, consider creating a fitness budget – also known at Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization

Just like any budget, using a tactical fitness periodization program is a way of organizing your time, energy, and resources to focus on improving areas of fitness that need the most attention. We all come into this training journey with a variety of strength and weaknesses. This can be any element of fitness (strength, power, speed, agility, muscle stamina, endurance, mobility, flexibility, grip/balance). From strength training to calisthenics fitness testing, to swimming training, it is important to have a plan in place to make sure you’re not neglecting any areas or focusing on elements that are already “good enough”.

Think of your fitness budget like a financial budget. You’ll need to decide how much time and energy you’re willing to invest in each element of fitness. For example, if you’re weak in one area, you might decide to invest more of your time and energy to improve that area. Or if you need to work on several elements at once, you might decide to divide your time and energy among them. But you must realize that some elements of fitness training work better with others.  For instance:

Strength / Power, Speed / Agility work well together and are a function of overall durability. If you have ever prepared for a season of football, you will know that seeing improvements in all these elements of fitness is not out of the question given your training regimen, intensity, and recovery. For most football players and strength athletes, their strength is great, and their fitness budget will be time spent on calisthenics and cardio (muscle stamina and endurance), but also weight loss / calorie burns with nonimpact cardio events vs. too much running too soon. 

Muscle Stamina and Cardio Endurance work well together and are a function of work capacity. Calisthenics (or light weights) and cardio (run, swim, ruck) are events that work well together. Many of our cross country or swimming athletes (endurance athletes) are lacking in the above strength / power / speed / agility however their ability to improve their high rep calisthenics scores on PT tests is quite remarkable in general. However, their fitness budget will be focused on time and energy spent in the weight room getting stronger and more durable for events like load bearing (boats, logs, equipment carry, rucking). 

Flexibility, Mobility, Balance, and Grip – These elements of fitness are universal and can be trained and sustained / improved upon near daily. There are specific events that mobility and flexibility play a key role in such as swimming and treading water. Often people you cannot tread well cannot place their hips, knees, and ankle in a position that allows for the optimal level of downward force to push you to remain on the surface (especially when hands cannot be used). Do not blow off mobility / flexibility days in the program.  They are focused on flexibility, mobility, non-impact cardio conditioning, technique training, recovery /stress relief, and many other benefits you will need as a tactical athlete either enduring training or on the job.

Seasonal tactical fitness periodization is a way of organizing your fitness program to meet the demands of different times of the year. For example, if you know your boot camp or selection date will be taking place in the summer, you can focus on building up your strength and endurance ahead of time depending on your weaknesses. By having a plan in place, you’ll be able to stay on track and make sure you’re at your peak performance level when it comes time to serve.

No matter your fitness goals, creating a fitness budget can be an effective way of making sure you’re on the right path. You’ll be able to track your progress and prioritize elements of fitness that need the most attention. This way, you can rest assured that you’re doing everything you can to be at your peak performance level when it comes time to serve. Consider a Block Periodization model if you are concerned about losing hard earned strengths during a cycle that focuses on your weaknesses. 

Check out more information below. There’s a lot to consider when trying to improve your fitness. Not investing in each of these elements can be costly to your performance when it matters the most so it’s important to budget for each of them. a well-rounded tactical athletes has figured out a well-thought-out fitness budget system.  If you need help with that check out the programming options below that specifically address ALL the elements of fitness as well as many of the specific events most spec ops level tactical athletes need to prepare for to succeed. 

What is the Difference Between Training Elements of Fitness and Training for Future Events? 

Learn More About the Process with this Video Explanation

The Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization system programs are now available at These Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer series of programs make up the system of Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization model. 

20+ Years of Using the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization Model

This is my system that I have been perfecting for over 20 years. My first program with periodization throughout the seasons was Maximum Fitness. Since then, I have created many “winter lift cycles” and “cardio / muscle stamina cycles” and other SEASONAL titled programs. All are similar but different in that the system is the same, but the exercises, workouts, and deload / block periodization weeks have been added over the years.

Regardless of the program from Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training, Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness all were tested at some point within my Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization model.  You can use any program with this system – even your own.

Here is the system in a nutshell using the latest programming:

Spring: March-June: Transition to Calisthenics and cardio workouts. Run and swim progression with less lifting each week.

Summer: July-September: High Reps and High Running Volumes. Calisthenics and cardio workouts. Run max and swim progression.

Fall: October-December: Transition to Lifting Weights. Calisthenics with weights and decrease in reps, along with running. More non-impact cardio workouts added. Ruck and swim with fins.

Winter: December-March: Strength Focus. Warmup with calisthenics and lift heavier weights. Cooldown with running with more non-impact cardio workouts as well. Ruck and swim with fins.

 The Block Periodization style of programming is also maintained in this series as a way to improve weaknesses and maintain strengths using a 3-4 week split cycle though it is optional if you need it or not.  Each of these books in the STFP series have 12 weeks of progressive training + a testing week for a total of 4 x 13 weeks of training: 52 weeks in all four books.  A year of seasons with a year of training throughout the seasons.

Advanced Training Programs 

The four programs are not for beginners and the workouts take time to complete in full especially if you add in rucking and/or swimming to the end of the workout time. These are not just a PST / IFT Prep workout (you will see improvement in testing), but these also mix in events of selection that challenge the toughest students. Longer runs, longer swims with fins, longer rucks, and some lifts that you will see during your training pipeline at some point - see Tactical Fitness Tests (Human Performance Test / Operator Fitness Test).  These new test include lifts, sprints, agilities, and other power movements. Preparing with some of these tests in mind will help you not only with the tests in your future, but build a stronger  / more durable body to handle the loads of rucking, logs, boats, and fireman / personnel carries / drags and obstacle courses. 

This cycle worked so well over the past few years of testing, we decided to a complete series focusing on a year of Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization. If you like stronger test scores, faster runs, and fewer injuries (much less) this 3:1 Block Periodization model is something you should consider.  

Future Tactical Athletes Needs This

If you are preparing for the Navy PST or the Air Force IFT / OFT as well as other Combat Fitness Tests in our military, you need to try this method of training. This will help you not only get TO the training (Phase 1 of tactical fitness), but prepare yourself to get THROUGH the training (Phase 2 of tactical fitness) Also, if you are preparing for special ops training pipelines where all the elements of fitness (strength, power, speed, agility, endurance, muscle stamina, flexibility, mobility, grip) need to be highly developed, try 3-4 months of block periodization and maintain your strengths while building up your weaknesses.

Some More Programs Using the Seasonal TF Periodization Model

The Winter Lift Cycle with 3:1 Block Periodization: Check out what we did the previous years with this model of training

Other Tactical Fitness Programs Specific to Your Goals

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

Latest Fitness Books on Seasonal Periodization

Here are other personalized options at 

Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training?
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.

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

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