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One Month PST Challenge - Kill the PST in Four Weeks

Stew smith diver eod navy seal pst

One Month PST Challenge
- Kill the PST in Four Weeks -

With the way I set up my Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization Cycle, we tend to peak on the PST scores by September of every year (this is adjustable however).  When I first created this nearly 20 years ago, it was when people were preparing to take their PST in order to get accepted and become a competitive applicant for Spec Ops programs. You only had one chance if you were at the Naval Academy (typically this was September) and the enlisted route was similar as you did not have a system that frequently tested people in the PST. In fact, you did not take the PST prior to boot camp, but you did take it once and that was at boot camp.

Now, the prep system will test you frequently on the PST, but you still have to meet the competitive standards before your ship date.  IF you do not do this, you do not go to boot camp, BUD/S Prep, and later BUD/S.  There will be other PSTs along the boot camp and BUD/S Prep journey for those who qualify before boot camp. Getting good at this test is important to your future (if you really want to be a SEAL/ SWCC / EOD / Diver) and you want to be in the type of condition that this test is passable with competitive scores even on a bad day.  How do you do this?

Here are the charts I discussed in the following Ask Stew Youtube video: 

The Classic PST Week:  The workout features a week of a split routine of upper body and lower body days as well as a mobility day and a day off. The upper body days are three classic workouts - A PT Pyramid, Super Set, and Max Rep Set workout. Leg days are mixed with running and calisthenics and you will be running and swimming near daily focusing on your goal pace. 

(click to download above chart)

Here is the challenge! 

Take the PST or use your most recent scores then, do the above week of workouts for FOUR weeks.  Test during week 5 after a day off (Sunday) and mobility day (Monday). Tuesday is test day!  See how you do!  AND IT IS ALL FREE. Share your results and journey with me if you prefer. or instagram @stewsmith50.

This is good for newbies to the PST as well as those stuck on moderately high scores, but just not good enough. Adjust accordingly to your abilities. If you do not know the PST is the following:

500yd swim (CSS, side stroke, or breast stroke)
10 min transition / break
Pushups 2 min (2 min rest)
Situps 2 min (2 min rest)
Pullups max
10 min transition / break
1.5 mile timed run

Once you crush the PST, you have to also prepare to get THROUGH the Training. There is a difference between getting TO and THROUGH Training.

Learn How to Take the PST:  See full PST CLINIC Article.

500 Yard Swim - Mastering the Combat Swimmer Stroke (CSS)

The number one way to get faster at swimming is get your technique mastered and your endurance up for 500yd swim. This requires several days per week of swimming so you have to put in the time to make this event easier. The goal to the first event of the PST is to PACE yourself so you are still as fast as possible BUT have plenty left in the tank for the other four events of the test. If you only need to focus on your PST, DO THIS:

This takes practice with the 50-50 Workout (4-6 days / week):

Warmup with 500yd swim
Repeat 10 times
Swim 50m Freestyle fast
Swim 50m CSS at goal pace
- minimum rest - reduce as you get in better shape. 

What I look at when giving the PST is the time per 50yds for each of the ten laps as well as the stroke count it takes you to get across 25yd pool.  The goal is to get the stroke count down to 5-6 strokes per length and not lose your form throughout the 500yd swim.  

Pushups 2 minutes

Tips for More Reps:  For the Pull-ups, Sit-ups, Pushups, let gravity take you down so do not waste energy slowly letting yourself to the down position - so you are just exerting on the UP movement.

Pushups - Proper stance. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart. Lie on the floor with your hands even with your chest and just outside shoulder width. Too many people place their hands too high or too low, which will weaken your push-ups.  Touch your chest to your partners fist who is counting your reps for you. If you have no partner, get a water bottle the size of a fist (3-inches) off the floor to touch your chest on.

PS - if you ever start shaking uncontrollably during the final half minute of your pushup test, DO NOT try to get any more reps. When you are shaking you are wasting A LOT of energy that you will need for the remaining exercises of the test AND you will likely not even get 1-2 pushups once you start shaking. Stop immediately. Related Articles:  Pushup Push Workout,  Pushups

Situps - 2 minutes

Sit-ups - Place your feet flat on the floor and raise your knees. It is best to start out with the heels of your feet about 12-18 inches from your rump.

Situps or curlups - For the Navy PST, lie on your back with your arms crossed over your chest, keeping your knees slightly bent. Raise your upper body off the floor by flexing your abdominal muscles. Touch your elbows to your knees and repeat. During the PST, someone will be counting and holding your feet for you.

PACE YOURSELF:  The most important thing is to pace your situps. Too many times people start out too fast and do about 30-40 in the first 30 seconds and not being able to get 30-40 in the next 1:30 in a 2:00 test. That tells me that you started out too fast.  If your goal is 80-100 in a 2:00 period, you should pace yourself at 20-25 in 30 seconds and 40-50 in 1:00...etc.

A Few More Reps Tip:   1 - When you feel like you are failing.  Slide your butt back 2-3 inches and you will change the angle at which you do your situps and find yourself able to get 5-10 more if you have the time left.

For more info on workout ideas to ace the situps see related article - Proper Situps

Pullups - Max Reps (prepare for first 10 on instructor cadence)

Pull-ups - The Proper Pull-up (regular grip) - Grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed about shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Pull yourself upward until your chin is over the bar and complete the exercise by moving to the hanging position.

The transition - 1.5 mile timed run - 10 min transition time...use wisely

After you perform maximum repetition sets with your upper body muscles, your heart has forced blood to the arms, shoulders, and torso leaving you very pumped up. Running like this can be difficult because the heart has to now pump the blood from your arms and torso down to your legs and, of course, oxygenate the blood repetitively.

When blood is stuck in the upper body as it is after a maximum repetition PT test, your heart pumps harder than normal, which can throw off your known pace (muscle memory) that you have trained to maintain for your run. Your breathing is more rapid, your heartbeat is therefore more rapid, your arms swing is more stiff than fluid and relaxed, and your legs are burning for oxygenated blood. This will leave many to say at the end of the run, I felt OK after the first two laps, but the first half mile about killed me.

Here is the answer to this problem:

After you perform the PT test, take the time in between the upper body exercises to stretch the arms, chest, shoulders, stomach and lower back. Then run for about 2 to 3 minutes at an easy pace to get the blood down toward your legs. Finally, take about 3 to 5 minutes to stretch your legs. Keep shaking the arms, throughout the time in between the PT and run, to loosen up.

Now, focus on your pace.  You have been practice GOAL PACE running, now string them together and see if you can hold your pace for 6 x 400m, 3 x 800m or the 1.5 mile run.

Related Article:  PST Transition

More about the PST and Beyond

See what is "good enough" - PST Type Scores:

Who is Stew Smith? Coach, Trainer, Author, PodcasterI'm the former Navy SEAL that special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs

When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model.  I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to just about anything. We have a systems where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics.  When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run, less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.  

My most recent programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs. 

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts Where Optimal Performance Will Be Tested Each Day

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


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