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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:



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. 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

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