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Optimal Performance is the Mastery of Recovery (& Great Programming)

Stew smith

What Is Optimal Performance?

See related article - Longevity is the Mastery of Recovery

It is simply you performing at your best. But it requires much more than just good training programming to be on the mark. The list that helps us all with longevity is the same as the one you need for optimal performance whether young or old.  The difference is the dependent upon the individual's needs, goals, and athletics or tactical profession of course, but also programming intensity. While it is true the younger athlete can do more on average than the older athlete, but both must still follow the rules of rest, recovery, and nutrition / hydration. Without the following in near perfect balance, you (young or old) will not be at your personal best and reach an optimal performance ability for your mind and body. 

Optimal Performance is Made in the Bed, Kitchen, and Gym (largely in that order)

A complete list of the elements of recovery to master to help you with this daily battle of above average physical performance:

Sleep (get 7-8 hours) # 1 recovery tool. Do it well. 

Nutrition (eat well) Nearly as important as sleep but just as critical to fuel, recovery, and energy to train and compete at the highest levels. 

Hydration (Drink more water) - You will die without water!  Yes that is now much lack of water consumption can affect your performance.  Heat casualties are killers to your performance. I often say, half of fatigue is body heat. Stay hydrated my friends.  

Exercise (move more with purpose) - Usually for high performers preparing for intense spec ops selections, as a coach I have to pull the reins on them and have them do less. See why Less is More when it comes to some people on the border of mentally tough and stupid. 

But Also Be Still (breathe and relax) - Focus on Learning HOW to Breathe (box breathing is a good start) - Learning HOW to breathe to slow down your nervous system.  Simply lengthen inhale and exhale with a short pause in between both in through the nose / out through the mouth. Take a few minutes and try box breathing for starters (4 secs IN, 4 sec hold, 4 sec OUT, 4 sec hold). 

Flexibility / Mobility - Do NOT skip mobility day

Out of all of the above single options to help you recover, they ALL have at some point in my life been life changing once I got it correct.  Whether it was for a day's energy levels and event performance or it was long term pain reduction and injury recovery, mastery of the above is the KEY TO LONGEVITY. The allowance to keep training and be injured all the time also goes hand in hand with optimal performance and longevity. 

The Two Podcasts Recently Done with LTCol Barringer (PhD - Nutrition) and Dr. Kirk Parsely (Sleep Remedy) discuss the importance of both their specialties on both optimal performance and longevity and how they are intertwined but often neglected by both young and old athletes:

Nutrition for Spec Ops Level Performance

The #1 Recovery Tool with Dr. Kirk Parsely

You Have To Get Serious At Some Point & Drop Some Bad Habits Too...

Smoking, Drinking Alcohol, Doing Drugs, and Too Much Caffeine

All of the above are habits that are difficult to break due to the addictiveness of these substances. There are things in that list that can be done with moderation (alcohol / caffeine), but tobacco products and narcotics are NOT something that will be helpful in a quest for longevity. These absolutely ruin your ability to recover - mainly sleep well - but some are just deadly and horrible for your health period. Sorry to be the VICE cop but it is true. Though you may still live a long life with a lifetime of bad habits eventually those final years will be the result of an accumulation of bad habits. 

Know the Signs When Stress / Over-Training Start to Show

Typical Stress Symptoms are not that diffierent from physically over-training symptoms.  Hormonally speaking they are the same and the same methods of recovery apply to all forms of stress:

Save this picture and give it to someone who cares about you as they will see these symptoms before you will. Though fitness is great for reducing stress, it is also a potential for greater stress if you are not smart about it.  Typically, over training is a neglect of the recovery methods (sleep / nutrition primarily). 

Over the years, I have written and made podcasts on the many ways to actively pursue recovery. The complete list of recovery content that further explains better nutrition, hydration, sleep protocols, training, mobility, de-stressing, and attitude / happiness are complex to master all at once.  This mastery may actually take decades. But with each year, if you have the mindset of "actively pursuing recovery" and improve on ALL THE ABOVE one at a time, you may develop all the necessary tools and be a Master of Recovery or a Lord of Longevity. 

 Related Articles and Video Podcasts on ALL Elements of Recovery 

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


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)

Best of all, if you have questions, email Stew Smith himself (  Join the tactical fitness group discussions, latest articles, videos, podcasts at the Stew Smith Tactical Fitness Training Closed Group on Facebook.


Questions?  Just email -

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