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PST and Selection Training: Perfect is the Enemy of Good Enough

Stew smith

PST and Selection Training:
Perfect is the Enemy of Good Enough

When it comes to performing well on fitness tests that are competitive in nature like those of special ops programs, too many times I have seen great candidates sabotage themselves because they wanted to crush a particular strength they had, but they left a weakness that was quickly exposed. Underperforming in one of many events is common and you just have to gut check that weakness when enduring selection, but doing this in Phase 1 of Tactical Fitness (Getting TO the Training) can cause you to not even meet the standards to qualify.

Even if you do qualify to get TO the training, getting THROUGH the training will be even more of a challenge as that glaring weakness will be soon be superimposed over your strength.  For instance, you may be the number one swimmer in your class, but the last runner to leave the Goon Squad (aka - the group that fails the runs).  Or, you may be the number one runner in the class, but weak as hell under the log and the boat, getting crushed, injured, or not a big help to your boat crew. You may also be the biggest and the strongest guy in the class, but no one cares if you cannot pass the runs and obstacle courses. 

Here are some classic examples over the years, luckily most of these folks were able to focus on their weakness before they shipped:

The Fastest Swimmer - Being a competitive swimmer is great and you will have no problem with the 500m or 500yd swim in any spec ops program.  Even swimming with big scuba fins will not be a challenge for you for the most part so it makes no sense focusing your limited training time on getting near Olympic level performance out of the 500m swims or longer swims later in training. If you are a swimmer and do a 6 minute 500yd swim with some of your abilities, pull back and do the swim at 7:30 with moderate effort so you can focus on the remaining elements of the Navy PST (pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run) that are typically the swimmer's weakness. You will still beat 95% of the candidates - except for other collegiate swimmers maybe. Far too often, I see swimmers trying to bust out of sub 6 minute PST swim when they have a run time over 10 minutes.  You need to get better at running and get used to living in gravity, carrying loads (rucks, logs, boats) and even handling high rep PT.  Don't try to make your swimming perfect, because no one cares if you are the best swimmer if you are also COMNAVGOONSQUAD. 

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The Fastest Runner - When people say "it is a running man's game" they do not mean that is all you should do. For the runner, being able to hit 5-6 minute mile maybe easy for you - even for 4 miles.  That is great, but that fast of a run time usually comes with an equal weakness in rucking, load bearing, and upper body strength. If you neglect these just to maintain a 5 minute mile, you will be hurting more throughout the day. Even if running is part of the plan of the day - so is everything else that you suck at doing. Don't try to make your running faster to the detriment of your strength and overall durability when doing load bearing training such as rucking, log pt, boats, and fireman carries. If you can train easily to do a 6-7 minute mile on the weekly 4 mile timed runs but focus more on lifting, calisthenics, and rucking / swimming with fins, you will be much better off during selection. You will be glad you are a good runner, but you will also be glad you focused your time wisely and built muscle, got stronger, and developed into a PT machine.  The good news is that after hellweek, you will not touch a log or boat again as part of your training so you can crush runs again and not have to worry about getting crushed later in the day. You will still ruck throughout training and when you are active duty. 


 NOTE - if considering the AF Special Warfare Program, the test is in a different order that forces both the swimmer and runner to focus more on the other events first (pullups, pushups, situps).  See more about AF Special Warfare

The Biggest / Strongest Guy - If you decide to keep lifting heavy weights because you do not "want to lose your gains", you will last a few weeks in selection as you will be unable to keep up with the pace of running, swimming, and high repetition calisthenics that is required of the class each day. You may also be unable to finish the obstacle course, because at 220lbs+, the amount of grip required of you is much more than the 175lbs classmate.  Big guys fail runs and obstacle courses if they do not practice running and muscle stamina exercises by dropping the weights and focusing more on calisthenics and cardio. The good news, the big legs that lifting gave you will help you when wearing big SCUBA fins. Often the big guys who could barely pass the 500yd swim without fins were in the top of the class with SCUBA fins. So you have that going for you and the fact that you will not be crushed under a log and a boat the first 5 weeks of selection.

So - What is Good Enough - Assess Yourself (CLICK HERE)

Who Is The Coach, Trainer, Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that military recruits and 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

Check out the Complete List of Training Programs (Spec Ops, Military, Police, Fire) 

Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates 



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 / 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.  

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. 

Special Ops and Selection Prep Programs

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.


Seasonal Tactical Fitness Programs 

Especially These That Are Used For Local Spec Ops Candidates Last Year


and even more at Complete List of Books / eBooks...

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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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.

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