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Secret Tips To Make It Through BUDS, SOF Selections, and Anything Else That is Hard...

Stew smith

No...Just Kidding!  There are no secrets, special insider tips, or hacks that will help you accomplish anything that is difficult.  However, you know what will? 

Hard Work, Processes, Training Strategies, Programming, and a Never Quit Mentality

PC: D. McBurnett from @mcTeams3842

Latest Updates in Navy SEAL / Spec Ops Training Pipelines:
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT

When people ask for tips usually they are young and do not fully understand the challenges that are ahead of them. Once again (my opinion) - another reason why immature kids have no business going into challenges like these on a whim. Below are listed about as many TIPS as I can think of that will help you understand just how much you do not know about what you are getting into.  Because, as Jeff Nichols and I discussed in this Tactical Fitness Report 204, tips are not useful unless you are fully engaged in a process of preparation toward a challenging goal. Here is what I mean:

How Useful Are These Tips?

Just Don't Quit

Know Your Why

Do More Pushups

Run Faster

Swim with Fins

Just Get Tougher

These "tips" are about as vague as the question you just asked:  Do You Have Any Tips for BUDS?  Any Tips for Pushups? Do You Have Any Running Tips? Swimming Tips? Mental Toughness Tips? 

There are Tons of Tips for Special Ops Training

TIP #1 - Step 1 - Crush the PST - The first piece of knowledge you need to know is that you have to be ready to crush the entrance PT standards BEFORE you join the military.  Being a weekly PST failure is doing you and everyone else in the recruiting process no good and is a waste of time. You are wasting time being unable to prepare to get THROUGH the training (Phase 2) because you are stuck at phase 1 - trying to get TO the training by passing the entrance PT test.  Read the PST Clinic and Learn HOW to Take This Test

TIP #2 - Understand the Phases of Tactical Fitness / Spec Ops Prep - Learning the differences between the specifics Is the first part of this training education as many people do not realize the differences of each phase of training and train "out of phase" depending on their immediate and future goals. 
Phase 1 - TO the training,  (specifics to testing)
Phase 2 - THROUGH the training, (specifics to selection / training)
Phase 3  - Active Operator Maintenance / Stress Mitigation 

Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization is an answer to staying in the phase of fitness you should be focused as well as the improving the elements of fitness that are your weaknesses. These elements of fitness can be viewed in the diagram below:
Strength, Power, Speed, Agility, Endurance (multiple modes), Muscle Stamina, Flexibility, Mobility, Grip are the physical elements that the tactical athlete has to engage to remain "good at everything."

New Block Periodization System to Maintain Strengths and Improve Weaknesses at the same time.  See 3:1 Block Periodization System for full details.

As you can see, it may take some time depending on your athletic history until you are GOOD AT EVERYTHING!  That is what is required of the spec ops candidate.  Have You Ever Seen a Spec Ops Candidate Cry? I Have...It Sucks. Don't leave any of this to chance and quickly get in over your head because this is not a kid's game. 

TIP #3 - Better at Pushups, Pullups, Situps etc - Your first rep is a strength exercise, beyond that is an endurance exercise (muscle stamina). Crushing PT test is part strength - part endurance - aka strength-endurance. You can add strength training to help, but eventually, you will want to increase the volume of your reps so you can increase the reps during PT tests. Build up the volume progressively with Pyramids, Super Sets, and Max Rep Set Workouts

Tips #4 - Better at Running - Learn the technique and get into running shape. Learn the pace in which you need to run.  For most, that is a six minute mile or faster for shorter timed runs and seven minute mile pace for longer timed runs 4-5 miles. These are standards that are above average and they should be your goals. See Goal Paced Running, Beginner Running Plan, and 20 Miles a Week of Running to get TO and THROUGH Selection. 

TIP #5 - Better at Swimming - Learn the technique and get into swimming shape. There are countless videos that are worth 1000 words of me writing how to swim.  See Dude You Are Not in Swimming Shape (if you get winded), CSS Technique Mastery Article, The CSS Stroke Sequence. 

TIP #6 - Assess Yourself - How do you stack up against years of people in front of you who have made it TO and THROUGH selection? Use this Assessment Tool as a reference guide to compare if you are ready or not to those who were. 

TIP # 7 - Don't Do Daily Pushups / Pullups / Lifts etc - Daily resistance training at a high volume of repetitions or heavy weight OF THE SAME MUSCLE GROUPS is NOT recommended. Every other day is perfect and this will allow for your body to recover and actually get stronger. 

TIP #8 - Mental Toughness is not achieved by a single event, it is accumulated over years of doing difficult things (work, school, training, sports, life) even when you do not feel like it. You build mental toughness ONE DAY AT A TIME. See the mental toughness article / video archive for more info. 

TIP #9 - Rucking Progression and Foot Care - There are countless tips to improve in this area, but the number one tip is to make sure your gear fits you perfectly.  You will have to tweak your gear each ruck to make the hot spots, noise, and nagging issues to be fixed. You will ruck in soft sand at BUDS - be prepared for that evolution. 

TIP #10 - Be a Better Recruit - In the end, it is up to you and your mature preparation that will lead to success. There is much to consider to become so prepared that when that day arrives when your will is tested to the maximum of your abilities, you have an answer to WHY you keep moving forward. Because your weakness that you neglected in this preparation journey will be exposed almost immediately is selection. 

Trust The Process...

And Remember, in the end:


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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