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Tactical Fitness - Are You Assessing or Just Guessing?

Stew smith

You Are Either Assessing or Guessing - Don't Leave Anything Up to Chance / Hope

When it comes to tactical fitness training as well as preparation as you transition in the profession, learning to get "good at everything" vs "great at one thing" to the detriment of other elements of fitness is technically the difference between the tactical athlete and the athlete involved in sports or competition. 

Sample Assessment Tool

Here is an assessment tool that was created for the type of military special ops training as seen in Navy SEAL Training complete with the PST to get TO THE TRAINING as well as several (not all) events to get THROUGH THE TRAINING. What is good enough? 

Have you ever asked yourself what is good enough to be competitive in any special ops selection program?  If so, you should know that this means to focus on fast and sustainable paces in long and short timed runs, swims, rucks well faster than the minimum standards as well as other events you will see in training to include treading, drownproofing, knot tying, life saving and many more.  Other events that require more strength and durability will include lifting to prepare for logs, boats, fireman carries, and other load bearing of gear and equipment.  You should have a a foundation of strength that has an above average level of anerobic and anaerobic fitness built upon that foundation.

How Do You Get Good at Everything? 

To get good at everything you may need some time in training. It is important to assess yourself and focus on your weaknesses while you still maintain your strengths as it is often difficult to improve in separate unrelated events when done together. This requires YOU to be honest with yourself before you do anything prematurely and join before you are really ready. For instance, if trying to get strong with many of the leg / lift exercises like squatas and dead lift, it is very difficult to see drops in mile times for 1.5 to 4 mile distances. You maybe able to see improvements in speed / agility, but pushing the improvement in both often requires separate trainning cycles - so be patient and do not join on an artibrary timeline that maybe too short - join on a performance starting line with above average numbers and preparation.

Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization

There is a reason why I train and teach the way I do. The main reason why we do the Spring / Summer Calisthenics / Cardio Cycle focused on endurance and muscle stamina and also why we do the Fall / Winter Lift Cycle and focus on strength, shorter and faster cardio events, and mass building is to try build weaknesses while we maintain the gains from the previous cycle.  It is a balancing act that requires proper recovery, nutrition fuel, and a periodized training programming.

Here Are Some Testing Ideas Used in Many Tactical Programs

My Tactical Fitness Test as used in the book Tactical Fitness:

Exercise Recommended Scores
4 mile ruck (50lbs) 1 hour maximum time (40 min max)
25# Pullups max reps 2 – 10 reps (20 max)
Bench press (bodyweight) Pass or fail 1 rep:  5 reps — 15+ reps for extra points
Dead Lift (1.5-2x bodyweight) Pass or fail — 1 rep
(3–5 reps for extra pts)
Fireman Carry (P/​F) 100yds of equal bodyweight
400m sprint 60–80 seconds or faster
Shuttle run 300yds 60–80 seconds or faster
Plank pose (P/​F) 1 minute minimum /​ 5 min max
3 mile run (P/​F) 18 minutes to 23 minutes for extra points
Illinois Agility Test <15 secs to >19 sec
Swim – can you swim?
Yes /​ no
Swim 500m timed 6 minutes – 10 minutes
Swim – Buddy Tow Pass/​fail – 25m buddy rescue swim


Tactical Strength Test from the Tactical Strength Book

Exercise Recommended Scores
4 mile ruck (50lbs) 1 hour maximum time (40 min max)
25# Pullups max reps 2 – 10 reps (20 max)
Bench press (1RM) 1-1.5 BW or more
Dead Lift (3RM) 1.5 -2 x bodyweight
Back Squat 1RM 1-2 x bodyweight
Pullup hang Strong man hang 1 min or more
Shuttle run 300yds 60–80 seconds or faster
KB swing 5 minutes (53 / 35 lbs) 100 swings in 5 minutes
5-10-5 Pro Agility Test 5-6 seconds
Swim – can you swim?
Yes /​ no
Swim 500m timed with fins 6 minutes – 9 minutes


 Other Classic Events on Tactical Fitness Tests

 Exercise Recommended Scores
Pushups, situps, pullups (2 min) 80 / 80 / 20
1.5 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile timed runs 6-7 min mile pace (sub 7 min minimum)
4 mile and 5 mile run 7-8 min mile pace (sub 8 min minimum)
Beep Test (instructions)  13 or more sets
300m sprint under 50 seconds
Broad Jump 1 ft over height or more
Vertical Jump  20-24 or more inches
Sit and Reach Pass - Flexibility

Several Tests In Use Today (or Transitioning)

There are different names for these new tests for instance:

Combat Fitness Test - Army and Marine Corps
Ranger Physical Assessment Test (RPAT) - Army Ranger
Operator Fitness Test - Air Force Special Warfare
Human Performance Test - Navy SEAL / SWCC / EOD / Diver
Candidate Physical Aptitude Test (CPAT) - Fire Service  

AFSW Operator Fitness Test (OPT)

Ranger - RAW Physical Assessment Test (RPAT):

3 mile ruck
Standing Long Jump
5-10-5 Pro Agility Test
Trap bar Dead Lift 3 Rep Max Weight
Pullups max reps
100yd Farmer Carry Sprint ( 2 x 53lb KBS)
300yd Shuttle Run (12 x 25yd shuttle)

1500m Swim with fins (Side, CSS, LATA side stroke)

3 rep max trap bar deadlift
Broad jump
5-10-5 agility shuttle
Pull-ups max reps
Hanging Heel claps (feet over bar – tap heels)
Metronome cadence push-ups
Two 300-yd shuttles with 2min rest


Army CFT (see link)

USMC CFT + PFT (see link)

3 Rep max - Trap bar Dead lift
Med Ball Standing Power Throw
Hand Release Pushups
Sprint – Sled Drag – Carry
Leg Tuck
2 mile timed run

Run 880 yards in battle dress uniform.

Lift a 30-pound ammo can push press.

300-yard shuttle run of sprints, agility course, high crawl, low crawl, body drag, fireman carry, ammo can carry, push-ups and grenade throw.



Navy Spec War / Spec Ops Human Performance Test

Fire Fighter CPAT (book)
(see link for more details)

800m swim
3 mile run
Standing Long Jump
Pro Agility Test 5-10-5
BW Bench Press – Max Reps
1RM Dead Lift
Wt. Pullups with 25lb vest
300yd shuttle run (12 x 25yd)
*BW = bodyweight

(under review but still a good test)








Stair Climb – 60 steps/minute with 25lb vest (stair climber machine)

Hose Drag – Drag 200ft hose for 100ft – then pull 50ft of hose hang over hand on one knee position.

Equipment Carry – Carry Two Saws 150ft, lift back onto truck shelf.

Ladder Raise and Extension -raise and lower a 24ft ladder.

Forcible Entry – Swing 10 lbs sledgehammer with enough force to open door / break wall.

Search – Crawl / navigate through 64ft of dark tunnel.

Rescue -Drag 165lb dummy 70ft (2 x 35ft)

Ceiling Breach and Pull – Using Pike Pole Push / Pull ceiling weight of 60 / 80 lbs several times.

 You can see many similarities with the military tactical fitness tests compared to each other. Now, compare / contrast the Above Tests to the Tactical Fitness and Tactical Strength Book Tests created separately.  These workout programs are created around the tactical fitness elements to offer a complete program for ALL the elements of tactical fitness. 

About Testing

Though it is good to know where you stand with many of these elements of fitness, it is important to use this primarily as an assessment to determine any weaknesses in your tactical fitness spectrum of abilities.  Then create programming to turn these weaknesses into less of a weakness and personal gut check to prevent future failure or even overuse injury due to neglecting any event you will see again in your training as well as your job. 

Who Is The Tactical Fitness Coach / 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)

We Have Answers For Beginners to Advanced Spec Ops Level Training Programs (see below)



DO NOT RELY ON THE MILITARY TO GET YOU INTO SHAPE AT BASIC TRAINING.  You will get into better shape for sure during your training if you arrive in lower fitness form, but you need to arrive with a foundation of physical fitness that is specific to your future job in the military / fitness tests / training. If you show up out of shape, you could end up failing standards or injuring yourself causing longer delays or removal from training altogether. 

For You Special Candidates (Get in Shape LONG Before You Join) 

High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Building Programming:

Which Program is Right For Me?
It Depends...Special Ops Candidates

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. 

Other EBOOKS (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. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).


Lifting Cycle Programs For Those Who Need a Strength Focus

You may have seen my Winter Lift Cycle that I discuss in the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization article as well as have our actual lift programs we have done over the years in the following books.


It is not all just calisthenics and cardio at Stew Smith Fitness

Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle, Warrior Workout #2Maximum Fitness

These programs as well as my online coaching programs have Winter Lift Cycles in them as part of our Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System. But, do not get these lift cycles confused with ACTUAL strength / power lifting programs, these are strength / power programs that also have a focus on cardio fitness maintenance BECAUSE you need to be good at all the elements of fitness and develop into an all-round Tactical Athlete.  

Most Recent Spring / Summer & Fall Winter Programs:
(click to read more)
Or Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?


Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local Stew Smith Training programs. 

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.

Join the Online PT CLUB:
One On One Coaching with Stew Smith

If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching

Questions?  Just email me at

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