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Ten Best Pieces Of Advice On Getting TO And THROUGH Selection

Stew smith

If you're a special ops candidate whose goal is to prepare thoroughly for the toughest training in the world, then pay careful attention to this advice list if you want to avoid failing or quitting. 

 The GOAL of the Ten Pieces of Advice Is:

To help Special Ops Candidates understand that there is more to training than just a fitness test AND building a durable mind and body can take more time than you think.

You Never Think About Quitting - When You Are Thinking About Winning

Use these pieces of advice to jump way ahead of all those who are overthinking the small things and disregarding the BIG things. Explained in the list below are ten BIG issues you need to understand before you join the military.

This list spells the difference between success and failure for every special ops candidate because this list will help you turn weaknesses into strengths, fine tune your training, learn tips to recover from the daily grind, and not overthink things (aka - get inside your own head and worry). 

 Advice # 1 - Prepare Well - Leave Nothing To Chance

  • Having patience and preparing so you can get TO the training by crushing the entrance exam BEFORE you even talk to a recruiter will buy you more time to prepare to get THROUGH the training. Longer runs, swims with fins, treading, more calisthenics, and lifting to prepare for load bearing of logs, boats, and/or rucking events is critical to the next phase of journey.

  • Prepare well - Thoroughly - Even then know that you will miss something and you have to be confident in your abilities to be challenged by new events, skills to learn, and techniques to master on a steep learning curve. That is the essence of any spec ops selection.

  • And that means you need all the tools in your back pack that you can fit into it when going through a military special ops selection program that has a 70-80% attrition rate on average.

 Advice # 2 - Mental Toughness 

  • There are many discussions on mental toughness and preparing the mind to endure the challenge of spec ops selection. But in the end it comes down to HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT and are you tough enough to endure the test. Also, do you have a good answer to tell yourself when you are cold, wet from sitting in dark ocean water, sandy, tired, and there is no end in sight? What do you say when your WILL is challenged? See One Stop Shop for Mental Toughness Training Skills 

 Advice # 3 - Focus On Your Weaknesses - Maintain Your Strengths

  • You will need to assess yourself and be honest with yourself in your training. This may mean doing things that you do not like to do - like running or more calisthenics and less lifting for a cycle or two. Getting good at swimming is not easy - getting into swimming shape is downright difficult to do and takes time if you are a non-swimming athlete going into this journey. This may require a longer timeline than you thought. The best advice here is DO NOT set a timeline - set a performance STARTING LINE!

Advice # 4 - Don't Be In A Rush To Serve - Just Because You Can At 18 - Does Not Mean You Are Ready

  • This is by far the number one piece of advice I give to 18 year olds as most do not quite understand the level of fitness and emotional maturity that is required. Usually, the mix of living away from home the first time, with a group of strangers in close quarters, in a different city / state, and being asked to perform at higher levels you ever dreamed, while receiving constant negative feedback is a Perfect Storm for Failure. 

Advice # 5 - Make It To The Next Meal - Best Advice For Graduating Hellweek.

  • If you want to break down the long day or even the longer week that is called "hell week" into more consumable pieces, focus on getting to the next meal. The good news is that you will get some time to sit down, eat, and relax every 5-6 hours or so - even during hell week. Use these moments to re-group, re-fuel, hydrate, and get mentally prepared for the next evolution - even if you do not know what that evolution is.

 Advice # 6 - Foot Care - Take Care Of Your Body (especially Your Feet)

  • Foot care – If you are going to be running in wet boots and/or rucking for long distances in your future, you need to toughen up the feet. Do more barefoot walking on sand, wear two pairs of socks (one normal pair cotton / wool type and one thin polyester /rayon blend against the skin) when in boots, place fitted inserts into your boots / shoes, and monitor your feet when you can, especially if they get wet. Always bring a dry pair of socks with you and keep close by for the chance you might get 10 minutes to make a change. In a nutshell - Toughen up your feet during your preparation phase and baby them during selection.

 Advice # 7 - Don't Listen To Yourself - Talk To Yourself

  • This piece of advice sang to me one day as it is real easy to have that voice inside your head telling you to slow down, go get warm, asking what are you doing to yourself. I call this the Quit Demon and YOU have to be the voice inside your head that remembers your WHY, can withstand having your WILL tested with pain and discomfort, and talks positively to get through times and events that have you at your physical end. At some point you moving another step will require "finding the fuel when the tank is empty". This is all done with your internal dialogue as long as YOU are the one talking POSITIVELY!

 Advice # 8 - Learning Techniques / Movements Is Key

  • These are common weaknesses that each of us tend to bring to the table as we start this preparation to spec ops journey. Swimming, treading water, running fast enough, rucking, and then adding tactical skills like land and underwater navigation (compass reading), knot tying on breath holds, and general comfortability doing uncomfortable things in the dark or murky environments. The learning curve is steep as you take on new skills in this journey so "practice not until you get it right - but until you cannot get it wrong." Repetition, Repetition, Repetition!

  • Swimming workouts 
  • Running Workouts 
  • Rucking Progression 
  • Strength Training - Getting Good at ALL of them is Tactical Fitness

Advice # 9 - Understand The Phases Of Tactical Fitness (To, Through, Active Duty)

  • Too many people neglect to realize the process of being a candidate, a student, and an active duty operator. You don't jump right into operator workouts nor do you stay in PT test mode and keep getting good PT test scores during your preparation phases.
  • First you have to ace a fitness test in order to get TO the training. Join the military too soon and you will never meet the standards in the time you are allowed in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Your workouts should look like the PST doing workouts that focus specifically on crushing this test so you can actually be invited into the student community.
  • Second, you have to prepare yourself to get THROUGH the training. This means specifically focusing on longer runs, swims with fins, rucking, more variety of high rep calisthenics, grip training, and lifting to prepare for the load of logs and boats. If you do not do this, your chances of getting THROUGH the training is slim regardless of your mental toughness.  If you don't meet the physical standard on the above events or other tactical tests, or you break,  you are done.
  • AND Third, when you are an active duty operator, your workouts will change to maintain all the elements of fitness - strength / power, grip, muscle stamina / endurance, speed / agility, flexibility / mobility, but also stress mitigation. Your ability to recover from the stress of the job - physical, mental, emotional - requires you to actively pursue the best recovery skills. Of course, the learning curve is still steep and you will be mastering tactical proficiency in a wider variety of weapons, tools, physical methods, and technical equipment. Staying is shape is a requirement, but the challenges are different.  You no longer have to prepare for the selection process, but you have to stay healthy and capable even more now than ever as your team depends on you to be there.

Advice # 10 - Keep Doing Your Research - Before - During - After You Join

  • Do Your Research on the Process to Join the Military - This will keep you busy as there is a lot to learn about a future profession in the military. How do you get there? Pre-testing, What happens after basic training / boot camp? Where will you live? Take your time during the physical preparation process to also learn about getting TO and THROUGH the training. There are two steps but unfortunately over half of the applicants did not prepare well enough to get THROUGH the training.
  • There are many ways to prepare for military service and special ops preparation, I have A way that works for many - I don't have THE way. Truth is THE way is the one that works for you and is part physical fitness preparation, mental toughness development, as well as personal will and discipline.  Your athletic history, strengths and weaknesses have to be addressed first and foremost and then a program can be arranged properly.  
  • My advice for anyone who asks this question is this: ASSESS YOURSELF, SET GOALS OF PERFORMANCE, GET ON A PROGRAM, DO YOUR RESEARCH - THEN join the military when you have successfully crushed the PT test and started on your journey to get THROUGH the training.

Now the thing for you to do is to get on a program - See training ideas for some of the toughest jobs on the planet. 

Other Spec Ops Programs / Training Options 

 More Options Available

Or Try Workout Programming Specifically Designed for any Tactical Fitness Goal:

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 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 – 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


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

 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

Out of Shape? Not meeting personal and professional standards of fitness and health? Try some one - on - one personalized assistance with your training goals and consider Online Coaching by Stew Smith CSCS. No matter what your goals, you and Stew will create a program together that works for you. 

VIDEO TESTIMONIAL:  Jim started with me several years ago needing help with his fitness and health. Over the years, we became friends and even business partners on a few joint ventures - I still send him weekly workouts. Here is a video testimonial that was placed in the middle of his podcast - I was shocked but wanted to share as it is a great story and quite typical of clients on any of the Online Training Programs.

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