Cart 0

Test Taking Tips to Crush Basic Testing to Spec Ops Testing (and everything in between)

Stew smith

Typical Strategies Given During Recent USNA Summer Seminar Event (2nd session)

The loss of the sounds system caused a different style of workout that was more doing than coaching. Usually I am able to give the following pieces of advice when it comes to preparing to get TO and THROUGH any type of future training program you seek to endure. First you have to get accepted INTO the Service Academy (in this case, the US Naval Academy) by crushing your grades, tests, medical qualifications, sports, leadership positions, and the fitness test called the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA).  It consists of the following:

Basketball Throw (from knees)
Pullups max
120ft Shuttle Run (4 x 30ft)
Crunches 2 minutes
Pushups 2 minutes
1 mile timed run

During the Summer Seminar Workout, we do several different workout segments that can help you create a program to improve the above fitness scores as well as the fitness test you have to take each semester while at the Academy (cadence pushups, plank pose, 1.5 mile timed run).

The Workout We Did At USNA Summer Seminar

This is a NO equipment needed workout. Typically, we do this workout on a big field with all your fellow classmates and resembles group workouts you will see in Plebe Summer.

Warmup: * cadence pushups now the test, Plank pose, BUT situps still part of the CFA as well as all the Spec ops Level PSTs so - you have to practice them as well.  We will do both today. Simulate running with JJ, lunges, (treadmill, bike, etc)…

  • 10 pushups, 10 squats, 10 lunges/leg, run 200m
  • 20 pushups, 20 squats, 10 lunges/leg, run 300m
  • 30 pushups, 30 squats, 10 lunges/leg, run 400m
  • Light stretch throughout each set.

Death by Pushups with 5-10 Pushups EMOM

If you have tried the “Death by Pushups” workout, you will see it is more mental that physical.  Death by Pushups is a 10-minute plank pose, but every minute on the minute you do 5-10 pushups.  You can either rest in the plank position, UP pushup position, or do a side plank and shake out the arms if needed. You must go to your happy place when attempting this time altering workout challenge.

During the 10 min Plank, I usually discuss a few things to help pass the time: 

Pacing During the Fitness Test (SItups and Running Especially) - Train for the pace to help crush fitness test events that require it to max out. 

Making the Transition to Running After High Rep Calisthenics Testing - Is your run always worse after pullups, pushups, and situps? Here is why...

Exceeding the Standards is the Standard - NO minimum standards. - No brainer!  In the tactical professions (military, police, fire fighter) higher standards of fitness and tactical skills save lifes (and your own). 

Changes in military pt test exercises (situps / plank)

The Wide Variety of Fitness Test You May Take in the Near Future at a Service Academy

At the Naval Academy you will be exposed to a variety of fitness tests depending on what you select to be your Navy career choice after graduation.  There range from the following options:

Candidate Fitness Assessment - CFA - to get accepted into the Academy (USNA, USMA, USMMA, and USAFA) - explained above

USNA PFT - Each Semester PFT:  Cadence Pushups, Plank pose, and 1.5 mile timed run. Plus swim tests, boxing, wrestling, judo, and more as part of PE classes each semester.

SEAL / EOD Career Test:  500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run

USMC PFT and CFT: Pullups, Plank, 3 mile timed run and the CFT is the following events:

  • Run 880 yards (two laps around a track), simulating movement to contact in battle dress uniform, fast.
  • Lift a 30-pound ammunitions can overhead from shoulder height for max reps for two minutes.
  • Perform a maneuver-under-fire simulated event, a timed 300-yard shuttle run in which Marines are paired up by size and perform the following tasks: sprints, agility course, high crawl, low crawl, body drag, fireman carry, ammo can carry, push-ups and grenade throw.

The RECON Fitness Test - Midshipmen have an opportunity to attend the RECON Screener and Selection Course during summer training.  This is a tough test that is done at the Academy for those seeking advanced level training during the summers:  

  • Swim: 500 meters in cammies top/bottoms using the Combat Side Stroke (CSS), elementary sidestroke or breaststroke.
  • Rifle retrieval: Recover rifle from the bottom of the pool's deep end, followed by a 25-meter swim tow.
  • Underwater swim: 25 meters with cammies
  • Tread: 30 minutes in cammies
  • USMC PFT plus push-ups: pull-ups, push-ups, crunches/plank, three-mile timed run
  • USMC obstacle course: Run it twice for time.

Army Airborne / Air Assault School Billets - Some summer's the Mids are able to attend the above Army schools and will have to pass the corresponding Army Fitness Test and attend a USNA screener weekend to prove your abilities as these billets are competitive. 

Why Death By Pushups You Ask? 

Cadence pushups - New fitness test event at the Naval Academy at a rate of 2 pushups per second.  Practice that pace every OTHER day.

Plank pose - max is 4:20. Shoot for that goal and with workouts like the 10 minute Death by Pushups workouts, you can practice both at the same time. 

FInal Words - I failed my first fitness test as a Plebe.  (Read entire story). Take your fitness seriously and figure out ways to improve any weaknesses before hand.  Once you get accepted, start trying to understand the level of increased performance that is required to make it THROUGH the training.  

Use these next few months to crush the CFA and re-submit your scores if you feel can do better. Work hard in your SPORTS, Leadership activities, grades, and test taking skills.

Once you get accepted, start training for Plebe Summer (running, calisthenics, learning about USN / USMC, ranks etc) and focus on the plank, pushups, and 1.5 mile run 

We continued with a few more sets of exercises

Repeat 3 times
30s jumping jacks / rope (run up/down stairs)
Situps 1 minute / stomach stretch
Flutterkicks 25

Note on Situps - PACE YOUR SITUPS.  We did these at 20 situps every 30 seconds or 40/minute pace.  This will give you 80 in 2 minutes if you work to practice this pace and get in shape to maintain it for 2 minutes.  You may find just by pacing yourself in the first 30 seconds, you can maintain this pace for 2 minutes already.  I have seen countless people fail the test on a Monday and pass it again the next day by simply starting out slower.  Not just barely passing either - I am talking about going form 60 reps to 80 reps in 2 days.  It is a pacing technique of training vs. a focus of speed out the gate in a two minute test. 

Since we have over 800 people doing this workout, we cannot do pullups, but it is necessary to practice pullups as they will help you do other events in future PT tests (USMC, Navy SEAL / EOD, etc) but also the obstacle course event done many times at the Naval Academy.

Additional Exercises for CFA Preparation:

See My Three Favorite Workouts to Crush PT Tests (Pullups, pushups, situps, and timed runs)

Repeat 3 times

Pullups max 
Shuttle run 120ft (4 x 30 ft) sprints
BBall throws 2-3 times

Basketball Throw – Practice this event for only a few throws a day.  You can use the event after a post-warmup or post-workout event, but you want to be adquately warmed up and ready to throw before you put 100% effort into this throw.  Practice a few throws each day as 50-60% technique focus an aim for that 45 degree angle throw each time. 

Running – 1 mile run – master your goal pace ( 4 x 400m runs learn your pace)
There are many running workouts  you can do from goal pace intervals like the 4 x 400m above as well as 800m and 1 mile run sets to get into running shape. It is fine to mix in non-impact cardio if shins get tender during your running progression. 

See Beginner Running Plan

And More Advanced Running Plan to Build up to and Maintain for a cycle in order to focus on speed. 

Finally - Good luck senior year…I hope to see you here next year.

The Service Academy Workout - Military Officer Fitness - Candidate Fitness Assessment Training Program - Crush the CFA!

FREE - Check out the new CFA Calculator to see if you are scoring in the competitive range! 

Do you want to get selected into military officer programs like the United States Service Academies and serve your country as a military officer? 

Have you experienced failure to receive the results you need to be competitive?

Failing to train specifically for this test can make you apprehensive about even applying, but what if I told you all it takes is a few months of training and you can be competitive which can be helpful in getting accepted into a Service Academy?

If you've ever wondered "Can getting better at the CFA help my application?" The answer is yes. The Service Academy Workout – Military Officer Fitness Candidate Fitness Assessment Workout book or ebook created by Naval Academy Graduate Stew Smith - Former Navy SEAL - has the answers every service academy candidate needs to know about training as well as harder programs for Special Ops candidates and Marines.  Click Here Now for more:

Once The CFA Is Completed...

I hope you get accepted!  Once you do, the program requirements are still similar but with some differences as discussed above:

Here's the answer for solving this issue with Crushing the PT Test once and for all. If you really want to serve your country and community, this the PFT Bible book or ebook as it is updated with the latest PT test changes (planks) lays it all out for you!

What makes the PFT Bible so versatile that you can use it for many of the tactical professions?  Well, most PT Tests involve pushups, situps / crunches or plank poses, and running.  Some will also have pullups as well as shuttle runs or sprints.  This program is specifically designed to help people with the most standard PT Test around:  Pushups, Situps / Crunches (now plank), and 1.5 mile timed runs.  BUT it also incorporates short distance running, plank poses, pullups, and even leg tucks (knee ups) to add to a more well rounded training program. 

Get on a plan -Get Started Today and Let Fitness be the Catalyst That Drives the Rest of Your Life!

What many people do to start out is the Calisthenics and Cardio program to build a foundation of fitness with muscle stamina and endurance, then the next phase can add some weights if you prefer. 

But one of my latest creations is called the Calisthenics and Cardio - No Equipment Needed Guide For Body Weight Exercisers and maybe a good option for people of all fitness levels to stay home or get outside and train.


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


(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). 


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

These programs have 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

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published