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Test Yourself - Discover the Weakness Then Focus on That Weakness

Stew smith

What is Your Weakness? Test and Find Out
Assess or Guess - Your Choice

Imagine standing at the threshold of an elite military program, your acceptance hanging in the balance of one crucial fitness test. It’s not just a test; it’s a gateway to a world where only the best can thrive. But many find their dreams shattered because they failed to prepare adequately. Don’t let that be you.

One of the most effective strategies to excel in military fitness tests is to simulate the real thing before the actual assessment. This week, one of our group workouts focused on evaluating our strengths and weaknesses by conducting practice tests. We tackled the Navy Physical Screening Test (PST) and the Air Force Special Warfare Initial Fitness Test (AFSW-IFT). These exercises are mandatory for candidates aspiring to join elite units such as the Navy SEALs, SWCC, Diver/EOD, Rescue Swimmer in the Navy, and Pararescue, Combat Controller, and Special Recon in the Air Force. Although these tests include identical events, they are performed in different sequences.

The journey begins with the following tests:

Navy PST:
500-yard swim
Pushups (2 minutes)
Situps (2 minutes)
Pullups (max reps)
1.5-mile timed run

Air Force IFT:
Pullups (max reps)
Situps (2 minutes)
Pushups (2 minutes)
1.5-mile run
2 x 25-meter underwater swims (with 3-minute rest in between)
500-meter swim

Preparation Without Testing Is Guesswork

Your future in these competitive programs hinges on passing these tests. Through consistent practice, you gain insights into effective test strategies, including pacing, fueling, hydrating, and identifying areas for improvement. Many candidates' dreams of joining spec ops units are dashed because they were ill-prepared and didn’t conduct self-assessments prior to the actual test.

Target Weaknesses Post-Test

After the test, address your weakest performance areas even if you’re fatigued. Here’s how you can focus on your weaknesses:

If running is your weakness, head to the track and refine your pacing through interval training. For instance, if aiming for a 9-minute 1.5-mile run but achieving 10:30, practice 6-minute mile pace intervals: Select 400m, 800m or 1200m interval distances as desired:

Repeat 4 times:
Run 800 meters in 3 minutes.
Walk 200 meters

If swimming is your weak spot, return to the pool with the 50/50 Swim Workout:

Repeat 10 times:
Swim 50 meters freestyle fast
Swim 50 meters using an easy stroke (CSS or breaststroke)
Aim to rest minimally; use the easy swim as active recovery.

PT Pyramid If calisthenics is your challenge, add more reps of pullups, pushups, and sit-ups using the to create a secondary workout that yields another 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 sit-ups in 19 sets using the classic 1-10-1 pyramid:

You start at the bottom of the pyramid, at number one. You set the number by 1 for each set, which tells you how many pullups to do. You multiply it by 2 to get your pushups and by 3 for sit-ups. So, you keep progressing until you get to the top of the pyramid, or your MAX At step ten you perform 10 pullups/ 20 pushups/30 sit-ups. Now, you start working your way back down the other side. So, the next set you do will be at step 9 on the way back down. So, you'll do 9 pullups/18 pushups/27 sit-ups. Keep going until you work back down to one. So here is a number summary of the pyramid:

Go up the pyramid: (or half pyramid workout)
Set/Step 1: 1 pullups/2 pushups/3 situps
Set/Step 2: 2 pullups/4 pushups/6 situps
Set/Step 3: 3 pullups/6 pushups/9 situps
Set/Step 4: 4 pullups/8 pushups/12 situps
Set/Step 5: 5 pullups/10 pushups/15 situps (Your first set sets are basically a warmup)
Set/Step 6: 6 pullups/12 pushups/18 situps
Set/Step 7: 7 pullups/14 pushups/21 situps
Set/Step 8: 8 pullups/16 pushups/24 situps
Set/Step 9: 9 pullups/18 pushups/27 situps
Set/Step 10: 10 pullups/20 pushups/30 situps (Here is where you should fail / max out)

Go down the pyramid: (or reverse order pyramid = toughest to easiest number of reps)
Set/Step 9: 9 pullups/18 pushups/27 situps
Set/Step 8: 8 pullups/16 pushups/24 situps
Set/Step 7: 7 pullups/14 pushups/21 situps
Set/Step 6: 6 pullups/12 pushups/18 situps
Set/Step 5: 5 pullups/10 pushups/15 situps (Still tough until this point reaching failure at every level)
Set/Step 4: 4 pullups/8 pushups/12 situps
Set/Step 3: 3 pullups/6 pushups/9 situps
Set/Step 2: 2 pullups/4 pushups/6 situps
Set/Step 1: 1 pullups/2 pushups/3 situps (Finish cool down)

In conclusion, the pyramid has a warmup, max out, and cooldown built in and will definitely help you with your PT scores.

Other creative ideas:

ADD: Dips to the exercises for additional triceps /shoulder burn. I usually do the same number of dips as pullups.

ADD: Running 400m goal pace runs each set to add more running at goal pace mixed with calisthenics if you need to do two weaknesses in one session.

ADD: Swimming PT if swimming is the weakness and you need to work on calisthenics too:

Repeat 10 times
Swim 100m CSS at goal pace (or 50/50 option)
- Pushups 20
- Sit-ups 20
- Pullouts 10 – muscle up on the pool deck.

Assess, test, and reinforce your weaknesses. This targeted approach ensures your chances of moving past the acceptance phase and thriving in spec ops training. Unaddressed weaknesses will be exposed once the real training begins. By consistently challenging and improving your shortcomings, you dramatically increase your likelihood of success.

Unleash Your Potential! Visit to dive into the Assess Your Weaknesses and Focus on Those Weaknesses Workout that will transform your military fitness game. Ready to push your limits and dominate special operations training? Don't wait another second – take control of your future now!

New Tactical Fitness Training Course!

Getting TO the training does not guarantee you get THROUGH the training. Learn about the two phases of tactical fitness you need to develop thoroughly before getting to BUDS. Check out the Online Course - Getting TO and THROUGH Special Ops Selection.

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 -

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram)
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  

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