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The Differences Between the Air Force PAST and Navy Special Warfare PST

Stew smith

The Differences Between the Air Force and Navy Special Warfare Physical Abilities Stamina Test (PAST) and Physical Screening Test (PST) 


There are far more similarities than differences with these two fitness tests and follow on selection training, but there are some differences that have confused people throughout the years especially as both groups tend to change names, order of exercises, and standards quite often. 

Training for both fitness tests as well as the follow on Prep Courses, Assessment and Selection programs are near identical with a few difference - for instance. 

Both require a swim, run, pullups, pushups, and situps, but in different order / rest periods, standards, and the Air Force uses 500m as a distance and the Navy uses 500yds.

Make sure you know what the length of the pool is measured in as you may not be able to swim 10 laps to get your test completed.  For instance 450m = 500yds so if in a meter pool, the Navy only swims 9 laps. If in a yard pool, the Air Force candidate needs to swim almost 11 laps (546 yds = 500m). 

The Air Force can also use the freestyle stroke if candidates prefer.  The Navy is limited to Breast Stroke, Elementary Side Stroke, Combat Side Stroke which is just a modified side stroke with a cool nickname. I have always referred to it as the Combat Swimmer Stroke. 

See chart for distinctions:  PST and PAST Standards as of 2020

Minimum Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST/PST) for Air Force Special Warfare and Navy Special Warfare (SEALS)


PJ, CCT, SR, TACP Scores


Navy SEAL Candidates Scores

Pullups 2 min


500yd swim


Situps 2min


Pushups 2 min


Pushups 2 min


Situps 2 min


1.5 mile run


Pullups 2 min


2 x 25m u/w swim




500m swim




The most important similarity with the PT Test and the follow on training programs is you cannot be a good student with these minimum standards. These are JUST MINIMUM standards however, no one makes it through on minimum standards.  You need to be better. In fact, I personally would strive for the following standards on either test:

500yd / 500m swim – 8:20 (a meter or yard per second pace)
Pushups 80+
Situps 80+
Pullups 20+
1.5 mile run – 9 minutes or less

*Note - these are my recommendations and not the Navy or Air Force recommendations, but see average and competitive scores on their recruiting sites and discussion boards and you will see. 

See links for official pages with scores needed for other pre-enlistment options that are part of Special Warfare / Special Operations:

* AF EOD and SERE have different standards
* Navy SWCC, Diver, EOD, and Air Rescue have different standards

The Air Force requires 2 x 25m underwater swims for the PAST - the Navy PST does not. But, BUD/S and PJ training will require a 50m underwater swim during the early weeks of training. 

As you can see the order of the events is different therefore requiring a different strategy for both. Swimming first then doing all the other events as in the Navy requires practice, perfect technique, and a fueling strategy if you want to have energy for the PT and run events. 

Transition times can be helpful with being recovered for the next event, When you practice your tests or arrange your workouts, consider this test order to help you get used to the demands of the events.  See Navy SEAL PST Clinic for how I recommend people to create strategies for this test. The same type of strategy would apply for the PAST with similar hydrating, transitioning movements, and fueling for the events. 

The Air Force transition time from the land to the pool is 30 minutes. The transition from the PT exercises to the run is 10 minutes. 

The Navy transition time from the pool to the land is 10 minutes. Same for transitioning from the PT exercises to the run. 

The Combat Swimmer Stroke with Fins

NAVY Method - You can use the arms to pull and can be timed with your breathing.  Top leg always goes forward when doing flutterkicks / scissor kicks though you may find the smaller flutterkicks work better than a big scissor kick and little flutters in between.  Your choice how you do to.  


Air Force Method - You use a Lead Arm / Trail Arm Side Stroke Method so you cannot move your arms during this LATA Side Stroke swim in the Air Force. 

Pool Skills

At both BUD/s and the AFSW Assessment and Selection Courses and especially following training (especially PJ), you will be doing a lot of swimming (with / without fins), no hand treading, weighted treading, underwater swims, and some hardcore water competency training.  Drown proofing, treading, multiple underwater swims, and snorkel buddy breathing are the killers at Air Force training. Whereas at BUDS, you will also have drownproofing, instructor life saving (aka underwater wrestling), underwater knot tying on breath holds (15ft deep), and as you master SCUBA diving in second phase, you will have Pool Comp (OC8) which is also  underwater wrestling to a degree on SCUBA.  

Both programs (Air Force and Navy Special Warfare) have recruiting programs that will test your abilities while in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) and you should be able to crush these tests with some basic preparation and testing focus.  Once you have passed the test, now you need to get good enough to be well over the minimum standards as well as focus on other events you will encounter such as longer swims, pool skills, longer runs, rucks, and other load bearing activities. 

Special Ops Level Tactical Fitness Training Ideas

Learn How to do Seasonal Periodization to Build Tactical Athlete Skills

Twelve Questions / Answers About Mental Toughness

Quitting or Not Quitting - The Choice is YOURS  

Getting TO and THROUGH Training (Two Phases of Tactical Fitness)

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 / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

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

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs

There are many more options as well as 
personalized training programs member's only program and the new :


Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. Updated Information on Training, Processes, etc in  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  

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