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What Program is Right for Me? Special Ops Candidate

Stew smith

What Training Program is Right for Me? (Book, eBook, Online Coaching?)

This is a very common question and the answer is always - "IT DEPENDS."

It depends on your scores compared to other successful students.  See the Assessment Tool to Make it To and Through Selection and see where you stack up with all the elements of fitness - not just a PST score. 

Assess your weaknesses because they will be exposed during your first PST and especially during your first day of selection. 

Typical Transitions of Weaknesses That Must Occur

Special Ops Selection are specifically designed to expose weaknesses and they usually get exposed near immediately as a failure to meet the standards or the individual getting injured is the usual outcome for underdeveloped weaknesses. You can avoid this issue by preparing on a cycle or two focused on your weakness.  These are the typical weaknesses serious performing athletes have when preparing for any spec ops pipeline:

Strength / Power Athlete - Typical lifters, football players, and other power athletes, need more Endurance (run, swim, ruck) and quite often less mass (football linemen). The lifter lacks muscle stamina to crush high repetition calisthenics tests and workouts as well as the cardio endurance to run and swim for long periods of time and fast timed run / swim events. If on the bigger side, the ability to run faster and do obstacle courses (grip strength / endurance) can be seriously challenged. 

However, rucking, load bearing, log PT, and equipment / boat carry is usually not an issue - well at least these bigger folks do not get crushed by the weight like some lighter / less stronger athletes will. Maintaining strength is easier for most even without adding a lift cycle to a full year of training. My advice for this athlete is go straight into calisthenics and cardio with these progressive programs as many lack the ability to run timed runs at a fast pace (6-7 min miles) for 1.5 - 5 miles. In fact, anything over 100m is considered long distance. Many need to learn how to swim PERIOD so that can be some time just focusing on that. High rep calisthenics are not an issue for a set or two, but multiple sets and high volume workouts will crush them if they are not used to longer workouts outside of the weight room.  (Consider Calisthenics and Cardio Workout, Navy SEAL Phase 1Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness,  Stew Smith's Spring Summer Cycle)

Endurance Athlete - Need More Strength / Power / Mass(?) - Typical endurance athletes come from varying backgrounds but all are similarly challenged in needing to add strength, power, and mass (sometimes).  Focusing any of your preparation getting even faster at your competitive events (running, swimming primarily) is a waste of time as most of you will be the best in the class at runs and swims.  However, runners typically lack upper body strength and load bearing ability. They may need to work on calisthenics at higher reps first which is usually a fast transition, however the strength and mass may take a cycle or two focused on getting bigger and stronger. (Consider Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle).  

Swimmers / H2O Polo - The competitive swimmers typically have running impact weaknesses and lack ability to do load bearing and agility (logs, boats, o courses).  (Consider Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout, Weight Vest Workout,  Stew Smith's Fall Winter Cycle but also progressively build running into higher volume with Navy SEAL Fitness later). 

Other Endurance Athletes - Depending on the sport, the heart and lungs maybe developed, but there are imbalances when they involve any strength training. The good news is that high rep calisthenics typically comes quickly so mastering a PST is not that difficult IF they can swim, but the muscle mass and load bearing activities of selection maybe a challenge if not fully prepared in the weight room with at least a season of weight lifting. (Consider Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness / Navy SEAL Weight Training Combo, Warrior Workout Vol 2, Special Ops Prep - Seasonal Periodization Trilogy, and Spring, Summer, Fall Winter Combo.)  

Most Recent Spring / Summer & Fall Winter Programs:
(click to read more)

Hybrid Athletes - Multi-sport athletes, decathletes, some middle distance runners, lacrosse players, soccer/rugby players, higher level Cross-Fitters,and wrestlers that get a good amount of fast paced running, hard work in anaerobic zones, and a combination of strength training are usually well-rounded athletes. If these athletes can pick up swimming quickly and do not injure themselves with increased volume of calisthenics and running miles, the process is relatively short. 

All of the above athletes need special focus on New Skill Technique / Work on any water weakness (Swim, tread underwater, diving) in order to specialize in many of the events they have not done during their years of athletic training.  

(Consider Navy SEAL Fitness, Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week depending on initial PST scores, and a cycle of Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness / Navy SEAL Weight Training Combo).


All Athletic Types Make It - IF You Prepare and Want It Bad Enough

All these types makes it! If they improve on their incoming weaknesses. Remember there are THREE phases of Tactical Fitness no matter what program you use. 

Learning the differences between the specifics Is the first part of this training education as many people do not realize the differences of each phase of training and train "out of phase" depending on their immediate and future goals. 
Phase 1 - TO the training,  (specifics to testing)
Phase 2 - THROUGH the training, (specifics to selection / training)
Phase 3  - Active Operator Maintenance / Stress Mitigation 

Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization is an answer to staying in the phase of fitness you should be focused as well as the improving the elements of fitness that are your weaknesses. These elements of fitness can be viewed in the diagram below:
Strength, Power, Speed, Agility, Endurance (multiple modes), Muscle Stamina, Flexibility, Mobility, Grip are the physical elements that the tactical athlete has to engage to remain "good at everything."

New Block Periodization System to Maintain Strengths and Improve Weaknesses at the same time.  See 3:1 Block Periodization System for full details but here is a brief description:

Do three weeks of a cycle that you need the most work (weakness), follow it with a week of your strengths.  We did this over the Winter Lift Cycle this year and saw incredible results with people maintaining their PST scores as well as gaining strength during the lift cycle. 

Do three weeks of any strength training cycle followed by a PST Week.  We did this specific PST training week every four weeks during the winter. Some even improved runs and swim and PT scores during this cycle just by adding in the "deload week of calisthenics of cardio" in the lift cycle every 4 weeks. 

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)

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

High Intermediate Military / Advanced Spec Ops
Building Programming:

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.  

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

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  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
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