Your Weaknesses Will Be Exposed Quickly
Running, Swimming, Load Bearing, Lifting, and Mental Toughness When You Are Tired, Alone With Your Thoughts
(a few of many typical weaknesses)
Weaknesses will be exposed is one of the main things all Special Ops Selection programs have in common - they are designed that way and the ones with the fewest weaknesses and strongest will are those who succeed.
However, if you do not do the right amount of preparation and research, your weaknesses will be exposed early in the recruiting process and you will never get the opportunity to even TRY to go to selection. Weakness exposed during recruiting process.
Most people think of physical weakness, but there is more to having a weakness than just not being strong or a fast runner. Whether it is an element of fitness that was underprepared or your personal will to endure the daily grind of a high attrition rate selection program, having durability, the ability to work physically hard all day, then have the ability to recover to do it again tomorrow, and not quitting because you are tired and in pain is the key to success. Building a strong body and mind that has the work capacity and durability to keep going is what we are talking about when it comes to preparing to turn weaknesses into strengths. To be a complete tactical athlete ready to get TO and THROUGH and become an active duty member of any tactical profession you need to consider the following diagram as we all start off this journey with one or more weaknesses on this chart.
The Elements of Fitness
Your Weaknesses Will Be Exposed Daily Trying To Get Through Selection
If you're one of the special ops candidates who wants to know how to graduate special ops selection, then here is a list of common weaknesses you want to avoid. Having an undiscovered weaknesses will require one of three things: you digging deep to gut check the event that is testing your abilities, get injured due to an overuse injury that could have been avoided, or fail out of training because you could not meet the standard. One of these three will happen along your journey and the fewer times it happens the better off you are. However, if you train that weakness well prior to joining, you may be able to avoid one of those three options altogether.
Mission: Helping candidates prepare properly and leave nothing to chance and avoid having weaknesses exposed during selection.
Special ops candidates need to understand that your preparation involves assessing yourself regularly. When you discover a weakness that last thing you want to do is neglect an important part of your training. You will now need to specifically focus on it. However, every successful student will at sometime during selection be challenged to their core beliefs of why they want to do this profession. This could be daily occurrence, weekly event, or just a few times throughout training when you are especially cold, wet, and tired. The fewer of these personal gut checks the better and you can control this by focusing on any weakness you may have NOW.
Do you know what your weaknesses are?
ASSESS YOURSELF: Here is a list of common weaknesses that make each spec ops candidate dig deep to get through it each day or it could end their spec ops dreams because they do not meet the standards required by the course.
Weakness Exposed: # 1 - Running
You will run everywhere. You will run regular timed run events weekly (at least at BUDS) and if your 4 mile timed run pace is not under 8 min mile pace (I recommend 7 min mile pace) in boots, pants, and sandy beach, you will fail out due to running weakness. I placed this first as for most people, this was the killer - either in overuse injuries or failing to meet the standard. Having a solid foundation in running 6 min mile pace for PST timed runs and a 7 min mile pace for 4+ mile runs is going to help you turn this weaknesses into more of a strength but this takes time - especially for the strength / power athlete. You have to invest time into becoming a cardio machine.
Weakness Exposed: # 2 - Swimming
Depending on your special ops selection, if you have a diving element in your training, you will have significant swimming and pool skills required of you. From swimming fast without fins, swimming long distances with fins, treading water for long periods of time, drownproofing, life saving, and other pool skills that go into military SCUBA diving or rescue swimming, you will be challenged in the water constantly. Any one of those activities listed above will get you dropped if you fail, or if you fail to learn new aquatic skills at a high speed level you are done as well.
Weakness Exposed: # 3 - Being Uncomfortable (Cold, Hot, Wet, Sandy, Dirty, Sleepy, Hungry, In Pain, Tired...etc)
There is nothing like the moment when you don't care about being uncomfortable. In fact, the saying "getting comfortable being uncomfortable" applies to special ops candidates when enduring selection. Chances are, you will be all of these during your training, and the question is "how do you handle it." Sometimes going from comfortable to getting up and doing something like 5am workouts is a good way to prepare for trading comfort for discomfort. Have you trained yourself by playing sports, other athletic activities, worked hard in manual labor jobs, and pushed yourself even though you did not feel like it or have the most comfortable of situations to deal with? If so, that is a good thing, otherwise you will find out how you handle these daily nagging events of discomfort when you are first in it. Being mentally prepared for that needs to occur.
Weakness Exposed: # 4 - Strength And Durability
Many endurance athletes will work on mastering their runs and swims to near world class level, but neglect a foundation of strength training. This lack of strength and overall durability will be exposed when under pullup bars, under a boat, log, heavy ruck and equipment carry. This can be a double issue for the swimming athlete as all that time in zero gravity can make you susceptible to stress fractures / shins / tendonitis when the impact of running and rucking are added at a high level during selection. If you can avoid being broken by the impact or the weight of selection, the question is how much pain can you take as your feet, shins, knees, hips, lower back, shoulders will be screaming at you if you neglected to expose them to the impact and heaviness of gravity.
Weakness Exposed: # 5 - Endurance, Muscle Stamina, Work Capacity
For the strength and power athlete, going hard and fast for short periods of time and long rest periods will not work in any spec ops selection. There is no 30 min gym routine that will get you through a day of spec ops training. You still need to have that strength foundation which will serve you well, but for most, the less time in the weight room and more time in the pool, running, and wearing a ruck the better you will be during your preparation phase. You need to turn yourself into an endurance athlete and the resistance training will be in the form of calisthenics and some moderate weights for more high reps. Muscle stamina and endurance is the goal and you will be surprised you will not lose much strength, even if you have to lose significant weight in this process. You need to be able to go for hours moving in some method (run, swim, ruck), do obstacle courses, and high rep calisthenics that will challenge your grip the heavier you are. No longer is anything over 100m long distance. You have to be able to run a fast pace for 4-6 miles if you want to stay in the program.
Weakness Exposed: # 6 - Too Big - Too Small
This is obviously that that big of a hurdle but it will require some form of daily gut check depending on the event you are doing. There are big and small graduates of all special ops selection program, just the average spec ops student is pound for pound stronger and has a little more mass on them than the average person. Think of the special ops candidate who graduates as part of a group that make up a bell curve if you graphed the height and weight of each of them. You will see some people on the smaller framed side as well as the larger framed side on both ends of the spectrum and to be honest few and far between. The majority of the class are your average sized people who for their height maybe a little heavy according to military height weight standards but be lower in body fat (low to mid teens or less).
Lighter / shorter people tend to get crushed under the weight of logs, boats, rucks, and even a a few obstacles (dirty name). While bigger people tend to have a harder time with runs, some higher rep calisthenics, and obstacle courses. You cannot change your height, but you can some muscle mass or lose some bulk if needed to be stronger under load or faster in cardio events respectively. See article on the diverse shapes and sizes of successful BUDS students - just realize each typically require a gut check somewhere.
See chart comparing the max weight in the Navy to the "ideal" weight of the BUDS student. Relax this is all opinion on the height and weights and a plus or minus 10 lbs could easily apply to each height.
Weakness Exposed: # 7 - Maturity - Handing Negative Feedback
There are many teenagers that start BUDS training and there are only a few left at graduation. Most selection programs require more training before you can enlist and jump into special ops selection, but there is nothing in the Navy (Air Force too) that can prepare a sailor for Spec Ops training. For instance, the Army and Marines have infantry, jump school, and a logical progression for members who want to transition into special ops.
Most of the young people who do not make it have a snowball of drama that grows each day and is hard to handle when you are young. Being in a new town, new job, living and working with strangers (at first), missing home, girlfriends breaking up with you, or other family and relationship issues can come crashing down while the instructors are providing nothing but negative feedback while you are working harder than you ever thought possible. It is the Perfect Storm for Failure. My answer is do not be in a hurry to join the military. Finish growing, get in killer shape, and gain some life experiences as there is no need to rush into this. You have a wide window to join and that goes all the way until you are in the late 20s / early 30s even. Believe it or not - that is NOT old and most 30 year old's will crush an 18 year old kid in most all activities except speedy recovery.
Now the thing for you to do is Figure out your weaknesses by using this proven assessment tool.
Also "Have You Ever Seen a Spec Ops Candidate Cry?" This article cuts deep and you see when Weaknesses Get Exposed. Check it out.
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When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model. I call it A WAY to train and not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity never to neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, and puts you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we run and do more calisthenics. When colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.
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