Gut Check Day for the Special Ops Candidate
There is no 30-minute gym routine that will prepare you for a day of Special Operations Training. There is nothing wrong with going to the gym to lift and mix in some calisthenics, but if you really want to prepare for the more challenging events of Special Ops training, you have to put in your time doing what we call the Special Ops Triathlon (Run, Swim, Ruck).
Much like an Ironman Triathlete has to put in time preparing for an all-day event, so does the Special Ops candidate -- except that you, as the Special Ops candidate, must be prepared for all-day events that continue for several months. If you are still in school, do not skip out on classes, but don’t rest either. There is no time for naps or rests when you are training, and when class lets out, get back to it. If you train hard for a few hours a day, you can actually continue to train your mind and your body, and be prepared for Special Operations training. Remember, there is a fine line between mental toughness and stupidity. Mental toughness and a never quit attitude will come in handy, but a progressive, smartly arranged training plan is the key to getting to and through Special Ops courses.
Below is a workout where you can challenge yourself and try to get it done in one session, or you can break it up during the day into 2-3 one hour workouts. Do not try this workout unless you can handle this many repetitions, as it is easy to overdo it and not realize you have done so until you are injured. THESE ARE ADVANCED WORKOUTS, but you can replace some of the challenging events with easier versions or fewer repetitions of the same muscle group. For example, you can try pulldowns for pull ups, knee pushups for pushups, and crunches or plank pose per second for the many repetitions of the 100, 200, 300 workout). We like to test ourselves with this workout as these exercises are part of the fitness test that allows you to get to Navy SEAL training. Doing these in as few sets as possible will help you by building the muscle stamina that you will need for long days in training. Many Special Ops candidates can get the 100, 200, 300 workout done in 4-5 sets, and some have even done it in 3 sets. Make these 10 minute runs fast, and shoot for at least a 1.5 mile run.
The Build Your Own Spartan section takes the famous Spartan 300 workout of 6 different exercises for 50 reps each and open it up to the user to work on his or her other weaknesses. One thing Special Ops Training will do is expose your weaknesses. It may be running, swimming, or upper body strength -- rarely are people exceptional at all of them. Design the Spartan to fit your weaknesses, whether that means doing calisthenics, dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX, or barbells, you can create hundreds of different workouts that fit your needs.
Now for the cardio section. This is where the time commitment comes in, but if you do not invest time in your cardiovascular conditioning, your scores to get to training will suffer. If this happens, you may not be competitive enough to even attend training, or you may not be able to pass the timed events at training such as 4-5 mile timed runs, 2 mile ocean swims, or 6-12 mile rucks. Many have used the phrase "it is a running man's game" when referring to Special Ops training. Six minute miles for multiple miles are commonplace. Going much slower than that can lead to your inability to stay with the course.
We start the swim workout with the actual test you have to take: 500m swim. Next include a mix of paced intervals to work on technique, including goal timed swims mixed with core work in the form of plank poses. Usually we rest with plank poses for the amount of time it takes to swim 100m. Those who need more practice in the water will decide to tread water (no hands) for the time it takes to swim 100m, to prepare themselves for the water confidence events seen at many Spec Ops courses.
Next comes swimming with fins, which is the staple of Special Ops swimming. Most swims in special ops training are with fins in the open water. You have to get your legs used to this movement and skill.
Your next step will be to do a time 3 mile run, and finally ruck 3 miles with 40-50 pounds while wearing a backpack. Rucking means to move fast with your gear from A to B. If you can keep a fast walk or shuffle pace of 12 minute miles, you will be good to go in most Special ops schools.
We recently did this workout with my Spec Ops prep group one Saturday morning and it took most of us a little over three hours to complete. If you would like to match our speed, break it up like this: Try 1 hour in the gym, doing the 100 200, 300 and Build Your Own Spartan 300 exercise. Next take an hour for the swim workout, and then an hour for the run / ruck workout -- with transition time mixed in as needed.
Warmup jog / PT
Run 25m in between
Stretch / light stretch
100,200,300 PT workout
10 min run
300 situps* - fine to add in plank pose for 1 rep = 1 second of time.
(two minute limit per exercise or max effort)
10 min run
Build your own Spartan 300
Pick 6 exercises and do 50 reps of each:
Example: (build your own)
135 bench press 50*
135 Squats 50*
Hang clean 50 *
Plank pose 50 seconds
= 300 reps
*break up as needed in as few sets as possible
SWIM / PT
Warmup with 500m timed swim
Repeat 10 times
Swim 100m- do plank pose for the time it takes to swim 100m
Swim 1000m with fins
3 mile run
3 mile ruck with 40-50lbs backpack, fast walk.