Ask Stew: Prepare for Air Force PJ Training

Preparing for any Special Ops training program is challenging. Selecting a branch of service that is highly competitive and small in number makes a daunting task for any athlete. Being an athlete without much running or swimming background might require more time in training for properly prepare. Here is an email from a former powerlifting athlete who seeks Air Force PJ training:

Stew, I'm reaching out to ask for some extra advice, specifically about swimming. Before I got it into my head to serve as a PJ, I was a competitive powerlifter for about six years, so I'm coming from a very well developed strength/muscular base and very little cardio, especially low conditioning to running.

Thank you, Jack

Jack - I understand that. As a powerlifting football player, I know the transition it requires to go from a power athlete who thought anything over 100 yards was long distance running.

You may need to reduce the weights and start doing triathlon training to make the transition fast (run, swim, bike). It really helps. I found I did not lose much strength, but dropped about 10-15 lbs. and became much faster with more muscle stamina for high repetition calisthenics. Also, the good news for the PAST test is that you can swim using freestyle which is taught all over the world in just about every pool. I would consider taking some lessons or join a Master's swimming team / class if you really are a masochist with your training in the pool. Learning the stroke properly and getting into swimming shape at the same time can be done, but it is tough and will test how bad you want to become an Air Force PJ. Running will test you equally as well.

Your training now also depends on your running history. What are your current miles you run now? 10+ or less than 10 miles a week? If less than 10 miles a week you may want to start here: Running Plan -  and replace the runs in your training program with the beginner running plan for a month or two.

Swimming - You have to put in the time in the pool. Get in the water. Swim as much time as you can. Rest when needed, but tread water when tired from swimming and work to get more comfortable in the water. Comfort in the water is critical to your success in INDOC at PJ training.

But first, you need to master the PAST test. To get TO the training, you need to score competitively on this entrance PT exam. Once you do that, then you can focus on what it takes to get THROUGH the training pipeline and add more running, more swimming and pool skills (treading, buddy breathing), load bearing rucking, carries, and crawls.

Good luck with the transition. Give yourself some time to do it properly. It could take up to a year depending on your personal situation.


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