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Putting In The Time: Training For Special Ops

For people who are seeking training programs for special ops selections, there is no 30-minute workout that will prepare you for a day of special ops training. Whether you are a full-time student, student athlete, or full-time worker, there are only a few hours in your long day in which you can fit in a challenging workout. For most people, splitting it up into sections (two a days) may make more sense.   Below is a recommended way to train for the different types of special ops candidates that exist:

1. Full-Time Student

Whether in high school or college, most days allow for sufficient time to study and train physically. However, depending on the time of year (exams / holiday travel), you may find that stress increases and time management goes out the window. Many find that an early morning cardio workout is a good way to wake up. Depending on your branch of service and access to facilities, you may be able to swim and you can always go run or ruck.

Getting into an early morning exercise habit is not a bad idea, as in many military training programs morning PT is a part of life. Plus, the discipline of early morning workouts tends to promote an earlier bed time. However, if you need a wake up in the early evening because you have a few hours or more of studying, a workout after dinner is a great way to wake up for a long night of work or study.

2. Full-Time Student Athlete

As a student athlete, you have the above issues plus the added time commitment of practices, games, and travel. This can eat up your training days in preparation for special ops training, but depending upon the sport, you may have 50-75 percent of your daily training done. You will certainly have the teamwork requirement taken care of, which is important because it matters if you are a good team player or not when going through training.

As a student athlete, you have to focus on your weaknesses when you can. For instance, if you are a football player, you likely have the strength, power, and speed/agility taken care of, but you should spend some time working on swimming skills/techniques if you seek a water-born special ops program. This will be about all you can do during the season, but during the off-season you can work on higher running miles, more swimming with and without fins, or rucking, along with higher repetition calisthenics mixed into your off-season program. But as a student-athlete, let the trainers show you how to mix future requirements into your day. Even if it is just adding in pullups or a long run per week, it will help. Once you are done with football or your other sport, you can seriously focus on special ops preparation. I have seen lineman in the 280-300 pound range drop 60-80 pounds to become ready for SEALs, PJ, Rangers, and USMC training in six months.

3. Full-Time Student with Part Time Job

Consider the student with a part time job similar to the above two types ONLY if it is a physical labor job. If you are at a desk job or a late-night work place, you may find that the work is physically easy, but takes away significant training, study, or sleep hours. If you are on your feet, lifting equipment, and moving non-stop, that is actually a great preparation for a day of special ops training. If you can get an early morning workout in, maybe a run or swim at lunch, and an evening lift or PT combined with your hours of school and physical labor job, that is about as close to a special ops day of training as you can create for yourself.

In a day of special ops training, you will likely start off with a workout. You will be on your feet the rest of the day either doing some form of physical workout or labor, or learning how to use equipment and weapons in a classroom setting. Either way, you will not have a nap time. That is right, there are no naps at training. However, in your preparation for such training, it is fine to take a cat nap if you have a long day or night ahead of you and you need a nap to avoid over-training and lack of recovery issues.

4. Full-Time Job

The full time job also depends upon what type of job. If in an office, you have to add physically challenging periods to your day. Pre-work cardio workouts, during lunch PT or lift, and/or after work training periods if you missed anything. You may have to use the weekends as the days you are able to crush longer run, swim, and rucking workouts. Personally, I have enjoyed working out at least an hour before work, sometimes up to two hours depending on the season (longer days in the summer), then working/school time followed by whatever I need to work on the most (weakness related to future training -- strength, endurance, timed cardio events, high rep calisthenics tests, etc)

5. Full-Time Job (Spouse/Family)

Doing all the above with a job and family is tough but possible. One way many do it is they get most of their work or workouts done while the children are napping, sleeping, or at school. Consider play time with the kids a way to de-stress and provide a break for your spouse as well. You can always get in calisthenics exercises while with the kids at the playground, or put your kids on your back and do pushups. Get a running stroller and push the kids while you run or ruck. I always liked passing people running while pushing a baby wearing a backpack. Make it fun motivation for yourself.

Sometimes, life, school, and work can get in the way of a longer workout per day commitment. Be creative and smart about your training, focus on your weaknesses, and maintain your strengths. During crazy hectic times, you may only have 30-45 minutes to train or completely miss a few days a week of training. This is fine, so do not beat yourself up about it, but do not let it happen often. Often the best cure for a highly stressful time is a nice easy cardio event like running, swimming, or biking, where you focus on deep breathing and relaxing.

Recovery Is Critical

One of the most important things you cannot neglect is your health and physical recovery.  As you "burn the candle at both ends," you may find that missing sleep, stress from work, school, family, injuries from sports/other, and neglecting your nutrition will cause you to not be able to recovery optimally. Your schedule could worsen and have you start to exhibit over-training symptoms like: illness, lack of motivation, grumpy, negative performance gains, loss of muscle mass, loss of appetite, and more. See links for more tips:

Physical recovery Missing sleep Under-Recovery or Over-training symptoms?

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