Workout of the Week: Full-Body Mix of Challenging Selection Prep Events

Marines bear-crawl through a mud pit.
Competitors bear-crawl through a mud pit during the annual Marine Special Operations Command All-Terrain Competition. (Lance Cpl. Jason Jimenez/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

When preparing for challenging military, special-ops, firefighting and SWAT-type training programs, this is important to consider. Once you have mastered the fitness test to get selected to the training, you need to practice some events that will prepare you better for the rigorous challenges ahead. Those include weighted runs, log PT, boat carries, rucking, running stairs, carrying equipment and running a fast pace for timed runs.

This workout is best performed on a track or a known-distance field area with a hill or bleachers, but it also can be done on a treadmill and indoor facility with a basketball court or large training area. If you are doing this on your own, mark off the following distances (400-meter run, plus 25-, 50- and 100-meter sections) or run back and forth over a 25-meter distance (court, driveway, street, beach, etc.) multiple times.

Run one-mile warmup

Repeat 10 times

Run 400 meters at goal mile pace (i.e., 90 seconds for six-min mile pace)

Run/walk 100 meters fast (carrying 40- to 50-pound sandbag on shoulder or head)

Bear crawl 25 meters fast

Farmer walk 50 meters or up/down bleachers one minute

Plank pose for the time it took you to run 400 meters

The above section is a way to prepare for such specific events that require a strong core and cardio combination. Running at your goal timed run pace is a way to help you learn the “goal” pace of your timed runs. If you want to run a six-, seven- or eight-minute mile pace, your 400 meters would be 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00, respectively. Running and walking with a moderately heavy sandbag is a good way to replicate the feel of walking with a log on your shoulder, boat on your head or other gear on your shoulder.

Bear crawls are considered a mobile core exercise (moving plank pose) that also challenges mobility of the shoulders, knees and hips.

Farmer walks simulate equipment carries and boat carries. Mixing in walking up/down a flight of stairs is an even better way to add leg strength/endurance to the programming. Grip is critical for the tactical athlete and is tested adequately in this event.

The plank pose -- with a goal to run faster so you can plank less -- is a fun, goal-oriented way to add intensity to multiple sets of this workout.

Run one-mile cooldown or swim the following: Swim 500 yards timed

Tread 10 minutes

Dynamic stretches in chest-deep water 10 minutes

Stretch 5-10 minutes

Not only are these good ideas for preparing for challenging selection program events, but they also will help with many of the job tasks required of the tactical professions.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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