Top Ten Questions– Are You Physically Ready to Join Special Ops?

Onboard USS Oscar-Austin (DDG-79) underway with Truman Battle Group for Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). U.S. Navy Seals assigned to Team Four, Little Creek, VA., fastrope onto the fantail of USS Oscar-Austin (DDG-79) during JTFEX. (U. S. Navy photo by Michael W. Pendergrass) (RELEASED)

“Good things come to those who wait” right? Or do good things come to those who get out and bust their butts and make things happen? Patience makes us better people and is a character trait that any potential special ops recruit must cultivate.

In a recent discussion, I was asked if I thought 4 months was enough time to prepare for military special ops selection programs. The answer is NO, but it also depends upon the person, the job, and the actual timeline until selection once in the military. When most people aske that question, they typically mean, “I am starting to train for _____ special ops team in the military.”  Typically, they have not been training for a few years specifically for that spec ops training program and have four months until basic training.

One must understand that this is not a summer training program to prepare for Fall sports in high school. It takes much more than a summer of training to adequately prepare yourself even to pass the fitness test to get INTO competitive training programs, let alone the actual long selection program after it.  Read To and Through Training.  

The following is a list of questions, you need to consider concerning your goals and current and future fitness levels. If you are not asking or know the answers to these questions, you may need more time to prepare than you think.

Ask Yourself:

  1. How much time do you have per day to exercise? Days per week?
  2. What equipment do you have available to you?  Full Gym?  Pool? Track? TRX? Other?
  3. What is your current fitness level? Run, Swim, Ruck, PT scores, Lifts 1 rep max (1RM)
  4. What are your recent workouts?
  5. Do you have a current manual labor job during the day?  Night shift?
  6. What is the Fitness test in the future to get TO THE TRAINING? 
  7. Any aches / pains / injury issues that are present, recently recovered from, typical to running? 
  8. What are your goals? Future Job?
  9. How many miles a week are you running currently?
  10. Do you need to lose weight / gain weight?  How much?

Responses to these questions:

  1. If you only have 30 minutes a day to train, you do not have enough time to train in a day. There is no 30 minute workout that will prepare you for a day of Spec Ops Training. Put in the time, running, rucking, swimming, PTing, lifting in a smart tactical fitness training program. Over time, you need to build up to sometimes 2-3 hours of activity of lifting and calisthenics. The run, swim, rucks alone can add over an hour to your training day or more.
  2. If you want to be a better swimmer, you will need to swim in a pool or safe water area. You will need a place or equipment to lift (either barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells) or simulate these with weight vests, back packs, sandbags, and other heavy equipment to lift. You will need a place to run and learn the time for the distances you need to master.
  3. If you do not know the score for the fitness test you need to take – take it. If you do not know the times of runs, rucks, swims or how many pushups, pullups, situps or other exercises you can do in a given time, you are not ready.
  4. Do you lift, run, swim, do calisthenics already? If so for how long? What does a current week of workouts look like for you? If you do not lift or run or need to learn how to swim, you are not ready.  If your workouts do not look like the events of your PT test and selection or at least help you build the strength to endure those events, you are not ready. What do you do when you are not working out? If you have a manual labor job, great! Keep doing it. If you sit in a desk all day, you may need to add another workout before or after work too and stretch throughout the day.  Night shift is rough on normal sleep patterns which equals better recovery, but if you can eat, sleep, hydrate well and still train hard, you will find being used to night shift work will help you with the days turn into night during training.
  5. You better have taken the fitness test so many times that you know what your scores are and have developed a strategy to mastering the fitness test to get TO your training. You must master this fitness test. Otherwise, you are not ready.
  6. If you are currently injured, just recovered from surgery or long period of recovery, you are not ready and need to focus not only on healing, but preparing what you can, THEN rebuilding after injury. If you get easily injured running, rucking, lifting, you need to build your strength with a cycle in the weight room, then specialize in your training / selection goals.
  7. Your goals should be to crush a fitness test and prepare for the selection program to achieve your tactical profession of choice. If your goals right now are to just lose weight and get into better shape and take the fitness test for the first time ever, you are not ready yet and need much more time.
  8. You should be progressing over 20 miles a week if you are months away from training at a minimum. Most will recommend at least 30 miles per week with fast 3-4 mile timed runs and even faster 1.5 -2 mile timed runs for PT tests.
  9. If you need to lose weight that can take many months or up to a year, but getting into better cardio shape at the same time is typically an easy combination. If you need to gain weight, that can take a few cycles of lifting and eating to gain weight while maintaining or building your cardio endurance too. These are goals that require patience in training and the process of growth or losing mass.

New Look at Patience and Preparation

Do not be in a hurry to serve. Read Perfect Storm for Failure. Most age brackets to serve in Special Ops programs are as young as 18 years old and up to 29-30+ in some branches of service. So you have plenty of time.

Sometimes you need patience in order to find the right path. Preparation for the journey won’t come fast, and it won’t come easy, but it will be worth the wait.

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Fitness Special Operations