How to Ramp Up Your Training for Spec Ops

U.S. Marine Corps recruit Laurence Meeusen (right) and recruit Tylan Kanady (left), recruits with Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, carry a log during log drills at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Julian Elliott-Drouin)

Here are a few commonly asked questions regarding a young man joining the military and then advancing on to challenging follow-on training. But my answers apply to anyone seeking to join the military or a law enforcement academy as well. Here are his questions:

I am going to ship next month to the Navy, then go to SEAL training after boot. Here are my questions:

1. I have been using your programs for over a year. Will my body be ready if I continue the plan, or should I be easing off before I leave?

I would consider slowing down a few days to a week before attending your training. The long days, extra PT and catching a cold from other recruits will challenge you in the long term, even though you will actually get "out of shape" to a degree from where you are now.

There is no real way to prepare for this, other than having a solid foundation of consistent physical activity for at least a year. Truthfully, if you are prepared for SEAL training before going into Boot Camp, you can consider boot camp as a "taper." Life will be easier for you if you go prepared, of course.

Learn More About Special Operations Forces

2. If I ease off, how much time should I take? One week? Two?

"Ease off" should not mean to do nothing. You can ease up a bit on your workout intensity and duration, but still you should keep moving and not relax after you reach your fitness goals. Too many times, recruits strive for the minimum standards, and after reaching the bare minimums, they relax and do nothing for a few weeks or a month, only to fail the fitness standards upon arrival. If you like added stress in an already stressful environment, try failing the fitness test when you first get to training.

3. If I should take it easy with lighter workouts, what should I use for maintenance PT for the last week before my indoctrination training?

Focus on the initial PFT that you must take at some time of your training. If you are nursing any injuries (tendinitis, shin splints, etc.), you should try to do some easy warm-ups, stretching and substitute impact aerobics, like running for swimming, rowing, biking and other non-impact aerobics.

Also keep up with the workouts of your pre-training PT program but decrease the repetitions by 25%-50%. Most of the workouts I create have a testing week where you taper before testing. That is a good model to go by if you wish to follow that, or you can read "Taper Before Testing" found at the Fitness Center.

Find Available Special Operations Opportunities

Keep the emails coming at I answer all of them though it might take 5-7 days for me to get back to you because of the  volume for the week.

Related Navy Special Operations articles:

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

Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, has you covered. Subscribe to to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Story Continues