Weekly Workout: How You Should Approach the Dirty Dozen Tactical Fitness Test

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An airman performs a pull-up.
An airman performs a pull-up during the 355th Security Forces Squadron Defender Ruck Challenge Obstacle Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, May 11, 2021. (Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens/U.S. Air Force photo)

Our PT group is transitioning from heavy weight exercises with less running and cardio in a 12-week cycle to a 12- to 14-week cycle that involves more calisthenics, speed and endurance with running and swimming.

This will be a solid test of our strength and power exercises and challenge our running endurance. But after this cycle of our Tactical Periodization Plan, the running, swimming and rucking will improve to more optimal levels.

The Dirty Dozen Tactical Fitness Test can be applied in three ways:

  • All in one day (tough)

  • Separate the strength and power, speed, agility and endurance into two or three days.

  • Break up the Dirty Dozen into two to three events over the course of a year. Separate strength and power until after the strength cycle.  Speed, agility and endurance should wait until after the calisthenics, speed and endurance cycle.

Day 1

Strength/agility test day (Dirty Dozen part 1) from Tactical Fitness book

Optional: Rope climbs x10

Repeat three times.

  • Bench press 50%-100% body weight, max reps

  • Deadlift 100%-200% body weight, up to five reps

  • Plank pose two minutes

  • Pull-ups 20 max

  • Fireman carry 100 meters or farmer walk 100 meters, with 50 pounds in one hand

  • Six 50-meter shuttle runs

  • Illinois agility test or 5-10-5 pro agility test

  • Build up on the heavy lifts on the first two sets and test on the third set (bench and deadlifts)

Day 2

Cardio test: Dirty Dozen part 2

Run, swim, ruck in any order:

  • 500-meter swim

  • 25-meter buddy tow

  • Three-mile timed run

  • 400-meter sprint

  • Four-mile ruck

Many who have started training using the tactical fitness test as a standard have commented they prefer the third option of breaking up the test throughout the year. This option keeps them focused on periodization training and more on optimal scoring in all the events throughout the year.

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 stew@stewsmith.com.

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