We have mentioned this not too long ago but it probably bears repeating, especially now that the Selection courses are running and the next batch of candidates are gearing up to attend. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, a professional weight lifter or a bodybuilder to pass Selection. Not every Special Operations trooper is built like an NFL linebacker. That’s not what you’re training for, train for the mission at hand, not the beach.
We frequently get a lot of emails, Twitter DMs and the like asking questions about Selection and how is the best way to prepare. And a lot of guys, too many in fact begin with the fact that they are freaking themselves out by going on social media and seeing pics of stud Special Operations guys, working out in the gym and all tatted up. We get the messages, “I don’t look like that!” or “Do we have to look like this to pass?” etc. Newsflash folks, 99 percent of the guys I went thru the SFQC didn’t look like that and of the small percentage of ones who did, their failure rate was rather high. And the short answer is no, you don’t need to look like a bodybuilder, in fact, you shouldn’t.
We preach the old but tried and true method of training to do the job here. If you are fit to do your job, not only will you succeed in passing Selection but you will be primed for a long, successful career in Special Operations. We publish a daily workout program on SpecialOperations.com that will help our prospective candidates get ready for the rigors and physicality of Selection. And we start with the basics.
But first, I want to clear up some misconceptions about the current Selection Course for several candidates. We received several questions about the Log PT/Rifle PT smoke session that is on video from the Discovery Channel documentary. Many were asking for tips about surviving that little exercise.
Well, first, I’ve heard that the Log PT part of SFAS has been removed or at least curtailed. I heard that the number of injuries that were occurring was too high to justify in the training and assessment. But like anything else, if it is indeed still there, there’s no secret formula, you just have to gut it out.
Functional Fitness is the Goal:
Once again, we need to train as we will fight and have to prepare ourselves accordingly. I recently had an email from a non-combat arms officer who had some questions about getting into the pipeline and of course the course itself. But for his questions on the paperwork required, I reached out to an old friend who I went thru the SF Detachment Officers Course with when he was a Captain, later he commanded a Battalion in combat and later was the SF Training Group Commander. He helped steer the way for this officer to get his paperwork straight and for his preparation, his advice was very simple and clear. “He needs to be a rope climbing, pull-up doing MFer in Selection.” He added that the upper body, shoulder strength, and body core exercises are what get guys thru.
Too many candidates spend too much time on one aspect of preparation and neglect others. As I wrote not long ago, “Remember to keep your eye on the prize. What is your goal here? It isn’t looking like an Adonis strutting on the beach. It is to be a member of the Special Operations Forces. So what does a member of SOF have to accomplish? Learn what the mission entails, which for now all you have to do is know what the physical standards are.”
That’s why we are always testing ourselves with a practice UBRR test in our daily PT prep pieces. You can identify where you’re weak and adjust your training accordingly.
Long Range Durability:
Look, if you work out and become functionally fit for Special Operations, you are going to naturally become overall bigger and stronger..it is the nature of the beast. But will it make you a cover model for Muscle and Fitness? Doubtful. And that isn’t your goal.
Some guys are naturally big and most of the bigger dudes that you’re seeing on those social media pages are guys who are longer termed members of the units and they are still maintaining the core functional fitness but have dedicated the extra time to buff up. But it is in no means a prerequisite.
Longterm durability for SOF is built from building up lower body and core strength, endurance, and pliability. Your lower body is the catalyst where everything you do springs from. That is why we always push Squats, Deadlifts, and the Weighted Sled Push. This builds up the strength and explosion your body needs to carry that rucksack, and constantly hump the mountains of Afghanistan in operations, frequently over 8000-9000 feet.
Pliability is the lengthening of the muscle so it works more effectively and is much less prone to injuries. From a noted sports clinic here up north they preach that “Pliability work turns short, dense muscles into long, soft, and resilient muscles. It gets your body to 100 percent muscle pump function, and keeps it there over time — which is a huge part of achieving sustained peak performance.”
So remember, you are training and have to use all of your focus on the training that you are doing with one specific goal in mind. To accomplish your unit’s mission. Knowing that mission, what it will entail physically is what you’ll need to know on how to tailor that prep work. Your training for Selection will be a bit different, but not radically so from what you’ll do in the units. Train for those and your success will be a much surer thing. Don’t worry about things that don’t have anything to do with mission success or failure.
Keep your eyes on the prize guys, not the mirror. Don’t Quit and Embrace the Suck.
Originally published on Special Operations.com