5 years to prep... what to do?

As I stated in the title.

I went to MARSOC A&S twice and was unfortunately not selected. I am trying to move forward and from talking to an air force recruiter, even as a prior service with 11 years active duty under my belt potentially and being 31 when I EAS, I am still eligible to try out for AFSPECWAR!

With that being said, I have 5 years to physically prepare for selection. Obviously I shouldnt be rucking 3x per week from the get go, and I still have standards in the corps I have to uphold (PFT, CFT, and Im also a water survival instructor, so 500-1500m freestyle). I was thinking doing the ST 26 week guide but essentially cutting it in half? Do the running and cals planned one day, then the swim the next etc. or potentially do some long cycles dedicated specifically to one thing? Example, 4-6 months of really dedicated running training followed by 4-6 months of dedicated swimming. Obviously there is not a lot of prior service slots, and being much older I look at this as MINIMUM hitting competitive standards, or maybe even trying to uphold the STO/CRO standards before I arrive.

Any input is appreciated!
 

Yukon

Moderator
Staff member
Operator
I provided a sort of answer in your previous post as your USMC background was not disclosed in detail as it is in this post. Your questions still remain somewhat difficult to answer as future intent indicates becoming an STO/CRO which requires a military commission (being an officer).

Entering into the Air Force with a commission and opportunity to become a STO/CRO differs from prior service enlisted entering into an enlistment in the Air Force with opportunity to become an enlisted CCT, PJ, SR, TACP. While the physical capacity standards pertinent to physical fitness (running, swimming, calisthenics exercises) is set to the same standard there are other aspects of the whole person being assessed that differ primarily because all officers are considered leaders whereas being a leader gains importance in the enlisted ranks at the NCO ranks and skill level commensurate to the NCO rank. Regardless, it's not about being competitive in skills and abilities it's about skills and abilities being suitable and how many new personnel the AF needs to acquire or procure. The old adage of strong like bull, smart like tractor is not the qualifying standard illustrates the whole person assessment being considered.
 
I provided a sort of answer in your previous post as your USMC background was not disclosed in detail as it is in this post. Your questions still remain somewhat difficult to answer as future intent indicates becoming an STO/CRO which requires a military commission (being an officer).

Entering into the Air Force with a commission and opportunity to become a STO/CRO differs from prior service enlisted entering into an enlistment in the Air Force with opportunity to become an enlisted CCT, PJ, SR, TACP. While the physical capacity standards pertinent to physical fitness (running, swimming, calisthenics exercises) is set to the same standard there are other aspects of the whole person being assessed that differ primarily because all officers are considered leaders whereas being a leader gains importance in the enlisted ranks at the NCO ranks and skill level commensurate to the NCO rank. Regardless, it's not about being competitive in skills and abilities it's about skills and abilities being suitable and how many new personnel the AF needs to acquire or procure. The old adage of strong like bull, smart like tractor is not the qualifying standard illustrates the whole person assessment being considered.

Thats another screwup on my part miscommunication wise. I simply meant in regards to STO/CRO standards, with how much time I have on my hands to work up to being competitive at the officer level. My intentions as of this moment are to go enlisted Combat Controller. I saw that the PAST test has a different standard depending on enlisted or officer (1.5 mile and 500m vs 3 mile and 1500m) and thought if I could show up hitting the harder PAST test standards, the "normal" one the enlisted conduct should be easier by comparison. Plus, I already have to keep up my 3 mile run for the USMC PFT, so training to add a 1500m slick freestyle swim at the end would only benefit me in the long run.
 

Coach AN

Strength and Conditioning Coach
Operator
As I stated in the title.

I went to MARSOC A&S twice and was unfortunately not selected. I am trying to move forward and from talking to an air force recruiter, even as a prior service with 11 years active duty under my belt potentially and being 31 when I EAS, I am still eligible to try out for AFSPECWAR!

With that being said, I have 5 years to physically prepare for selection. Obviously I shouldnt be rucking 3x per week from the get go, and I still have standards in the corps I have to uphold (PFT, CFT, and Im also a water survival instructor, so 500-1500m freestyle). I was thinking doing the ST 26 week guide but essentially cutting it in half? Do the running and cals planned one day, then the swim the next etc. or potentially do some long cycles dedicated specifically to one thing? Example, 4-6 months of really dedicated running training followed by 4-6 months of dedicated swimming. Obviously there is not a lot of prior service slots, and being much older I look at this as MINIMUM hitting competitive standards, or maybe even trying to uphold the STO/CRO standards before I arrive.

Any input is appreciated!
As Yukon stated, there is so much more being assessed, even for the enlisted (especially prior service NCO's) than just the physical aspect. However, since your are specifically asking about the fitness portion, I will contain my response in within that framework.

The fact that you have 5 years to prepare is amazing, from a fitness standpoint you can virtually become a different human in 5 years. However, your focus on the PAST (whether it's the 1.5 mile or 3 mile) should be the least of your concerns. You can train specifically for the PAST and get a competitive score in a matter of months; however, that does not mean you will be competitive once you're in A&S. When considering performance training, you have to take the holistic approach, Special Warfare is not looking for tri-athletes anymore. All candidates must be aerobically conditioned AND strong enough to endure heavy loads in dynamic environments. In the fitness/performance world the saying goes "quick to ripen, quick to rot." This means if you can build it up quickly, you can also loose it quickly, so while you should do it regularly, if you have time, the primary focus should be on the things that take longer to develop. This typically applies to your aerobic conditioning (quick to ripen) vs strength training (a much slower process). You must ensure you are maintaining a training schedule that regularly incorporates and focuses on strength balanced with conditioning. Consistency is your friend. Over time either of the PAST tests will become easy and you should really start looking at the Operator Fitness Test (OFT) as your performance goal (https://afspecialwarfare.com/special-warfare-pt-test/).

On another note, at no point should you be rucking 3 times/week as this will actually slow your progress and development, It is typically overdone in selection courses for this very reason (you will be tested under fatigue and un-optimal circumstances). Overdoing it prior to selection will just set you back unnecessarily. One ruck/month progressing in speed/distance, combined will practical strength training and conditioning is all you need to build the durability to sustain and perform well in selection.
 

Yukon

Moderator
Staff member
Operator
" Special Warfare is not looking for tri-athletes anymore. " Thank the deity, deities or whatever the overemphasis of tri-athletic BS introduced during the 1980s has returned to emphasizing the whole person assessment. Even so the official scored testing minimums and maximums have always much lower than the hype caused many to imagine how muscle bulging super-hero strength and speed they needed to possess to be a competitive candidate.

If you go back to the documents concerning the acquiring of personnel during WWII by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for conducting special operations the term operative (not operator) was used. The difference is operators referred to being technically skilled to use equipment (driving a car/truck, operating switchboards, operating radio receivers and transmitters) whereas as operative was identifying where and what was expected to be done or accomplished in the operational environment. Nobody wins a hand-to-hand fight by doing pushups or winning a track or swim competition in the fighting ring.

Unfortunately, "from a fitness standpoint you can virtually become a different human in 5 years" isn't an absolute will reality, particularly as one ages. DNA predisposing one's underlying diseases, physical capacity limitations, or inability to recover from repetitive injuries is not within the realm of absolute self-control or self-determination. In this perspective one having attained 31 years of age preparing to do something that will be physically demanding 5-years in the future needs to also include mitigating the aging process in their fitness plan.
 
As Yukon stated, there is so much more being assessed, even for the enlisted (especially prior service NCO's) than just the physical aspect. However, since your are specifically asking about the fitness portion, I will contain my response in within that framework.

The fact that you have 5 years to prepare is amazing, from a fitness standpoint you can virtually become a different human in 5 years. However, your focus on the PAST (whether it's the 1.5 mile or 3 mile) should be the least of your concerns. You can train specifically for the PAST and get a competitive score in a matter of months; however, that does not mean you will be competitive once you're in A&S. When considering performance training, you have to take the holistic approach, Special Warfare is not looking for tri-athletes anymore. All candidates must be aerobically conditioned AND strong enough to endure heavy loads in dynamic environments. In the fitness/performance world the saying goes "quick to ripen, quick to rot." This means if you can build it up quickly, you can also loose it quickly, so while you should do it regularly, if you have time, the primary focus should be on the things that take longer to develop. This typically applies to your aerobic conditioning (quick to ripen) vs strength training (a much slower process). You must ensure you are maintaining a training schedule that regularly incorporates and focuses on strength balanced with conditioning. Consistency is your friend. Over time either of the PAST tests will become easy and you should really start looking at the Operator Fitness Test (OFT) as your performance goal (https://afspecialwarfare.com/special-warfare-pt-test/).

On another note, at no point should you be rucking 3 times/week as this will actually slow your progress and development, It is typically overdone in selection courses for this very reason (you will be tested under fatigue and un-optimal circumstances). Overdoing it prior to selection will just set you back unnecessarily. One ruck/month progressing in speed/distance, combined will practical strength training and conditioning is all you need to build the durability to sustain and perform well in selection.
" Special Warfare is not looking for tri-athletes anymore. " Thank the deity, deities or whatever the overemphasis of tri-athletic BS introduced during the 1980s has returned to emphasizing the whole person assessment. Even so the official scored testing minimums and maximums have always much lower than the hype caused many to imagine how muscle bulging super-hero strength and speed they needed to possess to be a competitive candidate.

If you go back to the documents concerning the acquiring of personnel during WWII by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for conducting special operations the term operative (not operator) was used. The difference is operators referred to being technically skilled to use equipment (driving a car/truck, operating switchboards, operating radio receivers and transmitters) whereas as operative was identifying where and what was expected to be done or accomplished in the operational environment. Nobody wins a hand-to-hand fight by doing pushups or winning a track or swim competition in the fighting ring.

Unfortunately, "from a fitness standpoint you can virtually become a different human in 5 years" isn't an absolute will reality, particularly as one ages. DNA predisposing one's underlying diseases, physical capacity limitations, or inability to recover from repetitive injuries is not within the realm of absolute self-control or self-determination. In this perspective one having attained 31 years of age preparing to do something that will be physically demanding 5-years in the future needs to also include mitigating the aging process in their fitness plan.

Thanks both of you for the input. I totally understand other things are in play for attributes for getting selected besides physical ability, and I can appreciate some of the "vagueness" a bit more as someone who is already in the military.

It sounds like my best bet right now is to work on absolute strength first and absolute endurace second. Maybe for the time being, running stronglifts 5x5 M/W/F with some pushups situps and pullups as "accessory work", and alternating a run or swim T/Th/S? Seems simple enough!
 

Coach AN

Strength and Conditioning Coach
Operator
Thanks both of you for the input. I totally understand other things are in play for attributes for getting selected besides physical ability, and I can appreciate some of the "vagueness" a bit more as someone who is already in the military.

It sounds like my best bet right now is to work on absolute strength first and absolute endurance second. Maybe for the time being, running strong lifts 5x5 M/W/F with some pushups situps and pullups as "accessory work", and alternating a run or swim T/Th/S? Seems simple enough!
That's not a bad start. In response to what Yukon stated about age considerations, you definitely need to make sure you're focusing heavily on movement quality to aid in building durability. This includes specific warm-up (not just warming the body up, but providing opportunity to improve movement in all planes of motion) as well as a proper cool down/stretching to get yourself in a recovery state as soon as possible post training session.

The technique discussion is relevant as well; however, understand that there are 3 macro phases/types of training GPP (general physical preparedness), SPP (specific physical preparedness) and skill/technique work. All of these must be considered when constructing a training plan and they must all support the other.

Since it's here and available, I will incorporate a small shameless self-promotion. If you really want to get into the details, our training team on this site, Team- ST does just that. Foundations is heavily GPP focused with a linear progression, based on a 3x5 of all major lifts combined with speed and endurance work that challenges you in all planes of motion. Additionally, there is pool work and a little bit of rucking to start building these skills. Advanced team comes into play once the linear progression of Foundations has been exhausted and adds a little more of the SPP aspect. I acknowledge that Team ST is not the only way to prep and that I am biased to it; however, I've also seen its effectiveness over the last several years and truly believe that is the most relatable/effective training system for AFSW candidates.

At the end of the day, how you train & recover (specifically with nutrition and sleep) over the next 5 years will have a direct impact on your ability to perform and recover when your in your mid-thirties. From what I have seen, using age as an excuse when you'r in your 30's is a cop-out and frankly a failure to take accountability for your own actions. Generalized medicine tells us that testosterone levels begin to drop every year after 30; however, this is based off of general population data. AFSW operators are far from general population physiologically. While previous injuries and pre-disposing conditions will absolutely have an impact on someone, these impacts can be limited. I had a major overuse injury in my late 20's that forced me to change the way I trained and viewed recovery. Once I got my shit squared away, I virtually "became a different human." By my mid-thirties I was running circles around the younger 25-ish team members. BOTTOM LINE: Don't let age be an excuse; but rather, let it be a motivator to ensure you train smart, stay consistent, and focus on maximizing recovery wherever possible.
 
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