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                        How to Go Navy Special Warfare / Operations

By Stew Smith

Do you think you have what is takes to become a member of Naval Special Warfare / Special Operations? If you think you can handle some of the toughest military training in the world, there are some changes you should know.  The two communities are now what are called, “closed loop” communities, meaning the enlisted personnel no longer have to select source ratings (i.e. job specialties like BM, RM, GM) and learn a job that they will not practice as SEAL, EOD or Divers. Now, the Special Warfare / Special Operations communities have their own rating source codes. To be a member of Naval Special Warfare/Operations community, you have four choices:


Navy Special Warfare
  - SEAL – Sea Air Land commandos who are the Special Forces of the Navy
  - SWCC – Special Warfare Combatant Crewman work in support of SEAL missions as well as others that require special boat tactics and operations.

Naval Special Operations

EOD – (Navy Diving and Explosives Ordnance Disposal) dismantle unexploded ordnance to include underwater mines, land mines, and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)
Navy Diver – Deep Sea Diving and Salvage Operations and Training - These skilled divers are specialists in recovering and/or repairing Navy ships and equipment.

Below are the steps required to becoming a member of the Navy Special Warfare/Operations communities:

Step 1: Choose a Spec Ops/Spec War Source Rating

Go to a recruiter’s office.  You will have to sign up for a regular Navy Source Rating to join the Delayed Entry Program.  However, once you pass the standards of the Navy SEAL / EOD / Diver Physical Screening Test (PST), you will be given a new designation.  The new ratings are the following:

·         SEAL: (SO)

·         SWCC: (SB)

·         EOD: (EOD)

·         Diver: (ND)

Ask your local recruiter about the Navy Special Warfare / Special Operations Mentor in your area.  These former SEAL, EOD, Divers are mentor’s for recruits and their duties are to help recruits prepare for training by giving regularly scheduled PSTs.

Step 2: Boot Camp Training

All recruits will report to Great Lakes Illinois to attend basic military training.  During Boot Camp, you will be required to take and pass the Special Warfare / Operations PST again.  If you pass at Boot Camp you are officially in the pre-training community - meaning you will get orders to either the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, or Diving Schools.

Step 3:  Pre-Training

Your job is to learn about the Special Warfare and Special Operations Communities as well start an extensive physical training program for 6-8 weeks.  The Pre-training program is to help candidates get into better shape as Boot Camp does not properly prepare a SEAL, EOD tech or Diver for their advanced training programs.

The Pre-training instructors are not interested in weeding anyone out at this point.  The goal of this training is to teach candidates that they will not survive the next phase of training if they strive for the minimum standards in the PST.  Below are the minimum and recommended standards for the PST and success in these programs:

PST Event Minimum Standards Recommended Standards
500 yd swim 12:30 8-9 minutes
Pushups 42 80-100
Sit-ups 50 80-100
Pull-ups 6 15-20
1.5 mile timed run 11:30 in boots 9-10 minutes

You still have to show up to boot camp in above average shape and it is recommended being able to hit all of the above recommended scores prior to boot camp to ensure a proper physical foundation.

Step 4:  Navy SEAL, SWCC, EOD, and Diver Training

SEAL candidates attend Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL Training (BUD/S), a grueling six month long training program that teaches the basics of SEAL missions.  Candidates will learn patrolling, marksmanship, land / sea navigation, SCUBA, underwater navigation / explosives, and a variety of other combat related skills to excel in today’s war climate.

SWCC candidates attend the Naval Special Warfare Combatant Crewman course in Coronado CA for 22 weeks.  There candidates learn a variety of skills related to small boat tactics, marksmanship, communications, and still have to endure a rigorous fitness program daily.

EOD candidates start their physically and mentally challenging 51 weeks of training and will learn Navy diving, parachuting, marksmanship, warfare tactics, explosive ordnance disposal of a variety of bombs, mines, torpedoes, and improvised explosive devices. 

Navy Diver candidates Navy Divers learn the basics and become the most advanced divers in the world.  To become that skilled, divers will learn to perform ship salvage, battle-damage repair, deep-ocean recovery, combat salvage, emergent underwater ship repair, as well as remotely operated diving vehicles.

The types of people who perform well at Special Warfare and Special Operations training programs have several common traits. Ask any of these special operators "did you think about quitting" and you will usually get the same answer. "NO!"  Due to proper physical preparation, your body has a better foundation to remain fit throughout months of grueling training. Here is a list of those common denominators:

1 - Knowing how to play with pain - Many graduates of these SpecOps programs were former athletes and know the difference between injury and pain.  Sports, martial arts, tough workouts, and life in general can help you know what the difference is. Graduates know how to "tape it up and play with pain" if required.  This is where they say that Special Ops Training is 90% mental.  It is not academically mental - but it mentally challenging because you have to deal with pain and discomfort on a daily basis.

2 - Team Player - Understanding what it means to be a team player is critical.  Once again sports tend to be the best source for this type of skill learned to assist with being a Special Operations Team member. 

3 - Live to Compete - Not Just Survive - Go to your training program seeking to win every physical, tactical, or academic event there is.  Be the best runner, swimmer, PTer, rope climber, shooter, land navigator, etc. No one is going to win them all, but if you can consistently be in the top 5-10 % of the class, you will NEVER think about quitting. Many people who quit training in the Special Ops programs go to training and just try to survive it. 

4 – Master of the Physical Fitness Test Exercises – Performing in the recommended category places you in an 80-85% greater chance to graduate versus striving for the minimum standards.  Here are some tips for each of the events:

Swimming Tests – a 500 yd swim is a tough event IF you are not an efficient swimmer and may require some special training from someone who knows how to swim well.  Another way to learn is to watch videos or watch someone skilled in the sidestroke or combat swimmer stroke to understand the techniques.  Learn the pace and train to maintain it with 10 sets of 50yd swims.

Pushups:  Just Do Them – OFTEN!

Here are some tips for the exercise that has been around for thousands of years.

•     Proper hand placement – Keep hands just greater than shoulder width apart and placed lower than your shoulders as if you were doing a bench press.  This will place an equal amount of force on the chest, shoulders and triceps.   

•    Up / Down movement – Pushups in this test is a 2 minute sprint.  Building your endurance to do non-stop pushups for two minutes.  To score your best, you should focus on doing pushups as fast as you can, however exert on the UP motion and relax your arms when coming DOWN.  Let gravity take you down. 


This exercise requires some stomach and lower back strength as well as hip flexor strength and flexibility. 

•     This is a pacing exercise as with running.  If your goal is 80-100 sit-ups in 2 minutes, you have to build up to withstand a pace of up to 20-25 sit-ups per 30 seconds. 

•     Touch elbows to knees / shoulders to floor – This is a full repetition for the sit-up and the best way to master this is to exert on the UP movement and relax on DOWN and let gravity take you to the floor.  Just as with the pushup test.


  • The Proper Pull-up (regular grip) - Grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed about shoulder width apart and your palms facing away from you. Pull yourself upward until your chin is over the bar and complete the exercise by slowly moving to the hanging position.

  • Up / Down movement – Pullups in this test is a sprint.  Building your endurance to do non-stop pullups is tough and requires many workouts of practice.  Also helps not to be overweight.  To score your best, you should focus on doing pullups as fast as you can, however exert on the UP motion and relax your arms when coming DOWN.  Let gravity take you down. 


Running -1.5 mile run:  

•     Pace, breathing, arm swing, stride – Know how to run at a steady pace for your goal byt practicing often.  Learn to regulate your breathing by timing INHALES for 2-3 steps and EXHALES for 2-3 steps in a regular breathing rhythm to keep heart rate lower and running potential faster in the last ¼ mile. 

•     Arm swing and stride – arms should be slightly bent but relaxed and swing in a straight line not crossing your body.  Stride and foot strike should be efficient enough so you are not running on your toes or too wide where you land on your heels.  Foot strike should be closer to the balls of the feet but not flat footed.

The Ultimate Navy Spec Ops PST Training Guides (Books, DVDs, ebooks)

The Navy SEAL / Spec Ops Physical Screening Test Clinic on DVD - This 35 minute video is complete with explanations of the exercises and the best techniques to master them.  Also the most important part of this test is having a winning strategy that will help you maximize the test in all areas - swimming, PT, and running.  The ebooks and books are the workout program, this is a skills video complete with Stew Smith swimming, running, and PTing with you and coaching you through the test.


Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
Maximum Fitness
The Special Operations Workout

eBooks / eBooks in soft cover

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-6
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

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. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the
Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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Published Books / DVDs
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness (Book / DVD)
Maximum Fitness

The Special Operations Workout

The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD

The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
Clinic DVD for Navy SEAL PST
The FBI Special Agent Test Clinic DVD

The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:

Fitness for All Levels of Fitness

The 90 Day Beginner Guide to Fitness
The Advanced Maintenance and Recovery Program

Reclaim Your Life - The Erin O'Neill Program

Veteran's Fitness - Baby Boomer and a Flat Stomach

The Busy Executive Workout Routine
The Advanced Weights / PT Workout (Fall / Winter Weight Gain Cycle)
The Perfect Pushup Workout

The TRX Workout
- Circuit Training 101 ebook

NEW Obstacle Course Race Ebook

The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
 Combat Conditioning Workout

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1  Beginner Weeks 1-9
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT -  Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SWCC Workout

The Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout 

The Army Air Assault School Workout

The Army Airborne Workout

Air Force PJ / CCT Workout

The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Workout

The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts

New - Army PRT and CRT
Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard OCS Workout

The USMC IST and PFT Workout
USMC OCS / TBS Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Bootcamp Workout

The Army OCS and PFT Workout
The PFT Bible - Military / Police Standard PFT


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts

The FBI Academy / PFT Prep Workout

The DEA Prep Workout

The FLETC Prep Workout - Ace the PEB

The State / Local Police Academy Workout

The Fire Fighter Workout

Seal Multi Men's Multi-Vitamin Multi-Mineral


Surviving BUD/S

TRX Train Like the Pros


Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format