Ask Stew: How much time should I devote to training?


How much do you need to prepare for a military fitness test? This depends on the job desired, grading, military job specialty, or Air Force specialization code. Your athletic history and pre-military training habits will determine how long you must train each day before joining.

Here’s a question from an active duty Navy NCO looking to join the Navy dive community:

Stew, how many hours a week do you think your students spend on your programs? What about incorporating things like recreation and mobility work? I am an active duty Marine [sailor] I try to make sure I give 100% while preparing for the dive community. Thanks ST

ST, as with any program, your first focus is to eliminate any weaknesses you may have. The most important factor determining your acceptance into the diving community is your performance on the Navy Diver Physical Screening Test (PST).

If you don’t reach the PST, you may never have the opportunity to change rates and go to the dive school. The good news is that training at the PST level doesn’t take much time, and in just an hour a day you can complete workouts that specifically focus on faster running and swimming, along with high-rep calisthenics. Of course, this hour is added to any physical activity in your normal workday.

The second weakness that many people have is a lack of water trust. Learning to swim in general, tread water, swim underwater and breathe underwater with scuba gear is not easy. Getting in the water almost every day will make you more confident. Learn about treading water and give it some serious practice because most people think it’s easy before trying it. Poor kicking is responsible for more failures than any other dive prep skill.

Of course, finding the time for this daily effort requires a well thought-out recovery plan. A day or two a week when you can focus solely on flexibility, mobility, and pool skills like kicking and drowning will go a long way in helping you recover from tough workouts while you learn valuable pool skills.

To answer your question, I recommend a midweek and end-of-week mobility day that looks like this:

Repeat 5 times

  • Swim or other no-impact cardio: 5 minutes
  • Stretch, foam roll or massage: 5 minutes

If you have more time, pedal the water hands-free for 5 to 10 minutes and follow some of the pool skills you’ll see dive preparation and diving school such as drowning protection and underwater swimming. Never do this workout alone.

Here are more training ideas for the pre-dive school.

Devote 15 to 20 minutes to these recovery, mobility and flexibility exercises after each daily workout and you’ll be in a better recovery position before or after a long day at work.

The total time you spend exercising each day depends on your athletic past, your current physical condition, and your future goals. When you’re considering programs like scuba diving and special operations, you need to set aside time for swimming in addition to running, calisthenics, and weightlifting. This can take 90 to 120 minutes a day.

If you are pursuing a career as an Army Ranger or in Special Forces, the need for swimming reduces to zero. You only need to jerk on your leg days (2 to 3 times a week), while swimming should be done daily if you are not a swimmer and need more time in the water.

If you are considering a conventional military career, your athletic history with just 30 minutes of specific test training per week may be enough to pass basic training and subsequent military schools.

One thing is for sure: there is no such thing as a 30-minute gym workout that will prepare you for a specialized training session like scuba diving school or other special ops training, so making the time, your ultimate goal for success, is yours to overcome weaknesses. Don’t forget that the harder you work, the greater the need for rest days.

— Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness writer who is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit him Fitness e-book store if you want to start an exercise program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected].

Want to learn more about military life?

Whether you’re thinking of joining the military, are looking for fitness and basic training tips, or want to keep up with life and the benefits of the military, has you covered. Subscribe to to get military news, updates and resources straight to your inbox.

Read complete message

© Copyright 2022 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.


Comments are closed.