The highly competitive SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection (SOAS) places applicants from the Naval Academy, Navy ROTC, Officer Candidate School (OCS) and other service academies and fleet officers into the same set of selection pools competing for officer quarters to attend BUD/S.
These SOAS events are held in Coronado, California during the summer and these officers and cadets get a two-week taster of BUD/S. Here’s a question from a candidate who wants to maximize their score on the Physical Screening Test (PST), one of the program’s objective assessment points.
Mr. Smith, I have a PST for my NSW [Naval Special Warfare] Application next week. As you know, I have to crush this one to get selected for SOAS this summer. My results are solid but I want to make sure I’m doing my best. Do you have any guidance on the best way to rejuvenate, recover, and eat during PST week? Thank you Roger
Much luck. This is a difficult process and you only get one chance to pass this test. There will be many phased events during the SOAS process. Physical fitness is one of those events where you are in control of the results. Your leadership experience, academic grades, and community service will also be on the table for review.
However, the most challenging events will take place at SOAS itself. You will be evaluated on your physical performance over a busy week of BUD/S type events, your ability to work with other candidates as a team and your ability to lead that team when the opportunity arises.
During the interview, your grade will depend on your communication skills, knowledge of current events, and your ability to explain to a group of SEAL officers and senior staff why you want to become a SEAL officer.
Your physical performance on the PST is important, but there are many other parts of SOAS that have very little to do with your physical performance.
Obviously, the training and exam is still extremely physically demanding. To answer your question more specifically, here is a list of things to consider before an important physical fitness test.
1. Nothing new
Make sure that you don’t do anything new during the test week and especially on the test day. Eat and drink as usual to recover from hard training days and recharge for the next day.
Also, don’t try any new exercises or workouts this week. If you want to make a change, make sure you get a good night’s sleep every night of the week. See the importance of sleep.
2. 4-5 days off test
Suppose you take your fitness test on a Friday. Four or five days (Monday and Tuesday) may be your normal workouts, but they should be focused on PST-related events, not heavy one-rep max-lifts or other forms of cardio.
You must do running, swimming and upper body calisthenics (pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips) on one day, and leg exercises (squats, lunges) can be mixed in with running on the other day at your target pace for the timed running events. No need for jerking or finning today as normal leg days may be rounded out with jerking or finning.
3. 2-3 days before the test
Through Wednesday, consider doing a typical mobility day where you can combine a good non-impact cardio workout with stretching, foam rolling, and massage throughout the workout. Some even do another mobility day the day before the test just to stay loose and maintain lung function, but the overall goal is to rest and work on any aches or pains that might be bothering you that week.
4. The day before the test
You can take the day off or do an easier version of mobility day. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a good meal with good carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), a lean selection of protein and good fats (fish, olive oil, nuts, etc.).
Check out my related podcast with Army Nutritionist Lt. Col. Nick Barringer for his recommendations for pre-game energy: Podcast about fitness test nutrition.
note: Your meals really shouldn’t be that much different today than the days before. Avoid new foods. You don’t have to try anything new tonight and find it doesn’t suit you and disrupt your sleep all night.
5. The day of the exam
Don’t try anything new again. That means no new “energy drinks” and avoiding too much caffeine as it can increase your heart rate too much based on your sensitivity to caffeine. The butterflies can start today, so do things like controlled deep breathing to relax.
Once the swim starts, the nervousness goes away and you can focus on your target race pace and do your best. See PST Strategies. There’s one too podcast on the subject.
Call it a PST Taper Week or a few simple days before PST. If you have a chance to score well, you must do your best as the process is competitive.
After the test, you have a few months to prepare for SOAS, so keep your optimal PST levels (or improve them if necessary) and start working on other events, such as B. longer runs, backpacking, and swimming with fins for your cardio. You’ll be doing logs and boats, so your strength and muscular endurance are also important. You don’t want to be crushed under the weight of these items when testing.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness writer certified as a 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]
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