Phase 3 Special Forces Prep: Endurance, Rucking, and Swimming

Wes Kennedy

Contributor - Special Forces Workouts

Athbasca, Canada

Military Fitness, CrossFit

Who is this program for?

  • Military members preparing for a Special Forces selection phase
  • Anybody who wants to train like a Special Forces Operator


How does this program work?

This will be a nine-month program designed to prepare military members for Special Forces selection. The term Special Forces is used broadly and does not necessarily mean U.S. Army Green Beret.


This program will not contain the exceptionally large volume of swimming or rucking that might be required for a SEAL or SAS selection phase, although both modalities will be included.


The program will be broken down into two phases, each with a different focus:



Why should I use this program?

Whether you are looking to increase your chances of passing Special Forces selection, or you simply want to train at this level, this program follows an intelligent progression over nine months that incorporates injury-proofing, strength, stamina, toughness training, and event specific modalities such as swimming and rucksack marching. It is written based on my experience as an ex-Special Forces soldier turned coach.


What equipment do I need?

Mondays and Thursdays will generally be strength specific days that you can perform at most gyms. Tuesdays and Fridays may require equipment typically found at a CrossFit-type gym. Saturdays will often include things such as boxing, swimming, biking, and running outside.

Day 1

50min EMOM

  • Min 1-10: 2 Heavy CGBP
  • Min 11-20: 3 Tough Strict HSPU (adjust deficit to challenge
  • accodingly)
  • Min 21-30: 10sec Sled Push Tough but Sustainable
  • Min 31-40: 3 Tough Thrusters
  • Min 41-50: 15sec Row Sprint @ 90% effort


20min swim @ Z1 pace
Accumulate 2min treading water with a 20# brick, easy intervals


- CGBP is close grip bench press. Place your hands approximately 16" apart.
- HSPU: hand stand push-ups, done against a wall
- sled push: arms straight
- Thruster weight should be tough but sustainable. Start with less than you think you should and increase as you go, rather than go too heavy and have to drop weight.
- row sprint: tough but sustainable


Day 2

20min AMRAP @ 85% effort

  • 10 hand release push ups
  • 10 sit ups
  • 10 prisoner lunges
  • 10 forward rolls (alternate shoulders)
  • 10 double unders



A two-hour ruck with 75lb pack on gravel road while carrying a 10lb sledge hammer at the low ready position using both hands.


- prisoner lunges: walking lunges with hands behind head and elbows back
- If you can't do double unders, learn them. If you don't have a skipping rope, do lateral ski hops



Day 3

A: 3X back squat @ 3,3,3,3, rest 20sec between clusters, rest 2:30 between sets of clusters
B: 3X Pendlay rows x 10-12, rest 2min
C1: 3X wide grip pull ups, stop 1 rep short of failure, rest 20sec
C2: 3X straight arm lat pull downs x 10-12, rest 2min
D: accumulate 2min in the L-sit position
3 rounds for time:

  • 12 one-arm overhead walking lunges with 25lb DBs
  • 12 burpee pull ups


- Re-rack the bar between back squat clusters.
- Pendlay rows: no hip or back swing involved, pull each rep from the ground to the sternum, then lower back down over 2 seconds
- No "chinnin" on the pull ups, keep your head and neck neutral.
- active shoulders for the overhead lunges


Day 4


3 rounds:

  • Run 10min @90% effort
  • Walk 10min



  • 30min swim @ Z1 pace
  • 30min bike @ Z1 pace
  • 30min jog @ Z1 pace
  • 30min ruck walk with 40lbs @ Z1 pace


- AM workout is tough but sustainable
- PM workout: leave the ego at the door


Day 5

A: 3X front-racked walking barbell lunges x10-12, rest 2:30
12min EMOM with a 20-30lb weighted vest

  • odd - 50sec step ups
  • even- 15-20 hand release push ups

Rest 8min
12min EMOM

  • odd - 2 TGU, heavy
  • even - 15-20 2-pood kettlebell swings

Walk10min, easy pace


Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.


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