Military men have something unique about them. You might not spot in on meeting them initially, but if you’re observant, you’ll catch it. You’ll definitely notice a difference between them and any other armed forces member.
There’s this aura of strength and toughness around them. And this aura is not just who they are, it’s who they’ve built themselves to be.
The secret behind this strength, toughness, and skills is the SAS training program.
The Special Air Service is the oldest active special missions unit in existence and continues to be one of the best.
And to be among the SAS, it demands a higher level of fitness and mental toughness. Sometimes a rigorous training of walking in the water for several hours.
It is never a child’s play in SAS.
Hence, to sieve out the corn from the chaff, SAS runs one of the toughest and most rigorous screening and training programs in the modern special operations community.
This article summarizes the physical training programs, requirements, and selection test standards that you should target in order to be ready for selection testing for these military forces.
These SAS and Special Forces Fitness Training Programs are a comprehensive and living guide to achieving a level of fitness that will match the elite of the military soldiers in the world.
What are the Fitness Requirements for the SAS?
High-level combat forces such as the US and UK Marines, US and UK paratroopers, Australian commandos and various others are known for their exceptional fitness standards.
However, secret forces, which often operate in small groups or alone at great distances on foot, and from the sea and air such as SAS, SEAL, and Deltas, often require additional psychological skills and profiles to be successful.
Below are a variety of fitness standards that should prepare you for the physical challenges of selecting elite special forces.
Many candidates will be fitter than this, and you would be wasting your time if you are not close to these skills, although different strengths have different accents.
This strategy is to be fit enough not to fail on the physical challenges.
- be 17 years 9 months – 42 years 6 months
- have Mid Thigh Pull 76kg
- have Medicine Ball Throw 3.1m
- be able to run 2km run 10m 15s
- have MSFT (beep test) level 8.06
What is the SAS Selection Test?
A lot of applicants try to get into the Special Air Service Regiment, but most fail.
Out of an average intake of 125 candidates, the grueling selection process will weed out all but 10.
That is why the selection process is a very big responsibility for applicants.
You could even look at selection as the toughest physical test you’ll ever put yourself through – “something you’ll only ever want to do once. It takes a massive toll on the body”.
The way you prepare for the selection test won’t be the way you train once you’re in the Special Forces.
However, what you do in the selection process determines if you’ll get selected.
Here are the three main selection process to the SAS training program:
Selection Phase 1: Endurance/Aerobic Standards
The very first phase of selection is Endurance, Fitness, and Navigation. This type of selection process tests not only the candidate’s physical fitness but also their mental stamina.
In order to excel through this stage, it’s vital to have a high level of determination, willingness, and self-reliance.
The demands of life in a special forces unit require each member is to always motivate yourself. This way, you can scale through this stage with ease.
One of the first tasks you will encounter during your SAS training is a group walk of 20 kilometers (approximately 12 miles) with almost 30 kilograms (approximately 66 pounds) of bag and equipment in less than 3 hours and 15 minutes.
This should be done at about 6.5-7 kilometers per hour, walking/jogging to be comfortable under the time limit.
It shouldn’t be too difficult a task for a young soldier or a fit candidate.
This hill-climbing stage lasts approximately 3 weeks. During this period, candidates have to carry an ever-increasingly heavy Bergen over a series of long timed hikes, navigating between checkpoints.
The Bergen gets heavier as the days pass and the endurance phase culminates with ‘the long drag’, a 40-mile trek carrying a 55lb (25kg) Bergen, that must be completed in under 24 hours.
So, if you want to join the SAS, you need enough endurance because they consider those who give up at this point not to be physically ready.
However, you need to save your energy for the psychological and mental challenges in the next stage as it estimates 40% of the selection process.
Read Also: 20 Best Apps for Personal Trainers in 2021
Selection Phase 2: Jungle Training
Candidates that successfully pass stage one will then move over the next stage which is to pass the jungle training.
This training takes place in Belize, in the heart of deep jungles.
Officially, candidates learn the basics of surviving and patrolling in general harsh conditions.
Jungle training filters those struggling and can’t handle the disciplines they encounter to keep themselves and their kitbags in good condition as the journey on the regular long range patrol, especially in harsh condition.
Once more, there is a psychological part they equally test, aside from the physical test.
This pat comes up because Special Forces teams need men who can work under constant pressure, in loathsome conditions for quite a long time, without a help back to home base.
Selection Phase 3: Escape & Evasion & Tactical Questioning (TQ)
At this stage, the Special Forces team will be left with a little number of candidates.
This small number of applicants who have passed through endurance and jungle training can now enter the last phase of selection.
The probability of an uncommon activity turning out badly behind enemy lines is very high, given the dangers in question. Hence, the SAS need soldiers who have the fortitude and spirit needed to escape and evade capture during cross-examination.
For the escape and evasion (E&E) segment of the course, the applicants are given brief guidelines on suitable methods. This may incorporate talks from previous POWs or special forces soldiers who have been in E&E circumstances in reality.
Then, the candidates are given free access in the countryside, wearing World War 2 vintage covers with guidelines to advance toward a progression of waypoints without being caught by the hunter force of different soldiers. This bit goes on for 3 days after which, caught or not, all applicants report for TQ.
What SAS Team Look for in Tactical Questioning (TQ) tests
Tactical Questioning (TQ) tests the imminent SAS men’s capacity to resist interrogation.
They are dealt with generally by their interrogators, frequently made to remain in ‘stress positions’ for quite a long time at a time, while disorientating white noise is impacted at them.
The examiners will utilize a wide range of stunts to attempt to get a response from the candidates.
They may act well disposed and attempt to get their subjects chatting, or they stand inches from their subjects and shout ominous comments about the sexual habits of their moms.
Female investigators may giggle at the size of their subject’s manhood.
Obviously, a genuine interrogation would be significantly more cruel and the subject would not realize that they will leave alive when it’s all over.
That said, days of interrogations and enduring the stress positions and white noise break down a man’s feeling of time and reality.
The SAS are searching for men who can withstand such treatment long enough so the impacts of uncovering any operational data they may have can be lessened by HQ.
How Do I Get Fit for SAS Selection?
To make it through the 3-stage SAS selection process, you will require a ton of endurance, rather than ‘just’ muscle mass.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep the fundamental principles of how to get more fit and stronger. However, if you need to build endurance, proceed onward from just doing bicep twists to rehearsing more compound activities, similar to squats and deadlifts.
If you might want to prepare your body for the SAS selection test, notwithstanding, you’ll need to introduce a few more additional days of training over time to develop as well as strength.
Above all, as much as the SAS exercise is useful for consuming fat and developing strength if you at any point battled with stoutness or have not been doing a lot (or any) physical training, consider shedding pounds quick first and additionally get fit before you opt-in for doing hardcore military-style training.
Tips for Gettig Ready for the SAS Training
#1. Prepare for Strength, not Muscle Definition
It’s not hard to differentiate a bodybuilder for strongmen. The former may look more interesting to a few, yet the last can move some serious weights freely.
Obviously, as you get stronger, your muscles get more defined too. However, if you need to be prepared for a test like the SAS selection test, you will require strength and not all well-defined shoulder muscles and low body-fat percentage.
#2. Work on expanding your VO2 Max and Lactate Threshold Levels
In case neither of the above rings a bell, don’t stress it at all. Probably you’re not used to the word.
However, sprinters and cyclists are more acquainted with these terms and they refer to how well your muscles and cardiovascular framework can withstand extended times of moderate-to-high intensity workout.
VO2 max is “the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can viably use oxygen during exercise.” It is used as a method of estimating an individual’s aerobic capacity.
The more oxygen your muscles can process, the later you’ll feel exhausted.
Lactate Threshold is “the maximal effort or intensity that an athlete can maintain for an extended period of time with little or no increase in lactate in the blood” (definition taken from lactate.com).
Both can be improved by doing cardio routinely, and there are likewise explicit HIIT exercises that can boost either or both at the same time.
#3. Consistency is Important
Your body can possibly support its fitness levels if you do a certain amount of exercising.
If this is not the case, pro athletes wouldn’t need to invest in extra efforts to remain on the levels where they are.
Hence, this implies that you can’t get fit by practicing more and afterward anticipate that your body should keep up its fitness level without you doing any physical activity.
Your body will return to its past state when you abandon your workout routine, but it will be easier to get back into it later on once you are fit again.
Obviously, being fit (as in sound) has heaps of medical advantages so it worth putting in a couple of hours seven days looking after your fitness.
#4. Work on your Psychological Strength as well
The SAS selection is nearly as difficult to bear mentally as it is to overcome physically.
If you get easily distracted, have temper issues, or lack focus, they’ll single you out quite soon, regardless of your physical readiness.
Meditation has been demonstrated to be a successful tool to regain control over one’s mind. And to harness the thoughts that go through your mind anytime, which can prove useful when you are submerged in cold water for quite a long time.
This is a training which may or may not be part of the selection process.
#5. Prepare your Body by Eating Right
If you need to build muscles and lose fat, you should eat right and keep a balanced diet that incorporates an ample amount of protein and good fats just as clean carbs.
Being more careful about what your body needs to perform better and the endurance tests and the SAS selection process is the same.
10 Best SAS Training Program for Stronger Body
The SAS is arguably the largest elite military unit in the world, and its soldiers are renowned for their ability to cope with situations of significant physical and mental stress.
You can now acquire the unique range of skills taught to members of the Special Air Service through SAS and Special Forces Physical Training Programs.
Achieve elite shape with this workout designed for you
Here are the best SAS training program we recommend for building a stronger body:
#1. nSuns (Novice/Intermediate)
nSuns 5/3/1 is a linear progression powerlifting program. It came into existence through Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 strength program.
It progresses weekly, making it very suitable for late stage novice and early intermediate lifters.
Also, it is known for its demanding volume. Those who stick with it tend to find great results through extra work capacity.
Below is the number of reps completed on the AMRAP set and the amount of weight to add for next week’s training session:
- 0-1 reps: increased TM by 0 pounds
- 2-3 reps: increase TM by 5 pounds
- 4-5 reps: increase TM by 5 to 10 pounds
- 6+ reps: increase TM by 10 to 15 pounds
The easiest way to start this program is to make a copy of the full nSuns LP pack and find out how many days a week you want to lift.
If you’re unsure, I recommend starting with 4 days a week and seeing how it goes for 2-3 months.
If you haven’t already, check out Jim Wendler’s classic strength books that inspired nSuns. These will help you get the most out of the program.
5/3/1 Forever (2017): He provides tons of different 5/3/1 templates to run here to help you achieve different goals.
Beyond 5/3/1 (2013): An update on his original 5/3/1 program (below). The new “standard” 5/3/1 book.
5/3/1 The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength (Paperback + Kindle)
#2. Madcow 5×5 (Intermediate/Advanced)
Madcow 5 × 5 is a strength training program that uses three training sessions per week to build strength.
This program integrates bodybuilder friendly assistance work with the fundamental Big 3 compound movements to create a simple yet effective strength training program.
Although originally designed with strength training in mind, this can be used effectively for off-season weightlifting training, as linear progression and rep range complement strength.
The Madcow 5 × 5 program is ideal for late novice and early intermediate lifters who can no longer switch between workouts, since it’s how good beginner programs to progress.
Like many strength programs, Madcow 5 × 5 is based on sets of 5 in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, although other rep ranges are used as well.
More advanced weightlifters will likely find that the program progresses too fast, while novice weightlifters will probably find that the program progresses too slow.
The intermediate version uses primarily:
- linear periodization and progresses weekly,
- scheduling a 5 rep PR at week 5, then
- adding additional weight starting at three for several weeks.
The advanced version sets a new 5RM in week 4, deloads in week 5, then sets a new 3RM in week 9.
This Madcow spreadsheet allows 1RM and 5RM starting inputs, making it ideal for graduates of Starting Strength, Strong Lifts, or Texas Method.
This program progresses linearly on a weekly basis.
Check Out Madcow 5×5 Spreadsheet
#3. Building the Monolith (Intermediate/Advanced)
Jim Wendler creates this Building the Monolith. He also created the 5/3/1 programs and inspired other programslike GZCL and NSuns.
Building the Monolith is designed for advanced athletes looking to cross plateaus, not novice or intermediate lifters.
See the Program overview:
6 weeks in length
3x training sessions per week
Each training session incorporates a lower body, pushing, and pulling movement
A Training Max of 85% of a “true” 1RM is suggested – this helps when you’re supposed to hit 90% for multiple sets of 5 reps
You need to eat, sleep, condition, and stretch with the same dedication used in training
For the full breakdown of the training, nutrition, and recovery you need, please see Jim Wendler’s Building the Monolith 5/3/1 for size.
#4. GZCL (Intermediate)
GZCL is a programming method based on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1. Using GZCL from as a Training Max (90% of 1RM), working in 4 week cycles, and using AMRAP sets to access progress are similar to Wendler’s ideas in 5/3/1.
There are many variations of the GZCL method, such as Jacked & Tan 2.0, GZCLP, Ultra High Frequency (UHF), The Rippler, etc.
The first step in creating your own GZCL-based program is to imagine yourself as a pyramid. The weight you can lift is your height and your work capacity is your base.
Are you currently more of a tower, lack of capacity, that is to say of volume? Or are you flat and wide as a mesa, lacking maximal strength?
The goal is to hone your training with a balanced approach and develop your skills like a pyramid. Because after all, a pyramid cannot be as tall as its base. In this approach, you can get stronger and build muscle in similar relations.
Using the guidelines below for T1, T2, and T3 to create your own schedule, targeting your pain points, the lifts you want to do, the days you want to exercise, etc.
Check Out GZCL spreadsheets.
#5. Wendler 5/3/1 (Intermediate)
5/3/1 is a flexible lifting jig that can be applied to a variety of lifting purposes. It is best suited for intermediate level weightlifters and is known for the significant amount of time an athlete can continually make progress on it.
There are different variations of 5/3/1 that suits powerlifting. A spreadsheet of one variation of 5/3/1.
Wendler’s 5/3/1 Boring But Big (BBB) program is known for its brutal simplicity and serious results.
Basically, BBB follows the 5/3/1 pattern where you train one main lift per session (squat, bench, deadlift, or shoulder press). This is done by using the 5/3/1 rep scheme before dropping the weight and doing 5 sets of 10 repetitions for the same lift.
If you’re looking for a powerlifting specific interpretation of the 5/3/1 for Powerlifting. An example of this 5/3/1 program is available in a spreadsheet.
#6. GZCLP (Novice/Intermediate)
GZCLP is a popular linear progression variation of the GZCL model.
Also, GZCLP uses linear progression, much like the popular Starting Strength, Strong Lifts, or Greyskull LP programs.
What sets the program apart is that it is bulkier than typical incarnations of these programs, thanks to the implementation of AMRAP sets (as many reps as possible) and T2 and T3 lifts.
This is one of the oldest GZCLP spreadsheets in circulation. Also includes a worksheet for a 3 week GZCL model and a “Big on the Basics” GZCL variant.
The typical GZCLP workout structure is:
- T1 movements are usually 3 sets of 5 reps (the last set is an AMRAP)
- 3 or 4 workouts per week (depending on which spreadsheet you choose)
- Each workout consists of one T1, T2, and T3 movement
- Weight is added to the T1 movement the next time it is done again
- This generally translates to the weekly progression of weights
- T2 movements are usually 3 sets of 10 reps (the last set is an AMRAP)
- T3 movements are usually 3 sets of 15 reps (the last set is an AMRAP)
#7. Ivysaur 4-4-8 (Novice)
The Ivysaur 4-4-8 Beginner Program was designed to enhance the basics established by popular “set of 5” beginner lifting programs such as Starting Strength and Strong Lifts.
The program takes advantage of the novice lifter’s ability to recover faster between workouts by increasing volume and frequency. This makes it a great choice for “graduates” of the Strong Lifts or Starting Strength programs, and lifters just starting out.
Honestly, if you’re a novice, focus on eating, sleeping, and lifting weights. You will understand programming along the way.
However, the Ivysaur Beginner Program differs from Starting Strength and Strong Lifts in a few important ways:
- More bench press volume and frequency
- More deadlift volume and frequency
- AMRAP sets to determine rate of progression instead of only using linear progression rates
- Squatting 1-2x per week instead of 3x per week
- More direct bicep work via chin ups
#8. Strong Lifts 5×5 (Novice)
Strong Lifts is a 5×5 strength training program for beginners based on Bill Starr’s old school 5×5 program. If you’re just starting out, this is a great way to build muscle, lose fat, and get stronger.
StrongLifts 5×5 is a weight training program for beginners based on linear periodization. There is very little variation within the program in terms of exercise selection. The primary goal is to gradually increase the weight lifted with each workout for all lifts.
This allows the novice athlete to quickly improve his strength and muscle growth.
Also, StrongLifts 5×5 program uses compound movements to work multiple muscles at the same time. This allows for a full-body workout while doing only a few exercises per workout.
In addition, the program comprises three workouts per week consisting of “Training A” and “Training B”.
At this point, you should know that the selection process is a vital process of becoming an SAS.
Due to how strenuous this process can be, the idea of engaging yourself in an SAS training program is as crucial as drinking water.
Still yet to enroll in one, the list above highlights the best SAS training program for a stronger body.
Time to get tough!