If you’ve recently signed a Ranger Regiment contract (Option 40) or Special Forces contract (18X), you’ve made a significant military commitment. Others may not have been offered these contracts but intend on pursuing options for Ranger Regiment and Special Forces while already at Basic Training. Circumstances change regularly, so be sure to ask your recruiter about the likelihood of attaining these opportunities while at Fort Benning. Both the Option 40 and 18X programs fast track you into the Army’s Special Operations community. If you’re serious enough to sign one of these contracts, you should also be serious about preparing for the challenges ahead.
We occasionally get asked about how to train for these opportunities. Specifically, for RASP I (Ranger Assessment and Selection Program) and SFAS (Special Forces Assessment and Selection), the courses which need to be passed in order to allow candidates to continue into Special Operations. There are highly effective ways to train for these courses, but the reality is you cannot do much effective preparation yet. This is because prior to attending RASP or SFAS, you need to attend OSUT (One Station Unit Training) at Fort Benning which comprises of Basic Training and the Infantry Advanced Initial Training. As a result of changes in recent years, OSUT is now completed over 22 weeks.
During your time in OSUT, you will largely have your schedule controlled. This means you’ll eat what they give you when they give it to you, you’ll sleep when they allow you to for a set amount of time, and you’ll workout when they allow you to in a manner they select. All of this means you’ll likely have very little control over your fitness during these 22 weeks. If you arrive at OSUT incredibly fit, much of that fitness will likely be lost over the 5+ months you spend in training.
This does not mean you should show up to OSUT out of shape. You do want to be fit and prepared for the physical rigors of the courses. Not only will this make your experience easier, but it will help to set you apart from your peers. In the event that there is some sort of selection process for individuals who want to pursue an Option 40 or 18X contract (if you don't already have one), being fit will help that cause.
However, what this reality does mean is that you don’t necessarily need to be ready to attend RASP or SFAS on day 1 of OSUT. The physical demands for both of those courses are significantly higher than the demands of OSUT. Our recommendation is to arrive to OSUT in shape. Be ready to run for a couple of miles, take an ACFT, do a couple pull-ups, and spend a lot of time on your feet. Take your training serious and commit to a consistent workout schedule for at least 6 weeks prior to attending OSUT.
As you prepare for OSUT, don't forget to enjoy yourself. You have 22 weeks ahead of having a strictly controlled schedule. It's okay to sleep in late, have some extra junk food, or skip a workout when you just aren't feeling it. It will be a long while before you can do that again.
Once you arrive at OSUT, these tips can help you stay in the best shape possible.
- Put in your best effort when you complete workouts with your Platoon. It may be your only time to get in / stay in shape.
- Whenever you have free time and are allowed to work out, do it! If you have a very limited amount of time, focus your training efforts on the ACFT. This is because it's typical for those with an Option 40 or 18X contract to complete some sort of fitness evaluation while at OSUT. The same is likely true for those competing for those slots. Because of the importance of this test on your future, you should make the events of that evaluation the central focus of any physical training you conduct on your own. For example, if you know you’re taking an ACFT for your evaluation, any free time you have to train should focus on the specific events of the ACFT. Going for a 12 mile run is great for fitness, but with limited time, it’s not the best use of that time. If you aren’t sure if there is a test, or what that test may be, ask. (We raise this point because Blue / Green was recently informed that those with an 18X contract complete an ACFT in week 15. Those who did poorly potentially lost their spot in the SF program. Things like this always change, but it’s worth being aware of for both Option 40 and 18X.)
- If you’re ever offered extra food, take it! Many going through OSUT are likely to lose weight because of the significant amount of physical activity being conducted, paired with an inadequate caloric intake. Increasing intake when possible can help physical performances and fitness levels.
- Sleep as much as you can. It’s essential for recovery and maintaining physical progress.
- Work on your mental fitness during OSUT. You’ll face some challenging times during the course, but it only gets tougher after that. If you work hard to stay calm in challenging times, continue to put your best effort forward despite not feeling your best, and remain a good teammate throughout these hardships, you’ll be starting to build effective habits that will serve you well going forward. Remember that you can’t just snap your fingers and be tough. You need to take opportunities to build it. You should view OSUT as a great opportunity to do so, and a place to learn about yourself.
If you're interested in training for Basic Training, check out our Back to Basics workout here, and here. This programs starts slow, and is ideal for someone prepping for basic. If you're already fit or interested in more depth, check out our +4, Tactical Weapon. If you’re entering the highly physically demanding field of Special Operations, you’ll benefit from learning about the important concepts of fitness now. Your fitness will only become more and more important as your career progresses. +4, Tactical Weapon illustrates the important concepts of fitness, diet, and recovery which will significantly help your training for OSUT.
If you have an 18X contract and want to start learning about SFAS success now, check out our SFAS Advanced guide. When it's eventually time to prep for the course, you'll already have an understanding of what you need to do to be successful. Your guides are saved on your Blue / Green account forever.
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