TACTICAL INSIGHT: FIND OUT THE SPEEDS, REPS AND DISTANCES THAT CORRELATE TO BCs SUCCESS

  • By U.S. Navy SEAL + SWCC Scout Team
    Posted May 13, 2016

 

A three year Naval Special Warfare study comprised of hundreds of SWCC candidates has identified the speeds, reps and distances that correlate to success during Basic Crewman Selection (BCS). The graphs in the statistical model show the boundaries of smart training to maximize your odds of success without increasing your risk of injury.

Over the three years the Naval Special Warfar Center's Director of Fitness studied Basic Crewman Selection classes 78 - 89 (299 SWCC candidates) to find out if successful SWCC candidates, who complete BCS, show different physical abilities than SWCC candidates who drop from training.

The focus of the study was to determine the optimal activities and training zones for BCS success. Which physical abilities have the most impact on success? Are there thresholds for success? Do the effects plateau? Are there any negative effects?

 

 

The study was comprised of the Naval Special Warfare Human Performance Assessment ("SWCC PRT") and the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory (NSW Prep) School Exit Test. The "SWCC PRT" was comprised of a total of 277 SWCC candidates and the NSW Prep Exit Test was comprised of a total of 299 SWCC candidates.

Data shows that SWCC candidates who are faster runners and swimmers and have good lower body power are more likely to complete BCS and less likely to get medically rolled back/dropped from training (Med Rolled). Upper and lower body strength plays less of a role for success.

Why? Simple. SWCC candidates with more endurance are more resistant to fatigue and less likely to make injury-prone technical mistakes. Candidates with more lower body power may be better able to negotiate the challenging terrains in the BCS environment. SWCC candidates who develop too much strength may create imbalances that affect injury.

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.BEST AND WORST "SWCC PRT" AND NSW PREP EXIT TEST SCORE FOR ANY SWCC CANDIDATE WHO COMPLETED BCS

EXERCISES BEST SCORE WORST SCORE
Standing Long Jump 104.5 inches 67 inches
25lb Pull-up 17 reps 1 reps
Body Weight Bench 24 reps 0 reps
Deadlift 1 Rep Max 2.33 x body weight 1.5 x body weight
5-10-5 Agility 4.33 seconds 5.55 seconds
300yd Shuttle Run 56.3 seconds 72.2 seconds
3-Mile Run (HP) 17:01 minutes 24:11 minutes
800-Meter Swim with Fins 12:09 minutes 16:28 minutes
1K-Swim with Fins 14:51 minutes 19:13 minutes
Push-up 103 reps 57 reps
Sit-up 100 reps 60 reps
Pull-up 21 reps 9 reps
3-Mile Run (Exit) 17:22 minutes 23:21 minutes

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.BEST AND WORST "SWCC PRT" AND NSW PREP EXIT TEST SCORE FOR ANY SWCC CANDIDATE WHO DROPPED FROM TRAINING

EXERCISES BEST SCORE WORST SCORE
Standing Long Jump 108.5 inches 66.5 inches
25lb Pull-up 19 reps 0 reps
Body Weight Bench 23 reps 0 reps
Deadlift 1 Rep Max 2.33 x body weight 1.5 x body weight
5-10-5 Agility 4.44 seconds 5.58 seconds
300yd Shuttle Run 58.9 seconds 69.6 seconds
3-Mile Run (HP) 18:14 minutes 24:42 minutes
800-Meter Swim with Fins 11:05 minutes 16:53 minutes
1K-Swim with Fins 15:05 minutes 20:45 minutes
Push-up 115 reps 56 reps
Sit-up 101 reps 61 reps
Pull-up 23 reps 8 reps
3-Mile Run (Exit) 18:31 minutes 23:50 minutes

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.EVENTS THAT HAVE THE GREATEST IMPACT ON BCS SUCCESS

  1. 3-Mile Run "SWCC PRT"
  2. 300 Yard Shuttle Run
  3. 1K Swim with fins

Faster performance on these events indicates better odds of completing BCS and lower risk of being Med Rolled. Even for these high-value events, there appears to be a point where benefits plateau. For other events, such as those measuring strength, there are plateaus where higher scores provide no additional benefit, and the odds of being Med Rolled may increase.

When looking at the data, consider the benefits of high scores (odds of completing BCS) as well as the risks (odds of being Med Rolled). Bear in mind that in some cases, a particular score may indicate a higher or lower percentage for completing BCS or being Med Rolled, but the difference may not be statistically significant - either the difference or the sample size are too small. You should strive for performances that maximize your odds of success without increasing your risk of injury, as explained below.

Smart training goals

For each event, consider how important it is for BCS success. Then look at where benefits plateau (when faster or stronger stops being better) and where odds of being Med Rolled are greatest. A smart training goal is one that improves the odds of completing BCS without increasing the odds of being Med Rolled.

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.IMPORTANCE OF EACH EXERCISE IN COMPLETING BCS - EFFECT SIZE

Effect Sizes were calculated for several different physical tests. The Effect Size (ES) is determined by finding the difference between the values for SWCC candidates who did not make it through selection (DROP) and those who finished BCS (COMPLETE), then dividing by the Standard Deviation for all SWCC candidates. A larger number (greater %) indicates that variable has a greater impact on BCS success. Results of this analysis show that running performance has the biggest effect on completing BCS (52%) while body weight bench and body weight pull-ups have small effects (10% and 2%).

 

 

 

At NSW Prep SWCC candidates have their overall fitness evaluated two times.

  1. Before coming to BCS, you must first take the "SWCC PRT", which includes eight physical tests that measure power, strength, and endurance. The "SWCC PRT" assessment does not have pass-fail standards, but provides a baseline at the start of a potential Operator’s career (candidates take the assessment in BCS and Operators take it in the SWCC Teams).
  2. Pass the NSW Prep or Exit Test consisting of a 1K-swim with fins, max push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups in two minutes, and a 3-mile run.

You should aim for goals that maximize your odds of success without increasing your risk of injury, as explained below. When looking at the data, consider the benefits of high scores (odds of completing BCS) as well as the risks (odds of being Med Rolled). Bear in mind that in some cases, a particular score may indicate a higher or lower percentage for completing BCT or being Med Rolled, but the difference may not be statistically significant – either the difference or the sample size are too small.

"SWCC PRT" EXERCISE SMART TRAINING GOALS
Standing Long Jump 90 inches or more
25lb Pull-up 7-9 reps
Body Weight Bench 10-14 reps
Deadlift 1 Rep Max 1.75 x body weight
5-10-5 Agility 4.8-4.99 seconds
300yd Shuttle Run 60 seconds or less
3-Mile Run 21 minutes or less
800-Meter Swim with Fins 13-14 minutes
NSW PREP EXIT TEST EXERCISE SMART TRAINING GOALS
1K-Swim with Fins 17 minutes or less
Push-up 90 reps or more
Sit-up 80 reps or more
Pull-up 14-16 reps
3-Mile Run 21 minutes or less

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. FITNESS TESTS USED TO EVALUATE SWCC CANDIDATES

Standing Long Jump

  1. Smart training goal: 90 inches or more
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 104.5 inches
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 67 inches
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 108.5 inches
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 66.5 inches

Data shows that SWCC candidates who record greater distance for the Standing Long Jump are more likely to complete BCS, with the biggest increase in success coming for those who jumped farther than 100 inches. There does not appear to be much of a relationship between injury risk and Standing Long Jump, though those with lower values may be at greater risk of being Med Rolled.

The Standing Long Jump is a measure of lower body power. When tested, SWCC candidates stand behind a line and jump as far as possible, taking off and landing on two feet without falling forward or backward. Distance is measured to the heel closest to the line. The best of three attempts is scored.

 

 

 

25lb Pull-up

  1. Smart training goal: 7-9 reps
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 17 reps
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 1 rep
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 19 reps
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 0 reps

Data shows that SWCC candidates with low scores (less than seven reps) on this test are at greater risk of dropping out before completing BCS. A certain amount of upper body pulling strength is necessary to complete BCS. But note that while the odds of completing BCS may increase with more reps until approximately 13 reps, at that point benefits plateau (and may even decrease for 16+ reps).

The take-home message is that developing the ability to complete at least seven weighted pull-ups will improve your odds of success compared to SWCC candidates who do fewer reps, but devoting too much time and effort to do even more will not necessarily improve your odds of success. While this data does not show a greater risk of injury with higher reps, risk has been shown with other populations (such as SEAL candidates), so use caution.

Upper body pull strength is measured by doing pull-ups while wearing a weighted vest (25 pounds). Strict standards are enforced for proper pull-up technique.

 

 

 

Body Weight Bench

  1. Smart training goal: 10-14 reps
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 24 reps
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 0 reps
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 23 reps
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 0 reps

Data shows that this test has little relationship with success in BCS. A certain amount of upper body pushing strength is probably beneficial. But note the odds of completing BCS are not different for candidates with 0-14 reps. Odds appear to be greater for 15-19 reps, but this is a small sample size and the difference is statistically small (and odds may decrease for 20+ reps).

The take-home message is that developing the ability to complete 10 or so reps of body weight bench may be beneficial during BCS, but devoting too much time and effort to do even more will not necessarily improve your odds of success. While this data does not show a greater risk of injury with higher reps, risk has been shown with other populations (such as SEAL candidates), so use caution.

Upper body push strength is measured by max reps of the bench press with a weight equal to body weight loaded on the bar. Strict standards are enforced for proper technique.

 

 

 

Deadlift One Rep Max

  1. Smart training goal: 1.75 x your bodyweight
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 2.33 x your bodyweight
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 1.5 x your bodyweight
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 2.33 x your bodyweight
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 1.5 x your bodyweight

Data indicates the ability to dead lift 1.75% of body weight (lifting 1.5 x body weight for five reps) demonstrates sufficient lower body strength to successfully complete BCS without significantly increasing the risk of injury. Lower body strength is measured by estimating 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) for the dead lift. Values are expressed as a per cent of body weight (%BW). SWCC candidates attempt to perform up to five reps of the dead lift using 1.5, 1.75, or 2.0 x body weight, depending on ability and technique. A formula is used to convert the weight lifted and number of reps to a 1-RM value.

Be careful when interpreting results for the dead lift. The majority of SWCC candidates tested have recorded values of 1.75% BW as 1- RM for the dead lift. This is accomplished by performing five reps lifting 1.5 x body weight. There are relatively few SWCC candidates with values lower or higher than 1.75%, making statistical conclusions less certain. In this sample of SWCC candidates, there was a general trend for greater success with larger dead lift 1-RM, and the risk of injury does not appear to differ significantly. However, given the low Effect Size, SWCC candidates should weigh the potential risks of performing the dead lift carefully against the possible benefits.

 

 

 

5-10-5 Agility

  1. Smart training goal: 4.8-4.99 seconds
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 4.33 seconds
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 5.55 seconds
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 4.44 seconds
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 5.58 seconds

Data shows that this test has little relationship with success in BCS. In theory, a certain amount of lower body power as measured by this test would be beneficial. But note the odds of completing BCS are not significantly different for candidates across the entire range of times (the higher value for 4.8-4.99 seconds is not statistically significant).

The 5-10-5 agility test measures lower body power. SWCC candidates straddle a line and sprint 5 yards to one side, touch a line and sprint 10 yards to the other side, touch a line and sprint 5 yards back to the starting point. SWCC candidates get two attempts starting to the right and two attempts starting to the left. The recorded score is the average of the best attempt starting to the right and the best attempt starting to the left.

 

 

 

300 Yard Shuttle Run

  1. Smart training goal: 60 seconds or less
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 56.3 seconds
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 72.2 seconds
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 58.9 seconds
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 69.6 seconds

Odds of completing BCS go up and odds of being Med Rolled go down as scores get faster for the Shuttle Run. The Effect Size is larger than any test except 3-Mile Run and 1K Swim, so it appears that developing anaerobic power will benefit SWCC candidate for completing BCS. Note there is a low correlation between 3-Mile Run times and this test, which means they measure different things and will be improved with different types of training. Complete training of all metabolic systems utilizes a variety of methods including Long Slow Distance but also Short and Long Intervals.

The 300 yard shuttle is a measure of anaerobic power and capacity. SWCC candidates sprint back and forth between two lines spaced 25 yards apart, going down and back a total of six times (down and back once is 50 yards; six times is 300 yards). The test consists of two max-effort 300 yard shuttles with exactly two minutes of recovery in between. The recorded score is the average of both attempts.

 

 

 

3-Mile Run ("SWCC PRT")

  1. Smart training goal: 21 minutes or less
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 17:01 minutes
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 24:11 minutes
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 18:14 minutes
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 24:42 minutes

Running ability correlates strongly with success in BCS. It has the largest Effect Size. Running quantifies aerobic fitness, which impacts your ability to sustain work output and recover quickly after physically demanding evolutions. As run times get faster, the odds of completing BCS improve, though benefits may plateau at 20 minutes. The risk of being Med Rolled appears to be less for 21 minutes or faster.

The take-home message is to improve your running to the best of your ability, because it is the single most important factor for completing BCS. Use good judgment when training to reduce the risk of getting injured while running.

 

 

 

3-Mile Run (NSW Prep Exit Test)

  1. Smart training goal: 21 minutes or less
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 17:22 minutes
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 23:21 minutes
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 18:31 minutes
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 23:50 minutes

In addition to the 3-Mile Run during the “SWCC PRT”, SWCC candidates perform a 3- Mile Run during the NSW Prep Exit Test. Though the format of each assessment is different, the results of both 3-Mile Runs are consistent. Running ability correlates strongly with success in BCS, with the largest Effect Size. Running quantifies aerobic fitness, which impacts your ability to sustain work output and recover quickly after physically demanding evolutions. As run times get faster, the odds of completing BCS improve. Statistically, completing this 3-Mile Run in less than 22 minutes provides the biggest advantage compared to slower runners, with a general trend of faster scores corresponding to greater success. Sub-21 minute runners also appear to be at less risk of being Med Rolled than slower runners.

The take-home message is to improve your running to the best of your ability, because it is the single most important factor for completing BCS. Use good judgment when training to reduce the risk of getting injured while running.

 

 

 

800-Meter Swim with fins

  1. Smart training goal: 13-14 minutes
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 12:09 minutes
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 16:28 minutes
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 11:05 minutes
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 16:53 minutes

Swim performance correlates well with success in BCS. Data for the 800-Meter Swim indicates that faster swimmers are more successful, though benefits plateau around 13 minutes.

The conclusion is that swim performance is important for success in BCS and SWCC candidates should prepare accordingly. The usual recommendations apply to increase training mileage and intensity gradually to avoid causing injury with poor training.

 

 

 

1K-Swim with fins

  1. Smart training goal: 17 minutes or less
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 14:51 minutes
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 19:13 minutes
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 15:05 minutes
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 20:45 minutes

In addition to the 800-Meter Swim, SWCC candidates at NSW Prep perform a 1K-Swim with fins. Because the formats of the two assessments are different, the 1000-Meter Swim appears to correlate better than the 800- Meter Swim with success in BCS. 1K Swim performance correlates strongly with success (it has the next largest Effect Size after running). Data for the 1K Swim indicates that faster swimmers are more successful, though benefits plateau around 17 minutes. Sub-18 minute swimmers also appear to be at less risk of being Med Rolled than slower swimmers.

Taking both swim tests together, the conclusion is that swim performance is important for success in BCS and SWCC candidates should prepare accordingly. The usual recommendations apply to increase training mileage and intensity gradually to avoid causing injury with poor training.

 

 

 

Push-up

  1. Smart training goal: 90 reps or more
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 103 reps
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 57 reps
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 115 reps
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 56 reps

Historically the ability to perform push-ups has been considered essential for success in BCS. The data shows a trend of more reps corresponding to greater odds of completing BCS, though the differences between rep ranges are not statistically significant. While this data does not show a greater risk of injury with higher reps, risk has been shown with other populations (such as SEAL candidates), so use caution.

Take-home message: develop the ability to perform at least 90 push-ups, but don’t spend valuable time and energy trying to do more. Make your push-up training economical, so you leave time to train the many other qualities important for success in BCS.

 

 

 

Sit-up

  1. Smart training goal: 80 reps or more
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 100 reps
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 60 reps
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 101 reps
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 61 reps

The data shows a trend of more sit-ups corresponding to greater odds of completing BCS, though the differences are not statistically significant. The relationship with injury is not clear. More reps may be better, and there does not seem to be greater risk of injury, but don’t expend too much time and energy trying to increase your sit-ups at the expense of other important qualities as you prepare for BCS.

 

 

 

Pull-up Body Weight Max

  1. Smart training goal: 14-16 reps
  2. Best score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 21 reps
  3. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who completed BCS: 9 reps
  4. Best score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 23 reps
  5. Worst score for any SWCC candidate who dropped from training: 8 reps

The ability to do body-weight pull-ups shows little correlation with completing BCS, and has the smallest Effect Size of all exercises measured for SWCC candidates. SWCC candidates who can do eleven pull-ups may have greater success than those who can do less, but more does not appear to provide an additional advantage. The lowest risk of injury occurred for candidates in the 14-16 rep range, while the highest occurred for 20+ reps.

Take-home message: if you train to the point where you can do about 15 pull-ups, it may not be wise to try to do more.