Preparing for SLS


The Stars and Stripes Forever
10-Year Member
Feb 1, 2009
I'm not by any means weak or seriously lack endurance, but after I got accepted to SLS, my apprehension for the physical challenge has grown. All my muscles are "natural" - I've never worked out in my entire life until just last two weeks ago or so. My school has a weight room and in-door track and I've been benching, doing all manners of weight lifting, and running almost everyday. I have more experienced friends who work out that are helping me out but I've always wanted more opinions. I am very scared about wimping out/injuring myself/being unable to participate in some activity simply because I lack the brute strength. Being a beginner and all, does anyone with experience in FAST (only 4 months!) building body/muscle mass have some great tips or routine they would like to share with me? How much weight and muscle do you think I could gain in the 4 months I have until SLS? Is the physical workout at the SLS truly as hard as they say? What exactly are the exercises you do at SLS everyday? And is it true that lifting weights stunts your growth?

Thanks for reading and any response is appreciated!
Altitude tends to affect endurance more than strength, so I would concentrate on running and building endurance rather than on building muscle mass. :thumb:

Below is a link to a workout on a typical day at the Naval Academy Summer Seminar (I've heard NASS is the hardest seminar physically).
NASS is hard but also very fun. the altitude at USAFA is pretty killer- you get winded just walking up stairs. as long as you've actually worked yourself without using a machine (i.e. doing push-ups, crunches, running outside) for a couple weeks you will survive.
I went to both the West Point and USAFA SLSs and don't worry too much about the PT. West Point had some beastly PT on some days. USAFA builds up the PT daily, as they want to acclimatize you. It's about 45 minutes of push-ups, flutter kicks, etc. on the terrazzo, increasing daily. On the CFA the altitude kills you; I ran a 6:30 in NY the week before but ran a 7:30 something at USAFA. Don't stress muscle mass too much. Concentrate on running a mile to a mile and a half and on the actual CFA exercises. Do some push-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups daily, even if just a few at night before going to sleep. That will help you more than building a ton of mass. But that's not to say that lifting won't help. Just make sure to run.
As falcongirl mentioned, the best thing you can do is running. And when you're tired of running; RUN SOME MORE. If you never exercise, you'll want to START getting so upper body strength for when you need to do the CFA for your application. I recommend a LOT OF PUSHUPS. And if you have a place, a LOT OF PULLUPS. That's all you need to do. But mostly, RUNNING. Yes, the altitude is something else. I've lived in high altitude most of my life. My son had no problem at the air force academy. And when we visit grandma and grandpa who live on the beach in New Jersey; we are in HEAVEN!!! We never get tired. But in the altitude, it's a new world. Run until you can't run anymore. Then rest, and run some more. If you do this every day for 4 months, your oxygen level will be able to handle the altitude a lot better. Of course when you have to run at the air force academy, you'll swear someone slipped you some drugs, because you'll be light headed. good luck. Mike.....
And when you're tired of running; RUN SOME MORE.

this is the basis, and the hell, of cross country. Words to live by, but words i hate!!! Running is awesome, but sucks at the same time. very love/hate relationship, but very necessary for the academy..... i'm guessing
just my $00.02

i was an avid runner before i came here and worked out 3-4 times a week on pushups/crunches/flutterkicks. i still get winded walking up stairs, and i've been here over a half year.. they say you acclimitize in a 8 ish weeks, but it's not completely true. you're about 75% acclimitized after about 6 months, or some ridiculous number that i got shown once. running, pushups, and pullups are the 3 essential excercises that'll help you.

running w/ endurance, abs, and legs
pushups w/ arms, shoulders, and chest
pullups w/ back and arms

muscle mass wont help you too much if you can't survive a training session because you never do pushups.. it's more about endurance than brute strength. my roomate works out a LOT, 4-5 times a week, and can lift a LOT of weight. but we took the pft this week, and he barely got over a 300 (still a decent score)... so run, do pushups, and do pullups til you cant do anymore, then do more. but remember to TAKE BREAKS and let your body rest every day or so.. you cant go all-out all the time and expect to get better

good luck!
I know this is a very bleak question, but what is a good amount of pullups to be able to do? I'd be okay with finding out the hard way, but its still nice to have a goal during preparation for the summer...
Once basketball season is over, I'm not planning on doing any weight training before BCT(maybe only some curls, triceps ext. etc). As said above, I feel like my time is MUCH better spent focusing on pushups, abs, pullups, and running.

Also I would recommend swimming as an alternative to running some days. I'll do it about 3 times a week. Its a great way to cross-train and build up your endurance as well as upper body/shoulder strength.
I know this is a very bleak question, but what is a good amount of pullups to be able to do? I'd be okay with finding out the hard way, but its still nice to have a goal during preparation for the summer...

Actually, the answer is quite simple. The goal you are pushing for is to be able to do 1 more than what you did before. Do as many pullups as you can the first time. That is your benchmark. You can NEVER do less than that. Your goal is to do one more. When you get that one more, that becomes your new benchmark. And never do less than that new benchmark with your goal being to do one more than that. If you want an ultimate goal, look at the CFA test and there is a maximum that you can score. If you do more than that, you don't get any more points. Personally, I wouldn't look at what that number is until you're ready to take the CFA test. You'd be surprised how many you can do with the proper training and motivation. If the Spirit and the mind and the body are one, anything is possible. If you let your mind dominate, you'll limit yourself. Best of luck. mike....
I know this is a very bleak question, but what is a good amount of pullups to be able to do? I'd be okay with finding out the hard way, but its still nice to have a goal during preparation for the summer...

how many can you do now?
I'm up to 10! (I only did 5 for my CFA so this is quite amazing for my standards lol)
i say 8 should be your goal before coming here. 7 is the min for the PFT and you will only get stronger. But ofcourse that doesnt mean if you get to 8 you should stop... exceed the standard!
So if you get like 20 pullups, but botch another event, say pushups, that high score in pullups will make up for some of that, correct?
yep. pullups and jump are worth more points per incrememnent than anything else...

ie, an 1 pullup increase may get you an extra 5 pts towards your pft.
1 pushup only gets you ~ 2 pts
1 inch on your jump gets you 4 points.
1 situp gets you ~ pts
1 second on your run gets you ~3 or 4 points
Good stuff to know. Matt can u really do 20 pullups?
Before leaving home last June, my favorite twins were running 35 miles a week (in hot, humid weather), plus doing weights every other night, plus fencing 4-7 nights a week. They also took a protein supplement (that whey protein stuff you can buy at sports shops), which really built up their muscles. They were both REALLY glad they did that much running though. They still sometimes feel the altitude.
I was disappointed on my PFT this time around since I only got 19 pull-ups vs maxing it last time at 21. ;) My CFA was 10 pull-ups. After BCT I hit 16. I got to 21 by performing pyramid pull-ups for 1-1.5 months working from 4-5 max pyramids to 8.
I'm up to 10! (I only did 5 for my CFA so this is quite amazing for my standards lol)

Ten is great! Keep practicing those pullups, but don't forget your other exercises, notably running, pushups, and crunches. I do my pullups in sets of 7, and usually get in three sets a day, 4 days a week. Pushups and crunches 6 days, running 3-4 days (increasing as we get closer to track season/ice and snow melts).