elitefts™ Sunday Edition

James “The Thinker” Smith is a team elitefts™ Q&A Coach and Physical Preparation Consultant. These questions and answers (unedited) have been selected from the elitefts™ Sports Training Q&A. James is an elitefts™ distinguished 5-Star Trainer and has become renowned as one of the best preparation coaches in the world. When he speaks, coaches listen.


I've seen a post stating that you had not reviewed "Triphasic Training", but in my quest for knowledge I did. I won't discuss the book itself, but rather a concept behind it's formulation.

One premise is that if you can shorten the period of time between eccentric, concentric, and isometric contractions, you can become a more powerful/explosive athlete. In real life, you become that guy that can "cut on a dime".

My questions is 2 part. First, isn't that ability purely genetic. i.e. We all know those guys that were quick in elementary school, and are always quick until they reach a level of competition that runs them into other "quickies". Is attempting to improve that quality futile? If so, might one be better served being able to repeat the ability you have, via work capacity improvement?

Part 2 - If such an improvement to the SSC is possible, and warranted, how does one best target it. My initial thought is that practicing eccentric lowering and isometric holds in the weight room will not provide the same amount of force, in the same biodynamic way, to provide any carry over to sport. Thus it needs to be done in an GS or S fashion. However, if one is to improve their ability to cut, stop, start, it has to be done in a way that is more stressful than what is normally seen in a game. In order to provide that stress, you have the option of more volume, or more weight.

All that said, would GS drills, done in higher volume than game load, and/or with a weighted vest, provide the optimal solution to attaining the goal of becoming "quicker".....again if that's possible.

Thanks, as always.


Jeff, I'll answer your question with a lesson...

While I have held high school, collegiate, and international positions titled strength or physical preparation coach; I have never allowed myself to be limited by the title.

Unfortunately, most individuals holding these posts do; and thus seek to solve most problems inside the weight room walls.

The problem with this, as you have noted, is that certain/many problems which limit athletes from advancing sport skill cannot be reduced to solutions answered by those whose knowledge is limited to strength coaching.

Shortly after Buddy brought me into PITT I suggested that the word/phrase strength coach/strength and conditioning coach be dropped because what we had to offer far exceeded the confining, as well as misdirected implications, of those job titles. I proposed the phrase physical preparation because that is what the late Yuri Verkhoshansky referred to it as in his emails to me around/before that time period; and it is a far more suitable, as well as descriptive, title for those who take on the responsibility of advancing every conceivable aspect of preparation outside of team sport tactical enhancement (as sports technical preparation is intrinsic to, as well as the context defining component, of any competent physical preparation specialist).

You'll notice that those who criticize the term physical preparation are the same individuals who possess an aptitude that confines them from seeing the same problems I have written about dating back to 2003 whose solution requires programme management/performance direction in order to synergize all loading (technical/tactical, physical, active physiotherapeutic).

I was inspired to to share the Global Sport Concepts based upon my more recent thinking which even discounts the significance of qualified physical preparation.


I have consulted for NFL teams with a high qualified "S&C" coach whose team struggled to win a single game in a season and I have also consulted for another highly qualified "S&C" coach whose team has competed in a super bowl.

Further, I am aware of numerous "S&C" coaches who have been part of super bowl championships who are as knowledgeable as the chair you're sitting on right now.

This example is limited to American football yet extends far beyond.

The common, and unfortunate, factor is that "S&C" is a meaningless component in the context of team and combat sport preparation.

Technical-tactical coaching is just as variable; however, I'll leave that for another day.

The answer to your question is not rooted in physical preparation or technical-tactical guidance; but rather the synergy of both into a higher dimensional form of sport preparation guided by a programme manager/performance director rooted in movement, neurophysiological, and neuropsychological preparation.

In this way, all movement, specific to general, including enhancing an athlete's ability to rapidly change direction, will be enhanced like never before.



Whats your thoughts of using crossfit for physical preparation before joining the Navy, specifically with a goal of BUD/S?

Alex H


I do not recommend it Alex.

BUD/S, from a physical standpoint, is constituted by physical challenges that must be largely, not entirely, but largely strategically prepared for via the systematic regulation of the training load; and a BUD/S trainee is required to execute real pullups. This concept, of course, exist in diametric opposition to the senseless and random nature of the workloads associated with cross-fit and their epileptic seizure version of pullups.

I prepared a BUD/S candidate a few months ago, who is currently in bootcamp, and here is a comparison illustrating his training load volumes week 13 (when we started together) versus his final week (week 1) before bootcamp:

First Week of Training:
Week/Week of 13- May 6
Weekly Volumes
Run miles/km- 25/40.2
Swim in meters- 6000
Pushups (8 counts included)- 1500
Pullups- 300
Abs- 2000

Last Week of Training:
Week/Week of: 1- Jul 29
Weekly Volumes
Run miles/km- 41.5/66.8
Swim in meters: 9950
Pushups (8 counts included)- 5944
Pullups- 1189
Abs- 7925

I'm sharing this publicly to make a specific point: despite the significant increase in training load, he left for bootcamp without a single muscular or connective tissue pathology.

The primary objective of his training was to improve his run and swim times and vastly increase the overall work capacity. The calisthenics were not targeted for any improvements (just work capacity); however, they all increased as a byproduct of the workload.

4mile on the track from 28:46 down to 26:48 (he ran the 26:48 after a morning of workouts in BUD/S prep in which they did a 3mile soft sand beach run and sandbag PT)

Screen Test Improvements:
- 500yd swim from 9:00 to 8:25
- 1.5mile run from 9:17 to 8:39
- pushups 106 to 121
- pullups 26 to 28
- situps from 85 to 98 (without doing a single sit up in training)

In 13 weeks
- weekly run and swim volume increased by 40% each
- weekly pushup (8 count), pullup, abdominal training volume increased by 75% each

3-5 distinct training sessions- 6 days a week; including specified volumes of calisthenics to complete before the end of each day at random.

Not a single injury or set back


Thinker--i noticed on a prior q/a you listed some basic PT requirements before going to BUD/S. What would be some run/ruck times you would recommend one aim for prior to entering basic reconnaissance school for recon or for SFAS for army SF? Thank you for your time sir.



There is no limit to the advanced stage of specific preparation for BRC or SFAS. In this way, and by analogy, you may think of how improving maximal outputs benefits tasks that are founded in near maximal and sub-maximal outputs.

Plainly said, the faster you can cut 3-10mile runs and long rucks- the better.

As for minimum requirements, you may find that sort of information on the respective websites; however, I strongly recommend against thinking in terms of minimum requirements because special operations exists on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Every time I prepare a candidate for special operations selection we work backwards from the scheduled ship out date and work towards the highest attainable results relative to the given time period.

Elitefts™ Distinguished 5-Star Trainer James "The Thinker" Smith

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