Tactical Fitness: Are Fighters Born or Made?

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Airman carries sandbags during a farmer's carry.
Airman 1st Class JP Guyer, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party specialist, assigned to the Washington Air National Guard, performs a farmer’s carry during a physical training test Aug. 9, 2019, at Camp Murray, Wash. (Airman 1st Class Mckenzie Airhart/U.S. Air National Guard photo)

It's a pleasure to email you. I’ve been thinking lately -- the difference between making it in special operations programs and not is whether or not a candidate is a true fighter. Anyone can get into shape, but not everyone is a fighter. I do have a question for you: Do you think fighters are born, or are they made? Can I become a fighter?

Thank you.  

Thanks for the email. I have to say it is a great question and one that is very similar to the age-old question, "Which came first -- the chicken or the egg?"  But I will say I think it's a little bit of both. I had to work really hard to get to be average at certain athletic skills and sports growing up and had to work really, really hard to get above average.

I likewise had to train even harder to go from a powerlifting football player to pre-BUD/S shape in college. So I think it is a bit of the mentality that you might be born with of not giving up, never quitting and stubbornness to achieve a goal. But making it also requires a daily work ethic.

Fighters are born with a certain set of skills and abilities, but they are made into a successful fighter, soldier, etc. by putting hard work and dedication into each and every day.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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