A few days after Osama bi Laden’s demise in 2011, America’s most burning question—the top-searched keyword in Google—was “Navy Seal Training”, followed closely by “Navy SEAL daily workout.” Clearly, admiration for the SEALs, America’s primary maritime special operations force, was higher than any interest in the political event. Five years later, inquiring minds are still clamoring to know: what does a recruit have to go through to become a Navy SEAL—and could an average American survive it?
The short answer is: no. Navy SEAL training has been called the most aggressive workout in the free world, a bone-wrenching, lung-bursting ordeal that overwhelms the majority of men who attempt it. Those who pass the two-year training program go on to join the 2,500-men rotation of active-duty SEALs. The very best are promoted to the elite Seal Team Six—the very squad tasked with eliminating bin Laden.
To learn more about a Navy SEAL’s daily workout—and whether or not you’d survive it—read on.
So, you’ve decided to become a Navy SEAL. Great! First, you have to qualify for the training program itself. Navy SEAL pre-training requirements include:
- Push-ups in 2 minutes: 42 minimum, 100 optimum
- Sit-ups in 2 minutes: 52 minimum, 100 optimum
- Pull-ups (no time limit): 8 minimum, 20 optimum
- 1.5-mile run, wearing boots and pants, in 9-11 minutes
As a SEAL candidate, you will also be required to complete Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training, one of the toughest schools in the U.S. military. To qualify for BUD/S training, candidates must complete:
- A 1000-meter swim, with fins, in 22 minutes or less
- At least 70 push-ups in two minutes
- At least 10 pullups in two minutes
- At least 60 sit-ups in two minutes
- A four-mile run, with shoes and pants, in under 31 minutes
Remember that the Navy’s minimum requirements are just that—a bare minimum. With thousands of candidates competing for a very small number of spots, accomplishing the minimum requirements will likely put you at the bottom of the pack. For example, in 2014 the average recruit completed 102 push-ups in two minutes, almost twice the minimum requirement. If you’re female, you’re in for an even greater challenge. Although the SEALS will begin accepting women in 2016, they have no plans to alter the physical fitness standards for them.
Navy SEAL Exercise Routine
If you’re fortunate enough to be accepted into the SEAL training program, a typical day for you will include workouts both on land and in the sea. An average day for a Navy SEAL generally looks like:
- A 1-hour bodyweight workout, performed on the “grinder”, a black asphalt parking lot
- A four-mile run on the beach
- Retrieving a 150-pound raft from a distant shed, then carrying it down the beach on top of the head
- Swimming around the island (the scenic Navy Special Warfare Center in Coranado, CA) in a 17-mile lap
As previously noted, you’ll also be required to perform to complete Basic Underwater Demolition, or BUD, training. This will include:
- Swimming for several miles with bound arms and legs
- “Water immersion”, a prolonged bob in the 60-degree Pacific Ocean
- Jumping on/off a pier while being hosed down with cold water
According to Navy sources, the training is so grueling that a class of 100 can shrink by 10% in a few minutes. Men can quit at any time by ringing a bell. Historically, two out of three do.
SEAL Training: The World’s Toughest Daily Workout
According to conditioning coach and Navy veteran Brad McLeod, the biggest keys to surviving SEAL workouts are endurance and durability. According to McLeod, a lot of athletes can lift heavy weights or perform a 10-minute CrossFit workout—but very few could carry a rucksack full or gear for miles, rappel down a cliff, swim for more 3 miles, and then assault an enemy during a rainstorm. Though most average humans will never get to see the SEAL training camp, you can imitate the greats by building your workouts for the long haul, favoring endurance and length over strength and speed.
You can also assist your workouts by wearing injury-proofing braces, such as compression sleeves. To learn more about how compression sleeves can support your muscles during fitness activities, click here.