How to Workout Like A Navy Seal
The members of the Navy Seals are some of the most elite sportsmen in the United States Special Forces.
They are known for their strength and mental strength.
The fitness test required to enter the BUD/S school and how to train like a SEAL are covered in this article.
To become a Navy SEAL, you need incredible cardiovascular endurance across several modalities in addition to good overall calisthenic strength.
The official navy entrance exam has a lot of information.
- Swimming: swim 500 yards (457.2 meters) using breast and/or sidestroke in less than 12 minutes and 30 seconds. To be competitive, complete the swim in less than 8 minutes.10-minute rest.
- Push-ups: perform at least 50 Push-ups. in 2 minutes, or 80–100 to be competitive.2-minute rest.
- Sit-ups: perform at least 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes, or 80–100 to be competitive. 2-minute rest.
- Pull-ups: perform at least 10 Pull-ups., with no time limit. Complete 15–20 to be competitive. 10-minute rest.
- Running: run 1 1/2 miles (2.4 km) in under 10 minutes and 30 seconds, or under 9–10 minutes to be competitive.
You will need to be proficient in each of the areas to pass the exam. You need to be fit enough to perform well in each movement, and only have short rest periods between exercises.
The Seal training includes swimming, calisthenics, and running.
Navy SEAL training is mentally and physically taxing, requiring you to push through your barriers of what you think is painful.
Navy SEALs use their own body weight in their workouts because they are often in the field where exercise equipment is not available.
The only thing that is different is the backpack they carry on their backs. They use this rucksack to train, run or wear it to add resistance to Push-ups. and Pull-ups..
In addition, most Navy SEAL workout programs include elements of traditional strength training. This is to ensure that SEALs maintain the ability to sustain the intensity of their military training and job.
Navy SEAL workouts are mostly about using their rucksacks and doing bodyweight movements.
To pass the rigorous Entrance Exam and to make it through the Navy SEALs program, the Naval Special Warfare Physical Training Guide recommends that you include the following training each week for 26 weeks (1):
- A long distance workout for both running and swimming.
- A high intensity workout for both running and swimming.
- Interval work for swimming and running.
- 4–5 calisthenics routines
- The strength training sessions are divided into two sessions for the upper and lower body.
- Core exercise routines.
- A daily routine of flexibility.
- Injury prevention exercises.
“A Navy Seal’s weekly training schedule includes cardiovascular training, calisthenics, weight training, and core and flexibility routines.”
The Naval Special Warfare Physical Training Guide recommends a 26 week training program to prepare for the entrance exam, but you can try the below 6 week adaption first.
Slow, long-distance cardio, 40–90 minutes
This workout is low intensity.
You can use the Talk Test to make sure you’re not pushing too hard. If you’re too out of breath to comfortably talk as you run or swim, slow down. A 2018 study found this test to be an effective, cost-free way to assess cardiovascular exercise intensity (
Running and swimming on Mondays and Thursdays.
- Week 1: on Monday, run 3 miles (4.8 km) and record your pace. On Thursday, swim 1,000 yards (0.9 km) and record your pace.
- Week 2: run 3.5 miles (5.6 km) and swim 1,200 yards (1.1 km), keeping or exceeding last week’s pace
- Week 3: run 4 miles (6.4 km) and swim 1,400 yards (1.3 km), keeping or exceeding last week’s pace
- Week 4: run 4.5 miles (7.2 km) and swim 1,600 yards (1.5 km), keeping or exceeding last week’s pace
- Week 5: run 5 miles (8 km) and swim 1,800 yards (1.6 km), keeping or exceeding last week’s pace
- Week 6: run 5.5 miles (8.9 km) and swim 2,000 yards (1.8 km), keeping or exceeding last week’s pace
Continuous high intensity cardio, 15–20 minutes
On a scale of 1–10, the intensity throughout the run or swim should be at 8–9. This means it should be challenging but not too hard.
Running and swimming on Tuesday and Friday mornings.
- Week 1: on Tuesday, swim for 15 minutes and record the distance. On Friday, run for 15 minutes and record the distance
- Week 2: run and swim for 16 minutes, trying to beat your previous distance
- Week 3: run and swim for 17 minutes, trying to beat your previous distance
- Week 4: run and swim for 18 minutes, trying to beat your previous distance
- Week 5: run and swim for 19 minutes, trying to beat your previous distance
- Week 6: run and swim for 20 minutes, trying to beat your previous distance
Interval cardio workouts have short intense bursts of energy.
The optimal ratio of work to rest is 1:2 to 1:2 1/2. This means that for every minute you run or swim, you rest for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (
Interval training is a great way to complete an efficient workout in minimal time. A 2019 meta-analysis confirmed this, concluding that high intensity interval training effectively increases cardiovascular fitness over a matter of weeks (
Running and swimming on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
- Week 1: on Wednesday, run 1/4 mile (400 meters) and record the pace. Rest 2 to 2 1/2 times as long as the run lasted. Repeat the run, trying to maintain the same pace, completing 4 intervals. On Saturday, swim 100 yards (91 meters) and record the pace. Rest 2 to 2 1/2 times as long as the swim lasted. Repeat the swim, trying to maintain the same pace, completing 4 intervals
- Week 2: perform 5 intervals
- Week 3: perform 6 intervals
- Week 4: perform 7 intervals
- Week 5: perform 8 intervals
- Week 6: perform 9 intervals
The workouts are meant to increase your performance on the test.
Completed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
- Week 1:
- Monday: 3 sets of Push-ups., Pull-ups., and sit-ups to failure. Rest 2–3 minutes between sets. Record the total number of reps
- Wednesday: 3–5 sets of 10–30 Push-ups. and sit-ups, as well as 5–10 Pull-ups.. Rest 1 minute between sets
- Friday: 5 sets of 5–10 Push-ups. wearing a weighted vest and 5 sets of 3–5 Pull-ups. wearing a weighted vest
- Weeks 2–6:
- Monday: try to beat the total number of reps from the previous week
- Wednesday: keep the reps the same as Monday
- Friday: increase the reps by 1–2 or add 2.5–5 pounds (1.1–2.2 kg) to the weight on the vest
These exercises help you stay injury-free and support your overall strength.
Completed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
- Week 1:
- Monday: 3 sets of 8–12 back squats, 2 sets of 10–12 overhead presses, and 2 sets of 12–15 dumbbell rows per side
- Wednesday: 3 sets of 8–12 incline barbell presses, 2 sets of 10–12 barbell lunges, and 2 sets of 12–15 Romanian deadlifts
- Friday: 3 sets of 8–12 front squats and 2 sets of 10–15 dips
- Weeks 2–6: Each week, increase the weights by 5–10 pounds (1.1–2.2 kg) on all exercises or add 1–3 reps per set
Extra sets are not recommended because of the focus on cardiovascular conditioning and bodyweight progressions.
Research has shown that there’s a maximum amount of volume you can recover from each week. The main focus of this program is to get good at the specific exercises in the Navy SEAL fitness test (5).
It is important to include a variety of training methods in your programming. The Navy Seal training and the entrance exam have certain skills that need to be focused on.
Whether you have access to equipment or not, and no matter how long you want to dedicate to your training, try to include these core elements of Navy SEAL fitness in your routine:
- The distance swimming is long.
- The distance running is long.
- Hikes or trail runs have a weighted backpack.
The Navy Special Warfare Physical Training Guide also mentions that it’s important to spend a little time stretching every day (1).
The core of your training program should be calisthenics and endurance exercises.
The SEAL workout plan includes a lot of exercise per week, so you will quickly notice it.
It is important to modify the program. If you find it hard to keep up with the number of total sets, you can either reduce the number of sets or replace some of the cardio sessions with a walk or hike.
If at the beginning of the program the bodyweight exercises are too challenging, you can start with banded Pull-ups. or doing the Push-ups. on your knees. Just remember that if you want to take the Navy SEAL test, you’ll eventually need to perform the exercises unassisted.
The main goal of the program is to improve at certain exercises. Keeping track of your progress is a good idea to ensure you are moving towards your goals.
Make sure to eat and sleep with quality food and sleep.
If you stick to it, you will be able to become a Navy SEAL.
“The article suggests a training program to prepare for the exam. The official guide for the training of the Navy’s elite Special Operations troops suggests a 26 week approach.”
If you want to get stronger and fit without committing to a whole training program, you can still incorporate some of the training aspects into your workouts.