10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training

by Brad McLeod on February 8, 2014

10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training

navy seal pull upsMy buddy Travis Stoetzel with The Forged Athlete training camp – asked me to put together 10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training – on how to get ready and make it through BUD/S training for Navy SEAL’s. It was great to see Travis at the Underground Strength Coach conference in New Jersey recently so I was stoked to get this article posted up and fired over his way. Check out Travis at www.travisstoetzel.com. Thanks for the opportunity Travis.

The question we get asked a lot is “Coach, do you have any advice for going through BUDS?”. Yes.. read on.

Navy SEAL training (or Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL (BUD/S) as it is 5 Tips for Navy SEAL Trainingknown) is not for the weak in body or spirit. Here are 10 tips from a young man who went thru BUD/S twice (11 months of Hell) – and served as a Navy SEAL, this training is more demanding than anything you will experience in your lifetime.

Yes; there are a few training camps and coaches out there that assist with preparation for BUD/S. Due to their own individual situations, some candidates elect to train on their own. Either way, there are some good (and bad) ways to prepare for Navy SEAL training. In this blog post I am going to discuss some training and nutrition guidelines that will assist in your preparation for the long journey.

Check out How a Navy SEAL trains for BUDS and Real Life Hard #@$&

10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #1:
Build Consistency now. One of the best traits you can build is to have consistency and discipline. Yes; we can run hard and swim but we have to be able to do that week after week in BUD/S. We have to be consistent and persistent. A great method to easily build consistency is to read 5 to 10 minutes every day. Pick a great book that is inspiring or good knowledge and read every day. Not occasionally or every other day. Every day. No matter how tired you are you can always read 5 minutes before bed. Get in a good habit and read and grow your mind – This will pay off at BUD/S.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #2:
Special Forces training is all about running! Yes the Teams come from – and operate in – a maritime environment, but BUD/S is not really about swimming. I say this for several reasons. First, the swim times for selection and timed events are not that challenging (very few people fail out of BUDs for poor swimming.) Second, you will run a minimum of 25 miles a week including running to and from PT and the chow hall, timed runs, conditioning runs, and trips to and from the surf zone. 3) It is almost impossible to get injured from swimming. This is not the case with running – as stress fractures and knee injuries are some of the most common injuries. Nutrition Tip: This means you need carbs and electrolytes to maintain performance and prevent cramping and other issues. Monitor intake before, during, and after training.

FREE SHIPPING on Special Forces Gear – on orders over $99 (USA only*) @ NavySEALS.com

Article – 5 tips to Break in Your Boots

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip (OBVIOUS) #3:
BUD/S is incredibly stressful. Ask anyone who has successfully completed the program, BUD/S in 80% mental. The physical and mental stress of ‘Hell Week’ alone is tremendous. Constant stress, exposure to the cold, and constant physical exertion can all suppress or compromise your immune system. Nutritional Tip: Take care of your body thru proper nutrition. Though the military tries to make food more nutritious – and tries to provide more nutritious options – it is still not the quality you may be used to.
Nutritional Tip: Eat well and frequently. Supplement with vitamins and minerals if need be.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #4:
Be the “Gray Man”: In order to continue to thrive at BUD/S you need to stay under and off the radar. Do not call attention to yourself. Do not be loud and flambouyant (although most Team Guys are once out of the BUD/S training compound). Always keep your head down and keep the inner smile on your face. When asked to do 100 pushups or “hit the surf” you respond with a HOOYAH! and do your task. Never shake your head or look pissed off after receiving an order. This will only bring down tons of pain to your body and mind. Trust these words.

Hear What a Navy SEAL has to Say about Defeat and Rising Up Success

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #5:
Injuries do not get better with time. Injuries will happen at BUD/S – it is inevitable – I had my share. Everyone does. The trick is not to get a debilitating injury. So how do you do this? There are two ways. The best is prevention. Be physically prepared for BUD/S. Increase strength, stamina, and flexibility. Work on technique and form for running, swimming, and calisthenics. The second method is treatment. Though nobody likes a ‘sick call commando’ there are times where you need to get help. Skin infections, chronic, unbearable injuries, etc. need treatment. See the doctor if you know you need medical help. Nutritional tip: Chronic inflammation (either from diet, injury, food intolerance, allergies, disease) not only contributes to injuries, it reduces your ability to heal. Eat a clean diet and make sure to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients you need for training. Supplementation with quality products is a great way to augment your nutritional program and fill the gaps.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #6:
A question we get is “Do you want to be bulking up for BUDS training? No, You do not need to get huge muscles or bulk up for BUDS. You want to have lean muscle. Most of the exercises performed in BUDs are bodyweight exercises. Sure you will lift boats, logs, and classmates – but individual PT is bodyweight based. So, if you are carrying around 20 useless pounds of mass– it will effect performance and potentially add to your risk of injury. There has never been a Navy SEAL who thought they should have lifted more weights before going to BUD/S. Sorry – not a one. Nutrition Tip: you want to grow lean mass and lose fat. That means quality protein, aminos, glutamine, etc, to assist recovery. After all, in BUDs – “the only easy day was yesterday.” You absolutely need to recover quickly to perform the next training day. Eating lean meats for protein is best and adding a supplement protein is a big help.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #7:
Build Durability. You can do all the 20 minute CrossFit workouts and Tabata workouts that you want – but when the bottom line is that you need to be able to go long range and endurance all day — not just a 30 minute workout and done.

You build durability by building up and doing really long trail and beach runs (or edge of a lake, stream or pond if you don’t have the ocean). I failed out the first time through BUD/S – so when I trained again for the second time – I went on really long bike rides and runs. Some days I would bike all day for 100 to 150 miles. Yes; that took a lot of time to train – but BUD/S was my only priority and this time I knew exactly what I needed to do and did it.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #8:
Train functional strength and do less barbell work. No Team Guy who has ever been through BUD/S will ever say “I wish I lifted more weights getting ready for BUD/S”. I know this is hard to read and many athletes “gulp” when they read this. But it is Truth.

Yes; I know, it’s hardcore and sexy to lift weights and bulk up and strut down the beach. But the reality is that a long range endurance athlete (Special Forces Operator or trainee) needs to be able to go long and hard for an extended period of time (24 hours to 3 days or more).

Learn from my mistakes – How not to train for BUD/S

Check out Dive Gear and Swim Fins used by Navy SEALs.com

I know as I trained with barbells on my first time through BUD/S. My second time through I did not touch a barbell but I wore out a yoga mat doing Grinder PT and wore out pairs of running shoes and my shoulders were tan from running many miles on the beach and from Ruck marching on the beach and in the mountains.

Yeah; your bench press may be 300 and deadlift is 400 lbs but that is worthless if you can’t run, swim, paddle a boat and Ruck march all night and into the next day. Most guys with extra muscle just can’t do that. Train less with the barbell and more with the sand bags and Ruck (military backpack) march, long runs, long Grinder PT (calisthenics) workouts and swims and you will put your time to work properly.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #9:
Spend time in the field ruck marching and building up your durability and conditioning. I remember that the Ruck marches in the mountain training for BUD/S were hard. I wish I had spent more time with the Ruck and getting my body (shoulders and traps, legs and feet) ready for the load. I had never really used the ruck and I paid for it dearly. Now; many years later – I ruck march at least once every 2 weeks and keep my conditioning at a higher level.

BUD/S Navy SEAL Training Tip #10:
Get your boots dialed in. You will be issued boots at BUD/S – recently they used the Bates 922 but I heard they were shifting to another brand. But nothing is stopping you from now finding out what size boot you wear and how to trick out your boots. Wear double socks to reduce blisters. A thin pair of liner socks and a thicker pair of over socks works good. Many athletes like to use an anti-chafe balm (1.5Ounce)on their feet and crotch and shoulders to reduce skin wear.

Check out the Bates 922 Boots worn at Navy SEALs BUD/S

The biggest thing is to break in your boots slowly and to make sure your feet will not blister too bad as you begin to ruck march, workout and do beach runs in them. Occasionally pour water in your boots to workout as that is how you will work out at BUD/S (many times). It is good to have drain holes in your boots to drain excess water.

Here are a few questions that our athletes have asked recently.

Question: “How do you avoid injury during BUDS?”. Probably the best way is to have a good base of endurance before you go in. Make sure you train long endurance. Build up your hip flexors with bike riding and flutter kicks. Eat well and drink lots of water. Foam roll your muscles and do 5 minute mobility workouts before you start.

Question: “What is the best way to train for BUDS?”. There is no single best way but in general you want to shoot for longer endurance workouts. Be able to run long distance in sand and have done a 10 mile sand run before you get to BUDS. Have a 20 mile ruck march in hilly terrain completed before you go. Of course you need to swim and do a lot of bodyweight exercises also. If I were training now I would be doing lots of variations on the Murph workout.

Question: Do I need to stop all weight training and only use body weight training when getting ready for BUDS? I would emphasize bodyweight workouts and do weight training with a sand bag, sled and ruck sack.

more BUDS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Question: What happens if you fail out of BUD/S? You are sent to the fleet (regular Navy on a ship).

Question: Do we have to do BUDS log PT? You have to do all evolutions unless you want to drop out.

Question: How much do the logs weigh in Navy SEAL training? You will be lifting about 30 lbs per athlete over head. That doesn’t sound like much but 2 hours later in the burning sun your body will be smoked liked cooked bacon.

Question: How can I prepare for BUDS log PT? Get a sand bag with 20 to 30 lbs and press it over head. Then do sit-ups with the bag on your chest. Then do walking lunges and squats and go back to presses overhead. This will get you ready.

Question: What is the #1 tip you have for getting through Navy SEAL training? Believe in yourself and have a strong Why. Everything else is a minor speed bump.

Question: I will never be a Navy SEAL but how do I build lean muscle to look like a Special Forces guy?  Do bodyweight workouts and eat clean fuel (chicken and fish) and lower your carb intake.  Run swim and bike.  You can build lean muscle with a little bit of work. You can also drink milk and use a protein supplement.

Question: “What is BUDS Grinder PT?”. That is the workout that we did every morning on the grinder (asphalt parking area). PT stands for physical training. So we did bodyweight workouts mixed with yoga then did pull ups and dips and went on a run on the beach.

Question: What do I need to do bodyweight workouts? You need no gear at all. You may want to get a cheap Yoga mat but other than that no real gear needed.

Question: Is the term “feeling froggy” a Navy SEAL term? Yes; you will hear that one around BUDS and the Teams. It also popped up in the movie Lone Survivor.

Question: “Coach, what are a few things to know before BUDS? Know that it is harder than you think it will be and it is not the physical muscle that will get you through – you will have to rely on your mind to not quit.

Question: What is the initial Navy SEAL swim workout that you had to do in BUDS? I think you mean the wetsuit appreciation swim where we get in the bay and swim without a wetsuit. It was cold.

Question: What is a method for cramp prevention in Navy SEAL training? Hydrate well before events, during and after.

Question: If I fail out of buds can you try again? Probably not. You will be sent to the fleet Navy and will have to serve out the rest of your commitment.

Question: How much ruck marching is there in BUD/S? We did a long ruck march up a boulder choked canyon in BUDS. It was not fun. We rucked at San Clemente island. It was a lot of work.

Question: What are the exercises used in bud/s grinder pt? Check out www.sealgrinderpt.com/wod for daily BUDS grinder PT workouts.

Question: What is allowed during BUDS? No drugs or steroids. If you get caught DUI you will be kicked out.

Question: What are some tips from navy seals on how to get tough? I would start out ruck marching a few miles a week and slowly build up. Go through the woods on trails and get wet. This is a good start.

Question: What is a good ruck backpack to use to train for BUDS? Either get a used Alice pack or try something like the Kelty Map 3500
or the Maxpedition Falcon-II Backpack.

Question: Do you know guys who went through Navy SEAL BUDS with kids? I don’t know of anyone in our Class but am sure that someone has done it. I would think that would be hard to have a family and go through BUDS but anything is possible.

Question: What is a test right now to see if your fit enough to be a Navy SEAL? Take the BUDS PST.

Question: I was just wondering what age would you consider to go ahead and try out for buds and how would u know if your ready? When your 17 you can try out
You know your ready when you have competitive mock Pst scores.

Question: What kids of swimming do you do at BUDS? We swim the combat swimmer side stroke. Most of the swims are 2 miles or more in the bay or in the ocean. You always swim with a buddy. You are given a wetsuit after your first “wetsuit appreciation swim”.

Question: What is the worst BUDS beat down that you encountered? We had a beat down on the beach… it was called “circus”.. pretty bad. Also Log PT in Hell Week was tough.

Question: How much running do you do every day during buds? Back in the old days you ran at least 4 to 6 miles a day just to get the to chow hall. Add in another 4 mile run a few times a week and you could be running 8 to 10 miles a day.

Question: What is Navy SEAL BUDS like after Hell Week? It is still very hard. The only easy day was yesterday.

Question: are you meant to fail the mental tests they give you in the Navy SEALs training? No, but it is meant to be very hard to weed out the weak candidates.

Question: Do you end up making it through BUDS with the same swim buddy? Yes; unless for some reason your buddy quits.

Question: What are weights to carry while ruck marching? I would start out with a 10 to 20 lb sand bag and work your way up. You can also use bricks or a large water bladder. The good thing about sand and water is that you can pour some out if needed on a really long hike.

Question: What is some running advice for BUDS? Get a new pair of shoes, don’t overtrain and make sure you rest and recover.

Question: How do you piss during BUDS? In Hell Week you have time to go to the bathroom but sometimes you may just piss in your pants or while your hitting the surf.

Question: do older guys do better in bud/s? When you say older do you mean 22 or 28 as many guys are coming into the Navy at 18 and 19 years old.

Question: Coach, what will get me through BUDS? Your why and your mental strength.

So get out there and start working out hard and remember these 10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training to help you with your missions and goals.

Question: How do the Navy SEALs maintain consistency? They build on discipline one day at a time.

Question: What should your running mileage before BUDS be? Start out slow with 10 miles a week and build your way up. Make sure you have good running shoes and train in sand or on a nearby trail. You don’t run on asphalt much at BUDS so take that into account. Build your way up slowly to 20 and 30 miles a week. Take a rest from running every fourth week and do other things like ruck marching or rowing. If you trying for 40 to 50 miles a week that may be too much but listen to your body. Being a good runner at BUDS will help you.

Question: Coach, do skinny guys make it through bud/s? Sure; you will see all makes and models of guys make it through BUDS – the underlying factor is how bad do they want it.

Question: Can I use CrossFit for BUDS prep? Yes; just add in longer runs, swimming, ruck hikes and obstacle course work.

Question: im giving up being signed for navy bud/s. Ok; so you are already a quitter before you get to BUDS?

Question: What are products that have changed the way Navy SEALs are training? Simple stuff like better socks and boots have made a big difference. The SEAL team guys get all the great gear so there is constantly gear in the works to improve training.

Question: do navy seals emphasize strength, mass, speed, power or lean muscle? The Instructors at BUDS emphasize not being last and never quitting. They don’t give a #$%@ how ripped or chiseled you are – they want you to be nails tough and not quit.

Question: Coach, how many miles should i be able to run and swim before i go to buds? Run 10 miles on soft sand beach. Swim 2 miles in the ocean.

Question: In BUDS, how do you paddle past the surf zone? You have to work together as a team, paddle hard and time the waves.

Question: During buds training are you allowed to see your family? Yes.

Question: What are some stuff Navy SEALs say? “Teams and #@$%

Question: Navy SEALs are out in the sun all day – how do they take care of their skin? SEALs use Sunscreen, wear a floppy hat and sunglasses for skin care.

Question: What is the longest distance ran at buds? the longest distance we ran at BUDS was a 10 mile run in sand.

Brad McLeod is one of the top Special Forces and mental conditioning coaches in the world. If you are interested in coaching and learning more tips subscribe to the SGPT newsletter at www.sealgrinderpt.com

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10 Tips for BUD/S Navy SEAL Training

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather November 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

#4 is a must for all boot camps (well, really, all of these are in their own way.) I knew too many people whose lives were even more miserable because they complained, they pouted, they questioned “why”, blah blah blah. And then there were the ones who were a little too “gray” and tried to scoot by with doing the barest of bare minimum, if not less. I think those guys were reamed more by the rest of us in the flight than the actual instructor.


Mike Smith December 5, 2013 at 1:15 am

this is really helpful and i’m really glad you’re helping people to better themselves


Mike Smith December 5, 2013 at 1:15 am

this is really helpful and i’m really glad you’re helping people to better themselves!!


Jonathan Davis February 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Thanks for the help brad my question too brad was I’m almost 22 and I was wondering how do I know I’m ready to go into buds and what age is too late


Seamus February 15, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Hi brad I want to be a navy seal someday but I lack the physical strength. I’ve been trying to focus on weight gaining workouts to form some sort of a base. can u give me some tips? And a lot of people focus on the physical part of BUDs. Are there also academic parts and if you dont know that subject will they teach you before hand?


Brad McLeod February 18, 2014 at 9:40 pm

pick up a ruck sack and start to hike.
pick up a sand bag and press overhead.
drink milk and eat an extra portion of protein in your meal.
study basic math and algebra.
good luck.


Austin February 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

In fear of failing because of the academic like testing during BUDs, what should we be studying before hand ?


Brad McLeod February 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Good question as there are academics and math test in BUDS. You should be studying basic math and algebra. Get a copy if a dive tables test and practice it backwards and forwards.


Austin February 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Will do, thank you very much.


Shawn March 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Hey, how many bud/s classes run a year ? How hard is it to get into a class after graduation from seal prep school in Illinois ?


Brad McLeod March 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm

From Atlanta SEAL motivator:
Hello Brad,
They are currently running 5 BUD/S Classes a year, they have run 6 BUD/S Classes a year in the past. The school in Great Lakes isn’t called SEAL Prep, its called BUD/S Prep and that runs about 8 weeks, after 8 weeks of Basic Training (Boot Camp). Next, about 95% of the candidates that go to BUD/S Prep end up graduating and going onto BUD/S in Coronado, CA.
Hope all is well,


Joshua March 6, 2014 at 4:56 am

Really loved the tips on training, but I am curious, I’m turning twenty five soon, and hopefully through basic not too long after. My question is, is that too late of an age to go for it? Assuming that I pass the competitive mock pst scores of course.


Brad McLeod March 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

You need to get trained up and go as soon as can


Joshua March 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Realistically, what should I be aiming for on my runs, pushups, pull ups, ect? Not by what the charts say, but your personal recommendation for pst scores.


Brad McLeod March 6, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Swim 500 yard breast or side stroke 12:30 9:00
Push-ups 50 90
Curl-ups 50 85
Pull-ups 10 18
Run 1.5 miles 10:30 09:30


Brady W March 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I am 14 years old, and I’m looking at going towards a career in the Navy, and specifically I want to be a SEAL. I wanted to know what you think is the best way that I can begin to train and prepare.


Brad McLeod March 26, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Check out the tips above and good luck!


Mike March 29, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Thank you for the tips. As mentioned on an above post, I’m 25 years old and currently LE (SWAT). I know I’m getting close to the age cut off but how long would you say for a person in decent shape would take to be BUD/S ready assuming you dedicated 110% getting ready?


Brad McLeod March 30, 2014 at 6:32 am

At 25 you should be actively working with your SEAL motivator – moving quickly to get your package in.


Kyle B March 31, 2014 at 5:51 am

How hard is it to get a SEAL contract?


Brad McLeod March 31, 2014 at 4:04 pm

It is highly competitive and slots are being down sized after the war.


joey April 3, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Hi Brad ! you mentioned above that a good way to prep for buds is to do a lot of variations of the Murph workout. Can you please give some of the things you would manipulate such as adding new movements in or changing up the distance/reps of the things that are already in the workout . Also how many time a week should i repeat the workout. Thanks joey


Brad McLeod April 3, 2014 at 10:02 pm
Brant Williams April 10, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Hey brad was curious if you know of any SEAL mentors that could help me get a SEAL challenge contract or know anywhere I can find one at a recruiting station that I could just talk to. I live in California but I’ll go anywhere in the US to talk to them even the smaller cities to maybe have a better chance of getting a contract. But thanks again for all the updates you give on training and what not as well seriously you are the man and a great motivator!


Brad McLeod April 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Good question Brant.
Type into google search “SEAL motivator California” or whatever state and you will find a local motivator/recruiter to help you.
Good luck


Ian April 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

When it comes to getting high numbers for the sit ups portion of the NSW pst, would you recommend training them with your feet locked by a buddy, weight, etc., or training them with your feet free?


Brad McLeod April 16, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Good question Ian –
train with your feet locked by buddy as that is what will be in the test.
put your feet under a bench or dumbbells if you can.
put a sandbag on your feet also works.


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