How Can I Build Muscle Like a Navy SEAL?

david goggins navy sealWe get this question all the time – “I want to be Lean and Mean – How can I build a physique like a Navy SEAL?” or “How do Navy SEALs build muscle if they run so much all the time?”.

The truth is that most Navy SEALs are not trying to get jacked and ripped – it is a by-product of their intense training.

SEALs do a ton of bodyweight exercises, running, swimming, and carry heavy loads overhead and on their back.

After a few months, they look in the mirror and see a change.

Muscle is good – but make sure you can move your body over long distances.

We can tell you that it will take a fair amount of training and sweat to build a body with six-pack abs and jacked shoulders.

Training like a Navy SEAL isn’t for cowards.

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The training regiment requires resolve, endurance, and nerve-wracking effort. The conventional body-building routine, though effective, is not enough for Navy SEALs.

What you need to get through a SEAL training exercise is another regimen to condition you for the ultimate training.

Your pre-SEAL regimen should focus on strength, persistence, and other activities that will help you survive in a variety of conditions.

Check out the videos and workouts below.



Quick workout when short on time

100 push-ups
50 pull-ups
Run 3 miles on the soft sand beach with boots.

Video – Navy SEAL Workout Series 1 of 3 Core Advantage

SEALs try to eat as best as they can, but you can imagine that in the field or on the ship is not the best of food. Luckily many of them burn so many calories on field missions that keeping excess weight off is not a big problem.

Tip #1 on building muscle
Eat lots of clean protein and vegetables. Avoid processed grains and you will drop excess fat.

50 tire flips with large tire
Wrap the rope around the tire and drag 300 meters
Ruck 4 miles (or longer) with 40 lb pack (down the beach if you can)
note time in comments

Most Navy SEALs are not into bodybuilding but many like to lift heavy weights to get strong.

After a hard session, they will often go on a long run to keep their endurance up. Those trying to bulk up may question running as it can cause you to lose muscle tissue.

But most of your SEALs are trying to become “lean and mean” not “phat and slow”. If you can’t move like a ninja in the jungle and haul a heavy pack – you are worthless as a Team Guy.

Endurance and core
Swim 1 mile
Run or row 2 miles
Sled drag 0.5 miles (pick a weight)
50 toe to bars
100 four count flutter kicks

Video – Navy SEAL Workout Series 3 of 3 Strength Training

To build muscle you need to make sure your body is re-fueled with plenty of good protein. Eat lean meats, chicken, and grilled fish. Add that in with a big salad. If you need it, add in a protein shake before bed.

But the reality is that you have to eat good first or all of your training will go to waste.

Tips on training to build your body for long haul endurance.

Tip #1: Get a good pair of running shoes. Don’t use ones from last year that are all blown out. Running with worn-out shoes is a recipe for injury. This will lead to stress fractures and put you on the bench.

Tip #2: Use bodyweight exercises but don’t overdo them. Listen to your body. We like push-ups and dips as an addition. You don’t have to go to failure on every set.

Tip #3: Schedule a long endurance event on the horizon like a Spartan Race or GoRuck Challenge.

Navy SEAL workout #4
Muscle builder pump up workout
25 pull-ups
25 dips
25 dive bomber push-ups
Repeat till you can’t do anymore.

Preparing for the SEAL Workout Regimen

To prepare your body for the grueling conditions you are about to unleash on it, break your week up.

  • Upper body strength – Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Cardio, Calisthenic, legs – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • Rest – Sunday

Workout 1: Monday, Wednesday, Friday

To start building upper body strength you need to do sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups.

These three need to balance out with some planks exercises. The aim is to make yourself familiar with staying in a leaning rest over long periods.

  • Superset – 10 sets of 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups, and 20 sit-ups. Alternate a quarter-mile run in between the sets. Don’t forget to have some brief resting stops between reps.
  • Pyramid plan – You start with an easier set, and it gets more difficult as you continue. For example, start with 10 pull-ups in the first set and do 30 for the next and so on.
  • Maximum repetition – Your goal is to accomplish 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 sit-ups in as few sets as you can. The average sets are 4,5, or 6. It would be considered phenomenal to break it down into only three sets.

Workout 2: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

Incorporate running and ruck marches over set periods.

Start with half an hour rucks and running. Break after every 5 minutes for calisthenics and squats.

For the duration of your preparation training, make running and swimming goal-based activities. Use the requirements of the Navy SEAL entrance exam as a yardstick for measuring your progress.

The 500-yard swim is one of the toughest tests, but it can be achieved. To build up your speed and stamina for this part, start by setting goals of 50 yards in 50 seconds.

This swim breakdown puts you within the reach goal of clearing 500 yards in 8.5 minutes. That is an excellent score in the screening stage where the score is set at 12:30 minutes.

Questions from athletes in our gym and readers online.

Question: “Coach, how can I workout and build up navy seals muscles?”

Answer: Check out the workouts and videos above which can show you how to get muscular doing these workouts.

Question: Coach, your over 50 years old, how do you build muscle for a guy your age?

Answer: I try to eat as clean as possible. Warm-up well and work out hard and get good sleep. If you want to build muscle, you will need to lift more weights and do less endurance work – at any age.

Question: Hey coach,
I always hear you talking about how to lose weight, but I’m currently having trouble GAINING weight. I’m young (20 years old) and I’m always being told that it’s just my metabolism, but I feel that there could be more to it than just that. Any advice for us hard gainers?
Thanks! – Joel

Answer: If you are just trying to gain weight and not worried about running fast for BUDS training, then I would eat more clean protein like eggs and lean meats. I would also drink more milk, and lift heavy with powerlifting (Bench, Squat, Deadlift).

Question: Brad, I’m 6 ft 165lbs, I’m not fat but want to gain lean muscle mass. I’ve been in the gym for the past six months and staying on a basic healthy diet but have hit a plateau. My goal is to hit 215lbs by the end of the year, do you have a meal plan and workout for my body type?

Answer: Gaining 50 lbs will not be healthy in one year. Check out our program to build lean muscle here

Question: Hello Brad, I try to run at least 6 miles a day, but I don’t know if this is good for me because I currently weigh 130, and I’m assuming doing daily cardio will burn out all my fat and eventually burn muscle. What can I do to prevent getting too skinny?

Answer: I would eat an extra portion of protein like eggs or lean meat. I would also drink milk. I would perform the basic lifts – deadlifts, squats, and bench press.

Question: Okay so my question is how do I put on a few pounds I need to do my job? I want to gain weight. Without hurting or holding back. A reply will help me a lot. Jeffery

Answer: Check out the question above.

Question: Hi my name is Peyton Rex, and I have always wanted to be in the military but could never figure out what branch. Well, a couple of days ago, I decided on the Navy. I’ve been working out a lot, but I want to know if muscle mass will slow me down in buds and hell week or will it help me because I’m very small. I’m sixteen, and I weigh 124 with a high metabolism, so my plan is to gain mass then strength.

Answer: Good question, Peyton. I would try to eat good clean protein (eggs, lean meats, milk) and do bodyweight workouts and some lifting as needed (3 basic lifts squat, bench, deadlift).


The pre-training regimen above already looks intimidating. Unfortunately, that is part of the work it takes to look like your heroes.

Put in the time and work consistently with this training program. It is the only way to prepare for the real training of the Navy SEALs.

The training day for prospective SEAL candidates lasts for 9 hours. So, if you are a newbie preparing, start gradually and steadily build up your hours.

Consistent and progressive training not only builds some physical strength but also develops the right kind of mindset.

After everything is said and done, consistency is king.


Brad McLeod is married with two kids and an all around average family guy. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and despite training all the wrong ways – made it to Navy SEAL training in Coronado, California.

He flunked out of Navy SEAL BUD/S training after making it over half way through (6 months of grueling training). After a year in the Fleet Navy on the USS Cleveland (LPD-7) he came back to graduate BUDS and serve on SEAL Team Four.

His story is simple–Don’t Ever Quit on your Dream! Put one foot in front of the other and fall forward.

Proceeds from this website go to help raise funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation.

Related Articles:
How Can I get Jacked and Ripped like a Navy SEAL?
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