Kokoro — Tips to Help You Thrive, Not Just Survive

SEALFit Kokoro Camp is not just about the physical beatdown – it is truly a lesson in mental conditioning and toughness. Kokoro is the real deal. I went through Navy SEAL BUD/S Hell Week twice and was a little shocked at the harshness when seeing my first Kokoro.

I was glad Kokoro was not watered down and was psyched to see the intense teaching that Coach Divine brought to the evolution.

Sign up for SEALFIT Kokoro Camp HERE

Here are a few tips to help you not only survive, but thrive in Kokoro – and complete the course and graduate.

Physical Standards Test (PST)
Be prepared for the Kokoro PST. Looks easy but many fail it.
1 mile run – 9 min
2 min max pushups – 50 male/40 female
2 min max sit ups – 50/40
2 min max air squat – 50/40
Max dead hang pull ups – 10

*Be warned as we have many athletes showing up not ready for this test. All pushups will be chest to deck. If you rest your chest on deck you will stop counting. No resting with your butt poked up in the air or you will stop counting. All pull ups will be with hand fully wrapped around bar. Air squats will be with legs down to parallel. Make sure you know these standards as many athletes show up with chicken bob pushups and half squats and scratch their heads when told to stop counting. Be prepared – know the standards.

Additional SEALFIT Kokoro standards
Endurance standards to guide your preparation (not tested for performance, but completion):

10 mile run in less than 1:20
20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours

Affirmations – This may sound like a bunch of California new age crap – but write down several affirmations to recite in your mind when the going gets tough. “I am a Strong Warrior”. “Strong Mind, Strong Body”. “I am getting stronger every day”. You get the picture. This has been done by warriors since the time of the Spartans and on to the Apache Indians. Somehow we seemed to have skipped this process in the last generation of men in this country. Reciting positive affirmations in your mind help to drive out fear and negative thoughts and reinforce your strong mental self.


Sign up for SEALFIT Kokoro Camp and get Free Training from SEALgrinderPT

Mental Imagery – When your cold and wet in the surf what is one of the best things to do? Think about something warm and pleasant. A cup of coffee and sitting in the sun works well for me. Yes; its still cold as balls out in the 52 degree winter surf of the Pacific Ocean. But dont let your body take over and make it worse. You take control of your mind and tell your body what to do. Imagine that cup of coffee and sitting on the warm tropical sand in Costa Rica and soaking up rays with your girlfriend. Sound goofy? It works. Well trained warriors have been doing this for 1000 plus years as they struggle through adversity and control their bodies to make it through the next task.

Deep Breathing – If left to our own, our bodies will breath shallow when working hard. Force your breathing down deep into the belly in through the nose and out through the mouth. This method works great when your soaking wet and standing on a bare and open windy beach. Tell yourself to breath deep. Feel your breath and let it give you power. This will calm your body and mind helping to maintain control and stop the shaking.

One Step at a Time – A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The first step continues to the second step. When stuck in a really hard spot mentally and physically then think about that next step… and take it. Dont think about the thousand miles, or the next evolution. Concentrate on that next step and the next step and before long you have traveled one mile and you have made it to the next level. Yes; sometimes it is ok to think about sitting down for a warm dinner if that is an hour a way. Use that as incentive. But still continue to take one step at a time and not get overwhelmed.


Want to learn more about mental preparedness? – Audio Download

Core – Workout your core before you get to Kokoro. A strong core means the rest of your body will be strong. A weak core means your body will betray you midway through Kokoro and it will be much harder to make it through. Train your core like your life depends on it. Exercises like flutter kicks, plank on hands, side plank, hollow rock, situps, and toe to bar are great exercises to build you up. When you get done with plank, do more plank. Did I mention the plank exercise? Plank is important if I did not mention it (hint-hint). Bodyweight exercises like burpees and 8 count bodybuilders will be key to building toughness. You can work these exercises every day. Just mix it up to get variety. Before long you will feel the difference as it will help you considerably on your runs and bodyweight workouts.

Check out and try these SGPT ab-core exercises

SGPT Ab 1

SGPT hanging core

Ruck March – Hike with a weighted backpack. Simple stuff. If you have an internal frame backpack or Alice pack load it up with water and gear and walk in your neighborhood. Wear comfortable boots. Make sure the boots have drain holes as you will be in the water in Kokoro. Dont run or jog, just hike. Distribute the load so that all the weight is in the bottom. If you have a hip strap on your backpack it is ok to use it but you will not have a hip strap in Kokoro so be warned. Start out with light weights and shorter hikes and work your way up to 20 lbs or more.

More tips on ruck marching here.

Boots – Get a pair of combat boots or Bates boots and slowly break them in. Dont go long distance on your first go.

Wear them to work if you can and walk around town to break them in. Do not show up at Kokoro with new boots as you will devastate your feet and be hobbled.

Have your boots well broken in by the time you get to Kokoro. Make sure the boots drain easily as your boots will fill up with water in Kokoro. Work out with your boots also to get the feeling of having to do flutter kicks and running with boots on.

Article and video on How to Break in Your Boots

Sandbags and logs – Dont let Kokoro be your first exposure to a sandbag or log. For pennies you can buy a sandbag and fill it with sand and dirt. Start with 20 lbs and work your way up. Push it over head. Run sprints in your driveway with it.

Put it in your ruck and hike with it. Do burpees with it. Get creative – but get used to handling a sandbag. Same for the log. You can get a 6×6 or 4×4 post. Round off the sharp square sides with a file to make it a little easier on the shoulder. Same drill. Push over head. Burpees. Run with it. Sleep with it. Just kidding on the sleeping. You get the picture. Dont be a stranger to a sandbag or log — they are your friends. Really.

Kokoro sand bag workout #1
10 sand bag thrusters
10 sand bag kettle bell swings
10 sand bag sit-ups
10 sand bag push press
rest 1 minute. Use sand bag HAP (hard as possible).

hold sand bag overhead to build core. note time.

Signup and get more information on SEALFIT Kokoro Camp here:

Endurance – go for 3 to 6 to 8 miles plus runs. Row longer distance. Ruck march for longer distance. Do 2 and 3 CrossFit workouts with short rest between them. Do the Murph workout with a ruck (20 lbs) and then go run for 3 more miles. Be accustomed to doing work for long periods of time to condition your mind and body. If you can, find a beach and run on it. If you can get out of the city and into the mountains or hills then hit a trail. If your stuck in the city then hike 3 miles uptown and into a local park. Do 100 burpees, 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 air squats and then hike back. Get your body and mind used to working out for hours on end. Do tge tough mudder or spartan race or both. You will need endurance to be ready to make it through all of Kokoro.

Learn what top elite athletes already know about mental toughness

Gain Some Weight – If your skinny and have a low body fat and high metabolism then gain some weight. I know this sounds counter productive but an extra 5 to 10 lbs of fat and muscle will do you just fine. It will help as your shivering your *ss off in the cold surf zone and when your lugging a heavy pack and gear. Eat extra portions of lean chicken, tuna and beef. Throw in an extra scoop of protein in your glass of milk.

Kokoro milestones:
10 minute plank on hands (after hard workout)
Murph with ruck
Ruck 20 miles in hills (at night if possible)
sled drag 1 mile plus
Benoit workout
Bradley workout
500 meter walking lunge workout

Questions from athletes in our gym.

kokoro backpack Question: What rucksack is used at Kokoro? Can I buy one to use so I can get used to it? The backpack used at Kokoro is very basic and cheap in price $27. You can buy the exact same backpack to train with – check it out online at Amazon.com. This pack is not very comfortable but it is what you will use for Kokoro so get used to it. The straps can break at the pack if you put a lot of weight in it.

Question: Is there 1 or 2 things you see that people don’t train enough (ie running) for when they get ready for Kokoro. We see athletes getting blown up on the ruck and not ready. We preach to have a 20 mile ruck in hills under your belt. Too many athletes show up without that and they pay the price.

Question: How many miles per week do u recommend running to prepare? I would run twice a week but not overdo it. I would ruck twice a week and do a really long row 10k plus each week. If your going to run.. do it on sand or at waters edge. Also do hill runs or stadium stairs.

Question: I swim at an inside pool 1 per week. Should I be prepared for open water swims as well? There is no swimming at Kokoro. Spend that time doing a long row or ruck march.

Interviews with Kokoro Graduates
John Sway interview
Chris Huzyak interview
Joe Butera interview

Question: How old do you have to be to go to Kokoro? 17 years old.

Question: What is the sand pipe carried at Kokoro?

Answer: It is pvc pipe and about 1.5 inches in diameter. See the video below.

How to Build a Kokoro sand pipe for training

Question: What is a Navy seal 8 count body builder exercise? It is a burpee and you spread your feet at the bottom of the burpee.

Question: Do you have a list of fitness achievements I need to have under my belt before Kokoro? Yes; check out the Kokoro progressions article.

Question: Coach Brad;I need your advice as to, if any, type or brand of packaged nutrition (bars/gummies/gels) you might recommend to take to
Kokoro 45? I know that you do a lot of endurance events and it would seem like you would need to pack as light as possible. I appreciate the advice.

Answer: You don’t need to bring any extra nutrition stuff as they will have everything you need there (electrolytes, bars, food, water, etc.).

Check out this article — Kokoro Tips Part 2 – Survive the First Hour

7 Ways to Fail at SEALFIT Kokoro Camp

Question: I’m signing up for the big boys – kokoro this summer and want to talk to you about your thoughts on best training for next six months. Should we do this via email or would you be up for a call sometime?

Answer: Yes; email brad@sealgrinderpt.com and I can help coach you for long endurance events.

Question: Hey Coach!

Thanks for asking.
As I am preparing myself to go to Kokoro this year I thought about incorporating a morning pull-up routine along with my regular afternoon SGPT+WOD program. I thought about simultaneously doing this given the short time until Kokoro. I am planning to do a GTG after WODs that do not have pull ups and 2 days a week of fully dedicated pull up routines in the morning until I get comfortable with 20 Pull Ups.
What’s you thoughts. Fidel

Answer: I think that is a great idea and I would do it.

Question: Reviewing the push-up standards, it sounds like you can only rest in a strict plank; correct? Sit-Ups, are arms swings OK or do hands need to be on cheeks or something?

Answer: yes; rest is the plank position on hands.

Not quite ready for Kokoro but want to train to get there in the next year or so? Check out the SEALgrinderPT online coaching
SGPT train athletes to prepare for Kokoro so contact me and lets roll.

Brad McLeod is the founder of SEALgrinderPT and is a certified SEALFIT Coach.

Brad McLeod
SEALFIT Kokoro Coach

SEALgrinderPT