5 Tips and Workouts for the Navy SEAL Obstacle Course

The BUD/S obstacle course brings back fond memories.

Sweat, pain, and burning muscle tissue. You must get through it in less than twelve minutes during first phase. If you don’t then you get kicked out of Navy SEAL training.

Check out these videos, tips and workouts to get you in shape for the o-course.

QUESTION: Where can I go for info about joining the SEALS or SWCC?

ANSWER: Their website is a great place to start. Also talk to your local recruiter. He or she will have all the resources you need to join the Navy.

LIST OF OBSTACLES, IN ORDER:

  • Parallel Bars
  • Tires (alternating feet)
  • Low Wall
  • High Wall (with rope climb)
  • Low Crawl
  • Cargo Net Climb
  • Balance Logs
  • Hooyah Logs
  • Transfer Rope
  • Dirty Name
  • Hooyah Logs
  • Weaver
  • Burma Bridge
  • Hooyah Logs

  • Slide for Life (Tower Climb)
  • Rope Swing
  • Parallel Bars
  • Tires (alternating feet)
  • Incline Wall
  • Spider Wall
  • Vaults

QUESTION: I don’t have access to a gym. What kinds of exercise training can I do to get ready for Navy SEALs BUD/S training?

ANSWER: Do bodyweight workouts in your garage and run long distance. Go to a local playground and make up your own obstacle course workouts. Get a pull-up bar you can fit over a door frame. Lots of options to train without a gym.

QUESTION: Do you have any obstacle course training routines?

ANSWER: Yes; check out the workouts and videos below.

TIP #1: BE FAST, BUT DON’T BURN YOURSELF OUT

No one cares how much you bench press or can clean. That is pretty much useless when you do an obstacle course like the one at BUD/S.

What matters more is how fast can you move, how much pain can you endure and how strong is your grip. Forget the barbell and start training like a Spartan outdoors.

But you want to pace yourself like the instructor in the video above. This isn’t a race.

If you go top speed between each obstacle, you’re going to burn through energy fast, and you’re already going to be fatigued from your daily training. Be smart—be fast, but conserve your energy for the climbs.

You need to be ninja fast and know how to move to excel at the BUD/S obstacle course. Get your buddy to make you even more uncomfortable.

The BUD/S obstacle course must be completed in under 12 minutes in long pants and boots.

QUESTION: What is a book that tells the real deal about BUD/S and how to make it through?

ANSWER: Check out the book Breaking BUD/S: How Regular Guys Can Become Navy SEALsIt gives a good insight into what happens in BUD/S and how you can train to make it through and succeed.

Check out this article: How Do You Learn Mental Toughness Like a Navy SEAL?

TIP #2 FORGET ABOUT WHO’S AHEAD OF YOU AND THEIR TIME

The more you focus on you, the more you can stay on top of your own game. The only time that matters is yours. The only time you need to best is yours.

You may have to pace yourself at times behind someone, but this isn’t a highway where you’re stuck behind a slow car. Get ahead when you can.

Find out what a Navy SEAL has to say about Failure and Success

Teamwork is necessary for other phases (like working with your boat crew or log PT), but this is where you’re demonstrating what you can do.

QUESTION: What kind of boots do they wear at BUD/S while doing the obstacle course?

ANSWER: They wear Bates 922 boots on all training evolutions. These boots are light weight and get the job done and take a lot of abuse week in and week out.

Check out this article: 10 Tips to Increase Mental Toughness.

TIP #3 WATCH YOUR MENTAL DIALOGUE

If you mess up, chalk it up to experience and keep going. Focus on the next obstacle and how you’ll navigate it. Think ahead, not behind.

The more you stay focused on mistakes—or what you think is a mistake—the more you’re going to screw up your next obstacle and actually get behind.

Stay in the present moment for what you’re doing now so you know what to do next. Not what you did 5 minutes ago. Come up with motivational phrases you can say to yourself. Practice them. I do this, and so do other SEALs.

QUESTION: I have problems telling myself that I am tired and that I hurt. How can I overcome the negative self talk as I am sure that at BUD/S it will be hard.

ANSWER: Check out the book The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed. It will help you overcome your self-talk and move forward into success.

Check out this article: Navy SEAL Training is 80% Mental—WTF?!

TIP #4 IGNORE THE SH*T TALK FROM THE INSTRUCTORS

Or the sh*t talk from the guys around you who are either trying to psych you out or are talking their own negative game out loud. The instructors are supposed to talk sh*t and try to psych you out. That’s their job.

The point is to make you dig deep and motivate yourself past it (this is the way it is your entire time at BUD/S.)

If you let the instructors—or your negative teammates—get to you, you’ll set yourself up for costly mistakes.

QUESTION: Can I use CrossFit training for the obstacle course?

ANSWER: Yes; CrossFit is a good tool to train for the obstacle course at BUD/S. Do ring dips, pull ups, burpees, jump over barbells, box jumps – those will all be good.

Check out this article: 10 Tips to Stay Motivated.

TIP #5: IMPROVE YOUR GRIP STRENGTH BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR BUD/S

Get a grip, like they say—a grip like McGilla Gorilla. Being able to hold on to things and not let go is a very good skill. Your grip will get fatigued over the course of obstacles and you have to be able to keep going.

It’s your grip that will fail you first, not your arms.

Check out this article: 10 Tips to Improve Grip Strength.

QUESTION: In BUD/S do you get a class diploma?

ANSWER: Yes, you do. It also states on your DD-214 that you went to BUD/S and what date you graduated. That is how we can figure out if you’re a fake Navy SEAL…if you don’t have a BUD/S graduation date.

BONUS TIP

Sign up for a Spartan Race and/or a GORUCK event. Spartan Races are entirely about obstacle courses and pushing you beyond what you think you can do. You’ll be cold, wet, muddy and out of your comfort zone.

The more you know what that feels like, the easier the obstacle course—and BUD/S—will be.

QUESTION: How can I build a DIY obstacle course?

ANSWER: Check out this article for ideas.

Check out this article: How to Get the Mental Edge.

WORKOUT #1

FOR TIME

  • Go to a local playground and map out a course with a buddy
  • Jump over tables, crawl under them
  • Navigate over swings/slides
  • Use the parallel bars
  • Bear crawl as fast as you can between each obstacle
  • Do 25 pull-ups
  • Bear crawl for 50 feet under picnic tables

BONUS if you can find a park with a creek where you can get wet. Do the course again and again. Even better if you do it when tired. Do this one several times. Change it up. Make it harder. Get creative.

QUESTION: What is the hardest obstacle at BUD/S?

ANSWER: I would have to say it is probably the Dirty Name or the Tower Climb for most guys as you get tired and biceps are burning. The soft sand also presents a hard problem as that slows down your run.

WORKOUT #2

MURPH

FOR TIME

  • 1 mile Run
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push-Ups
  • 300 Air Squats
  • 1 mile Run

MAKE IT HARDER by doing it wet, cold and uncomfortable and bear crawl 25m forward and 25m backward between partitions (10 rounds of 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 air squats.)

QUESTION: How do Navy SEALs train to ignore pain?

ANSWER: During the first day you are in the BUD/S compound you hear the saying, “Everything is mind over matter. If you don’t mind—it don’t matter.”

WORKOUT #3

RUNNING CINDY (FOR TIME)

Cindy: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 air squats

  • 1000 meter run
  • 5 Rounds Cindy
  • 800 M Run
  • 4 Rounds Cindy
  • 600 M Run
  • 3 Rounds Cindy
  • 400 M Run
  • 2 Rounds Cindy
  • 200 M Run
  • 1 Round of Cindy

QUESTION: I am in high school now and my parents want me to go to college before becoming a SEAL. When did you go in the Navy and what would you do?

ANSWER: I went in the Navy at 19 years old. If I had it to do again I would go in the day after I graduated high school at 18. That is my thinking but I believe that each person will have different circumstances.

WORKOUT #4 

  • 400m run
  • Plank hold to failure
  • 20 wall balls
  • Plank hold to failure
  • 30 burpees
  • Plank hold to failure
  • 40 box jumps
  • Plank hold to failure
  • 400m run
  • Plank hold to failure
  • Rest 5 min, repeat

QUESTION: How much rucking is in BUD/S? Is that a major part of the training? Where can I get a ruck like they use in BUD/S?

ANSWER: Rucking is not a huge part of BUD/S training—but you do need to get ready for it. You may ruck a dozen miles or so in the mountains of California but it will be through very tough terrain (think boulders, talus and rattlesnakes). Train now with a ruck so that your body will not be surprised when you get to training. Check out the ALICE Pack w/Frame as that is what they ruck with in BUDS—you can get one used for about $50.

WORKOUT #5

  • 21 Pull-ups
  • 3 Legless rope climbs (meaning you cannot use your legs/feet to hoist you up.)
  • 15 Pull-ups
  • 2 Legless rope climbs
  • 9 pull-ups
  • 1 Legless rope climb
  • 3 Pull-ups
  • Bar hang until failure
  • When this one starts feeling easy, rest 5 min at end and repeat.
  • A variation is to add on 3 bar hangs until failure at end.

NOTE: Do not slide down the rope with your hands. Use them to lower yourself the same way you climbed up. If you slide, you’re going to get rope burn blisters, making the rest of the course almost impossible to finish.

QUESTION: What kind of rope do you climb on the course?

ANSWER: It is a manila rope so it has some texture to keep you from slipping. Check out the ropes here for a better idea Manila strength climbing rope.

BONUS WORKOUT #1

Sand Baby Murph

Rule: You cannot set the sandbag down during entire event (except fro the runs). If you do set it down, add 10
reps.

Make or buy a sandbag of 20-50lbs. Scale as needed for your ability.

  • Run 1 mile without sand bag
  • 100 push presses taking the sand bag to the left and right shoulder
  • Every lift over your head = 1 rep (so 50 each side)
  • 200 steps of lunges (100 / leg)—chest carry the sandbag
  • 150 sit-ups, sandbag racked on chest
  • 150 squats, sandbag racked on chest
  • Run 1 mile again without sandbag
  • Add in obstacles in and around the push-presses, walking lunges and runs.

QUESTION: What is a Navy SEAL Burma bridge?

ANSWER: It is a rope bridge used at the BUD/S obstacle course.

BONUS WORKOUT #2

3 rounds for time

  • 5 Burpees
  • 2 Rope climbs
  • Run 100 meters one way then back 100 meters
  • 20 Sit-ups
  • When this feels easy, rest 5 min and repeat

QUESTION: What kind of socks do the trainees wear at BUD/S?

ANSWER: The guys are issued Darn Tough Vermont Merino Wool Hiking Socks. These are one of the best socks made and can withstand a lot of abuse.

BONUS WORKOUT #3

AMRAP, no time cap, AFAP (as fast as possible)

  • Two-arm bar hang until your grip fails
  • 15 kettlebell swings
  • 15 pull-ups
  • 15 push-ups
  • Repeat
  • As you get better, this one will take longer for you to reach to hit full failure. Focus on going longer every time. Don’t let your mind dictate when you’re done.

Make it harder by substituting a towel for the bar hang and/or pull-ups. Or alternate: two-arm hang/pull-ups, next round use a towel. Other options are ropes or making the bar fatter.

QUESTION: Where can I go for info about joining the SEALS or SWCC?

ANSWER: Their website is a great place to start. Also talk to your local recruiter. He or she will have all the resources you need to join the Navy.

Check out NIKE Pro Core Compression Shorts 2 Amazon.com

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