Navy SEALs are required to maintain peak fitness levels at all times. In order to be an asset in the field, as opposed to a liability, they must constantly train. Most of the time, they don’t have the luxury of a fitness center or gym. This means they have to get creative.
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One of the most famous Navy SEAL workouts of all time is called “Body Armor” and it was developed by Michael Murphy, who was killed in action during Operation Red Wing made famous by Marcus Luttrell’s book “Lone Survivor.”
The more widely known name of this intense workout is “Murph” and it is a CrossFit Hero Workout of the Day.
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Typical workouts are composed of bodyweight exercises, stretching and yoga poses and last at least an hour. Then the BUDS candidates walk over to perform pull-ups on a thick bar. All pull ups are done in a strict form with no kipping. After that they jump up on the dip bar and do dips as a class or boat team.
The next step is that the BUDS trainees jog to the beach (up and over the dunes) and then a 30 minute to one-hour run or swim. We would run north on Coronado beach to the chain link fence at the Naval Air Base.
SEALs train for long endurance but still must be able to remain strong and move their equipment and bodies for long distances at high speed. This means putting together muscular endurance training and strength training in their workouts. When you’re in a SEAL team, you cannot just live by the minimum standard of fitness. You have to be at your best.
Check out this excerpt from a recent interview with a Navy SEAL:
“How a Real Navy S.E.A.L works out Daily“
We did a ton of bodyweight exercises and had a list of training exercises, but they were supplemented with weights when possible. During a typical week on base, I would ride my bike to the ST-4 compound. We would have a SEALgrinderPT bodyweight workout for 45 minutes and then go for a 3-mile run. At lunch, I would lift weights or we had a tall rope that I would climb.
I would ride my bike home in the afternoon and add extra miles. The extra hours of training really helped me build my physique. Other mornings in the week had more grinder PT, an ocean swim, obstacle course, and longer run (10 miles) on Friday. We really mixed it up with variety and worked hard on being able to move our bodies quickly over short and long distances.
When out to sea, I did grinder PT bodyweight workouts on the back fan tail of the ship and ran stairs and around the helicopter launch pad. The pullup bar was the ship’s railing on the deck above. I made do with what I had in tight spaces. We had a bench press but it was tough to lift heavy weights with a moving ship rolling and rocking in the ocean. I would still give it a go and get in some killer workouts.
We have daily bodyweight workouts posted up daily on our SGPT members website. These are workouts like I did on the ship so you can do them anywhere. So if you want to train like a Team Guy this will give you something to try out and help your Special Forces Workouts.
The biggest key to the workouts is to have endurance and durability. Though strength is an important aspect of fitness, you need the stamina to carry it through. There are a lot of athletes out there that are strong – or can do a 10 minute CrossFit WOD.
But imagine carrying a rucksack and gear for miles, rappelling down a cliff, swimming 3 miles, and then assaulting the enemy during a rainstorm? You have to be built for the long haul. For this reason, typical SEALs’ workouts are longer and loaded to with a variety of exercises. This is all about being functionally fit.
Work on building your legs and hip flexors. Biking, running, and swimming long distances are great activities. Doing box jumps and plyometric work are also great exercises. Stay away from any machine or heavy weights as this is not good at all for our purposes. Though machine workouts and heavy weights are great for building an aesthetic body and building muscle, true strength and endurance come from the exercises mentioned above.
When you go to BUD/S (or any Special Forces) training you will never touch a barbell. This is because they understand that you need to have real-life strength and endurance in your workouts, and picking up heavy stuff in a gym or working on those machines will just not work as well in real-life situations where that kind of stamina is needed.
If you need a weight, you can always use a sand bag or ruck (military backpack) loaded with sand or gear.
Flip tires, pull a sled, push a prowler if you must – but go easy on the barbell. Again – don’t touch a machine (Nautilus, etc.) as you are wasting your time.
That all comes from a guy who spent 11 months in BUD/S and trained the wrong way on my first attempt.
Again, machines in the gym are a waste of your time. You can spend weeks or months on them and not get the required endurance for everything you need to go through in the field.
Check out this list of Navy SEAL style workouts below. Post your score in comments.
1 mile run 100 pull-ups 200 push-ups 300 air squats 1 mile run wear 20 lb weight vest if you have it.
If training for SEALFIT Kokoro wear 20 lb ruck.
Beginner to advanced athletes can partition wod 20 rounds of..
5 pull-ups 10 pushups 15 air squats then 1 mile run to finish
Equipment List for Workouts
We get asked all the time about what gear is needed to begin training. To tell you the truth, you don’t need much gear, as SEALs make do with what they have. Imagine training on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You will not have access to great gear. You will not have a fully functioning gym with bar bells, dumb bells, or machines, so sometimes you have to make your own and improvise.
I like to use an exercise mat for doing ab and core workouts. Even if you’re on a ship, you can find a place to run, so a good pair of CrossFit-style workout/running shoes are nice to have. Running will improve your endurance and your cardiovascular strength, so it is always highly recommended to inculcate that in your workouts.
If you’re training for BUD/S or Special Forces, then we highly recommend you get a good pair of boots like the Bates 922 boot (these boots are worn at BUD/S). Slowly break in your boots and use them for ruck marches and flutter kicks. These boots will give you the resistance you need in these workouts to make the maximum amount of progress in your overall body.
If you’re going to try the workout “Murph” you should work your way up to a 20 lb weight vest. Go ahead and get a good weight vest. You may spend a few extra dollars but a cheap weight vest tears apart easily under a load – you get what you pay for.
If I had BUD/S training to do all over again, I would invest in a pair of wood gym rings.
The gym rings are versatile and you can do pull-ups, ring dips, and ring push-ups with them. They are also easy to carry around and light, which means that you can carry some workout gear with you all the time without having to resort to heavy weights. They are portable and you can take them with you in your ruck to the playground or beach for a workout.
Another piece of gear I like using is a kettlebell as they are portable and really help you build up your core.
Any good garage gym should have a set of pull-up bars and you can also do toe-to bars, and set up your gym rings to hang from them. Pull-up bars are convenient and are easy to use once set up. They are also strong and durable in nature, which means that a good quality set of pull up bars will last you for several years.
Note: The BUD/S pullup bars are 2 inches thick, and this is a game-changer. This not only makes them better suited to last longer but also makes your grip stronger because of the extra thickness. This strength eventually adds up to the total strength of your body.
Navy SEAL Pull up pyramid
5 minute shoulder mobility wod then… pull ups 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 then run 3 miles in sand or waters edge along a creek.
Those athletes that continue to work long endurance and get away from muscle building workouts will do the best in the long run at BUD/S training.
We just had an athlete ask us the question: “What is a good pyramid pull up workout that you guys did stationed overseas? Here is a cool workout… 5 minute shoulder mobility then.. 20 walking lunges pull up pyramid 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 25 walking lunges pull up pyramid 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 each round add 5 lunges. it is a full body workout and you can count rounds till failure
Check out the book Breaking BUD/S: How Regular Guys Can Become Navy SEALs.
It gives a good look at what happens in BUDS and how you can train to make it through and succeed.
Question: “What happens if you get kicked out of Navy SEAL training?”.
You will be sent to the fleet (Navy ship) and serve out the rest of your tour chipping paint and washing dishes and maybe using some skills you learned along the way.
WOD with 20# weight vest, 3 rounds for time: 1 mile run 25 x Burpees 50 x Push-ups 75 x Squats post time in comments
Question: Do SEAL workouts build muscle?
Answer: You will build some muscle but more than likely you will lean out and get more cut or ripped. If you want to build more muscle you will be better off doing a bodybuilding-type workout. Most SEALs are not overly muscled up as this gets in the way when you are swimming and carrying a rucksack on a mission. The average Team Guy is 5 ft 9 inches and 170 lbs and lean. They can easily touch their hand far behind their neck and shoulder blade (they are flexible and not muscle-bound).
Question: What does it mean when you hear the term “Navy SEAL PT Workout”?
Question: What is a Team Guys favorite workout?
Answer: PT means physical training.That is a no brainer. After hanging out at the bar – either a grinder PT and run or doing the Murph WOD..
Do navy seals only do bodyweight exercises?
Most of the time they do.
Where do the SEALs go through initial training? BUDS is located in Coronado, CA.
Do navy seals only do bodyweight exercises? Most of the time they do.
Q: Hello Coach brad, My name is Brantley Williams and I was previously a Marine Corps dep but got out. I am currently in college studying to be a firefighter. I am 21 years old. I am a physically active person and I have been this way all my life. I’m planning on once I get my associate’s degree to enlist into the Navy to become a SEAL. I have several workouts I do but was wondering what workouts you would suggest. I was also wondering if you have any advice on preparing for Bud/s.
Talk to you again soon Brantley
Brantley, check out the collection of exercises above. If you have any questions post up a comment or email me personally firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the hardest workout that you did at BUD/S?
Definitely log pt. I thought my shoulder was going to fall off or that I was going to die or both. I will say that one Friday afternoon we did a “Circus” and did drills for multiple hours and it sucked bad.