Is CrossFit Good for Special Forces Training?

We got this email from an athlete yesterday.

Question: “Coach, is CrossFit a good method to train for Special Forces training?”. Yes… but here are a few things to take into consideration.

Start SLOW

If your just getting going with workouts you need to ease in.

A quick way to get blown up in CrossFit is to get into a gym and go full force and you end up crawling out of the front door puking on the sidewalk.

I know as I have been there – done that. It is ok to go easy early. If you need to cut a workout in half then do so. We are in this for the long haul.

#2 Warmup
Make sure you always do a mobility warmup. Spend at least 5 minutes or more warming up the body preferably with exercises similar to what the workout will be. If you have pushups in the workout then do pushups on a bench to warmup. Add in some arm circles. You get the point.

Kstar mobility video

Check out the OFW Stubby Foam Roller @

#3 Basics
Learn the basics first but be open to learning new things. Be able to do the dead hang pull up before you do kipping pull ups. Have a great full depth air squat before you get under a heavier barbell. Learn the dip before you try ring dips and muscle ups. Learn to jump single unders very efficiently before double unders. You get the point. Drill the basics and take care of your body and the more technical and heavy weights can come later.

Navy SEAL pull ups at BUDS

Check out Bomba Wood Gymnastic Rings @

#4 Weights
Weights are good no doubt about it. But be careful as many CrossFit gyms are really training you to compete in the Open. Nothing wrong with that.. but you will be doing a lot of barbell movements. Nothing wrong with that either. But how many times do you lift a barbell in Special Forces? Never. We lift things but most of them don’t have a chalked and perfectly textured/knurled surface. It is ok to lift with the barbell but think outside of the box and instead of a barbell incorporate a sand bag or heavy bag (simulating picking up a heavy gear bag). A 6×6 timber or small telephone pole is also a good tool and you will see plenty of that in training.

Tactical sand bag drills

Check out Tactical Sand Bags @

#5 Take Care of Your Body.
CrossFit is rough. Special Forces training is brutal. Take care of yourself brother.

Always finish with a mobility cool down and foam rolling. Talk to your coach as many of them have great insights on how to preserve your body long term.

#6 Hydrate
It is easy to get behind on your water during a long endurance workout like Murph. Be careful. Take a break periodically and drink lots of fresh water. You can earn a quick trip to the hospital by getting yourself dehydrated and doing long hard workouts. Get hydrated early and stay that way.

Hydration with CrossFit Endurance

#7 Fuel
Post workout we need to replenish ourselves. CrossFit is hard and we must refuel the body like a Maserati. You don’t put cheap gas in a sports car and neither should you put it in your body. Eat a good moderate meal with lots of veggies and protein. Stay away from processed foods that will clog up your digestion system.

CrossFit Paleo power meals

#8 Endurance
CrossFit is great but most of the workouts in a traditional box will be too short for the Special Forces athlete. You need more endurance. So if you don’t have a Hero workout scheduled for the day (typically longer) then you will need to add a long run or row or swim or ruck after your workout. You may need to ruck to the gym to start it off. The key is to add more endurance to the workout your doing at the CF gym.

CrossFit vs CrossFit Endurance

Question: What is a good book that will let me know more about what to expect in BUDS or Special Forces training?

We like the book The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident.

This book gives you a good idea of what to expect.

You will still have to train hard no matter what.

About the Author:
bradBrad McLeod knows first hand about mental toughness after being kicked out of a top tier Spec Ops training unit. He failed out of BUD/S the first time after failing a math test (made it through Hell Week and Dive Pool Comp). He came back a year later and graduated and served as an operator on the Navy SEAL Teams.

Contact Brad

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