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Navy Seal Fitness Workout

By Stew Smith  in collaboration with UK Gear and Ultra-Fit Magazine. Photos: www.snhfoto.co.uk


The United States Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) Special Operations force has the capability to work at sea, in air, on land and underwater. Established in 1962, this elite maritime military force was constructed to accomplish special operations missions around the world. These expertly trained maritime warriors are the fittest of the fit and go beyond all boundaries to retain their highly skilled, intensely disciplined reputation.

The intense training that goes into becoming a Navy SEAL is considered to be one of the toughest, most demanding training programmes in the world – both mentally and physically and only a hand full of unique, dedicated recruits succeed at passing the extreme training programme. Not only are Navy SEALS physically fit but they also acquire the mental ability and attitude to never quit – EVER!

There will be a time when a SEAL recruit feels they cannot run another step or they cannot do another push- up. In advanced training programmes such as the Navy SEAL BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition) mental toughness comes into play and enables a recruit to push through the pain and discomfort of long days and nights. As a Navy SEAL trainer, Stew Smith is a firm believer that through tough physical fitness training, you will sharpen the mind and allow it to build tolerance to pain when most people would quit from exhaustion and fatigue.

Standards To Achieve
Even before applying to the Navy SEALs, applicants must be in an excellent shape. One of the first things taught to students preparing for Special Ops is, ‘If you show up out of shape - the mental work is twice as hard.’ So preparation counts!

500 Yard Swim
(Sidestroke or breaststroke)
Under 8 minutes Score
Push-Up's 2 minutes Minimun 100+
Sit-Up's 2 minutes Minimun 100+
Pull-Up's No set time Minimun 20+
1.5 Mile Run Under 9 minutes  
For those looking to excel in the PST and achieve closer to an 85% chance of completing BUD/S, the following standards apply.

The Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test (PST) consists of five events: A 500 yard swim, countless push-ups, sit ups, pull ups and a 1.5mile run. This test battery determines if an applicant has the minimum fitness required to complete the intense BUD/s training programme. Personal experience has shown that the better condition you are in physically, the better you will be at handling stress, understanding tactical concepts, performing precision tasks and being better able to master other job related duties. Too often recruits show up reaching only the minimum standards of fitness for boot camp and are likely to become injured because they are not conditioned for even the most basic of activities. From here the unconditioned recruit will miss valuable training and will likely be rolled to a different class, quit, or be dismissed from the training programme altogether.

The Navy SEAL Grinder PT workout
A SEALs mission is to prepare for the unknown. Therefore, his training must be broad, varied and highly intense in order to prepare for the unexpected. For the Navy SEALs, the term ‘Grinder’ refers to the concrete-asphalt area where they complete their callisthenics workouts under the watchful eye of their commander. The Navy SEAL Grinder Physical Test is a highly intense and disciplined workout, usually completed over a 4 week period. It simulates the weekly exercises and tests involved in the final stage of SEAL training and is dubbed ‘Hell Week’. The Grinder PT workout uses repetition exercises to increase a solid base of core strength, speed and agility, whilst strengthening the mind. This workout should only be attempted by those with an already high level of fitness.

REMEMBER! Before and after a workout, the best way to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness is to perform a light warm-up and cool-down respectively using mobility exercises. Increased mobility can contribute to the development of skill and can also help with injury prevention, particularly the type of injury caused by the stress of constantly repeating a movement such as in long-distance running. Spend approximately 5-10 minutes on both the warm-up and cool-down, ensuring stretches are held for at least 15-20 seconds each.

Complete the following exercises in a timed 1 minute set circuit without stopping taking no rest.

Exercise 1: SEAL push ups (1 minute – goal 25 – 30 reps)

> Get into the pike position
> Lower yourself so that you are in a type of plank position
> Straighten your arms to finish
> Repeat in reverse order

Exercise 2: Alternate Leg Crunches (1 minute – goal 30 - 40 reps per leg)

> A killer exercise!
> Finger tips must remain on the temples and never behind the neck
> Pull each knee in toward your opposite shoulder and extend fully back



Exercise 3: Wood Chopper Squats (6 sets/20 reps)

> Adding a weight such as a dumbbell or a backpack will further challenge your core
> Swing the weight in the motion of chopping wood as you squat

WoodChopperSquats1.jpg WoodChopperSquats2.jpg WoodChopperSquats3.jpg


Exercise 4: Parallel Bar Dips (1 minute – goal 30-40 reps)

> Support your weight on extended arms
> Lower yourself down so that your elbows form a 90 degree angle (no less)
> To finish, push back up to the starting position

ParallelBarDips1.jpg ParallelBarDips2.jpg


Exercise 5: V-Ups (1 minute – 30-40 reps)

> Lay flat on the ground
> Bring your legs and upper body up together to make a 'V' with your legs and torso



BodyBuilderPushUps1.jpg BodyBuilderPushUps2.jpg BodyBuilderPushUps3.jpg BodyBuilderPushUps4.jpg

Exercise 6: The 8-Count body builder push-ups (aka Burpees)
(1 minute – goal 25-30 reps)

> Jump down into a push-up position
> Dynamically pull over your legs in under your shoulders
> Jump into the air
> Land and repeat
A favourite PT Grinder exercise, although some regard it as pure punishment!


Exercise 7: Pull Ups (1 minute – goal 15-25 reps)

 > Grab a pull-up bar with an over grasp grip
> Pull yourself up ward until your chin passes the bar
> Lower under control and repeat

PullUp1.jpg PullUp2.jpg


Exercise 8: Weighted Wood Chopper Lunges (6 sets/20 reps)

> Swing a medicine ball to a position to arms’ length above your head
> Swing the ball down and across your body, stepping one leg forward into a lunge
> Takethemedicineballtotheoutsideofthefrontleg
> Swing your arms back to return the ball above your head with arms extended, stepping your feet back to shoulder-width apart as you do so
> Repeat the exercise swinging the ball to the other side

WoodChopperLunge1.jpg WoodChopperLunge2.jpg WoodChopperLunge1.jpg


Exercise 9:

The Agility Test – complete as many times as you can in 1 minute.

Agility Drills are one of the most common exercises in Navy SEAL training and requires students to run fast, stop quickly, change direction and move the body from a laying position to a running stride as quickly as possible.


Running_Diagram.jpg> The course is 9m/30ft long and 4.5m/15ft wide
> Place four cones 3m/10ft apart at the 2.25m/7.5ft line
> The first and fourth cone should be placed at the zero and 9m/30ft line
> Follow the direction of the arrows in the diagram



Running is considered one of the hardest exercises at Navy SEAL training. Students are expected to complete the daily 6.4k/4mile beach run in 28mins or less and with ease – or face being sent to the ‘Goon Squad’. Running in Boots is required but a student should begin their training in well-fitted running shoes to avoid knee, shin and tendinitis injuries.


Stew Smith’s Top Tips to avoid running injuries:
> Replace running shoe severy 480-640k/300-400 miles or
at least every 6 months and try not to use your running shoes as your everyday shoes. We walk differently to how we run. My shoe of choice is UK Gear’s PT-1000 road & trail running shoe.
> Stretch for 5-10 minutes daily and become flexible especially in the hamstrings, calf muscles, and lower back..
> Strengthen thigh and hamstring muscles so you do not create imbalances in strength and flexibility....
> Always rest, ice and only do non-impact aerobics such as swimming, biking or rowing if your knees hurt when you run.
> My rule: If it hurts to walk – DON’T RUN! If it hurts to run – just walk. If it hurts doing nothing – see a doctor!f


The Ton-Up Challenge

The Ton-Up challenge is a firm favourite with Navy SEALs and the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC). It’s considered to either make or break a man! The challenge requires very little equipment, plenty of will power and can be done anywhere. Please note this challenge should only be attempted by conditioned athletes/fitness trainers or soldiers.

The Challenge:
> Begin the challenge with a set of 10x situps (see list below)
> Sprint away for 30m
> Complete a set of 10x core (see list below) exercises, beginning at set number 1
> Jog back 30m
> Repeat this circuit, adding another set of core exercises eachtime, with only a set of 10 situps in between.
> Example: 10 sit-ups (half sit ups) – sprint30m – set 1 of core exercises (dive bomber push ups) – jog back 30m – 10 sit ups (fixed feet sit up) – sprint 30m – set 1 + set 2 of core exercises (dive bomber push ups and alternate leg crunches), and so on until you have completed all 10 core exercises in one course on this accumulative basis.


Sit Up Exercises   Core Exercises
Half Sit Ups (x10)
Fixed Feet Sit Up (x10)
Raised Sit Up (x10)
Dorsal Raises (x10)
Alternate Crunches (x10)
Oblique Sit Ups (x10)
Medicine Ball Sit Ups (x10)
Dorsal Raises (x10)
Alternate Leg Crunches (x10)
Twist Sit Ups (x10)

>30 meter sprint>
<30 meter jog<

1. Dive Bomber Push Ups (x10)
2. Alternate Leg Crunches (x10)
3. Wood Chopper Lunges (x10)
4. Parallel Bar Dips (x10)
5. V-Ups (x10)
6. BB push ups (Burpees) (x10)
7. Mountain Climber Pull Ups (x10)
8. Flutter Kicks (x10)
9. Squat Jumps (x10)
10. Clock Squats (x10)
Goal: Complete all 10 sets of core exercises in one course!


How many circuits can you do without failing? The Navy SEALs and the Royal Army Physical Training Corps are able to complete the course – and then repeat in reverse order! If you do the maths, that’s 100 sit ups plus 550 core exercises per course!