Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) training is 24 weeks of arguably the toughest military training in the world. It has been said, "The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday*," for good reason... there is never an easy day at BUD/S.
What we'll discuss in this blog is what happens during the first phase, Hell Week, second phase, and third phase of BUD/S. This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look into the rigorous selection process that aspiring Navy SEALs must undergo. From physical screening tests to land warfare training, we'll explore each stage of this challenging journey.
In addition to discussing combat diving techniques taught during the second phase of BUD/S, our guide will cover essential land-warfare skills imparted in the program's final stage. Lastly, we'll examine how instructors play a pivotal role in shaping future Navy SEALs while offering guidance on preparing both physically and mentally for What is Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL BUD/S training and what happens first phase, hell week, the second phase, and third phase of BUDS.
Where Is BUD/S Training And The Physical Screening Test for BUD/S Candidates
Before a hopeful recruit is awarded the coveted orders to Coronado CA where BUD/S training takes place, you have to pass the required physical screening test. Requirements of the Physical Screening Test are:
- Swim: Complete a 500-yard swim in 12 minutes and 30 seconds using breaststroke or sidestroke.
- Push-ups: Do at least 42 push-ups in two minutes.
- Sit-ups: Complete a minimum of 50 sit-ups in two minutes.
- Pull-ups: Execute at least six pull-ups without touching the ground between repetitions.
- Run: Achieve a time of no more than eleven minutes on a mile-and-a-half run wearing boots and pants.
First Phase - Physical, Mental Basic Conditioning and Hell Week
Trainees participate in intense workouts designed to push their limits, including weekly four-mile timed runs wearing boots, obstacle courses, and surf conditioning exercises such as "surf torture" or "cold water immersion." BUD/S trainees typically are up about 4:00 AM beginning their PT followed by a run to breakfast. Then the day varies from pool or ocean swims, obstacle course, etc. This phase is largely about discovering who wants and has what it takes to become a Navy Special Warfare Operator. Meaning, during this six week period you'll have the greatest number of ring outs (anyone can quit by ringing the brass bell), meaning trainees decide on another career path.
The Infamous Hell Week Experience
Hell Week is the most notorious part of BUD/S training, taking place during the final week of the first phase and pushing trainees beyond their breaking points with continuous high-intensity exercises under extreme conditions.
With only about four & half hours of sleep throughout the entire week, recruits are subjected to seemingly endless rounds of physical challenges like carrying heavy logs or inflatable boats over long distances while being constantly wet and sandy from surf exposure barely able to walk without intense pain of chaffing.
The purpose behind this grueling experience is not just to weed out those who cannot handle it but also to forge an unbreakable bond among those who make it through together - a crucial element for successful teamwork in future missions as Navy SEALs.
Combat Diving: The Second Phase of BUD/S Training
During the second phase of BUD/S training, Navy SEAL candidates spend seven weeks mastering underwater demolition and advanced diving techniques for covert operations.
Key Components of Combat Diving Training
- Open-Circuit SCUBA: Trainees learn to use open-circuit SCUBA systems for shorter-duration dives.
- Closed-Circuit Rebreathers: For longer-duration dives with minimal bubbles and noise, trainees master closed-circuit rebreather systems.
- Night Dives: Recruits practice navigating underwater environments in complete darkness using specialized equipment.
- Dive Physics & Medicine: Understanding dive physics and medicine helps prevent injuries related to pressure changes during deep dives.
Beyond basic diving skills, BUD/S candidates also learn advanced techniques like combat swimming, underwater navigation, and search patterns for locating submerged objects or minesweeping activities.
They also undergo rigorous pool competency drills designed to test their ability to handle stressful situations while submerged, such as equipment malfunctions or entanglements.
By the end of this phase, trainees have developed a strong foundation in combat diving that sets Navy SEALs apart from other military units.
Third Phase - Land-Warfare Training
In the third phase of BUD/S, recruits learn essential skills for urban environments, including weapons systems, close-quarters battle tactics, and survival evasion resistance escape (SERE) techniques.
The land-warfare training curriculum covers marksmanship, navigation, patrolling, small-unit tactics, hand-to-hand combat, and explosives handling.
SERE techniques are crucial for Navy SEALs to survive hostile conditions, evade capture, resist interrogation, and escape confinement to return safely to friendly lines.
Physical strength and mental fortitude continues to be demanding during the third phase of BUD/S training, pushing recruits beyond their limits while maintaining focus on achieving mission objectives despite adversity.
By the end of Phase 3, graduating BUD/S trainees are likely to be in the best condition in their life. There can be very few, if any, greater achievements for any man. In fact, most SEALs are known by their BUD/S class number.
Role of Instructors in BUD/S Training
As gatekeepers to the Navy SEAL community, instructors play a crucial role in BUD/S training, ensuring that only the best meet the standards expected from members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC). There job is to ensure you're fully prepared to become an operator.
Balancing Discipline with Encouragement during BUD/S
- Discipline: Instructors enforce strict discipline by demanding attention to detail, adherence to rules, and maintaining high physical fitness levels. At the same time to screen trainees that may be better to succeed in another career path.
- Encouragement: Instructors also encourage when needed, recognizing that mental toughness is just as important as physical strength in becoming a successful Navy SEAL. To be clear, some encouragement comes in with a swift kick in the butt, or better. Operators who have grit, courageous, maintain strong self-confidence, abilities to clearly think in the heat of the moment and exhibit vibrant team work do have a greater chance of graduating.
Visit the official SEALSWCC website to learn more about what it takes to become a Navy SEAL and how instructors shape future warriors through rigorous training programs like BUD/S.
Preparing for BUD/S Physically and Mentally
To survive, and hopefully graduate Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, you need to be in top physical shape and have a strong mental game. Follow these physical training programs: Category I for beginners and Category II for advanced trainees. Here are a few recommended Physical Training Programs to prepare for BUD/S:
Category I: Build endurance with running, swimming, calisthenics, and stretching. Gradually increase intensity while maintaining proper form to prevent injuries. Get accustomed to swimming in 55 degree water if possible, get conditioned running in boots in soft sand.
Category II: Incorporate higher-intensity workouts with additional exercises targeting core strength and flexibility to enhance overall fitness levels. Like above, time and improve your cold water swims of one mile or greater. Run in boots in soft sand with timed runs of up to two miles or more. If not already, get scuba experience and comfortable underwater. If you get panicky underwater, promptly address it or consider another career path.
Mental Preparation Strategies For Perseverance
- Focused Visualization: Envision success in challenging situations to build confidence and resilience.
- Meditation Techniques: Practice mindfulness meditation to improve focus and reduce stress.
- Social Support Networks: Surround yourself with positive influences from friends or family members who understand the demands of military life.
Summing it up, swim continuously for at least 35 minutes and stretch at least 15 minutes before any workout during the initial weeks of preparation. If possible, swim in cold water and the ocean if possible. Basically, get comfortable above and below the water surface. The better abilities you have to run four or so miles and swim, the easier if may be for you to succeed.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to grit, courage, & perseverance. The tasks are beyond human expectations, but the rewards are vast. The easy life is easy, but never worth following. Hooyah!
* BUD/S Class 89, the "Only Easy Day Was Yesterday" class