The Reality of Physical Standards of a Navy SEAL
Navy SEALS are one of the best-known branches of special forces in the United States military. From highly publicized missions to Hollywood renditions that account for their real and fictional rescues alike, SEALS are not short in the way of glory. But through all that coverage, much becomes nuanced and lost in translation.
What the public sees is a far cry of the real inside world of Navy sailors, let alone SEALs themselves. Take a look at this inside dive on what it’s like to train like a SEAL, including behind-the-scenes knowledge of this tight-knit community.
Navy SEALs: They Train Like No Other
Sure, you might think – that’s obvious. But to the layman, it can be a whole new world to consider what these SEALs go through in a daily training session. Navy SEALs have to be in tip-top shape, every day of the year. Not just physically and while on land; they have to ensure they can withstand cold temperatures, hold their breath for long periods, and swim with more than their own body weight.
On any given day, multiple scenarios could be thrown at them; being ready for any swimming or land condition is the only way for SEALS to stay at the top of their game.
Daily activities include as much as 20 hours of physical training, leaving just four hours for sleep. During “hell week” of training, SEALs get little rest and push their bodies to the edge, running up to 200 miles in five days.
And remember this is after they’ve been chosen as the cream of the crop. Navy SEALs have to go through rigorous training regimens just to qualify. Then they continue to train for a constant improvement of abilities. SEALs’ initial physical test includes a 500-yard swim, 1.5-mile run, 50-100 push-ups and sit-ups each, and pull-ups – all timed.
In special forces, minimum standards are ignored; they push themselves to be as physically fit as possible. Before SEALs ever even attempt to qualify, candidates train for two months to get themselves physically and mentally ready to become a SEAL.
Getting Through the Daring BUD/S Training in Coronado CA
To become a full-fledged SEAL, it takes a year to 18 months to get through the entire levels of training. For every 1,000 who start the program, only about 200 make it through. They are truly looking for the cream of the crop, the strongest mentally and physically.
Then, once a SEAL makes it through, they undergo another year of training before taking on their first mission with a team. But even then, training never stops. SEALs take on new skills for the duration of their career.
Former Navy SEALs agree that one’s starting condition doesn’t so much matter as one’s ability to persevere. Those who can withstand trying conditions are the most likely to make it through to become an actual SEAL. The mental side is as important as the physical training, they said.
All to say, the heart of a Navy SEAL is not just about meeting physical demands or surviving mental punishments… it’s about lasting perseverance beyond normal. Many books have been written and movies about BUD/S training (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training) but they’re no guarantees for even the best prepared BUD/S candidate. At the end of the day, it's all about drive, preparedness for the impossible, and a daring heart.
To learn more about the physical toll of becoming a Navy SEAL or continued training steps, take a look at previous blogs.
Written by L.C. Fowler, BUD/S Class 89
Author of Dare To Live Greatly
Your responses are generously welcomed by the author