SEAL Fit – training to pass a Mock SEAL Physical Screening Test

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As I recently rewatched a couple of movies about the US Navy SEALs – American Sniper and Lone Survivor as well as reading the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, I was really impressed and inspired by the guys in those military units. I started asking myself questions such as What does it take to be so tough? and What preparation goes into becoming part of an elite unit. Passing medical, legal, psychological, educational and physical requirements would all encompass this rigorous process. Although I would only like to test the physical requirements behind becoming a SEAL. Of course that you cannot disregard the other requirements, but I would just like to see if I can pass through the Physical Screening Test (PST) and see if I am SEAL fit.

When speaking about the Physical Test, it is all about functional strength. In order for you to perform professionally and athletically, you need strength and confidence. Moreover, improving your flexibility, durability and core stability makes you more durable. Through the preparation for the PST you can improve on these factors where the actual test is the benchmark that can prove that your physical fitness is on point. Training requires discipline, knowledge, and practice. During the daily conscious effort put into training for this goal you can further develop physically and mentally. With the knowledge on how to work out, the discipline to follow through every day and the practice of the different workouts you cannot only accomplish this test but increase your confidence and boost your willpower.

The Physical Screening Test, or PST, for BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs) is shown in the table below:

PST Event Minimum Standards Competitive Standards
500 Yard(457m) Swim 12:30 8 Minutes
Pushups 50 80-100
Sit-ups 50 80-100
Pull-ups 10 15-20
1.5 Mile(2.4 km) Run 10:30 9-10 Minutes

Housekeeping Rules:

Swim

You must perform the test using either a Side Stroke or a Breast Stroke.

Push-ups

Must be performed with a straight back and feet and hands in contact with the deck at all times.  No slouching allowed; proper form must be strictly maintained.

Sit-ups

Sit on the floor with your knees bent approximately 90 degrees. Cross your arms in front of you with fingertips touching your shoulders.  Exercise through the full range of motion. Again, proper form must be strictly maintained.

Pull-ups

Grip pull-up bar with PALMS FACING AWAY FROM YOU. Hands are to be shoulder-width apart. Do not swing, kick, or bicycle to assist. Make sure you go all the way up (chin above bar) then ALL THE WAY DOWN.


Example Training Week:

Monday – Long Distance Run & Long Distance Swim

Tuesday – Short Distance Swim & Full Body Resistance Session

Wednesday – Short Distance Run & HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) Session (Focusing on Push-Ups, Pull-Ups and Sit-Ups)

Thursday – Long Distance Swim & Long Distance Swim

Friday – Short Distance Swim & Full Body Resistance Session

Saturday – Short Distance Run & Short Distance Swim

Sunday – Cross Training(Hike, Cycle, Row) / Rest Day

Keeping it simple and using a proper technique is crucial to training without injuries undermining your goals. Your workout should be planned, structured and organized that is applied on gradually and consistently on a daily basis. Most of your cardiovascular exercise should focus on running and swimming. Resistance training targeting the whole body should be performed to develop the optimal muscular strength and endurance to resist injury. For the Full Body Resistance Training Session a workout in a gym with complex movement exercises that focus on Upper, Lower body and core. A combination of push-pull exercises such as pull-ups, bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell row, etc. Specific emphasis on push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups should be exercised emulating the style of the test. Cross Training such as cycling or hiking can bring about some change and make your preparation interesting. Don’t forget to warm-up and cool down for a few minutes after each work out session.

The CrossFit environment and workouts provide a good means to cross train for this particular challenge. The inherent foundations of the CrossFit program are developed so that they hit the ten domains of Fitness. That would be cardio-vascular endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, power, speed, accuracy, agility, coordination and balance. Considering a set of Cross Fit session in a combination of running and swimming sessions.

I think that to be strong as a SEAL is not about competing against others rather than having the physical strength and resilience to go through the daily challenges that life presents to you. It is not about being better than others but having the ability to move heavy stuff around, durability, exceptional endurance, and stamina. Functional Fitness.

ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE!

I would like to finish this article with a general plea for everyone to GET STRONGER and give it a shot. Let’s see if you can pass this incredibly hard physical test. I would like to leave you with the William Henley poem Invictus:

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

–William Henley – Invictus

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