Does the thought of jumping out of planes, scuba diving, and backpacking for miles excite you? Judging from the number of e-mails I've received asking about the training of the U.S. Navy SEALS and other Special Forces groups in the military, some of you are intrigued by such prospects.
Getting accepted into these groups requires a motivated person -- not only physically fit, but also mentally tough and quick thinking. Here is the physical fitness test for the Navy SEALS' training program, known as BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs). Are you up to it?
Swim 500 yards. Maximum time allowed is 12 minutes, 30 seconds -- but to be competitive, you should swim the distance in at least 8 to 9 minutes, utilizing only the side or breast stroke. Recommended workout and training tips: Get technique training and learn to pace yourself. Try five to 10 sets of 100-yard swims, working on a pace that will get you below the competitive times. (Rest 10 minutes before moving on to the next exercise.)
See Combat Swimmer Stroke in Video
Max push-ups. Minimum number is 42 in 2 minutes, but you should shoot for at least 100 for an average score. Do not pace yourself. Push as many push-ups out as fast as you can, but do not neglect proper form or the SEAL instructor will not count them. Try five sets of 30 seconds worth of maximum push-ups. Work your way up to five sets of 1 minute of maximum push-ups. (Rest 2 minutes, then move on to the next step.)
Max sit-ups. Minimum number is 52 in 2 minutes, but you should strive for at least 90 to 100 in 2 minutes for an average score. PACE yourself! Try doing 20 to 30 sit-ups in 30 seconds; that will put you within the 80-to-100-sit-ups range for 2 minutes. Try five sets of 30 seconds each, shooting for your goal pace. Shoot for five sets of 1 minute at your goal pace. (Rest 2 minutes.)
Max pull-ups. Minimum is eight with no time limit, but you cannot touch the ground or let go of the bar. You should be able to do 15 to 20 to be competitive. Try a pyramid of pull-ups: work your way up from one pull-up the first set until you can no longer do any more sets, then return down the pyramid repeating in reverse order (1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1). (Rest 10 minutes before plunging into the last exercise.)
-- 1.5-mile run.
Wearing boots and pants, the maximum time allowed for this one is 11
minutes, 30 seconds, but you should be able to cover the distance in 9
to 10 minutes to be competitive. Pace yourself: do not start off too
fast on the first lap. Shoot for a 90-seconds quarter-mile run time
around a standard high school track. Repeat this pace for six to 10 sets
until you no longer have to rest in between quarter-miles.
(NEW as of Jan 2013)
There is very little difference in the type of person who joins the Army Green Berets, Marine RECON, Air Force Para-rescue, or Navy SEALs. There is one main thing that all of the Special Forces units have in common: Minimum standards are ignored, and they always push themselves to their maximum physical effort.
Remember, the BUD/s PFT is a tough workout. As with any workout, if you know you're not up to it, don't try it; if you have doubts, consult your physician.
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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author
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