How to Prepare to Be A Navy SEAL - The Road Less Travelled

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Joining the military to be a special operator is no easy task. Many people seeking to serve in the military (specifically the Navy SEAL, SWCC, EOD, Diver pipeline) struggle to prepare physically for the challenges they face.  Most will think that are good to go and not train enough, some will over-train and break quickly, but some (20-25%) find the right amount of preparation to get both TO and THROUGH the training process. The process to join the Navy and charge forward into the special ops requires you to take critical steps BEFORE you join.

The number one goal and first step of the process is taking the PST:  500yd swim (learn the Combat Swimmer Stroke – CSS), Pushups, Situps, Pullups, and 1.5 mile run.  You have to be good at this test with competitive scores in the following zone.  You should have taken this test some many times on your own that you have created a strategy to succeed with competitive scores. See Official Navy SEAL Website for the PST Calculator and see where you match up with previous recruits in the process of getting to BUD/S.  You should also be so familiar with the official Navy SEAL website that there will be no surprises when you speak with a recruiter.

However, there is no need to speak to a recruiter, until you can crush this PST.  Recommended scores that traditionally are in the competitive range are the following:

  • 500yd Swim – 8:00-8:20 or faster
  • Pushups 90+
  • Situps 90+
  • Pullups 20+
  • 1.5 mile run - 9 minutes or faster

There will be a SEAL mentor in each recruiting district who will test you regularly to make sure you can keep these scores (or get to the scores) during your delayed entry program process. But, if you are a chronic PST failure week after week, you will never get to BUD/S after boot camp. You will be required to join the Navy with a different job. After a few years in the Navy, you can get orders to BUD/S via the lateral transfer process (see official site) but realize this upfront prior to signing anything. Consider your first PST with the SEAL mentor a job interview with perhaps one of the first SEALs you have ever met – do you want to be in the failure group or the passing group?

Once you get those scores that make you eligible for the rest of the Navy SEAL training pipeline, now you can start to focus more on getting THROUGH BUD/S. Build up and progress onto 4-mile timed runs, 1-2 mile swims with fins, still work on your high repetition calisthenics, but add some lifting for prepare the body for carrying boats, logs, and heavy back backs. Consider some of these types of workouts:  Sandbaby Murph, Rucking / Running Programs.

This journey to prepare for tough selection programs should not start in the recruiter’s office. It should be a significant amount of time that depends on your current fitness level, athletic history, and tactical fitness weaknesses as BUD/S will expose any weakness in the first few days of First Phase. This can take time – up to a year or more.  Too many times the Perfect Storm For Failure has caused many to lose sight of their goal when all they were was just underprepared.

If you have some time, or better yet, give yourself a year before speaking to recruiters. You can find that a periodized program will yield the results to becoming a well-rounded tactical athlete that can endure the process of boot camp, pre-training, selection, post selection training and the job itself. Eventually, you will be able to say CHECK to The Ten Signs That Prove You Are Ready to Serve.

About Stew Smith CSCS Stew Smith is a Navy SEAL Veteran who supports the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  He also has over 1000 articles on Fitness Forum and over a 100 Podcasts focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

As a writer on the tactical fitness topic, Stew creates multi-week training programs to help you prepare for any test, training program, or just lose weight and get fit for duty. has the answer.

Related Articles for PST Events: Combat Swimmer Stroke Training Improve Situps Quickly Pushup Push Pullups – Max Out The Test 1.5 mile Timed Run Training

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