Just the mention of the words “Navy SEAL” brings to mind extreme fitness and stamina, which is well warranted if you take a look at what the basic training for this elite group entails. But you don’t have to go into the service (or experience hell week!) in order to get some of the benefits from the workouts these guys perform, you just have to integrate some of those same exercises into your own workout routine.
Most of us are not really fond of running, but it’s an excellent way to crank up your overall fitness levels. During SEAL training, candidates start off with 2 mile runs, three times a week, keeping the time to under 8½ minutes per mile. That’s a good benchmark to try to hit, especially if you aren’t a runner at heart. After the first couple of weeks, SEAL candidates are expected to increase the mileage to 3 miles, then 4 miles, and by the ninth week, they run up to 16 miles a week, still keeping their pace as quick as the original 8½ minute per mile level.
One of the foundations of SEAL physical training is the humble pushup, which builds both upper body and core strength. It may seem like an ‘easy’ exercise, but when you start tacking on repetitions, it quickly becomes one of those exercises separating the men from the boys. SEAL trainees start off with 4 sets of 15 pushups, three times a week, working their way up to 6 sets of 30 pushups (three times per week) by the ninth week.
The pullup is another iconic exercise used in SEAL training, pitting your upper body strength against the weight of your body. Week 1 of training sees SEAL candidates beginning with 3 sets of 3 pullups (three times a week), working up to 3 sets of 10 pullups (three times a week) by the ninth week.
The strongest arms and legs are limited by the strength of the person’s core, which ties them together. Situps are the basis for a strong core, and Navy SEAL trainees start at 4 sets of 20 situps, three times a week. By the ninth week, they are cranking out 6 sets of 30, three times a week.
This might seem obvious in the light of the mission that SEALs take on, but swimming is an important piece of the SEAL training regimen. And since many of us don’t include swimming in our regular workouts, adding in the full-body workout of a swim can really add to our fitness level. At the early stage of training, candidates swim continuously for 15 minutes, 5 days a week, working their way up to swimming continuously for 35 minutes, 5 days per week.
Being able to suspend and lower your body using only the strength of your arms and chest is a good skill to have, and one way to build that strength is through dips. Begin at the same number of sets and reps you used for pullups, repeating them three times a week, and work your way up to at least 3 sets of 10 dips, three days per week.
These six exercises ‘stolen’ from Navy SEAL training have the potential to put you through your own version of fitness boot camp, and could make for a solid core for your regular workout.
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