How Tough Is the Navy SEAL Fitness Test?

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Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL candidates practice in water.
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates attempt to pass the surf zone in an Inflatable Boat, Small (IBS) during training at the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Center in Coronado, California, May 20, 2020. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anthony W. Walker/U.S. Navy Photo)

Many people ask about how tough it is to become a Navy SEAL. The following article details the requirements starting with the physical fitness test for the Navy SEALs training program, known as BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs).

Are you up to it?

Navy SEAL PST Standards

PST Event Minimum Standards Competitive Standards
500-yard swim 12:30 8 minutes
Push-ups 50 80-100
Sit-ups 50 80-100
Pull-ups 10 15-20
1.5-mile timed run 10:30 9-10 minutes

To qualify for a contract, a prospective candidate must meet the minimum requirements. It is recommended that you strive for the optimum fitness standards and beyond to improve your chances at BUD/S. Check out the official Navy SEAL PST calculator to compare your scores and rank you with other prospective candidates.

For more information on academic, medical screening and background requirements, see the official Navy SEAL/SWCC page at www.sealswcc.com.

Navy SEAL Fitness Test Breakdown

Swim 500 Yards

Maximum time allowed is 12 minutes, 30 seconds -- but to be competitive, you should swim the distance in at least 8-9 minutes, utilizing only the combat swimmer stroke, sidestroke or breaststroke.

Recommended workout and training tips: Get technique training and learn to pace yourself. Try 5-10 sets of 100-yard swims, working on a pace that will get you below the competitive times. (Rest 10 minutes after swimming the 500-yard test before moving on to the next exercise.)

Push-ups

The minimum number is 42 in two 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. (Rest two minutes, then move on to the next exercise.)

Sit-ups

The minimum number is 52 in two minutes, but you should strive for at least 100 for an average score. Pace yourself. Try doing 20-30 sit-ups in 30 seconds; that will put you within the range of 80-100 sit-ups for two minutes. (Rest two minutes.)

Pull-ups

The minimum is eight pull-ups 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 no longer can 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 the last exercise of the test.)

1.5-mile run

Wearing boots and pants, the maximum time allowed is 11:30, but you should cover the distance in 9-10 minutes to be competitive. Do not start off too fast on the first lap. Shoot for 90 seconds for a quarter-mile run around a standard high school track. Repeat this pace for 6-10 sets until you no longer have to rest between quarter-miles.

One of the best workouts to assist increasing your scores in the PT and run is the following:

-- 100 pull-ups in as few sets as possible. Run a quarter-mile in 90 seconds between sets of pull-ups.

-- 200 push-ups in as few sets as possible. Run a quarter-mile in 90 seconds between sets of push-ups.

-- 300 sit-ups in as few sets as possible. Run a quarter-mile in 90 seconds between sets of sit-ups.

This is a tough workout that can take 30-60 minutes to complete -- if you can complete it.

There is very little difference in the type of person who joins the Army Green Berets, Marine RECON, Air Force pararescue jumpers or Navy SEALs. There is one main thing that all Special Forces units have in common: Minimum standards are ignored, and they always push themselves to their maximum physical effort.

If you shoot for these minimums, you are destined to go to BUD/S and just try to survive each event of the day. That mentality will wear on you quickly, and you likely will quit or become injured from lack of training or overuse injuries.

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Once again, you should go to BUD/S with high standards for yourself and compete for the best scores of the class in several events. Do not go to BUD/S just wanting to survive the training. You have to be more aggressive than that and not let the mind games and verbal harassment of the instructors affect you negatively.

You only can succeed by channeling any negative feedback and turning it into a positive, self-fueling energy. You should think that nothing anyone will say will make you doubt your abilities. If you can do the above recommended standards, you are more than halfway to graduating. The next half of success is the internal drive and determination, coupled with the understanding that you know you will be driven to discomfort most of the time.

For the latest in academic, physical, psychological and background requirements, see the official Navy SEAL/SWCC page at www.sealswcc.com.

The BUD/S PFT is a tough workout. If you know you are not up to it, do not try it. If you have doubts, consult your physician.

Related Navy Special Operations articles:

Navy SEAL Fitness PreparationHow to Prepare for BUD/STop Things to Know Before BUD/SGetting Fit for SEAL TrainingThe Complete Guide to Navy SEAL FitnessJoining Naval Special OperationsNavy SWCC Fitness TrainingAll Navy Special Operations Fitness

PT programs to train for the Navy PRT can be found at these Military.com links:

Pull-ups/flexed arm hangPush-ups and sit-upsRunning Swimming

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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