This Navy SEAL workout puts your strength and endurance to the test

Bodyweight exercises that'll torch fat and build muscles – as long as you eat right

navy seal endurance workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Navy SEAL workout is tough, because being a Navy SEAL is a tough business. The workout we are going to discuss here uses your body only as resistance and therefore classifies it as a calisthenics workout. It also relies on endurance more than counting sets and reps. In fact, you won't even need to count reps; the only thing you might want to check is the time.

• See how it compares with this SAS workout

Here, we will talk about the Navy SEAL fitness test and how you can benefit from getting ready for it, even if you aren't planning on joining the US military. The test requires you to do as many reps as you can in the set time interval and therefore is perfect to build muscles and endurance, as well as torching fat.

If you prefer something a little less gung ho, there are plenty of ways to lose weight fast and build muscle at the same time. For example, you can do a push-pull workout or even a five-move full body workout. In general, the more muscles you move, the more calories you burn, so if weight loss is your aim, try doing more compound exercises, like deadlifts and squats

What is the Navy SEAL fitness test?

As part of the test, you will need to perform five different exercises within a set amount of time. The requirements are as follows:

  • Swim 500 yards (457 metres) under 12 minutes and 30 seconds (competitive standard – 8 minutes)
  • Do 50 pushups in 2 minutes (competitive standard – 80-100 pushups in 2 minutes)
  • Do 50 situps in 2 minutes (competitive standard – 80-100 situps in 2 minutes)
  • Do 10 pull-ups (competitive standard – 15-20) – no time limit
  • Run 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in under 10 minutes and 30 seconds (competitive standard – 9-10 minutes)

What is great about this test that it measures the fitness levels of your whole body. You'll need a strong back and shoulders for the swim, monster pecs and triceps for the pushups, rock hard abs and core for situps, godly lats and biceps for the pullups and swift quads, calves and glutes for the run.

Another good aspect of the test is that it's time limited and bodyweight only: you won't have to count weights and volume here, just do as many reps as you can within the set time. Doesn't get less complicated than that.

Due to the high rep count, working out using this method is not all that dissimilar to doing CrossFit, for example, and builds endurance as well. 

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navy seal endurance workout

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Eat right to gain right

If you want to build muscles and lose fat, you will need to eat right, no question about it. Even if your aim is to lose weight doing this exercise, you will need to get a better understanding of what you eat and most importantly, how much carbs, fats and protein do you consume a day.

If it sounds daunting and a lot of hassle to count macros, it really isn't. There are free apps that literally tells you what's in the food you eat by scanning the barcode of the product, such as MyFitnessPal. Once you know what's in it, you can decide whether you need that last slice of large Dominos pepperoni pizza (you don't).

Either you are trying to lose fat or want to build muscle, eating more protein is beneficial for you. If you fall in the former category, try swapping some bad fats and carbs – most of the processed food falls into this category – to protein snacks, let them be protein bars or just a small portion of high-carb nuts.

If you are trying to gain muscle mass and are naturally skinny, try adding some high protein mass gainers, like Bulk Powders' Informed Mass or The Protein Works' Total Mass Matrix.

Drinking more water also helps, so fill up your gym water bottle and drink that water!

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navy seal endurance workout

Make stretching an integral part of your workouts

(Image credit: Future)

Warm up and cool down

Although this workout uses plenty of cardio elements, you want to get ready even for those. Light jogging and stretching helps priming the muscles and your body for the upcoming exercises.

Stretching and relaxing tense muscles after the workout is also very beneficial. Use a foam roller and/or resistance bands, both of which can relieve muscle tension and 

IMPORTANT: if you have any medical condition or experiencing pain of any sort – especially back pain – please consult a medical professional before you start working out. Some of the below exercises put a lot of stress on your lower back and if you are ever unsure how to perform them, get a PT or a trained athlete to show you the correct form.

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navy seal endurance workout

Swimming is good for your whole body. Period.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1 Swimming

Muscles worked: delts, lats, traps, triceps, biceps, abs, hams, glutes (all of them, really)

Time: swim continuously for half an hour

This exercise will most likely be performed separately from the rest of the exercises for practical reasons, but it's all for the better since adding a swim day to your workout calendar will introduce variety to your strength training.

Not only that, but swimming is good for your overall cardivascular health, is a joint-friendly sport and will make your body strong overall as well as more robust. Doing freestyle swimming will work your shoulders and lats and will give you that V-back you always wanted.

Make sure you warm up for your swims with some shoulder exercises, like rolling shoulder circles and arm circles. especially if you haven't swam for a while, you will feel your shoulders quite prominently in the upcoming days after the exercise if you don't warm up. Probably even if you do, but at least with warmup you can avoid injuries.

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navy seal endurance workout

Keep your body straight as you bend your elbows and get as close to the ground as you can in the lowest position

(Image credit: Future)

2. Pushups

In depth: how to do a push-up

Muscles worked: pecs, triceps, core

Time: do as many as you can in two minutes/do 50 pushups in the least amount of sets possible

Starting position is arms extended and shoulder-width apart whilst you are facing the floor. Make sure your palms are directly under your shoulders on the floor. Core and glutes engaged, back straight.

At the lowest position, your nose should almost touch the floor and again, your body should be straight.

navy seal endurance workout

Keep your back straight and pull with your abs

(Image credit: Future)

3. Situps

In depth: how to do ab crunches

Muscles worked: abs, obliques, core, lats

Time: do as many as you can in two minutes/ do 75 in the least amount of sets possible.

Don't try to do sit ups without leg support, that'll put way too much pressure on your back. You can get an under door crunch bar if you are working out at home or a sit up bench (or a multi-functional weights bench).

Also – and I can't tress this enough – don't have your hands behind your neck or head. Most people try to cheat doing sit ups by pulling their head with their arms. The only thing you'll achieve with that is spine injury and neck pain.

Keep you hands either on the side of your head or crossed in front of your chest. The former is better if your abs are not that strong just yet and you want a bit of momentum before your engage your core.

Either way, engage your core all the way through the movement and keep your back straight. By engaging your core and not using your hands/arms to help, you can avoid potential back injuries.

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navy seal endurance workout

Shoulders should be in-line with wrist at the highest position

(Image credit: Future)

4. Pullups

In depth: best back exercises

Muscles worked:  lats, traps, biceps

Sets/Reps: do as many as you can in one go

If you are exercising at home and unfamiliar with pullups, get one a door pull up bar and start doing pullups your legs resting on a chair. Please, please, make sure the bar is fitted properly and that it can support your bodyweight before you start hanging off it.

If you are frequenting the gym, you can use a pull up assist machine first. Same thing as doing a regular pull up, but you do it kneeling on a weighted pad.

Bodyweight pull ups are the next step up from supported leg pullups. If you really want concentrate on your lats, use a wide overhand grip. Chin ups use your arms muscles more (they are excellent nevertheless).

navy seal endurance workout

Not many exercises will work your lower body as well as running

(Image credit: Saucony)

5. Running

In depth: why you should try running

Muscles worked: quads, hams, glutes, calves

Time: run for half an hour

Put one feet in front of the other in a quick succession.

Jokes aside, to pass the test, you will need to achieve a 5 min/km pace, which is not a break neck speed but still sort-of brisk, so concentrate on landing softly and if you are indeed going for a half an hour run, do the first couple of kilometres in a less demanding .

Also, keep your chest open and shoulders wide as you run. Keeping your upper body straight means you won't compress your lungs (by slumping), which then can turn around more oxygen, which in turn can keep your muscles from tiring 

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