How to Prepare for the Navy SEAL Fitness Test

Athletes battle through two minutes of push-ups during the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge.
Athletes battle through two minutes of push-ups during the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge at Arizona State University in Phoenix. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Kapica/U.S. Navy photo)

I received similar emails from two young men under 22 years of age, both seeking fitness preparation information for military and law enforcement occupations. The problem with many younger (and older) Americans is that the current fitness and health conditions they maintain are not good enough to ensure success at a military boot camp or a law enforcement training academy. Their emails specifically address their very common issues:

"I bought your book 'Navy Seal Fitness,' but the workouts are too hard for me to complete and I was wondering, what should I do? I got the Perfect Pushup system, which is helping me a bit, and I'm seriously thinking of just joining the Navy and working my way to become a SEAL. I can do it, but my physical fitness level is not the right level to do your workouts. I know I'm one of the thousands who want to be a SEAL, but I'm a determined person. Any advice?"

The other email was similar but involved a young man applying to a police officer position:

"I am a beginner; I have never run trying to get to a specific time. This is my second week training; my goal is to reach 1.5 miles in 14:30. On the track, I power-walk one lap, then run the next lap. I figured if I did it this way, I would not injure myself. After about six times out running every other lap, I am down to 15:28 for 1.5 miles. What is the quickest way that I can get down to a 14:30."

For both, striving for and not reaching minimum physical standards should not be an option. Both the law enforcement and military created physical standards for a reason; your life or your buddy's life may depend on your physical ability/fitness level. You can eliminate one stressor of military and police indoctrination training, just by showing up in above-average physical condition. Otherwise, you will be forced to spend so many extra hours training (or in such physical pain and soreness) that it will take the focus away from learning to shoot to other job-specific skills.

To the future sailor: You need to try an easier version of the Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness book, like maybe the Navy SEAL Workout-Phase 1 eBook. You also can do the workout you have as best you can by doing push-ups on your knees when you fail, or try assisted pull-ups or pulldowns. Try crunches instead of sit-ups once you fail, too.

Swimming and running should be done often so you can run for miles and swim for hours if you have to. You need to be in superior shape prior to attending boot camp and pass the SEAL physical screening test (PST) with advanced fitness standards.

If you reach the minimum standards for the SEAL PST, you only have a 6% chance of graduating. Above-average standards place you at an 85% chance of graduating SEAL training. Those standards are: (1) a 500-yard swim in less than nine minutes; (2) 100 push-ups in two minutes; (3) 100 sit-ups in two minutes; (4) 20 pull-ups; and (5) a 1.5-mile run in nine minutes. But if you want to take your chances, go ahead. The Navy needs people on ships, too.

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To the future police officer: You are going about your beginning running program the right way. By not doing too much, too fast, too often, you will save yourself from certain injury. However, you must have a plan that will build you up so your goal will be faster than a 14:30 1.5-mile run. Usually, a good minimum standard for the 1.5-mile run is closer to 10:30 (or a seven-minute mile pace). The women at the U.S. Naval Academy have to run under 12:30 for the 1.5-mile run, or they fail the test; that is an eight-minute mile pace. Consider a 14:30 a passing grade, but it is a "D" average -- or below average.

See the free "Six-Week Running Plan" (PDF) for starters as well as other running articles in the Stew Smith article archive. Also read the "Running Plan for Marathons" article for a beginning plan.

Set your goals a little higher when attempting to serve your country. The military and law enforcement are not just a paycheck. They are honorable professions that may require the "average" person to fight for their life one day. You can do it with proper training and skills, and having a sound fitness foundation enables you to be a better protector of our country.

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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

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