Have What It Takes to Be a Navy SEAL? Pass These 5 Fitness Tests

Navy SEAL training

Navy SEAL training is serious business. | Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The Navy SEALs are among the most elite warriors the world has ever known. They are a highly selective — that includes in terms of mental and physical fitness — and relatively secretive group, trained in special warfare tactics to engage the enemy from the air, land, or sea. The SEALs were originally conceived during World War II as an underwater demolition removal force (though not officially until the 1960s), but have since become one of the most important and high-profile special forces groups in the world.

But to even make it to one of the small handful of SEAL teams, an incredible amount of training and natural ability is needed.

As you may have seen on television or in the movies, even making it through basic SEAL training — also known as BUD/S School — is an enormous feat. The vast majority of those who try don’t make it, ensuring that only the best of the best make it on to the later training stages. All told, it takes a year and a half for recruits to make it from boot camp to deployment.

It’s one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest, in the modern military: becoming a Navy SEAL. So, do you think you have what it takes? It’s a lot different than your games of Call of Duty, and even convincing a recruiter that you’re up for basic training will take some persuasive magic.

And as for the bare minimums — for the curious, we’ve listed them out on the next few pages. Of course, there is more to it than this, but if you want to see if you could even make it to boot camp, you’ll need to be able to do the following.

1. Push-ups

push-ups with feet raised

Push-ups are a big part of the test.| iStock.com

No exercise says “military” quite like the push-up. And if you haven’t gotten down on the floor and busted out a set in a while, they can actually be pretty tough. But if you want to make it as a SEAL, you’ll have to be able to do at least 50. That’s the bare minimum. Optimally, leadership wants to see you get more like 90.

Can you do 90 push-ups? Have you even done a push-up since high school? If you want to be able to run, fly, or swim with the SEALs, count on being able to complete 90 push-ups.

2. Sit-ups


You need a strong core to make the cut. | iStock.com

While the push-up may be the quintessential military exercise, the sit-up is the yin to the push-up’s yang. Both are tests of upper-body fitness, working the muscles throughout the core and down into your pelvic region as well. It’s important to be able to withstand some significant fatigue if you plan on being a SEAL, and the push-up and sit-up tests are to ensure that you have a solid base to build up from.

So, how many sit-ups are SEAL leaders expecting to see? Fifty, at the bare minimum. But the ideal number is 100.

3. Pull-ups

pull-ups, hanging

Pull-ups are tough, but they’re a requirement for SEALs. | iStock.com

Everybody’s favorite exercise: the pull-up. Pull-ups are considerably tougher than push-ups and sit-ups, and can really help you gauge where you’re at in terms of upper-body strength and overall fitness. While a lot of us have trouble just doing a single pull-up, the SEALs have a bare minimum requirement of 10 to even get your foot in the door. But again, that’s the minimum — 15 to 20 is what they’re really hoping to see.

4. 1.5-mile run

trail running

You’ll need to be pretty quick. | iStock.com

It’s not all about those simple exercises you did growing up — you need to be able to put some distance in while on the run. The SEAL teams need you to be able to run a mile and a half in, at most, 10 minutes and 30 seconds. That’s a fairly brisk pace, and you’ll be better off if you can get through the distance in nine minutes or so. You’ll want to spend some time on the track or treadmill if you’re serious about a career as a SEAL.

5. 500-yard swim


The swimming portion can often be the hardest. | iStock.com

Finally, and perhaps most challenging, a 500-yard swim is needed to gain entry to the SEALs. For most people, who probably don’t spend a lot of time in the water, this can be a pretty serious challenge. Five hundred yards is fairly far, and swimming can be exhausting. But if you’re going to be a SEAL, you have to be comfortable and agile in the water. And you’ll want to do it in less than 12 minutes, 30 seconds, though the optimal time is nine minutes.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger and Facebook