Here’s How to Workout Like Our Military Special Forces

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Ever wonder how elite soldiers get in such mind-blowing shape? U.S. Special Forces training involves rigorous methods of pushing the body to its utmost limit, allowing soldiers to withstand some of the toughest conditions. Their power to continue to fight, even when utterly exhausted, is what saves their lives. It’s more than getting in tip-top physical shape, but gaining mental and emotional strength to help them in the battlefield.

If you want to get into seriously incredible shape, look no further.

We’ve rounded up some tips to take from trainers of our elite soldiers – and no, none of them are easy. Many are high-intensity workouts for an extended period of time to gain endurance and muscle in places you didn’t even know were possible. This doesn’t only burn calories but increases your workload capacity as well.

As published in Men’s Health, this first workout was designed by Jason Hartman, C.S.C.S., strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. Special Forces. All you need is a pull-up bar, kettlebell and yourself. It’s best for boosting metabolism, burning fat, boosting cardiovascular stamina and putting on lean muscle.

It takes 28 to 32 minutes, and there are two circuits, A and B.

Circuit A

Do 10 reps of each exercise back-to-back. Repeat doing 9 reps per exercise, then 8 reps.

1. Pull-up

Hang at arm’s length with an overhand grip (knuckles facing toward you) slightly beyond shoulder width. Pull your chest to the bar while squeezing your shoulders back and return to a dead hang.

2. Split squat jump

Step forward with your right foot and in lunge position, jump up and switch feet midair to land with your left foot in front and your right leg in back lunge position. Alternate legs with each jump and perform them quickly and explosively.

3. Dive bomb push-up

Starting in push-up position, lift your hips to make an inverted V, then lower your head to the floor, your nose almost grazing the ground. Pull your body forward straightening your arms and arching your back. Repeat this circuit back-to-back, starting with 10 reps, then 9 then 8.

Circuit B

armed forces, marching

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Do one round of this circuit, 60 seconds per move.

1. Kettlebell single-arm snatch

Spread your feet beyond shoulder width. Grab the handle of kettlebell in one hand while its resting on the floor. In a single move, try to throw the weight to the ceiling without letting the kettlebell go. You want to keep the kettlebell closest to your body and allow your forearm to rotate up and back as you bring yourself under the weight.

Keep the kettlebell close to your body, allowing your forearm to rotate up and back as you bring yourself under the weight. Lower to the floor and repeat. Switch hands after 30 seconds.

2. Kettlebell single-arm swing

Again, spread your feet a little beyond shoulder width. With one hand, grab the handle of the kettlebell on the floor. Push the hips back and swing the weight between your legs and up to chest level. Continue swinging, and switch hands after 30 seconds. Every time you swing it out, stand up straight, then squat down and swing between your legs.

3. Kettlebell goblet squat

Hold the kettlebell by the sides of its handle in front of your chest. Tighten your abs and lower your body as far as you can while pushing your hips back. As a rule of thumb, your elbows should brush the insides of your knees.

4. Kettlebell deadlift

Spread feet a bit beyond shoulder width, push your hips back and put both hands on the handle of the kettlebell. Stand up, thrust your hips forward, lower and repeat for 60 more seconds.

5. Burpee

Everyone’s favorite exercise. Stand with your hips back. Bend your knees and squat down while putting your hands on the floor. Jump your legs behind you to assume push-up position, quickly jump back in (so your hands and feet are together) and jump up as high as you can in the air. If you want a greater challenge, add a push-up to each rep.

After you’ve completed these rounds, do three more rounds of Circuit A in a countdown fashion: 7 reps, 6 reps, 5 reps. Another round of Circuit B. Complete 4 more rounds of Circuit A, counting all the way to 1 rep per move. End with a round of Circuit B. Rest if you need to.

kettlebell workout

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The next workout is a Superset workout, according to trainers at

Repeat 10 times:

  • Pull-ups: 5-10
  • Push-ups: 10
  • Situps: 10
  • Wide push-ups: 10
  • Reverse crunches: 10
  • Tri push-ups: 10
  • Double crunches: 10

Try this Army-inspired workout from to enhance strength and endurance, for what the writer calls “an all-out assault on the body.” This is a boot camp-style workout that kicks your butt.

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Another tip for training like a Special Forces recruit? Run. These soldiers-in-training run like crazy. If you can’t run, swim. Special Forces training is all about simultaneously building tons of muscle and increasing endurance. In addition, make sure that you are strengthening your core during every and all workouts. Soldiers are trained to carry 80-pound backpacks, so they must have abdominal strength endurance. Cardio is truly an important element of training like a Special Forces soldier.

If you are truly looking to become fit like a SEAL, read this book for an eight-week plan for how to get there.

The bottom line is that Special Forces workouts are tough and mentally challenging. Strength is important to achieve, but fitness, stamina, and work capacity are what will help you better achieve your goals.

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