I watched American Sniper this weekend, which was incredibly good and seriously motivating in so many ways. One of the things that surprised me was Chris Kyle’s age when he enlisted. The movie said he was 30 but he was actually 24. Initially it was kind of a shock, but truth be told, I am in far better shape (mentally and physically) at 36 than I was in my 20’s and I know a number of guys are in the same position.
The question then becomes, if you wanted to join the SEALs today, would you be able to pass the minimum physical requirements? Keep in mind that these are the minimum, meaning, these should be a walk in the park if considering becoming a SEAL. However, they are a really good milestone to grade yourself against in any case.
U.S. Navy SEAL PST Exercises
When I was in Naval boot camp, there was a guy preparing to head into the SEALs working out with the rest of us. The difference was that when we stopped (push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, whatever) this guy kept going. While the rest of us were puking, this guy was pushing through! #SEALTough, right!
It’s best to have a partner to do this with, both to time you, but also to keep you accountable on form. For the sit-ups, it’s common to have your partner anchoring your ankles while he counts.
Also, it may add to the realism if your partner can shout insults to you whilst you try your darndest.
500 Yard Swim under 12:30
No doubt this would be the hardest one for me and is also the hardest one to test out unless you have access to a pool.
If your pool is 25 meters, that’s about 18.5 laps. If your pool is 25 yards, that’s an even 20 laps.
Using either the breast or side stroke, complete the swim in less than 12:30.
10 Minute Rest
42 Push-ups in 2 Minutes
The standard military push-up has the following requirements. Resting is permitted, but only in the “up” position.
- Start with back straight and arms locked, just over shoulder-width apart
- Keeping your back straight, lower making sure the arms hit a 90° angle. Note: some test include having a partner place their fist, palm down, under your chest. Your chest has to touch the fist to count as a push-up.
- Still keeping form, come back up with arms locked (even if just momentarily).
2 Minute Rest
50 Sit-ups in 2 Minutes
Just as with the push-up, the sit-up (or curl-up) has to have proper form to count. Here is what a full sit-up looks like in the Navy:
- Lie down, knees bent. Have your partner either hold your ankles down or sit on your toes with their knees. I prefer just keeping the ankles in place. Tip: No partner to secure your feet? Place them under the edge of a couch or slide your toes under two dumbbells.
- Cross your hands across your chest with your hands on your shoulders. Point your elbows straight up.
- Keeping your butt on the ground, curl up, touching your elbows to the top of your knees.
- Back down until your shoulder blades touch the ground.
2 Minute Rest
6 Pull-ups (Not Chin-ups) Unlimited Time
Pull-ups are done overhand, while chin-ups are underhand. Pull-ups focus more on the lats and shoulders whereas chin-ups are primarily biceps and chest. Both are great exercises and target the upper body, but pull-ups are generally harder. While there is no time limit, the pull-ups must be done continuously. In other words, you can’t do 2, release your grip, go have a glass of sweet tea and finish up your set. Also, you will be doing your pull-ups after maxing out your push-ups and sit-ups, so they are going to be harder than normal.
Here’s how to get it done:
- Place hands on the bar shoulder-width apart.
- Pull up evenly until your chin is over the bar.
- Drop back down slowly and fully.
10 Minute Rest
1.5 Mile Run in 11:00
Some sources say the 1.5 mile run has to be done in boots and long pants, but unless you are really shooting to be a SEAL, stick to shoes and shorts.
There are no special requirements here; just haul tail and get it done as fast as you can.
See How Your Results Compare to Prospective SEALs
The Navy’s SEAL+SWCC website has a cool calculator to see where you place amongst would-be candidates. Plug in your score and see how you did.
Here’s what you are likely to find out. Even if you double the minimum push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups you are at the bottom of the pack! Keep in mind that all SEAL candidates pass the PST, but less than 50% make it through BUD/S! These guys don’t play around. I would love to see the scores for those that graduate as SEALs.
The above are the minimum requirements for SEALs and pretty close to the minimum for most branches of the military when coming out of boot camp. They are considered the basic requirements for a man to be in fighting condition. If you find yourself unable to hit the minimum, well, you’ve got some work to do!