Navy SEALs have a famously difficult selection process. To qualify for consideration, a candidate must be able to complete a reported 20 pull-ups, more than 100 push-ups in two minutes, and a 500-yard swim in under nine minutes. That’s before he endures Hell Week, which can earn him a spot in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, known as BUD/S. BUD/S lasts another six months, and only one in five students makes it through the course to become a SEAL.
Once a SEAL has passed all the tests and completed training, he has to stay in peak physical condition. According to TRX CEO and former Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick, SEALS train for hours each day, much like pro-athletes.
When home in the US, those workout options are limitless. Teams have access to state-of-the-art training facilities with every barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, treadmill, and stationary bike imaginable. But things become trickier when a SEAL is deployed. For longer assignments, the military may send a limited amount of fitness equipment, like weights or a treadmill. For shorter operations, teams are restricted to indoor, bodyweight workouts. “You can’t go for a run [outside], particularly if you’re on operation,” Hetrick explained.
One of the most important tools in the traveling Navy SEALs’ workout arsenal is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines shorts bursts of activity with shorter rest intervals. “Within a special ops team, there are a few people doing a lot of different jobs, so they have to carry around heavy rucks, a lot of weaponry, and body armor,” Hetrick said. “They have to be comfortable with short bursts of high output with a hundred pounds of gear [or more] on their body.”
Stateside, a Navy SEAL workout might include HIIT intervals with equipment like a wall ball tosses, conditioning rope drills, or sled push sprints. When deployed, HIIT workouts are restricted to traditional bodyweight exercises like bear crawls, crab walks, plyometric star jumps, and push-ups.
Over the 20 years, Suspension Training has opened up new exercise opportunities for SEALs. Hetrick began experimenting with the original TRX Suspension Trainer™ design to facilitate pulling exercises like rows and pull-ups while he was deployed, and the design slowly gained popularity within his team. Today, many SEALs and other military personnel use the Suspension Trainer because it allows them to perform all seven types of functional movement—push, pull, plank, squat, lunge, hinge, and rotation—with only one piece of equipment.
“If you’re in a compound, safehouse, or on a ship, there’s nothing like the Suspension Trainer,” Hetrick said. “You can do literally hundreds of exercises. I run into guys all the time now who say, ‘I just got back from downrange, and your straps were the only thing I was doing.’”
Are you ready to train like a member of the special forces? It’s easy to get started with bodyweight exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees. If you’re looking for HIIT-spiration, try one of the pre-programmed workouts on the TRX App. And when you want to take your Navy SEAL workout to the next level, you can challenge yourself even more by adding the TRX Suspension Trainer to your routine.