I routinely get asked what the best way to prepare for BUD/S training is, and I would like to take a few minutes to give any potential SEAL candidate some advice from someone who has been there. I spent over 12 years on active duty in the Navy, all of which was in the SEAL community with the exception of boot camp and “A” school. I competed on the Navy Pentathlon team in 2001, and spent from 2005-2008 as a SEAL Instructor.
First off, the most important piece of advice I can give to someone who wants to be a Frogman is this: You gotta want it. First and foremost, your determination and will to succeed is the most critical component to success in this line of work.
This may seem like an oversimplification of the obvious, but I cannot stress this value enough. You have to live, breathe, eat, shit, sleep and dream becoming a team guy. That level of determination has to be carried into every aspect of your training also. Whether its running, swimming or whatever task your trying to accomplish – your mental fortitude will be the difference between overcoming incredible odds to succeed, and complete and utter failure.
Now, taking for granted the you’ve got your mind right, lets take a look at some things you can do from a physical perspective to get your brawn to match your brain. This is a general guide, as we all know there are many variables that dictate how much your body can take, and what is appropriate in terms of stress you should be putting on yourself both physically and mentally. Keep in mind that listening to your body is the number one best method of knowing when to say when, and when to push further.
This is without question the single most underrated physical aspect of becoming a SEAL. The amount of running you will do is almost incomprehensible. Get a good pair of running shoes and loose slacks, and run 3 days a week to start.
Depending on your level of current fitness, you should run at pace that is challenging but not painful. Try to get to where your running 5 days a week and where your body is able to recover fully without feeling sore all the time. The most important aspect of running needs to be getting your legs and joints accustomed to the constant pounding of running a lot.
Being comfortable in the water is an absolute necessity to being a frogman. You need to be able to work in a multitude of environments that have water involved, wearing clothes and gear, and at night in the dark pretty much the every time. This doesn’t mean get in your winter clothes and jump in a swimming pool blindfolded, but this does mean that you need to spend a fair bit of time in the water, swimming breastroke, sidestroke, and freestyle to get comfortable and conditioned to being in the water.
I would recommend swimming twice per week, and again listen to your body as to the level of punishment you can put on yourself.
In part 2 we’ll cover more Physical Training, and Recovery.
Mike Ritland is a former SEAL and BUD/S instructor. He is the author of Trident K9 Warriors.