Navy SEAL training is notoriously intense. The demands that the entire program puts on a human body is nothing short of extreme. To pass these tests is to pass one of the most difficult human conditioning tests known to man. More SEALs have died in training than in actual combat since 2013.
Here are 10 insane training tests that you have to complete in order to even be considered a Navy SEAL qualifier. That’s right, these don’t actually get you the SEAL designation, just the opportunity to do so.
Man running | BrianAJackson/Getty Images
Running seems like a pretty standard operation for all branches and departments of the military. It’s great conditioning and exercise for recruits and keeps them relatively healthy. But when it comes to SEAL training, running can be brutal. Generally, they have to run four miles a day in a certain amount of time. They also have to run on sand, while wet, wearing heavy gear, or holding giant logs.
Next: If you’re going to be working in the water for a large part of your career, you better learn these skills.
2. Drown proofing
Training | Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
Not drowning is pretty important for a job where “sea” is one-third of your job description. Trainees are bound by hands and feet and thrown into a pool. They have to bob around in the water, swim certain distances, do flips underwater, and retrieve objects at the bottom of pools. They have to do all of this while completely tied up.
Next: If this isn’t the most badass team exercise, we don’t know what is.
3. Log physical training
Training with guns in uniform | Scott Olson/Getty Images
Unless you’re Hafþór Björnsson and you’re breaking thousand-year-old records, carrying around logs requires the aid of another person. The SEALs training program likes that most people need to work with others to carry logs. It’s essential for team building.
For log PT, trainees will have to perform a variety of tasks together. Tasks include sit-ups, carrying the log over the head, carrying it over dunes and berms, and (of course) running with it down the beach.
Next: Everyone calls this torture, but the Navy calls it training.
4. Surf Conditioning
Man surfing | David McNew/Getty Images
You know how some people have that debate about whether or not water-boarding is torture or not? Well, the Navy sees it as a training opportunity. Trainees will link arms in the surf with their heads pointed towards the waves and on a negative incline. They will have the waves crash over them repeatedly and then run up the shore, cover themselves with sand, and start all over.
Next: This sounds like something that the SEALs would be put through.
5. The Grinder
Man on concrete | iStock.com
No, this is not your favorite sandwich. This is a brutal series of exercises that could break the most seasoned cross-fitter. You basically lay down on hot black concrete and do endless endurance exercises while trying to not pass out. The only way to stop is for the instructor to say so.
Next: This training helps you stay sharp in the face of adversity.
6. Under Water Competency
Man swimming under water | petrelos/Getty Images
Every SEAL needs to know how to handle stressful situations. If they are left in rough waters, things could go wrong quick. Trainees are teamed up with another and tasked to stay underwater. Instructors will then attack them and throw them around. The instructors also mess-up their breathing equipment and they have to constantly fix that. They also can’t come up for air and have to remain underwater throughout the whole exercise.
Next: Obstacle courses can be fun, but Navy SEALs have a little more challenging one to do.
7. The Coronado obstacle course
Woman on an obstacle course | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images
You might be thinking “oh yay! An obstacle course. How fun!” Nope. The Coronado obstacle course is extremely challenging. Sure it has some low and high walls and some stuff to climb over. But it also has barbed wire, 40-foot mesh climbs, hooyah logs, and about every difficult thing you can think of. On top of that, as you move through the training, qualifying time gets faster and faster.
Next: You think you can swim far? Think again.
8. 2-mile open ocean swims
Man swimming | IakovKalinin/Getty Images
How far can you swim? Not as far as a Navy SEAL, we imagine. Trainees get to dawn a wetsuit and some fins, but even with that aid, the challenge is harder than you’d expect. Each trainee has to eventually complete this task in under 75 minutes. In a pool, that’d be easy. But in the open ocean with rough seas, it’s nearly impossible.
Next: It’s like combining a Boy Scouts Jamboree with your worst nightmare.
9. Underwater knot tying
Sure, this sounds like a badge that you could get in the scouts, but it’s so much harder than it sounds. Trainees have to flip into the water and swim underwater without breaking the surface. They also have to tie five different knots while staying under. If you are unable to do this, you’re gone.
Next: The culmination of all their training in the first phase is known to be complete hell.
10. ‘Hell Week’
Sleeping isn’t on the agenda | Minerva Studio/Getty Images
This is the most infamous training regimen of all time and its name is very accurate. This week-long training exercise lasts for about a week and trainees will only get around four hours of sleep total. Every one of them is in constant motion and is doing any combination of the previous exercises we talked about.
The purpose is to test the “physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude, and your ability to perform work under high physical and mental stress, and sleep deprivation.” The Navy is going to make a significant investment in the training of these soldiers, so they have to weed out the weak from the strong early on. That’s why this test is performed in phase 1. If they pass, they still have almost a year left in the SEAL program.
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