As noted by Brandon Webb in his excellent BUD/S preparation guide (available as an ebook to SOFREP Team Room members), both former and active-duty SEALs are asked on a regular basis how to prepare for SEAL training. It is a question to which we all develop a ready answer, as we get the question on so many occasions. For that reason, I thought I would offer my own two cents on the subject here, for the readers of SOFREP.

Backing up a step, SEAL training is called BUD/S: Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.  It is a course put on by the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, California. Any man (and it’s only men, for now) who wants to be a SEAL has to go through BUD/S—no exceptions. It is the basic qualification course, and the first step for every would-be-frogman to join the brotherhood of the Teams. We all know our BUD/S class number just as readily as we know our social security numbers or birthdays. It is etched into our brains forever, and we are eternally linked to the men with whom we graduated the course. The number of graduates usually varies from about 10 to 25 out of a starting class of 100 or so—at least that’s how it was when I went through training so many years ago.

Again, as Brandon correctly noted, the very first answer SEALs usually give to the question of how to make it through BUD/S is along the lines of “Don’t quit.” It sounds cliche, or like a pat answer, but it is as simple as that. When I struggled with any evolution at BUD/S—and there were plenty—I simply told myself that the instructors would either have to fail me or kill me, but that I would never quit. If that thought ever enters your mind—that it is not for you, or too hard, or not worth it—then you will never make it.

So, getting past the mental fortitude required, and assuming you are reading this because you have a desire to succeed in BUD/S, how do you prepare physically? Unfortunately, I cannot give you a magic bullet, or tell you to do three specific things and you will make it. It is not that easy. You have to be willing to put in the time required to physically prepare. For me, it required about three years of steady preparation, followed by nine-or-so months of more intensive preparation, before I was ready to go to BUD/S. I knew I was going to apply, I knew my weaknesses, and I worked on them all throughout college with the idea that when I graduated, I needed to be ready.

You have to commit your whole physical being to BUD/S preparation. You have to wake up and go to bed thinking about how much more you need to prepare, and what you need to improve on, physically. You have to be willing to commit hours per day to it, and you have to know that every mile you run, every thousand meters you swim, every push-up you do, and every rope you climb, will get you one step closer to successfully completing the program.


You need to run miles and miles before you get to BUD/S. You need to run in boots and pants, and you need to run in soft sand. You need to run in the heat of the day, early in the morning, and in the evening or night. You will run at least six to 10 miles per day in BUD/S. Your legs will be punished, and those that do not prepare themselves risk stress fractures and other stress-induced injuries. You need to be able to run relatively fast, too, as there are timed runs at BUD/S, and if you fail them, you fail the course.

I was a solid runner when I started preparing for BUD/S, and I had a good baseline of miles and speed before I committed to the training. When I did commit, I not only added miles to my training program to get to about 30 per week (not too terribly much), but I added beach runs and boots and pants to my regimen. I was lucky enough to have about three months in Florida before starting training, during which I ran on the beach in the soft sand almost every single day. This, I believe, was about the single most important thing I did to prepare for the training. I never failed a timed run at BUD/S, nor was I ever put into the “Goon Squad” for slower runners. Every little advantage helps, after all.

Not only should you run about 30 miles per week or more leading up to BUD/S, you should do a fair amount of run-swim-runs, in which you run two or three miles, swim one, and run another two to three. This will help prepare your body for the sheer volume of physical training you will have to endure in BUD/S, and help condition you for the cardio load you will have to shoulder to make it through.