Navy SEALs are long recognized as one of the world's premier military units, specializing in all facets of modern combat, able to engage an enemy on their own terms and in every environment known. Doing so doesn't just require knowledge of special ops warfare and equipment. The highly motivated and physically disciplined SEAL routinely participates in a rigorous fitness training regimen designed to prepare the soldier's mind and body for the punishment of battlefield operations.
While most people will never know what it's like to participate in covert military missions, the degree of functional fitness offered by SEAL training allows the average Joe physical competency in several areas of fitness. Conversely, most fitness programs cater to one ideal, often at the expense of other important physical aspects of being truly "fit." While training gets the SEAL in combat shape, the metabolic and physiological demands from this type of fitness training stands heads above other fitness or bodybuilding routines by addressing all areas: running, jumping, throwing, climbing and crawling, realized in the form of basic calisthenics such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. SEAL training also seeks a near constant variance in methods, combining basic gymnastics training with standard Olympic weightlifting in a comprehensive program that trains all the aforementioned areas.
Despite novices never having to deal with SEAL training's ill-famed Hell Week, dramatic changes typically occur when embarking on the program, with most seeing advancements in strength, power and endurance in as little as a month. Physically, body fat is metabolized quickly and lean muscle hypertrophy can be expected to coincide with the advancements. It is advised that persons new to the method be in some reasonable shape (a doctor's exam wouldn't be a bad idea).
Since their inception during the Vietnam War, SEAL trainees have long endured tortuous running, pull-ups, push-ups and sit-ups, the core of SEAL training which now has been adopted as the Crossfit method. Crossfit, the fitness brainchild of former Olympic gymnast Greg Glassman, is a minimalist program that requires very little equipment, suited perfectly to SEALs while at camp to stay fit. These basic exercises can be scaled and modified to accommodate any fitness level, so everyone can benefit from the program, regardless of previous experience. Basic required gear is a pull-up bar, a decent pair of running shoes, a jump rope, and a basic 100- to 300-lb. Olympic weight set is all that's needed initially (more could be added later if so desired). A stopwatch is paramount in judging progress.
The simplest approach to those new to Navy SEAL workouts is to follow this Crossfit template using pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and squat jumps (squatting with no additional weight, as low to the ground, then jumping as high as possible to a standing position). Following a rep scheme of 21,15, nine and three, do the exercises in succession with no rest in between. For example, perform 21 pull-ups, 21 sit-ups, 21 push-ups and 21 squat jumps. Then, without stopping, repeat each for 15 reps, then nine, and so forth. Time yourself. The idea behind SEAL training is that one can always do better, so attempt this workout again and try to beat your previous time. The Crossfit website is comprehensive, with a multitude of variations and exercises with video demonstrations. Crossfit is free to the public.