Operator Fitness Standards

Special forces soldiers are fascinating. The levels of strength, conditioning, and resilience required to perform at the highest levels of the military are impressive. Operators have to be fast and agile in close quarters battle and carry large loads over long distances with little sleep. But how fit do you have to be to make it through selection?

The US Navy Seals tracked 2,208 candidates through three years of Hell Week to identify the physical standards of those that successfully passed BUD/S. The study found that the best candidates and those less likely to be dropped for medical reasons were fast runners and swimmers with high levels of lower body power. These high endurance applicants are more resistant to fatigue, less injury-prone, and less likely to make technical errors when tired. The lower body power allowed soldiers to handle the rugged terrain during selection better.

The events with the most significant impact on completing BUD/S were the three and four-mile run, the 300-yard shuttle run, and the 1,000m swim with fins. The one-rep max deadlift score showed the most negligible effect on success.

The paper provides future applicants with the best and worst passing scores on each Naval Special Warfare Human Performance Assessment (SEAL PRT) test and Naval Special Warefare Preparatory (NSW Prep) School Exit Test.

Standing Long Jump111 Inches90 Inches or more72 Inches
25lb Pull-up20 Reps13-15 Reps5 Reps
Body Weight Bench24 Reps10-14 Reps1 Reps
Deadlift 1 Rep Max2.33 x Bodyweight1.75 x Bodyweight1.5 x Bodyweight
5-10-5 Agility4.35 Seconds4.4 – 4.8 Seconds5.45 Seconds
300yd Shuttle Run56.0 Seconds60 Seconds or less67.7 Seconds
3-Mile Run15:33 Minutes18-19 Minutes22:37 Minutes
800-Meter Swim with Fins11:28 Minutes12-14 Minutes15:46 Minutes
1K-Swim with Fins14:10 Minutes17 Minutes or less19:11 Minutes
Push-up119 Reps90-99 Reps70 Reps
Sit-up109 Reps80-89 Reps61 Reps
Pull-up30 Reps19-21 Reps10 Reps
4-Mile Run21:48 Minutes27 Minutes or less30:00 Minutes
Fitness test scores of successful BUD/S candidates

A separate study of 1500 students from BUD/S classes found that ‘The leanest students completed Hell Week at a higher rate than students with more body fat.’ A body fat percentage in the range of 10-15% is recommended to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

How fit do you have to be to make it through BUD/S?

  1. Be able to run 3-miles in less than 19 minutes and 4-miles in less than 27 minutes.
  2. Perform a 300-yard shuttle run in less than 60 seconds
  3. Swim 1000m with fins quicker than 17 minutes
  4. Be tall and lean with a body fat percentage between 10-15%