There are plenty of videos out there of bodybuilders, powerlifters and YouTube fitness personalities attempting military fitness tests and finding that (surprise!) their muscles are absolutely no help when it comes to completing the tasks, especially when cardio is involved. But anyone currently serving should be able to ace any one of these tests, right?
In a departure from his usual training, Matt McDonough, an active duty member of the Marine Corps, joined sailor Austen Alexander and took on the challenge that members of the elite unit undergo in order to qualify for special operations.
The US Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test consists of:
- 500 yard swim (minimum time of 12 minutes and 30 seconds)
- Pushups (minimum of 50 for a passing score)
- Situps (minimum of 50)
- Pullups (minimum of 10)
- 5 mile run (minimum time of 10 minutes and 30 seconds)
McDonough starts with the swimming test, which he attempts fully clothed. He completes the 500 yards in 13 minutes and 39 seconds. That’s a failing score, although Alexander acknowledges that it’s a “good starting time,” considering McDonough only learned the correct stroke form that day.
After a 10 minute rest, McDonough moves on to pushups, getting 74 in the 2 minute window, far more than the minimum pass of 50. That was lower, however, than the competitive score of 80 to 100. After 2 more minutes of rest, he goes straight into the situps, where he faces a slight difference in form than what he’s used to in the Marine Corps. There, it’s typical to keep each hand on the opposite bicep while doing situps, but in the Navy, the preferred technique is to touch your clavicle. McDonough achieves 71 reps, which again is a passing score, but not a perfect one.
Another 2 minute rest later, and he’s onto pullups. The technique required here is pretty standard: The arms have to fully extend and lock out, then the chin must go all the way above the bar. A minimum of 10 reps is required to pass the pullup round, and McDonough manage 25. Even with a rest period between each portion of the test, McDonough says he is worn out from the swim, which affected his pullup performance; as a calisthenics guy, he’s used to being able to finish way more reps.
Finally, after another 10 minute rest, is the 1.5 mile run, which he completes in 9 minutes 10 seconds. This means that McDonough has achieved a passing score in every round except for the swimming. Not bad work, considering his experience in the Marine Corps didn’t include any kind of special swimming training outside of a biannual test.