A retired Navy SEAL commander breaks down his morning fitness routine that starts at 4:30

Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink, left, crouches on a roof during the 2006 Battle of Ramadi in Iraq. | Courtesy of Todd Pitman

Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink, left, crouches on a roof during the 2006 Battle of Ramadi in Iraq. | Courtesy of Todd Pitman

Jocko Willink retired from 20 years serving as a US Navy SEAL in 2010, but his morning routine is as intense as ever.

As he said in a recent Facebook Live Q&A at Business Insider’s New York headquarters, “It’s not fun to get out of bed early in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t sing you a song, it hits you in the head with a baseball bat. So how do you respond to that? Do you crawl underneath your covers and hide? Or do you get up, get aggressive, and attack the day?”

Also read: This is the biggest predictor of success in military special ops

Willink is the former commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which became the most decorated special-operations unit in the Iraq War. In his book, “Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” cowritten with his former platoon commander and current business partner Leif Babin, Willink writes that one of his guiding principles is “Discipline equals freedom,” and that discipline begins every morning when his alarm goes off, well before the sun rises.

Business Insider asked Willink to break down his mornings for us. Here’s how a typical day begins:

Wake up at 4:30 a.m. Three alarms are set — one electric, one battery-powered, and one windup — but he almost always only needs one. The two others are safeguards.

After a quick cleanup in the bathroom, take a photo of wristwatch to show his Twitter followers what time he’s beginning the day. It’s become both a way to hold himself accountable as well as inspire others to stick to their goals.

Grab his workout clothes, laid out the night before, and head to the gym in his garage for one of the following strength workouts, which lasts around an hour.The exercises can either be lower weight with high reps and little rest or heavy weight with low reps and lots of rest.

  • Day 1: Pull ups, muscle ups, related exercises.
  • Day 2: Overhead lifts, bench press, deadlifts, handstand push-ups, kettle-bell swings.
  • Day 3: Ring dips, regular dips, push-ups.
  • Day 4: Overhead squats, front squats, regular squats.

Spend anywhere from a few minutes (intense bursts) to a half hour (steady) for cardiovascular training. This could include sprints or a jog.

Finish workout around 6:00 a.m. Depending on the day, go out to hit the beach near his home near San Diego, California, to spend time swimming or surfing. If the weather is nice, he may also do his cardio on the beach.

Shower and start working for his leadership consulting firm, Echelon Front, or for his popular podcast, any time after 6:00 a.m. He doesn’t get hungry until around noon, and only has a snack, like a few handfuls of nuts, in the morning.

After work, Willink gets in two hours of jujitsu training and heads to bed around 11:00 pm.

Willink said that he recognizes that everyone is different, and that not everyone would benefit from getting up at 4:00 a.m. for an intense workout. The key is that “you get up and move,” whether that’s jogging, weight lifting, or yoga.

If you need some further motivation:

The discipline comes in in setting a schedule and sticking to it so that your day begins with an energizing accomplishment, not a demoralizing stretch of time where you lie in bed and hit snooze on your alarm a few times. Every morning should start off with a predictable routine.

“And that’s the way that you own it,” he said. “Because once the day starts, well, then other people get to have a vote in what you’re doing.”

TOP ARTICLES
If you don't know about Sword & Plough, you are wrong

The Holidays, like a hyped-up drill sergeant, are upon you. Don't you wish you had a 12-day guide to the best vet-made gifts around? Ho! Ho! Hoo-rah!

Why the 'Butcher of Bosnia' faces a life sentence for war crimes

Ratko Mladic, a former Serbian general, will receive a verdict from the International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes he committed, to include genocide.

Russia swears a cloud of radioactive pollution is not a nuclear accident

A radioactive cloud is moving over parts of Europe, seemingly coming from Russia, reminiscent of the Chernobyl nuclear-power-plant disaster in 1986.

Taliban drug labs targeted by B-52 strikes overnight

American aircraft have targeted drug producing facilities in Afghanistan for the first time under a new strategy aimed at cutting off Taliban funding.

Why South Korea is building a unique missile interceptor

A missile system that could be used to target North Korea Scuds will cost Seoul more than $800 million to develop, a Seoul defense committee said.

SEALs honor the man who made the ‘frogmen’ possible

Last week, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, a crowd gathered to commemorate the fateful event that gave rise to what would become the US Navy SEALs.

The 50 most violent cities in the world

Of the fifty cities on the list, forty-three are in Latin America, including nineteen in Brazil, eight in Mexico, and seven in Venezuela.

How the true story of Thanksgiving ended in a war

Just a generation after the famed Thanksgiving feast shared between pilgrims and Native Americans, the two groups were engaged in bloody battles.

The wounded North Korean defector is infected by an unknown parasite

The North Korean defector shot by his fellow soldiers has been found to be riddled with parasites his South Korean doctors have never seen.

North Korea's emerging free market threatens to topple the regime

Kim Jong Un's regime of dictatorship continues to be threatened as North Korea advances into the free market. Capitalism could be hero here.