When sailors hit the Navy SEAL training grinder, they’ll undergo what’s considered the hardest military training on earth in attempts to earn the Trident. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training uses the sandy beaches of Coronado, California, to push candidates beyond their mental and physical limits to see if they can endure and be welcomed into the Special Warfare community.
Roughly 75 percent of all BUD/S candidates drop out of training, leaving many to wonder what, exactly, it takes to survive the program and graduate. Well, former Navy SEAL Jeff Nichols is here to break it down and give you a few tips for finding success at BUD/S.
SEAL candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California.
(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Russell)
Diversify your training
According to Nichols, the ability to sustain yourself through various types of physical training will only help your odds of succeeding at BUD/S. Incorporate various exercise types, variable rest periods, and a wide array of resistances into your training regimen.
When candidates aren’t in training, it’s crucial that they heal themselves up. Massages improve the body’s circulation and can cut down recovery time. That being said, avoid deep-tissue massages. That type of intense treatment can actually extend your healing time.
Vice President Joe Biden places a hand on the shoulder of one of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates while speaking to them on the beach at Naval Special Warfare Center during his visit to San Diego, Calif.
(Photo by MC2 Dominique M. Lasco)
Find sleep wherever possible
If you can avoid staying up late, you should. Nichols encourages candidates to take naps whenever possible. Even if its only a quick, 20-minute snooze, get that rest in as often as possible.
Stay away from smoking and drinking alcohol
Both substances can prevent a candidate from performing at their best during their time at BUD/S. Smoking limits personal endurance. Alcohol dehydrates — which is especially harmful in an environment where every drop of clean water counts.
Know that nobody gives a sh*t
Ultimately, the BUD/S instructors don’t care if you make it through the training. Don’t think anyone will hold your hand as the intensity ramps up.
Sailors enrolled in the BUD/S course approach the shore during an over-the-beach exercise at San Clemente Island, California.
(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)
Surround yourself with good people
It’s easy to quit BUD/S and it’s challenging to push yourself onward. Surrounding yourself with good people who are in training for the right reasons will help you through the darkest moments.
Take advantage of your days off
Although you only have roughly 2 days of rest time, take advantage of them to the fullest and heal up as much as you can. Eat healthily and clear your mind by getting off-base as much as possible.
A Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL instructor is about to show a member of BUD/S Class 244 just how hard it can be to rescue a drowning victim when the “victim” comes at you with a vengeance during lifesaving training at the Naval Special Warfare Center.
(Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey)
Trust the BUD/S process
According to Nichols, the BUD/S process doesn’t fail. Listen to the instructors as they tell you how to properly negotiate individual training obstacles as a team. They all have proven experience, you just need to listen.
Don’t take anything personal
The instructors will slowly chip away at your self-confidence with the aim of getting you to quit. Brush off those remarks. Remember, this is part of the test.
BUD/S is considered a fair environment
Nichols believes that the program is a fair method of getting only the strongest candidates through the training and onto SEAL teams. It’s up to the SEAL instructors to put out the best possible product.