Lessons learned from training with Navy SEALs
Lessons learned from training with Navy SEALs
I opened the Fitness Battalion after having my eyes opened to a world of fitness I previously had no idea existed. I owe that awakening to current and former special operations forces (SOF) personnel who are in the business of transferring their skills to the civilian world. Here are just a few things that I learned from those experiences.
- Both mediocrity and excellence are nurtured – If you want to be awesome, you MUST do awesome, and you must do it often. No one can perform at 100% all the time, but that should always be the goal. Allowing yourself to settle for what is “good enough” is the first step towards slipping down to mediocrity. Training in a space that nurtures excellence and provides opportunities to progress is key. As an athlete, you are: What you eat, how you train, where you train and who you train with. They should all be nurturing excellence.
- When it starts to hurt, keep going – Most people stop when it starts to hurt, so think of it this way. One step outside your comfort zone feels tolerable. Two steps will feel awkward. Three steps starts to sting. Four steps feels like you’re dying. But each step brings growth, makes you stronger and faster than you were yesterday. The question is how bad do you want to be better?
- Training is like studying, so what is the test? – Day in, day out hit the gym. Lift, run, carry and ruck. Make yourself stronger, faster, more agile and harder to kill. But every now and then, do something that challenges you. SEALFIT or GORUCK events, Spartan Races etc. Do something that allows you to test your mettle against a harsh standard and see where you fair in comparison. This is your compass and provides direction on where to improve.
- Attention to detail is everything – I personally remember being in a formation, being inspected by a Cadre of SEAL instructors and one of us had missed a single belt loop when getting dressed. The entire class was given a 100 burpee penalty as a result. 100 burpees for the person who missed that small detail. 100 burpees for the rest of the class who failed to notice it on our team member. Paying attention to detail ensures that your mindset stays sharp, focused and your standards never falter. It makes sure that you never descend into “good enough” thinking. This means proper form, full range of motion, tidying up your weights etc.
- There is no greater honour than service to others – To belong to, and contribute to, something greater than yourself is the highest honour. Most people go about their lives caring only about themselves and paying attention only to what they need or want. Ironically, most people have a naturally inherent desire to help others. The question is: are you capable, physically and mentally capable, of helping those in need when it counts? I have not been trained as emergency personnel and first responders are trained. Yet if there was a major incident close to home, I would absolutely go and volunteer myself to assist in whatever way I could. I would also invite all of the Fitness Battalion athletes who I have trained and know to be qualified to help. We may not be qualified like firefighters or paramedics. But we are qualified to lift, carry and support and to do it for long periods at a time.
- It is never just about looking impressive – Looking lean, muscular and impressive is extremely difficult work and I in no way want to minimize it. I began in the body building world and continue to practise it because it’s a phenomenal sport. But as I have learned, no one fitness model is by itself complete. I use the term fitness model to denote an approach to fitness, such as body building, powerlifting, martial arts or crossfit to name a few. None of them alone cover the full range of human capabilities and so I always tell people to pick up several fitness approaches. For athletics to have a sound energetic basis there must be the balance of both form and function. This means the athlete must look impressive (form) and be able to perform (function). Either one without the other results in a lack of balance.
- Anyone can do it – The best in the world are not born as the best. They worked hard, sacrificed and persevered. Not everyone wants to go the distance to be the best, but everyone can benefit from this approach and be better. We all deserve to be the best we possibly can, but that doesn’t mean you’ll just get it. Consider what your performance would be like if you improved 1% every day. In 100 days, which is just over 3 months, you’d be twice as good as when you started. Everyone is capable of taking steps towards being their best the question is who actually will?