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The Rest Time Between Push-Up Sets for a Navy Seal Workout

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
The Rest Time Between Push-Up Sets for a Navy Seal Workout
Navy SEALS embark on some of the most dangerous missions. Photo Credit zabelin/iStock/Getty Images

When your mission is to run small, specialized maritime military operations in unpredictable conditions and environments, you have to be in superior shape. Navy SEALs undergo some of the most demanding missions and training in the armed forces. Casual visits to the gym aren't going to cut it when your goal is to get into, and pass, SEAL training.

A Navy SEAL workout intends to get you into fighting shape. It's not your typical bodybuilding routine that's designed to get you stage-worthy muscles. Functional, body-weight exercise is a staple of these routines.

The push-up is one of the most fundamental body-weight exercises you can do. Cranking out rep after rep of this chest challenger builds stamina and upper body strength. Navy SEAL workouts vary from trainer to trainer, but all usually contain lots of reps of the push-up. For basic sets of push-ups, your rest time is 1 to 2 minutes.

However, rest times can vary as it depends on the goal of the exact workout that day. Are you there to build endurance, power or strength? All are critical features of a successful SEAL.

Standard Push-Ups in a SEAL Workout

An average score for the SEAL fitness test is 100 push-ups in 2 minutes. You must train for this, and there's technique involved along with endurance.

Press out as many as you can with good from in the two minutes to see where you start your push-up training. Remember that proper form is essential to keep you free of injury and for your push-ups to count. Your back should stay in a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head — no lifted or sagged buttocks. Your hands stay directly under, or slightly wider than the shoulders.

If you were able to max out at:

  • 40 push-ups or fewer, do five to six sets of 10 to 15 reps;
  • 40 to 60 push-ups, do four to five sets of 15 to 20 reps;
  • 60 to 80 push-ups, do four to five sets of 20 to 25 reps;
  • 80 to 100 push-ups, do three to four sets of 30 to 40 reps;
  • 100 or more push-ups, do three to four sets of 40 to 50 reps.

Rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets, regardless of your performance level.

Go Beyond the Basics

The test may involve standard push-ups, but go over and beyond that in workouts. For example, on a day that you're building power, do clap push-ups, in which you explode from the bottom of the push-up and clap your hands before landing back down with bent elbows. You might do three sets of of five to eight reps of these with just 30 seconds of rest between sets. On a power day, also include exercises such as sprint intervals and explosive dumbbell rows.

On a strength day, incorporate a plyo push-up, which is just like the aforementioned clap variation, but you simply explode upward and land back down with bent elbows and no clap. You do three sets of 10 to 15 reps followed immediately by 10 to 15 reps of a cable row, resting 60 seconds between them. A strength day might also include deadlifts, leg curls and dumbbell bench presses.

An endurance day that involves the whole body may utilize the push-up as part of a circuit. You'll do exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips, short sprints, prisoner squats and crunches in quick succession. Aim for 10 to 20 reps of each move. You get no rest between these moves, only after you've completed an entire circuit. At that point, give yourself 1 to 2 minutes, then do it again.

Read more: 10 Different Types of Push-Ups

What's Required of a SEAL

The minimum score on the Navy SEAL Fitness test are:

  • 500-yard swim: 12 minutes, 30 seconds
  • 50 push-ups*
  • 50 sit-ups*
  • 10 pull-ups
  • 1.5 mile run: 10:30

Doing the minimum won't get you very far, though. Only a few hundred people ultimately qualify. To be competitive aim for:

  • 500-yard swim: 8:00
  • 80 to 100 push-ups*
  • 80 to 100 sit-ups*
  • 15 to 20 pull-ups 
  • 1.5 mile run: 8:00 to 9:00

*2-minute time limit

Read more: Basic Military Training Workout

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