In the United States military, there are special forces, and then there are SEALs, the elite Navy squad trained for operations by sea, air or land. TRX Founder and CEO Randy Hetrick, a former SEAL team leader, says SEALs train like all-purpose professional athletes in order to stay mission-ready. But, due to the mobile nature of special ops work, civilians can do many of the same Navy SEAL workouts at home—all you need is a TRX Suspension Trainer.

SEALs have world-class fitness facilities when they’re home, but deployed teams have to bring their workouts back to the basics like push-ups, sit-ups and body-weight exercises. Or, as Hetrick describes it, “Traditional stuff that’s been done since the Romans.”

“If you go on an operation for a couple weeks, no one’s bringing treadmills,” Hetrick explains. “You end up doing bear crawls, crab walks, plyometric star jumps and probably more push-ups than you can shake a stick at. If you’re really lucky, you find some place you can hang off of and do pull-ups.” The benefit of these types of exercises is that anyone can do them anywhere. The drawback is that SEALs need more intense challenges to train for their grueling missions.

“Special ops have to be able to carry a lot of weight and gear around. There are a few guys doing a lot of different jobs, so they have to carry around heavy rucks, a lot of weaponry and body armor.” Hetrick says. “They have to be comfortable with short bursts of high output, with a hundred pounds of gear on their body. And they have to do it over and over, day after day, night after night.”

Hetrick began tinkering with the idea of the TRX Suspension Trainer while deployed with his SEAL team, and realized he had created a game-changer. With the Suspension Trainer, he could do hundreds of exercises and modify the level of difficulty with only his body weight and a set of straps.

For Hetrick and his team, training in functional modalities was critical. “You’re trying to protect your body as you build it, so you work on shoulder strength and lower body strength all the way down to the ground,” he says.

A Navy SEAL workout has to focus on hips, knees and ankles, and the 10 movements below target the muscles that drive those parts.

Lower body

TRX Lunge

One of the best moves for SEALs is the TRX Lunge. “The TRX lunge is probably one of the best movements for a tactical operator that you can do because it works on all the stabilizers. You’re doing it with one leg, so it doesn’t take much extra load to turn that into a really difficult movement from a strength perspective,” Hetrick says.

Hetrick suggests complementing the TRX Lunge with TRX Single Leg Squats and TRX Sprinter Starts for a complete lower-body workout. According to Hetrick, those single-sided isolation exercises are important for preventing and recovering from injuries.

TRX Single Leg Squat

TRX Sprinter

Upper body

TRX Power Pull

The next moves to master focus on upper body strength. No Navy SEAL workout is complete without the TRX Power Pull: The first exercise Hetrick programmed with the original Suspension Trainer prototype.

Hetrick developed the TRX Power Pull to approximate the action of a caving ladder, one of the real life tactical challenges that SEALs encounter. As a single-sided move challenged by gravity, the Power Pull forces you to stabilize your core, row with one arm, reach and repeat, much like climbing a moving rope ladder.

Beyond those pulls, Hetrick recommends the T Deltoid FlyChest Press and TRX Chest Fly for a combination of strength and stabilization.

TRX Chest Press

TRX T Deltoid Fly

TRX Chest Fly

Plank series

The final element to SEAL strength training with the Suspension Trainer is the supine (face up) and prone (face down) plank series. Anyone who has tried a TRX Hamstring Curl or Hip Press knows these moves are no joke. (Hetrick refers to it as “horrifically good hamstring and glute work.”) Even though both moves rely solely on body weight, they’re among the best hamstring challenges available.

TRX Hamstring Curl

TRX Hip Press

But, when it comes to a SEAL’s favorite move, Hetrick says there’s no beating the atomic push-up.

TRX Atomic Push-up

“You can put somebody’s toes in, suspend them, and tell them to do push-ups with a knee tap until they disintegrate, and they’re just happy as can be,” Hetrick says. “So atomic push-ups ought to be in any military workout because SEALs love that stuff.” He warns, however, that the idea of SEALs repping out moves to failure is a myth. A SEAL’s number one priority is always a safe workout, because an injured soldier can’t serve his team.

Try this: SEAL workout

Are you ready to take on the ultimate Navy SEAL workout? Challenge yourself to a SEAL 360: Work through the 10 moves listed here on a TRX Suspension Trainer in 20-rep sets. (Don’t forget to take a quick break as your reset the length of your straps.) Once you’ve finished all 10, repeat the series two more times for a total of 360 reps and an unforgettable burn.

Photo credit: Courtesy of TRX

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