The SEALs recommend running and swimming as the primary means of cardiovascular training.
The Navy SEALs approach fitness and training with an eye toward building strength and endurance. The aesthetic side effects of increased fitness and activity are only incidental. With that in mind, the intensity of the Navy SEALs Physical Fitness Test requires you to not only be physically fit but also mentally tough.
The SEALs require you to swim 500 yards, with a max time of 12:30 and permit you to use only the Combat Swimmer Stroke, sidestroke or breaststroke. However, they recommend that you aim for a time of eight or nine minutes in order to be a competitive recruit. In order to prepare, practice technique and form for peak efficiency, then swim five to 10 sets of 100 yards each at race pace. During the actual test, they recommend taking a 10-minute rest before moving onto the next challenge.
During this portion of the test, you will be asked to complete a minimum of 42 pushups in two minutes. As always, you want to shoot for as high a number as you can; the recommended number is 100. Unlike other fitness tests, you should avoid pacing yourself -- the last thing you want is to run out of time. Instead, crank out as many pushups as possible without sacrificing form.
Although the Navy SEALs only ask for 52 situps in two minutes, the average is closer to 100. Try and keep to a pace of 20 to 30 situps every 30 seconds, which should allow you to complete between 80 to 100 situps in two minutes. Afterward, rest for two minutes.
The pullup portion has no time limit, but the test does ban you from touching the ground or letting go of the bar. You must complete eight pullups to qualify, but the SEALs recommend 15 to 20 in order to be competitive. When preparing for this section of the test, try a pyramid workout. Begin with one pullup for the first set, two pullups for the second set, three pullups for the third and so on. Do this until you can no longer finish a set, then work your way back down the pyramid in reverse order. During the test, take a 10-minute rest before moving on.
The last portion of the fitness test involves a 1.5 mile run, to be completed while wearing boots and pants. You must complete the run in less than 11:30, preferably closer to the nine- or 10-minute mark. As in any other distance run, the key to success is to pace yourself. When training, find a pace that allows you to run a quarter-mile in 90 seconds. Run six to 10 sets of this until you find you no longer need a rest between sets.