Warning: Kokoro and the SEALFit Academy constantly change in terms of location, evolutions, etc. Your exact experience may differ from what you read in this 3 part series. So be prepared for curveballs. I am happy to hop on a personal consult with you if you want any one-on-one coaching. Click here if you want consulting or coaching.
For the past 8 days, I've been doing things like a 1000 push-up workout, midnight exercise sessions in the ocean surf, hyperoxygenation training and even a 52 hour stint that included a 26 mile night hike up a mountain with a 50 pound weighted backpack, 2am battle rope tug-of-war competitions on the beach, and an all-you-can-eat pancake, eggs and bacon breakfast followed immediately by an hour of uphill burpees and hill sprints.
Last year, in the article “Look, Feel and Perform Like An Ancient Spartan Warrior – How To Become An Absolute Physical Beast“, you learned how to embark on a quest to get yourself as physically and mentally strong as possible.
In that article, I told you about my own personal journey to get tough for something called “SEALFit Comprehensive Academy” and “SEALFit Kokoro Camp” – and I also told you why it's important (if you want to live life to the fullest), that you too choose a difficult quest, a journey, an obstacle, a rite of passage or some other amazing feat of physical and mental performance that you makes you a little bit scared to do.
As of 4 hours ago at the time of this writing, I've graduated from the Academy and Kokoro Camp- both of which have changed my life, health and fitness forever, and I plan to tell you all the nitty-gritty details of that experience in Part 2 and 3 of this three-part article series.
But meanwhile, in this article, you're going to learn exactly what kind of training, gear and nutrition I used for SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp – complete with a video walkthrough of the proper gear and nutrition. If you have any questions, just leave them under the post and I promise to reply, and keep your eyes open for Part 2 and 3 of this series, coming soon!
How Do You Train For SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?
Check out this article for a really comprehensive overview of the best training plans and books that are out there to get you ready for this kind of thing. For the majority of my training, I personally used the daily Operator WOD’s from Mark Divine's 8 Weeks To SEALFit.
But because I'm still racing triathlons and doing Spartan events, I modified my SEALFit workouts to include triathlon and obstacle racing preparation, mostly by using three simple rules:
1) Include extra swimming. Since swimming is primarily all about efficiency in the water, you don’t need much extra swimming and it certainly doesn’t need to be hard and fast. One to two extra days of swim drills, preferably on the programmedrecovery days in the plan, are adequate, and will help to enhance blood flow for recovery. I rely on the SwimSmooth website and book for swim drills. Bonus if you do these in cold water to get a cold thermogenesis effect.
2) Commute on your bike, and substitute cycling for the warm-up and cool-down. Most of these plans recommend running, pushups, squats, sit-ups, swings, light lifting, etc. for your warm-up and walking, foam rolling, etc. for the cool-down. But I’ll personally be warming up and cooling down with an easy mountain bike ride or a ride to and from the gym instead. In addition, whenever I do errands, such as the grocery store, returning a movie, etc. I ride my bike. For any workouts that take place at the gym (as mentioned above) I’ll ride to the gym (for me, that’s a total of 7 miles of bike commuting there and back). So – extra cycling is basically sprinkled throughout the week in a “Grease the Groove” style. With all the squats, lunges, and leg work you’re doing in these plans, that’s all the extra cycling you’ll need.
3) Occasionally substitute the long, hard weekend workouts with a Spartan race, outdoor obstacle training circuit, or hard Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon race or race simulation. For example, the Day 7 “Devil’s Mile” workout in the sample week below could instead be a hard 1500 meter open water swim followed by a 20-25 mile hard bike ride and a 5-6 mile hard tempo run, or something like this video of my backyard obstacle training course.
Using these three basic rules, here’s how a sample week of SEALFIT training from “8 Weeks To SEALFit” by Mark Divine could be modified for obstacle course racing or triathlon:
Warm-up: Light run for 15: minutes before stretching. Focus on hamstrings, adductors, quads and hips. 5 sets of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats in before measuring out the 100 meters for the strength workout. Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.
WOD: 100 meters of overhead weighted lunges with 45 lbs. Arms locked out and knees to the deck for each movement to count. If you must stop there is a 15 push-up penalty for each infraction that goes up by 5 each time. 15 the first time, 20 the second and 30…. The more you stop, the harder it gets.
Endurance: 45 minute ruck march with 35 lbs. If available, get 10 minutes of hill time on a modest slope (5 – 10% at most). Consistently move, set a pace and stick to it.
Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Ruck, sand bag and 45 lbs. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.
Warm-up: Start off with a light KB or DB snatch, approximately 20% of body weight- 2 sets of 20 reps. Move onto dive bomber push-ups and pause when you’re all the way back with your arms extended. Really push those hands into the ground and extend as far as possible to stretch those shoulder joints. Start light with the front squats and move up in 5 – 10 lb increments to find that working weight. Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.
WOD: How many rounds can you accomplish in 10 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 sit-ups?
Strength: Front Squat 5 sets of 3 reps, go heavy
Endurance: Pace run: 7:30 – 8:30 per mile for 30 minutes. Find that pace and hold it as long as possible. Mark down the total time you’re at that pace. We’ll work on increasing that threshold for work capacity at that level.
Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar, weight and somewhere to run. Wait at least 3 + hours after the strength and WOD before starting the endurance. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.
Benchmark: Isabel – 30 snatches at 135 lbs for time. Triathlon swimming modification: finish with 20 minutes of SwimSmooth swim drills, such as 3 rounds of 100m single arm swimming, 100m side swimming drills, 100 meter front balance drills and 10×25 hypoxic swimming.
Warm-up: Start off with a light 5 minutes swim or jog and really warm up the shoulders, hamstrings, adductors and groin. The sprint work is going to be a fast and hard interval workout for a set distance. Once you’re ready get on it and push hard. For the WOD and strength, start light with the shoulder presses and move up in 5 – 10 lb increments to find that working weight. Both workouts are shoulder intensive, so take your time and really focus on getting a decent stretch and warm-up.
WOD: Backwards Fran 9 – 15 – 21 reps with 90 lb thrusters and pull-ups. Same weight, different scheme, totally different workout!
Strength: Shoulder press 3 sets of 3 reps then drop weight by 20% and 1 max set.
Endurance: Swim 800 meters with intervals of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. If no pool is available, run 2 miles with the same 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off interval.
Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar and weight. Endurance will come first today. Split the WOD and Strength away and do them 3 + hours later if possible. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.
Rest and recovery day. Light walk or other restorative activities. No impact today. Triathlon or swimming modification: do 20 minutes of SwimSmooth swim drills, such as 5 rounds of 50m catch-up drill, 50m broken arrow drill, 50 meter corkscrew and 5×50 hypoxic swimming.
Warm-up: Begin with a 15 minute jog and start light by practicing 2 sets of 5 – 10 reps of each exercise before stretching out the lower back and shoulders. Make sure they’re warmed up prior to beginning the WOD. Triathlon or cycling modification: instead, just ride your bike for 15-20 minutes to the gym, or do a trail ride on your mountain bike with lots of alternating from standing to seated position.
WOD: 75 of each exercise for time: 20” box jumps, cleans (from the deck) with 90 lbs, 55 lb dumbbell or kettle bell swings, pull-ups and knees to elbows. Kettle bell or Dumbbell swings need to clear at least above the eyes and for each box jump or clean the hips need to open up all the way. No need to complete a single set at a time. Break them into
Endurance: Ruck march with 35 lbs between 30 and 45 minutes.
Keep a consistent pace throughout.
Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- Olympic bar and weight. Wait at least 3 + hours after the strength and WOD before starting the endurance. Post workout hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.
Warm-up: 400 meter light jog then side plank left 20 seconds, side plank right 20 seconds and
20 seconds of push-ups, repeating for as many rounds as you can without letting your knees touch the ground. Get a good stretch in today everyone, it’s a nasty one on the shoulders and lower body!
WOD: “The Devil’s Mile” (Minus the B.A.T. flips…)
400m walking lunges
30 push ups
400m broad jumps
400m Overhead carry #45/#35 plate 30 burpees
400m bear crawl
Strength: 3 sets of max push-ups, 3 minute rest between each. Endurance: Rest
Triathlon modification: Do the warm-up recommended above, but instead of Devil’s Mile, do a hard Sprint or Olympic distance simulation or an obstacle course race. Bonus points if you finish the race with a 50m bear crawl to the finish line.
Coach’s comments: Equipment needed- 35# / 45# plate and 400 meters measured off. Get that warm-up in and make sure you’re stretched out prior to the WOD. Get the WOD lined up and knocked out first before the strength workout. Post workout- hydrate, stretch, roll out and ice if necessary.
So that's it! This is very similar to how I trained for the Academy and Kokoro, and although I probably should have included just a bit more experience with Crossfit style training such as Kipping Pull-ups and Olympic lifts, it worked out relatively well. If you want a “done-for-you” approach, then check out my Inner Circle, where I actually log details for each workout I do every day (including all my workouts leading up to SEALFit), so if you're not yet a member there, go join for one dollar and you can simply follow what I do (and get a bunch of bonus meal plans, recipes, insider training videos with me, etc.)
What Gear Do You Bring To SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?
Check out the video below. Helpful links for everything I talk about in the video are below the video (full disclosure: some of the links are affiliate links that help me pay for this website!).
–Nike DryFit White Tee – (8) – you can expect to completely trash these. And you'll want your name neatly stenciled on front and back before you show up.
–Navy SEAL Submersible WOD Short (2) – shorts like these that hold up during hard workouts but that also dry extremely fast are crucial.
–Navy SEAL Taclite TDU Pants (3) – put your name on a label inside your pants, because they will inevitably wind up in a giant pile with other participants' clothing during the Kokoro portion of SEALFit.
–Nike Combat Compression Tights (3) – keep these on whenever you are wearing pants, period. They'll keep your knees safe on the Grinder especially.
–Nike Combat Compression Underwear (6) – dries fast and holds up well in the training conditions for SEALFit.
–Navy SEAL Adjustable Nylon BDU Belt (1) – make sure it fits right. Extra pushups and burpees are often incurred if your uniform is not “sorted” and looking sharp.
–Navy SEAL Black Boonie Hat (1) – you'll wear this during long rucks.
–Wigwam Wool Socks (6) – crucial. I got zero blisters or foot issues during this camp (some participants got extreme bleeding and blistering of nearly their entire foot!), by simply covering my feet in Hammer Seat Saver and then wearing liners and wool socks.
–VivoBarefoot Breatho Running Shoes (2) – bring two pairs of a shoe that dries fast and holds up well on road, sandy beach, trail, etc. You'll have very quick changes between “evolutions” (the name for the workouts at SEALFit), and a dry pair of shoes is extremely nice.
–Voodoo Tactical Pack or Kelty Backpack (spendier but the cadillac of rucksacks)- do lots of “rucks” in this pack before you show up since you'll use it quite a bit during SEALFit Academy, and also consider getting the very cheap and uncomfortable rucksack at NavySeals.com website, filling it with a 20-30lb sandbag and doing rucks that include water crossings, steep hills and beach running, as that's the type of rucksack you'll get at Kokoro.
–Hammer CoolFeet for Shoes/Underwear (use 15% discount 80244). Keeps your stuff dry and smelling ‘perty. Just sprinkle it over your shoes, socks, in your underwear, etc. between workouts.
–Hammer Seat Saver for Toes/Crotch/Armpits (use 15% discount 80244)
What Nutrition Do You Bring To SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp?
Just check out the video above, because it covers nutrition too. Helpful links for every nutrition product I talk about in that video are below. I went pretty minimalist with food, supplementation, etc. at the Academy since it is “catered” with pretty clean Paleo-friendly style fare – and our team's little apartment is well stocked with…organic peanut butter and fruit (see photo below of our living area table). You don't get much better than a banana dipped in peanut butter, right?
In the meantime, having water bottles pre-packed with the fuels I talk about in the video is crucial during Kokoro camp. If you don't do this, you may find yourself exercising for 20-24 hour periods with simply diluted sports drink, water and the very untasty “MRE” meal replacements handed out during the workouts at Kokoro.
–Insulated Water Bottles for Pre/During/Post Workout Fuel Mix (6) – at Kokoro, whenever the instructors gave us an extremely hectic 5 minute break, I'd make sure my teammates were set with their gear, then dash into the tent and refill these with powders then suck them down in the fastest 30-60 second chugfest I could manage.
–Hammer Bars (use 15% discount 80244) or any other clean burning, gluten-free, dairy-free energy bar (12) – I'd often grab one of these bars extremely quickly and shove it into my underwear or pockets for a quick bite during long rucks. The solid food will give you a tasty alternative to MRE's.
–Natural Force Iskiate Endurance (use code BEN10 to save 10%, for pre-workout Kokoro Evolutions, premixed in water bottle with the Raw Tea)
–Natural Force Recovery Nectar (use code BEN10 to save 10%, for post-workout Kokoro Evolutions, premixed in water bottle)
–Thorne Digestive Enyzmes – 1 before every meal at both Academy, since the stomach will be stressed and needs extra digestive help.
–X2Performance – 1 shot at beginning of each day to top off ATP levels.
Of course, this article has only scratches the surface of the life-changing SEALFit experience, so stay tuned to Parts 2 and 3 for the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to expect during the Academy and Kokoro. So that's it! Be sure to check out the other podcasts and articles I published leading up to this post, specifically:
Finally, if you have signed up for a SEALFit Kokoro or Academy event and want to hop on the phone with me for a personalized one-on-one consult to get you ready physically and mentally, just click here and grab a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer.
Leave your questions, comments or feedback below, and stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3, in which I'm going to fill you in on the nitty-gritty details of exactly what to expect at SEALFit Academy and Kokoro Camp and how to get the most of our experience, complete with plenty of “in-the-trenches” tips and tricks!
Also published on Medium.