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12 Weeks to BUDS Workout - By Stew Smith CSCS (USN - SEAL)

Stew Smith

The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness
Featuring The 12 Weeks to BUDS Workout

People young and old have been using The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness - Twelve Weeks to BUD/S workout. The program has evolved to include a beginner and an intermediate section in its third revision as well as the infamous Twelve Weeks to BUDS workout. Much of the update is due to the recent changes in recruitment for SEALs, EOD, SWCC, and Rescue Swimmers in the Navy. See recent recruiting changes at How to go Navy Special Warfare / Operations article.

Also check out - So You Wanna Be A Frogman article

The Navy SEAL program is still as tough as it has ever been, even though the Navy needs more SEALs. The good thing about the SEAL community is that it does not make BUD/S easier when it needs more SEALs, but better prepares them with mentors around the nation and pre-BUDS training after boot camp. Now the SEAL training pipeline takes you out of boot camp and into a 6-8 week training course to prepare you for BUD/S (again) as boot camp will degrade your abilities a bit - but consider it a deload phase / taper.. All you have to do is workout everyday at BUDS / Prep! Sounds like a great way to earn a pay check if you ask me!!

The 12 weeks to BUD/S workout is designed to help students ace the Navy SEAL PST of 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, and a 1.5 mile run, plus most of the challenging / graded / timed events at SEAL training. I call this getting TO BUDS. However, there are many workouts that prepare you to also get THROUGH BUDS. For example, 99% of your swims at BUD/S is with fins and your 4+ mile runs are in boots. The book reminds you to be swimming and running with these to prepare your legs for the miles of both events. Also you will be doing hundreds of repetitions of pushups, pullups, abdominal exercises like situps and flutterkicks in your workouts. It helps teach your muscles to have that kind of endurance to handle multiple sets of high repetition exercises.

Common Question: can I add weights to the 12 Weeks to BUDS?

There are no weights in the 12 week program other than the light weight shoulder routine that is mysteriously omitted from the pictures / explanations (sorry - long story). My recommendation has been to only use weights with this program IF you need them. Meaning, if you are an endurance athlete and really have no power / strength training in your history, then I would supplement with weights in a periodization style routine.

I made an EASY button for you as well - the new Navy SEAL Weight Training program works perfectly after the 12 Weeks to BUDS workout especially if you need to focus on some strength elements (rucking, log pt, boat carry, fireman carries, etc). 

Getting TO and THROUGH BUD/S

I have typically added weights into my year round routine for a 12-16 week cycle and increased the weights, reduced the reps of calisthenics to take a break from the high repetition exercises during this time. I call it the Tactical Fitness Seasonal Periodization System.  It has enabled students and myself to maintain high levels of fitness year round. You do have to keep up with the running and swimming routines as well however, IF you are preparing for BUD/S. 

HOWEVER, if you are a power - strength guy who thinks a 1.5 mile run and a 500yd swim is long distance, then I would lay off the weights and focus on your cardio / high rep routines (12 week program). To make that transition that you need to succeed at BUDS or any other Navy Spec ops training like dive school, SAR swimmer school, and SWCC takes some time - perhaps more than a year to be truly prepared for the miles of running you will be doing at BUDS.

Order the book now! This product is an annual favorite with an average of 85% of BUD/S graduates stating they used this program to prepare for SEAL training.

Comments from CGTNSF users:

"A friend of mine in Army SF recommended to me your book, Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and I just want to say that it is amazing. It pushes me physically and mentally every day. When I first started I couldn't do more than 30 pushups, 50 situps, 5 pullups, nor could I even swim, and running was certainly not one of my hot spots. After using your 12 week program one time, my scores have improved vastly. 75 pushups in 2 minutes, 85 situps in 2 minutes, 16 pullups in 1minute, 9:50 500m swim (which isn't bad for never swimming until the age of 21), and 9:00 1.5 mile run. I'm going to keep training hard until I reach your recommended scores prior to entry into Navy SEAL BUD/s. I just want to say thank you for you awesome workout program. I'm not going to stop until I reach my goals and then some.... I credit you with my success thus far. Take care sir."

"Just a few words about your Navy SEAL Fitness book: In December I passed your 4-week IM workout. And I was amazed about the progress I made. My overall physical fitness has grown around 30 %. For example: 1.5 mile running in boots from ~14:00 min to 11:20 min 500 yd swimming using sidestroke from ~15:30 min to 10:30 NO KIDDING! And the same results for my upper body strength and stamina...I got rid of 8 lbs of fat. And that was only 4 weeks! Now I decided to go further with the 12-week to BUD workout. Will be very hard I am sure, but worth on it. So I can say no other than HOOYAH for YOU!"

PST scores pre intermediate workout:
500 yard swim-10:39
1.5 mile run-12:00

PST scores post intermediate workout
500 yard swim-9:21
1.5 mile run-9:51

Now to the actual 12 weeks to BUDS!!!

Many more testimonials...

Do You Want my REAL TIME Seasonal Periodization Training - Delivered Weekly?

Get Weekly Unpublished Workouts Tested and Evaluated by local
Stew Smith Training programs. 

Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.

Join the Online PT CLUB:
One On One Coaching with Stew Smith

If You Need a More Personalized Approach to Fit Your Needs, Goals, Time per Day, Days per week, Facilities, Abilities, etc...Try Online Coaching

Over weight? Out of Shape? Not meeting personal and professional standards of fitness and health? Try some one - on - one personalized assistance with your training goals and consider Online Coaching by Stew Smith CSCS. No matter what your goals, you and Stew will create a program together that works for you. 

Or Questions?  Just email me at

Or Try Workout Programming Specifically Designed for any Tactical Fitness Goal:

Which Program is Right For Me - Special Ops Candidates 



Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1 Beginner Weeks 1-9 
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3 - Intermediate Weeks 1-12
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4 Grinder PT - Four weeks before Hell Week

Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver Program Series - Phase 1 is what I call a beginner guide, but it is still challenging.  It is geared toward those who are scoring minimally or failing their Navy PST test - 500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, 1.5 mile run.  It is easier than The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness and a good prep course before attempting it. 

Phase 2 and 3 of the Navy SEAL / SWCC, EOD, Diver program is about the same level of intensity as Navy SEAL Fitness and is also a good follow-up plan after Phase 1

Phase 4 ot the Navy SEAL Key to Mental Toughness is by far my toughest workout ever created.  It resembles a day of BUDS, complete with "wet and sandy", runs after eating, high rep punishment push-ups, 4 mile timed runs, 2 mile swims with fins, log PT simulation, and even a HellWeek Simulator with 3 workouts a day.  

Navy SEAL Weight Training Book
Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness Book

The Pipeline of Training Options: 


It depends:  The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness is a classic and focuses on high rep calisthenics and running and swimming base.  You will build up your running over 12-18 weeks to 20 miles but very fast paced focus on both the 1.5 mile run for the PST and the 4 mile timed run for weekly run test at BUDS. If you are an athlete with a strong power / strength background in lifting and not running or swimming, Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you. IF you need some place to start Navy SEAL Fitness is ideal for you as well because a calisthenics base / running / swimming progression is a good place to build a foundation.  Though you will likely need to spend some time in the Navy SEAL Weight Training Book OR if Navy SEAL FItness is too challenging, go with Navy SEAL SWCC, EOD, Diver, PST Phase 1 Workout.  Phase 1 is a good starting point if Navy SEAL Fitness program is too tough. 

Navy SEAL Weight Training - This is part two (winter lifting phase) of my SEAL Prep program. If you have done the Navy SEAL Fitness (12 weeks to BUDS) program a few times and need a break, this is the next program that integrates lifting with the Navy SEAL Prep training. 

Special Ops – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training.


Seasonal Tactical Fitness Programs 

Especially These That Are Used For Local Spec Ops Candidates Last Year


Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  


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