Former Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke explains the worst part of the grueling training for the nation’s elite fighting force

Hell Week 

Hell Week is the fourth week in Phase 1 – which takes place in Stage 3 – and is a brutal week of physical activity and very little sleep. 

‘Hell Week is the defining event of BUD/S training,’ the Navy says. 

Hell Week consists of five-and-a-half days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep. It tests ‘physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude, and your ability to perform work under high physical and mental stress, and sleep deprivation.’

It starts on a Sunday and runs to Friday.  

Trainees are constantly in motion. They are  running, swimming, paddling, carrying boats on their heads, doing log PT, sit-ups, push-ups, rolling in the sand, slogging through mud, paddling boats and doing surf passage, the Navy said. 

On average, only 25 percent of candidates make it through Hell Week, which is the toughest training offered in the military. 

Throughout the week, there will be medical personnel on site to help exhausted or injured candidates. 

Candidates will also experience brutal nagging, enticing them to quit and mimicking their inner voices, highlighting their pain. 

The Other Stages

Stage 1: Prep School 

Trainees start in Illinois for two months to prepare for BUD/S. 

Candidates will go through a modified physical fitness test to prepare them for the rigorous activity they will endure during BUD/S. 

The test includes: 

  • 1000-meter swim – with fins (20 minutes or under)
  • Push-ups: at least 70 (Two-minute time limit)
  • Pull-ups: at least 10 (No time limit)
  • Sit-ups: at least 60 (Two-minute time limit)
  • Four-mile run – with shoes + pants (31 minutes or under)

Candidates who do not pass will be moved to different jobs of the Navy. 

Stage 2: Basic Orientation 

Basic orientation lasts for three weeks and takes place in Coronado, California, at the Naval Special Warfare Center. 

Candidates will be introduced to ‘BUD/S physical training, the obstacle course and other unique training aspects’ in this stage. 

Stage 3: First Phase (includes Hell Week)

This phase – which includes Hell Week at Week 4 – lasts seven weeks. 

It is used to further develop ‘physical training, water competency and mental tenacity while continuing to build teamwork.’ 

Each week, trainees will experience harder conditions, such as longer runs, swims, and workouts.  

They will also learn how to conduct hydrographic survey operations. 

This phase sees a significant drop in candidates. 

Stage 4: Phase Two – Combat Diving 

This phase also lasts seven weeks and introduces underwater skills that are unique to Navy SEALs. 

Trainees become ‘basic combat swimmers and learn open and closed-circuit diving.’

Candidates need to feel comfortable in the water and demonstrate a high level of comfort there. 

Stage 5: Land Warfare Training 

The final stage last seven weeks and develops skills in  ‘basic weapons, demolitions, land navigation, patrolling, rappelling, marksmanship and small-unit tactics.’ 

Half of this training will take place on San Clemente Island – roughly 60 miles from base and they will practice the skills they learned in Stage 3. 

Source: Navy 

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