What is a Navy Seal Burpee? (Plus an INSANE Challenge)

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I’m a massive fan of burpees, but I always thought they were difficult enough just performing the standard variation.

And then someone had to go and make them 10 times harder (well, 3 times harder if you want me to be precise).

I give you the Navy Seal Burpee.

Clearly, any exercise with the words “Navy Seal” attached to it is going to be extremely tough.

So, what exactly does one of the most demanding burpee modifications look like?

One rep of a Navy Seal burpee involves one standard burpee, a mountain climber, and three push ups. From a standing position drop down into a burpee and perform a push up. Next, bring your left knee in towards your chest and then return it to the starting position, perform a push up. Bring your right knee towards your chest, return it to the starting position, perform a push up. Finally, stand back up.

Navy Seal Burpee – 3 Exercises in 1

A navy seal burpee is literally three exercises in one.

You’re performing a standard burpee (without the jump, I should add), one mountain climber, and a total of three push ups.

This constitutes one rep.

How to perform a Navy Seal burpee

Navy Seal Burpees Muscles Worked

As with the standard burpee, the Navy Seal variety is a full-body exercise.

I’ve always considered the burpee as both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

In other words, it is both a resistance and cardio exercise.

However, the Navy Seal Burpee involves you spending more time in the “down position”, which means it is more focused on being a resistance exercise.

But trust me, your heart-rate and conditioning will certainly go through the roof as well.

In fact, I can guarantee that you’ll burn far more calories than with the standard burpee.

The standard burpee typically works the quads, hamstrings, calves, chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and let’s not forget the cardiovascular system.

The same can be said for the Navy Seal Burpee, but due to the high number of push ups and knee-to-elbow movements, you will have a greater focus in the chest, shoulders, triceps and core.

I guess you could refer to the knee-to-elbow (or knee-to-chest) movement as a mountain climber.

You could actually turn this one movement into an entire workout by performing a set amount of reps.

However, if you are going to do a high-rep workout, be wary of your hip flexors too.

Definitely another muscle that gets worked during navy seal burpees, but one that you may not be used to working that much.

I shall introduce you to a couple of workouts or “challenges” in a moment.

These workouts will literally torch calories and provide you with an outstanding full-body strength and conditioning session.

The Mysterious Origins of the Navy Seal Burpee

Now you would think that the clue is in the name.

However, it appears that the actual origins of the Navy Seal Burpee are somewhat shrouded in mystery.

The name suggests that this is a Navy Seal exercise, and there are many stories which pertain to this.

In fact, give me a minute and I’ll introduce you to an actual Navy Seal, who has stormed the internet, and become very well-known for his insane burpee-based workouts.

That being said, there are also those who claim that the Navy Seal Burpee is actually part of prison workout culture.

To be honest, this also makes a lot of sense.

Some extremely famous prisoners over the years have become notorious, not only for their crimes, but also their astonishing bodyweight workouts.

Possibly, the most renowned prisoner, and his amazing feats of strength and fitness, is Charles Bronson.

This is the man who claims to have performed 1,727 push ups in an hour, and equally as many squats and burpees.

So, it’s not inconceivable that this fantastic burpee variation could be attributed to an ex or current-serving prisoner.

But for now, non-one is entirely sure where the exercise originates from.

The 500-Rep Navy Seal Burpee Challenge

I’ve spoken previously of my own 500-rep burpee workouts, but this is nothing compared to what you’re about to see.

I simply performed standard burpees.

But, 500 reps of Navy Seal Burpees would involve 1,500 push ups, 500 mountain climbers (or 1,000 knees-to-elbows in total), and not forgetting 500 standard burpees as well.

Allow me to introduce Iron Wolf, nee. Arthur Schwartzberg (apologies if I’ve spelled this incorrectly).

Iron Wolf is an active duty Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.

He has legions of fans, and almost 90,000 YouTube subscribers (at the time of writing) who literally devour his fitness and exercise-based videos.

Arthur is all about the burpee.

And he performs some insane burpee workouts.

However, the one video that has literally had everyone gasping in astonishment is his 500-rep Navy Seal Burpee workout.

This took him approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete.

Iron Wolf 500 Reps of Navy Seal Burpees - 1 Hour 48 Minutes and 24 Seconds

You will note that Iron Wolf’s workout (and the correct version) involves running on the spot in-between every rep.

Or what I like to call the “boxer shuffle”.

The workout has been attempted by many, but few, if any, are able to get 500 reps in, never mind doing them within the same time.

Here’s the FULL version of Iron Wolf performing this insane feat of physical strength and fitness.

Attempts at the 500-Rep Challenge

The 500-rep Navy Seal Burpee challenge was born, and this is especially true via the online community of Reddit.

One of the most impressive attempts that I have seen was by a Redditor with the handle, SamMartinez93.

Sam (I’m guessing), decided to set a timer for 1hr 50mins and see how many Navy Seal Burpees he could perform in that time.

If you haven’t got time to check out Iron Wolf’s entire video, Sam’s video is just 9 minutes long.

Of course, you could also forward to near the end to see just how many reps Sam managed (and no, I’m not going to ruin it for you).

A More “Normal” Challenge

I’m always up for a challenge, but for now I’ll just stick with something a little simpler, LOL.

I often perform “100s” workouts and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get another one in.

So, I set about doing 100 Navy Seal Burpees.

In effect, 300 push ups, 100 mountain climbers, and 100 burpees.

I actually went about this by initially performing 10 sets of 10 reps.

However, I found that my rest periods were getting longer and longer as the workout went on.

Plus, it should be no surprise that my chest and triceps were literally burning by the end.

I didn’t keep exact time, but the workout took me around 28 minutes to complete.

And then I discovered another version of this 100-rep challenge that made a lot more sense to me.

Once again, I have another Redditor to thank for this.

Basically, this involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and having a buzzer sound every 15 seconds.

Whenever the buzzer sounds you perform one rep.

Therefore, you’ll complete 4 reps a minute, and 100 reps in 25 minutes.

Suffice to say, it may not be 500 reps, but this is still an awesome workout.

Key Takeaway Points

  • Navy Seal burpees are essentially 3 exercises in 1 – burpees, push ups, mountain climbers
  • There is some mystery around their origin, although it is felt that the Navy Seal burpee stems from prison workout culture.
  • As you spend most time in the “down position” (performing push ups and mountain climbers), the exercise is view as more of a resistance exercise than cardio.
  • “Iron Wolf”, famous for his burpee workouts, has completed 500 reps of Navy Seal burpees in under 1 hour and 50 minutes.
  • Navy Seal burpees can be performed as part of a circuit or as a standalone workout.

2 thoughts on “What is a Navy Seal Burpee? (Plus an INSANE Challenge)”

  1. Hey Partha, thanks for sharing this awesome post!

    I’m much like you. When I’m not going to the gym, I like to stay in shape by doing bodyweight exercises at home. However, I’m sure I’ve never tried a Navy Seal Burpee, that is, until now lol.

    The idea of how a Navy Seal Burpee came to being is interesting. It could be that Navy Seals have just popularized the exercise, but the guy from prison has originated it.

    In any case, that was an interesting thing to read. Thanks for including it.

    Also, thanks for sharing the videos as well. When it comes to learning how to perform an exercise, I’m more of a visual learner and I like videos more.

    I will give Navy Seal Burpees a try and see how it feels. I’m certainly not going to do 500 right away lol, but a 50 or 100 per session could be a good start.

    I’m interested in seeing the results.

    All in all, thanks a lot for sharing this post. As always, I learned a lot from you and will be coming back to read more of your posts.

    • Hey Ivan,

      I thought the Navy Seal Burpee may be something that appeals to you.

      Admittedly, since writing this post I performed 200 Navy Seal Burpees, as a workout.

      I didn’t do the “running” between reps and I tried to stick to the 1 rep every 15 seconds, but I had to extend the time a little once I got to about 140 reps (it was tough going).

      I eventually managed 200 reps in 59 minutes 26 seconds.

      As I write this the following day I’m still having trouble moving my arms above my head, LOL.

      I can’t quite recall if I’ve ever done 600 push ups in one day before.

      I’m pretty sure the answer is NO.


      Anyway, I’d be interested to hear how you get on.



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