11/13/2019

book review: "8 weeks to sealfit"

Mark Divine has been a navy seal for over 20 years. he retired as a commander from his brilliant military career with a good plan in his mind. his project was to teach civilians what he learned in his navy seal training and during all the missions he took part during the years he spent in the navy.
having a strong background as triathlete and martial artist, he created an innovative method of training and called it sealfit. currently he runs a training center where he teaches sealfit to lots of civilians that want to develop the physical and mental strength navy seals are known for. he runs also a website (sealfit.com) dedicated to online teaching. the book “8 weeks to sealfit” illustrates clearly his training system so that people from every corner of the world can understand what goes on in his kokoro camp (that's the name of his training center, from the japanese word “kokoro” which means warrior).
the method itself is extremely complete. it is developed in 8 weeks, and every week comprehends 6 training sessions and a recovery day. every session is composed by a part of preparation that comprehends breathing exercises (following the boxbreathing technique), a warm-up, some cardio to activate the metabolism, a strength-training part, an endurance part and finally a cool-down phase with some stretching and kokoro yoga (a combination of yoga poses invented by Mark Divine himself as an integration to the sealfit method). basically, the training sessions (that shouldn't be called workouts, as the author himself points out quite often) share many common traits with crossfit and Divine recommends also some of the most popular wods of the crossfit world, like the murph or cindy, but the sealfit method dedicates more attention to endurance training, which sometimes is missing in the typical crossfit workout. obviously, considering the fact that the navy seals use to carry heavy loads walking on technical terrains or swimming, endurance has to be considered one of the most important things to train. but endurance is important in the everyday life of civilians too. thus, the sealfit method should be considered a mix between the classic crossfit training with short and intense sessions with heavy loads, and crossfit endurance, with longer sessions with lower loads.
does it work? yes, it does. but i want to add some considerations. i've completed all the training sessions scheduled in the 8 weeks plan, but i've modified almost all of them because of practical reasons: basically, i don't have all the equipment required, i don't have a rowing machine, i don't have a barbell, i have no experience at all in olympic lifting. so i substituted the parts of the sessions that involve those activities with running, jumping rope, uphill sprinting, burpees, lifting tanks full of water and sandbag exercises. and this is, in my opinion, the main weakness of the sealfit method: it requires a lot of equipment (actually the author himself proposes some ways to bypass the problem of possible lack of equipment) and some organization too. in fact, in the best crossfit tradition of metcon workouts, the muscle-strengthening parts of the sessions are always mixed with some cardio. this is great but it isn't always easy to have some weights in the same place where we can run for a certain distance. obviously, everything can be tweaked and modified to make things easier and these technical difficulties have to be considered as a way to stimulate our ability to find alternative solutions and to solve problems using just what we have at our disposal. but otherwise, if you're looking for a non-specific method to train all areas of fitness at the same time, you'll hardly find something more complete than the sealfit plan.
the book comprehends also a section on the effects of intense training on our mind and our emotions, and on how our mind can become our best friend (or our worst enemy) when overcoming fatigue is required. another section is dedicated to yoga and stretching. actually these sections aren't very detailed, but Mark Divine wrote two books on these specific topics, respectively “the way of the seal” and “kokoro yoga” so if you're interested buy those other books too (i have both of them, “kokoro yoga” is good but i can't say anything on “the way of the seal” as i still have to read it).
in the end, i want to recommend this book to everyone who's looking for an all-in-one training method, especially to crossfit athletes that want to try something even more complete. but i recommend it also to all the enthusiasts of obstacle racing and, more generically, to all the weekend warriors that want to add a bit of navyseal discipline to their usual training routine.