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on February 6, 2017
I have spent years trying different approaches to achieve good all round fitness that includes endurance, strength, stamina, mental toughness and what I like to call “Jedi Spirit”. SEALFIT 8 Week Program is a full system that provides a holistic approach and has its own philosophy in achieving incredible fitness and a warrior mindset. I recommend it but only if you are familiar with CrossFit and have access to qualified trainers, equipment and a safe environment to train. Be warned: The program is not for everyone.

The Good:
- The book provides an easy reference to the SEALFIT 8 Week Advanced Operator Training Program and is loaded with expert advice
- The book should be read from the start, if you jump around you will get confused, attention to detail and orders matters. The initial section provides a mental primer and prompts the reader to ask “Why”. If you don’t have clear goals in mind and are not prepared to be royally “beastied” then do not go further this is not a workout program, this is Training. Mindset is everything and in the absence of Instructors and a Team to push you self discipline will be everything especially if you are brave enough to attempt the Advanced Operator Training.
- The program is progressive starting with a self assessment test followed by 5 days of introductory training days which are easy enough. Each day you get a little bit more Divine knowledge to keep your nose in the book. The section on diet should be read carefully (more below). You can choose to launch yourself straight into the 8 Week Advanced Operator Training (AOT) if you are exceptionally fit and experienced, however I would do the 4 Week Onramp followed by the 4 Week Basic Training Course first, depending on your starting fitness level it may be as far as you can go as the AOT is very very demanding physically and mentally. Read the instructions closely to avoid injury and burning out. There is at least 17 weeks of training outlined in the book not including extra material to substitute, mix it or vary your training. This training is no joke and you will make gains if you do it correctly, take as long as you need and focus on form.
- The book is a companion to the web site where you will find more information and video instructions on doing the exercises, Yoga poses, warm ups etc. I emphasis the need to review these videos carefully as they are close as you will get to Coach Divine unless you are "lucky" enough to pay for the privilege of being beastied by him.
- There are other videos on everything from diet to pace running to Yoga and Meditation, Mental toughness and resilience. Divine is sort of like a Stoic version of Tony Robbins but the kind that can kill people with a combat ration can opener with complete equanimity and calm. Some of his talks are very inspirational and loaded with wisdom. You will learn about Meditation, Yoga, Visualization, Goal Setting and Spirituality, odd considering in the background you can probably hear the screams of candidates going through the Grinder under the abuse of Staff. It’s all about getting the mental game right.
- No one says you have to complete any part of the program. You can take what you need and leave the rest; there are things in the book I will use in my own regime but others I will leave out of my own program. Whether you complete all or part of the course is up to your own personal goals.
- You can use this as a stand alone program or cannibalize it for ideas to build your own integrated program around your own needs. For example I have a staged program that is heavy on Calisthenics, HIIT and Running; I’ve adopted a lot of the WODs in this book but chosen to leave out a lot of the exercises using weights in order to avoid shoulder injury (I'm 50).

The Bad
- If you have never done Crossfit before and don’t know what a WOD is you will be annoyed by the way the training is written out and the use of acronyms and abbreviations. A list of abbreviations and explanations are there but you need to read the instructions diligently.
- A lot of the training sessions take time. If you are pressed for time because of work, study or family commitments you will struggle to complete some of the Ramp-Up Sessions let alone AOT.
- The book is largely pitched for people to take up offers to buy the online course and spend money on the SEALFIT brand, nothing wrong with that but it is part marketing.
- All you get is the book and access to free videos. You are your own personal trainer, there is no one screaming at you and you have no team mates and there is no external reward for finishing, there are no certificates or slaps on the back and Hoorahs, no group photo or celebratory beers down at the Pub. If you are a loner like me who prefers to train alone and Keep it Simple this book has little little gems scattered within, otherwise join a Crossfit class if you want structure and someone holding your hand.
- The real SEALFIT experience (Grinder, Hell Week, Camp Kokoro) are not in this book. If anything the book is a series of Crossfit WOD’s with a little military preparatory training for barrier selection thrown in. Yes you will get fit but so will old school intense body weight training with a lot of running thrown in. Using the SEAL name is effective marketing and sounds sexy but otherwise it’s still Crossfit. I could just as easily go to the Australian Army website and download the preparatory program for entrance into SOF if I were a candidate.
- You need kit to do the program including access to a Gym or use your imagination for substituting. For some that is not practical or within budget. If you are poor and want to get to this level of fitness there are plenty of HIIT and Calisthenic workouts that train the body “old school” with minimal requirements for equipment. Otherwise the book does suggest alternatives if you get stuck.
- The diet is sensible in an ideal world and Divine swears by the Paleo diet. This may not be practical for everyone especially if you are married with kids and have to “suck up” what’s on offer at Dinner or have minimal time to cook. I would suggest an 80:20 rule on diet and don’t give yourself a hard time worrying about it. It’s still possible to cut out junk and cut down on carbs, dairy and sugar and still make great gains.

The Ugly
- I did CrossFit a while back and swore never again and was a little peeved to see this was really just a Crossfit program dressed in DPCU trousers for civvies although packaged within a training philosophy focused on personal improvement. It’s still Crossfit. I quit CrossFit for three reasons 1. A lot of the form and technique taught was unsafe and injuries were common 2. Some of the exercises were laughable. For example, I never seen kipping before Crossfit and in the Army it would have been labelled as “Poofter Pull Ups”. 3. The inflated egos at the gym were not left at the door and the camaraderie was shallow compared even to the Army Reserves. I eventually left it due to repetitive injuries from crap instruction and lack of supervision. I’ve since gone minimalist and use little more than a pull up / dip bars.
- Further to above, a lot of the weights work; especially the clean and jerk and shoulder presses, snatches etc will injure you without proper guidance and technique. I personally leave these exercises out and substitute for more bodyweight exercises which work the upper torso in a natural way rather than isolate specific muscle groups using technical load bearing exercises that may damage tendons and ligaments. Another thing decades ago I did a lot of Tabbing (Pack Runs), it still turns me on but I know it'll stuff my back, so take the Coaches advice and do not run with a Ruck. Safety First.
- Emphasis added: Most of the program in the book should not be done without proper guidance and technique training from someone qualified; you will hurt yourself without that underpinning knowledge and training. If you want to do SEALFIT join a decent CrossFit Gym in your area but assess the competency of the trainers before you invest the cash. To Divine’s credit though, he does emphasis the importance of safety, diet, recovery and not over training.

Final assessment: A handy reference and some great wisdom from a remarkable man to take away, attempt the AOT if you dare or stick to the On Ramp and Basic Training to get to a good level of fitness. Be warned however this book is not for everyone, the AOT is best done under competent supervision and guidance; speak to your Doctor or PTI before starting.

A Tip: In order to get the most out of this book, plot the training you are going to do on a spreadsheet or routine template. Once its all down on paper you can review the days and weeks in full and plan ahead and modify where desired. Taking a kindle to the gym does not really work.

Former Foreign Legion 1985-1990 and Australian Army 2000-2005.
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on January 29, 2016
Not for everyone...

So first of all let me state that I'm a 44 year old male, been reasonably active my entire life so far, and have been constantly strength training (not conditioning) for nearly 10 years now. I'm also a desk worker and an ectomorph, these factors makes my natural strength poor and my work capacity and recovery rate lower than I'd like.

Over 5 weeks I gave this program (Preliminary and On Ramp) a red hot go, and concluded that its not ideal for someone in my situation.

For the first roughly 2.5 weeks, I felt great - albeit sore in the mornings after - the workouts were usually longer and more intense than I was used to. But by the end of the 3rd week and going into the fourth week, my body started to rebel - in particular my long and thin forearms just couldnt take 5 consecutive days of punishment - snatches, pull ups, rows, you name it - I ended up with pain when gripping things and tennis elbow type symptoms and wisely (I think) decided to back off. There needs to be more to a balanced book than just suggesting that injuries can be overcome by willpower and gutting it out.

Work capacity definitely fell after week 2 and I felt as if my muscle tone was starting to deteriorate - maybe that was my imagination - but I'm pretty sure that a constant state of inflammation probably didnt do me much good - despite taking additional fish oil.

The workouts themselves seem to be well balanced, with a decent blend of push and pull on multiple axis - but there is simply not enough recovery time built in to it for me - maybe someone 1/2 my age with a better somatotype would be able to hack it. Having powerful forearms would also greatly have assisted me. Similar to Crossfit, there is plenty of for-time rounds of Olympic style lifting - something that I personally disagree with, since serious injury could result - but until then, there is no denying the benefits - just be careful!

Regarding the book:

The first part of the book is laid out in a bit of a confusing fashion - for instance, the first week of exercises isnt On Ramp, its something else (I think).

Diet is discussed only in the barest possible terms - basically Paleo is recommended. I'm sure people could argue until the cows come home on that topic and whether it best supports this sort of training. I'm not even going to give my opinion.

I considered becoming a member of their forums (the $9.90 per month option - not sure what that bought, but I expect it was just access and no coaching.), but nowadays, I pretty much expect that a forum is either not provided, or if it is, then its free. To charge for it, gives the impression of greed and didnt give me a positive impression (I have noted now that there is a trial at a minimal cost, which is nice to see).

I don't regret the book purchase, because I will take some strength and conditioning elements of this program and incorporate it into my previous routine, but I don't think I'll make the progression to "Basic Training", let alone "Advanced Operator Training" - those workouts make my hair curl.

I'm giving it 3 stars - because seriously - you can't tough out a genuine injury, and there is no doubting that the intensity of the program caused it - despite myself being in good shape for someone my age. The important topic of injury management isnt discussed at all and it does need to be for a programme with this intensity. I also think that launching into 5 intense days a week just becomes too much for most people once their out of their early 30's or havent 'grown up' with this training intensity. Probably that will give me some flac from commenters in their 20's - but think about your dad doing these programs and then wait until you get to my age!
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on February 10, 2017
Buy It.What do you have to lose? Very Interesting, Informative, Motivational, dInspiring and best of all not boring.

Good book to have around. Good point to start from.
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on April 5, 2017
This book is not for beginners, know that you'll need to be reasonably fit to start this program. Great program so far I'm liking it a lot.
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on May 20, 2016
Brilliantly written book! Easy to follow training sessions and diet guidelines. A perfect mix of brain, brawn and fitness all in one.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone thinking of getting out there and improving not only their physical attributes, but their mental attributes as well.
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on July 14, 2017
Still working my way through the book. So Far so good.
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on June 15, 2016
Doesn't really work for me that well I don't belong to a crossfit gym so I don't get sandbags or rings or any weight vests. But try it if you belong to one. Great fitness book (has workouts)
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on May 2, 2017
new and just as described. delivered quickly.
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on September 19, 2017
I love this book, can't do it without it
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on April 6, 2016
This book is freakin' awesome! I am a certified personal trainer & high school track coach. I am using this to shake up my own routine, but also to add alternative workouts for my athletes. It's a good read & full of sage advice. This works you out from the inside out.
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