Jocko Willink Workout and Diet
John Gretton ‘Jocko’ Willink is a retired US Navy SEAL who spent 20 years in the service. He received both a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for service in the Iraq war. He is the author of several books, including Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual and The Way of the Warrior Kid. Along with fellow former SEAL Leif Babin, Willink co-wrote the best-selling book Extreme Ownership and the two also co-founded a consulting firm called Echelon Front. Willink holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu and teaches at a gym he owns in San Diego. He hosts a weekly podcast along with another friend, Echo Charles called the ‘Jocko Podcast’ that covers topics from lessons learned as a navy SEAL to jiu jitsu. His TED talk has had over a half million views on YouTube. Willink is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 230 lbs.
Jocko Willink’s Diet
Willink follows the Paleo diet, more or less, eating primarily meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. He wants us all to give up processed foods and sugar, and just say no to the free junk food at work. He does a 24-hour fast about every other week and a 3-day fast every 3 months (during which he allows himself to drink tea and chew on sunflower seeds to quell hunger pangs). He believes fasting helps him to feel better and stronger, and to focus on the things that matter.
- Medium Carbs 40% 40%
- Medium Protein 60% 60%
- Medium Fat 40% 40%
Ignore Free Food
Willink believes the free bagels, donuts and pizza your coworkers bring around to be nice are actually sabotaging your health. His advice: skip it and go for something healthy. Or just plain skip it.
You’re Not Starving
Willink likes to remind people that it is possible to live for several weeks without food. Just because you haven’t eaten in a few hours, you are not starving. Stay strong.
Cut the Carbs
Willink is a proponent of replacing processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables, not only for your health, but also to feel more alert and less sluggish and improve your over performance.
Although he does not follow a strict schedule, Willink fasts for 24 hours approximately once every 2 weeks. He also does a 72-hour fast 4 times per year.
No Cheat Days
Willink thinks it’s too easy to allow 80/20 to turn into 60/40, then 50/50 and fall all the way off the wagon. In order to develop discipline, you must tell yourself you’re going to eat clean every single day.
What to Eat
What to Avoid
Grains (wheat, rice, corn)
Willink on Fasting
‘We have food all around us all the time, and if we haven’t eaten for 3 hours we think we’re starving. You’re not starving. Human beings can go for 30 days without food.’
Willink on Defeating Hunger Pangs
‘…When you feel hungry, and that hunger bully starts to creep up on you and pull you toward the donuts, slap that bully in the face. That should feel good.’
Willink on the 80/20 Rule
‘Don’t follow the 80/20 rule. Follow the 100% rule — that might turn into the 99% rule, and that is okay. But the 80/20 rule isn’t a rule. It’s a step down a slippery slope.’
Willink on Donuts
Jocko Willink’s Workout Routine
Get Your Priorities Straight
While it’s easy to prioritize everything except exercise, Willink says that’s got to change. Go to bed earlier, and have your gym clothes ready and waiting so you have no excuse not to exercise.
Up Before the Birds
Willink arises at 4:30 a.m., his habit ever since he noticed the top SEALs got up the earliest.
Take Time to Recover
Willink offers an exercise plan you only need to do 4 days per week.
Willink does a series of pull-ups, planks, squats, burpees, jumping jacks and yoga moves to get the blood flowing at his 4:30 a.m. start time.
Willink does a few light movements of the exercises he’s planning to do to loosen up and restore muscles memory.
Get To Work, Soldier
Now Willink is ready to do the real work. Check out the ‘Style’ section to learn all the details. Willink offers a 4-day routine in his book, with beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. On recovery days, Willink recommends doing some lighter exercise such as jogging or calisthenics.
But Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Willink wants people to get out there and try something new. He shares his exercise with that hope, but says go with what works best for you.
Hang on a pull-up bar for 10-15 seconds.
Next, hold a plank for another 10—15 seconds.
Do a yoga up dog position to stretch the abs.
Follow this with a yoga down dog to stretch the hamstrings and hips.
Do a burpee and a few jumping jacks.
Next up, do a push-up, a pull-up, a chaturanga, a slow squat, and then a burpee. End the round with 5 jumping jacks. Repeat this cycle doing 2 of each exercise, ending with 10 jumping jacks. Keeping adding another rep to each exercise, doing 5 rounds total, and finishing with 25 jumping jacks.
More For the Core
Willink also works his gut on each of these 4 days, doing basic crunches and hanging leg raises.
MetCon is short for ‘Metabolic Conditioning’ and it’s what civilians call ‘cardio.’ Willink does HIIT training, although he calls it ‘getting his heart rate up for short, intense periods of time.’ After your main exercises, push yourself with a few sets of sprints, or a hard 1-2 mile run. You could also use a stationary bike or rowing machine for this exercise, but work at high intensity.
Day 1: Pull
Willink’s pulling exercises are all based on a standard pull-up, with either a bar or rings. After you master the standard pull-ups with various grips, he likes to do weighted kipping pull-ups, where you swing with your hips and shoulders while wearing a weighted vest.
Day 2: Push
Willink’s push day is based on exercises associated with push-ups and dips. He will wear a weight vest or belt that adds about 20% of his body weight, then does 5 sets of ring dips.
Day 3: Lift
Willink does deadlifts and lifts that involve the weights starting on the ground and lifting them over his head. He likes the clean-and-jerk, and snatch movements which can be dangerous if not done properly. Willink says you must build a foundation and learn from an experienced person before attempting this type of exercise.
If you do not have barbell experience, Willink suggests mastering a handstand, building endurance by holding the position until you get tired. You can use a wall to support yourself at first.
Day 4: Squat
While squats are primarily a leg exercise, they require the use of your entire body and offer big results. Willink does many kinds of squats, including back squats, front squats and overhead squats. Beginners should build up strength with lunges before moving on to standard squats.
Willink on Exercise
Willink on Time
‘You don’t “find” time to do what is important. You MAKE TIME. GO.’
Willink on Early Risers
‘I’m not saying 0430 is for everyone. But if you’re sleeping until ten every day, get used to losing.’
Jocko Willink’s Supplements
Jocko’s Joint Warfare contains anti-inflammatories that can relieve pain and speed healing.
Protein Powder for Kids
Jocko’s Warrior Kid protein drink mix is sweetened with sugar-free monk fruit and contains vitamins, probiotics and high-quality protein. Available in chocolate and strawberry flavors, it supports optimal physical activity and mental sharpness.
Jocko Willink’s Lifestyle
Prepare, Then Sleep
Willink only sleeps about 4-5 hours per night. But before laying down his weary head, he sets out his gym clothes so they’re ready for his 4:30 wake time.
Just before retiring from the Navy, Willink was asked to give a lecture on combat leadership to a group of business executives. After the lecture, several of the CEOs in the audience asked him to come talk at their company, and, presto, Willink had a ready-made business that also led to writing his books.
Discipline Equals Freedom
Willink believes that by developing and sticking to strict procedures and guidelines, you gain the freedom of focusing on objectives that matter.
Unwind With a Little Hardcore
Willink has been a fan of hardcore music since his youth and plays the guitar, but says he’s not any good.
Willink on Leadership
‘Leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory.’
Willink on Ego
‘Ego clouds and disrupts everything.’
Willink on Discipline
‘Discipline is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.’
Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual
Sharkfin Cargo Shorts
White Axiom BJJ Gi
Apache BJJ Gi
Black Comp Atleta