I’ve been listening to Willink’s podcast for almost a year now, and his books have also been very inspirational.
There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of the fittest and mentally strong people alive, and that’s why I’ve been looking to get snippets of advice from him.
His approach to diet and exercise is particularly interesting, and he has shared many details over hundreds of hours of interviews, podcasts, and videos.
So, I decided to collect all that information so that you have it all in one place.
Who Is Jocko Willink?
Jocko Willink is a retired navy seal and Iraq War veteran who earned a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for his duty.
He also is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and host of the popular Jocko podcast, which covers topics from fitness to leadership, and business to mental health.
Jocko also owns a gym in San Diego, as well as a leadership consulting firm called Echelon Front.
And if that wasn’t enough to keep him occupied, he has also become a best-selling author of many books, including one titled “Discipline Equals Freedom” due to be released later this year.
It’s a self-help type of book where Jocko tries to show how he has adopted what he learned during his time in the US Navy special operations unit.
His fitness levels never seem to have dipped, and this would be down to his mental approach to training and eating, and applying a military style discipline.
Let’s start with what I found out about his weekly training routine.
Jocko Willink’s Weekly Exercise Routine
What I like about Jocko’s approach is that he keeps it simple by focusing on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups .
He also doesn’t do high-intensity workouts every day.
But even on those days where he’s not hitting the gym hard, he still does a lot of cardio.
I remember the days when I too would push through high-intensity workouts daily, but adopting Jocko’s balanced approach has not only improved my endurance but also made each workout session enjoyable and less of a chore.
Let’s take a look at what he does for strength, though.
Day 1: Pull-Ups
Pull-Ups are one of the best ways to target your shoulders and back, while also engaging your biceps in certain moves.
He has often said that a pull-up bar or frame is one of the first things he recommends for a garage gym.
I couldn’t agree more with Jocko on the effectiveness of pull-ups. Having installed a pull-up bar in my own garage, I’ve seen significant improvements in my shoulder and back strength. Each pull, each lift, reminds me of the simplicity yet effectiveness of this classic exercise.
Using your own body weight is highly effective, even if you need to start by supporting part of your weight on a chair.
These are the three main types you’d want to cycle through, but there are many more variations once you gain more muscle.
- Wide-Grip Pull-Ups
- Closed-Grip Pull-Ups
- Reverse-Grip Pull-Ups
Day 2: Push-Ups
He recommends using push-up bars or gymnastics rings for a longer range of motion, and as soon as you can get a good set done without shaking, you should try adding weight with a belt or vest.
I took Jocko’s advice to heart, incorporating push-up bars into my routine, and the difference was night and day. The extended range of motion not only intensified the workout but also brought about a noticeable definition in my arms and chest, a testament to Jocko’s insightful recommendations.
This day also includes doing dips to get some more burn into those triceps muscles.
The great thing is that you don’t need much equipment for this in your home gym.
But if you do have a rowing machine, then using it with straight legs at high resistance levels could add some diversity.
Day 3: Lifting
Looking at Jocko’s build reveals that he’s no stranger to powerlifting, and he seems to be a big fan of deadlifts, including clean and jerk benefits.
This isn’t something for beginners to just jump into if they don’t have barbell experience, and you might want to use bands to build up muscles before you start on a barbell.
I remember the first time I attempted powerlifting, inspired by Jocko’s robust build. The journey from using resistance bands to finally lifting the barbell was both challenging and rewarding. Each lift, each strain, echoed Jocko’s ethos of discipline and strength, and my own physical transformation became a living testament to his methods.
He’ll also include the bench press with a hefty weight to train to failure, as this may be the way to better achieve muscle growth triggers in the body, according to the UNM .
Day 4: Squats
This is primarily a day for leg exercise, but squats might also be a great way to build up more core strength.
He suggests that beginners start building up more leg and core strength with jumping jacks.
Squats have always been a staple in my workouts, but it was Jocko’s emphasis on them that made me realize their true potential. Each squat, each bend, not only strengthened my legs but also carved my core, turning each session into a dance of power and grace, echoing the silent yet potent strength Jocko embodies.
And you want to do these until your gym clothes are soaking with sweat.
You’ll need access to squat racks for this, so it might be something to keep for a day that you head to the gym.
You can check out these 7 squat variations.
The Jocko Willink Diet
While Jocko's rigorous workout routines are a cornerstone of his physical fitness, an often overlooked component is his nutritional strategy. Delving into the dietary habits that fuel such intense workouts can provide readers with a holistic view of fitness and well-being.
Jocko’s straightforward diet involves avoiding junk food and carbs while emphasizing the consumption of fruits and vegetables. He also practices intermittent fasting, drawing from his military training on the body’s resilience.
Adopting Jocko’s diet was a game-changer for me. Cutting out junk food and reducing carb intake wasn’t easy at first, but the increased energy levels and mental clarity I experienced were unparalleled. Each meal, rich in fruits and vegetables, became not just a feeding session but an experience of nourishing my body and soul.
“Discipline is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.”
- Jocko Willink
Intermittent fasting is a regular part of his diet approach, where he might go 24 to 72 hours without food several times a year.
It’s the discipline to eat clean and healthy foods that have probably helped him maintain his fitness levels, and it’s something you could learn by reading his upcoming book “Discipline Equals Freedom”.
Jocko Willink’s Lifestyle
Jocko’s strong work ethic is evident in his early morning routines and meticulous planning. Rising at 4:30 AM for exercise allows him a full day to focus on his business, with each aspect of his day pre-planned for efficiency.
In the midst of discussing the intensity and complexity of Jocko’s workout routines, the critical aspect of recovery often goes unmentioned. Exploring the recovery techniques, from sleep to stretching, that Jocko employs can offer a balanced perspective on achieving peak physical performance.
How Does Jocko Approach Supplements
One thing I’ve been interested in is how he approaches a supplement routine. Based on some comments in a few interviews, I’ve identified this Jocko Willink supplements stack.
I too was curious about Jocko’s supplement routine, and decided to give it a try. Each supplement, carefully selected, became a part of my daily ritual. The pre-workout ignited my energy, the nootropics sharpened my focus, and the protein aided my recovery, weaving a symphony of enhanced performance and vitality reminiscent of Jocko’s indomitable spirit.
He has his own brand of supplements too, but we just want to focus on the types he uses.
Related: Jocko Willink’s Supplements List
1 - Pre-Workout
He’s regularly stated that he takes a pre-workout supplement before all his high-intensity sessions. You wouldn’t really need it for cardio training, but as soon as your heart rate heads for maximum levels, it’s a good idea.
These supplements are designed to extend your endurance and overall performance to do more sets or reps.
2 - Nootropic
His day obviously requires a careful balance of physical and brain energy. As a successful businessman, he needs to have his mind on top performance, which is why he takes nootropics as soon as he gets out of bed, and before he starts his workouts.
3 - Protein Powder
4 - Omega 3
This is an underrated supplement that doesn’t just help with an immune boost. Some research has also shown that it may play a role in speeding up the recovery process, especially after a more intense fitness routine.
Check out the best Omega-3 supplements on the market.
5 - Joint Support
The harder you work out, the more pressure your joints will need to put up with. By taking a regular joint support supplement with ingredients like collagen, you could be making a big difference when it comes to flexibility and the types of movements you can do.
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