Boot Camp is an amazing way to push your limits and achieve ever greater goals but it is vital to be prepared for it both physically and mentally. At Boot Camp, you will be completing an array of challenging activities which include push-ups (aka press-ups), sit-ups, pull-ups (aka heaves), timed runs, and more.
A 2016 study by J Sefton et al found that the primary medical reason soldiers are unable to deploy and one of the most important factors affecting military readiness, are musculoskeletal injuries. The British Army gets around this problem through prevention, education, and soldier training which emphasises the athletic nature of being a soldier.
You too should take this approach before Boot Camp, educating yourself on fitness requirements, taking steps to prevent injury, and treating yourself as an elite athlete would.
Rest is Key
You are probably already on a pre-Boot Camp training routine that includes cardiovascular, resistance, and weights training. However, it is also important to ensure you get at least seven hours of sleep every night, as recommended by the British Sleep Council.
The effects of sleep deprivation include a slower reaction time and if one thing is clear at Boot Camp, it is that you need to be alert, attentive to instructions, and fast to react. As noted by M Taheri et al in a 2012 study, “Total sleep deprivation (TSD) has been shown to negatively affect many physiological, cognitive, and behavioural measures within the body.” A lack of sleep not only affects your performance on the field, but also impairs recovery in athletes, which is bad news if you sustain any injury prior to or during Boot Camp.
Packing the Right Gear
Your workout clothes will normally be provided for you at Boot Camp, but you should also bring quality workout gear developed with effective technology. After all, you may wish to do a little training or stretching in your free time and you will need additional clothing to do so. Opt for clothing that is durable, breathable, flexible, and that will ‘wick away’ sweat so as to stop bacteria build-up on your skin.
If you are not used to high repetition, you could be more subject to everything from tendinopthy to shin splints. In the months and weeks leading up to Boot Camp, be familiar with moderate to high reps of calisthenic’s. Check out this array of materials which explains classic exercises such as the Classic Press-Up, the Loaded March, the ‘Royal’ Burpee, and other exercises you should get a head-start on. Doing so will not only help you prevent injury, but also allow you to negotiate obstacles and carry out exercises with self-confidence.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
At Boot Camp, you may be far from your traditional sources of support and you may feel worried or stressed about your ability to withstand challenging workouts. Being physically fit is one thing, but you should also work on your mental health.
It is a good idea to adopt mindfulness-based activities such as yoga or mindfulness meditation. These ancient holistic practices have been proven in numerous studies to be powerful antidotes to stress. They have a strong mindfulness component, which involves keeping the mind ‘in the here and now’. In this state, one acknowledges negative emotions and thoughts yet obtains a healthy enough distance from them, based on the realisation that these thoughts and emotions are impermanent. By staying in the present moment, you will be able to prevent being a victim to worry about the future or to self-defeating beliefs from the past.
If you are planning on taking part in a Boot Camp, rest assured you should be prepared for a life-changing, positive experience that will strengthen your body and mind and allow you to meet a host of interesting people who share your passion for fitness and excellence. Prepare well both physically and mentally, honing your endurance and strength but also working on mastering your fears.