Preparing Yourself for Bootcamp


This article discusses some of the physical requirements recruits have to meet in boot camp and how you can start training in advance to prepare to meet the challenges you will face.

Boot Camp

Be Prepared!

When you head off to boot camp you are definitely going to be experiencing a different lifestyle than what you are (most likely currently) accustomed to.

Many recruits are aware of this and (may) experience some anxiety before they go, wondering if they will be able to handle the experience. However, you can prepare yourself for some of what is to come.

Learn What to Expect

Not knowing what to expect is what causes many enlistees to worry. Probably the number one thing that concerns those going to boot camp is they do not know what physical (or mental) challenges they will face. This can be partially remedied with a little research. Every armed service has their own Physical Training Test that members must pass. The basic requirements to pass the test for each service are:

  • Army: Timed two mile run, two minutes of sit-ups and two minuses of push-ups/press-ups.
  • Navy: Timed 1.5 mile run, two minutes of curl-ups and two minutes of push-ups.
  • Marine Corp: Timed three mile run, two minutes of crunches and two minutes of pull-ups or push-ups.
    • Marines must also pass a Combat Fitness Test that consists of a 880 yard sprint, counted 30 pound ammo can lifts and a 300 yard manoeuvre under fire event.
  • Air Force: Timed 1.5 mile run, 1 minute of push-ups and 1 minute of sit-ups.
  • Coast Guard: Timed 1.5 mile run, one minute of push-ups, 1 minute of sit-ups and a 1.5 metre platform jump into a 100 metre swim.

These are not insurmountable obstacles, and should not be thought of as such. Of course you are going to be pushed and there will be other challenges but knowing what the actual physical requirements are can put your mind more at ease.

Preparing Yourself Physically

The physical conditioning of boot camp trainees varies tremendously. You will likely run into at least one person who sails through all the physical challenges with ease, while there will be others who will struggle through every challenge. The majority will fall somewhere in-between. Things will likely go much better for you in boot camp if you start doing some physical conditioning exercises before you go. Boot camp workout programmes are popular now but you can prepare yourself just as well on your own. Starting two to three months before you are scheduled to be in boot camp start with the following exercises (illustation only):

  • Push-ups:
    • The military loves push-ups (press-ups in the British vernacular).
    • They are part of the PFT and often used as a form of punishment.
    • Push-ups are something you can easily train for.
    • Start by doing the most push-ups you can.
    • Do them at least 4 times a week and try and increase the number every workout.
    • If you have never done push-ups you may not be able to do many at first, but you will find that in a short time your count will go up.
    • The key is consistency.
  • Pull-ups:
    • Pull-ups (heaves in the British vernacular) are more difficult than push-ups but the principle for getting better at them is the same.
    • Begin by doing as many as you can and try and increase the number you perform every workout.
    • If you are unable to complete a pull-up at first, start in the up position and lower yourself as slowly as you can.
    • You will get to 1, then 2 and so on.
    • Do not be discouraged if your numbers do not go up to quickly.
    • Just stick with it.
    • By starting a few months early you will be better off than some of your fellow recruits in boot camp.
  • Sit-ups/curl-ups:
    • When doing sit-ups or curl-ups you will want to pace yourself.
    • One approach is to set a comfortable number of sit-ups you can perform in 30 seconds, take a few seconds break and repeat until you have completed 4 sets.
    • Alternatively you can target a specific number of sit-ups and do as many sets as it takes to reach that number.
    • Increase the number of sit-ups over time.
    • Again, the key is consistency
  • Running:
    • Running is something else boot camp instructors like to have you do.
    • To prepare yourself start out with an easy 1 mile run 4 days a week.
    • After 2 or 3 weeks up the distance you run to 1.5 miles.
    • Time yourself on your runs and see how you improve.

Working on these 4 exercises starting 2 to 3 months before you leave for boot camp will make the physical challenges there much easier for you. Obviously, the better shape you are in physically, the easier it will be – but it is not necessary to devote a huge amount of time to training. Four to eight hours a week can make a big difference. You will be leaving your friends and family for an extended period of time and you will want to relax and enjoy yourself (LOL, lots of relaxing in basic training!). Watch some movies or play some video games with your friends like League of Legends and others that AskBoosters provides services for. Playing video games does provide some benefits that will help you with your boot camp experience.

Sgt. Ashley Mohr, a drill instructor with Platoon 4039, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, ensures her recruits have their valuables Sept. 17, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. Drill instructors ensure all recruits and their equipment are accounted for at the end of the day. Mohr is a 27-year-old native of Salamanca, N.Y. Oscar Company is scheduled to graduate Nov. 7, 2014. Parris Island has been the site of Marine Corps recruit training since Nov. 1, 1915. Today, approximately 20,000 recruits come to Parris Island annually for the chance to become United States Marines by enduring 13 weeks of rigorous, transformative training. Parris Island is home to entry-level enlisted training for 50 percent of males and 100 percent of females in the Marine Corps. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

Be Prepared Mentally

Being physically fit is not a guarantee of success in boot camp. There are some mental aspects that some people have difficulty dealing with. There is going to be stress to deal with. You will be pushed and worked hard, and occasionally you may feel treated unfairly. There will be a bunch of others you have never met that you will be living in close quarters with. Some you will like and some you will not but you will be around them and work with them pretty much 24 hours a day for a few months. You will be expected to follow orders immediately. To succeed you have to have the right attitude. It is fairly normal for many recruits to feel like they made a mistake, especially the first few weeks of boot camp, but it will pass. Be persistent and persevere. Quite likely you will look back on the experience with fondness in a few years.


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