Do you need to physically prepare for basic training? Many potential new recruits and their families are understandably concerned about the rigors of basic training. Whether it’s Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or the Coast Guard, how should someone get ready for these fitness requirements?
What follows should not be considered medical advice. This is information provided based on personal testimony, expert studies, and information published on military official sites. Always consult a physician before attempting a new exercise regimen. This is especially the case if you haven’t been physically active in a while.
Physical Preparation for Basic Training: What You Should Know First
No matter what you are told by a recruiter, currently serving military member, or even an article on the internet, always consult a physician for advice on exercise concerns related to your own personal medical history.
General advice is just that. It is general and not tailored to your own medical profile. Yes, we have repeated the “see a doctor” warning twice in this article, but that is the level of importance this issue requires.
What else should you know about the basics physically preparing for your reporting date for training? The level of physical stress you experience will naturally vary depending on the branch of service. All branches have running, push-ups, crunches, and other activity as part of the daily training routine.
Body Types, Body Fat, and Fitness
All branches of service will have some type of body fat measurement system that, at least in part, informs physical fitness standards. Some recruits may have no trouble at all meeting these service-specific body fat standards. Others, because of genetics, lifestyle, or other factors, may struggle to meet these standards for one reason or another.
Starting early before reporting to boot camp on fitness and diet (see below) can help new recruits and potential new recruits deal with the body fat issue.
Once started on the road to better health, even those who are considered “marginal” may be able to come up to current standards or get themselves out of the “danger zone” for body fat measurements.
Start Slowly and Work Up
Those who have not exercised in a while should NOT just dive in headfirst by beginning long runs, large amounts of pushups, or other workout elements. It is important to ease into the exercise regimen and listen to your body. This is true both of the types of workouts you choose AND in the workout itself.
Warm Up, Cool Down
The official United States Army recruiting site strongly advises recruits to take a 10-15 minute warm-up and an equally long cool-down period as part of every exercise session. This prevents injury and helps the body ease into the intensity of the actual workout.
Choose Your Workout Carefully
If your workout concentrates on weights and seated cardio, you could be cheating yourself out of some important prep work. Basic training involves physical challenges that pit you against your own body. More often than not, you will be required to develop the strength to deal with your own body weight in the form of push-ups, running, and swimming.
Lifting weights and seated cardio can be good supplements to running and swimming. It is also a good way to ease into a training regimen that incorporates those activities.
If you skimp on push-ups, crunches, and running, you may find yourself hurting more in basic training than you expect even with the prep work.
Some Branches of Military Service Swim, Some Do Not. Plan Accordingly
Joining the Marine Corps and the United States Navy requires swimming skills. One Marine drill instructor interviewed in a published report commented that some of his new arrivals had never been in a swimming pool before. Don’t be one of those people as you will be at a major disadvantage.
The Navy basic training regimen includes something known as Water Survival Training. To complete successfully, it requires the recruit to learn how to stay alive in open water without the assistance of a floatation device “long enough to be rescued if you were to fall overboard.”