Ask Stew: Time Management in Preparation for Army Basic Training

Sgt. David M. Knotts Jr, concentrates on his form during the push-up portion of the Army Physical Fitness Test.
Sgt. David M. Knotts Jr, concentrates on his form during the push-up portion of the Army Physical Fitness Test.

Getting specifics to workouts requires some creativity to fit exercise into your schedule.  Here is an email from a young future Army soldier who is finishing up college this semester and preparing to enlist shortly thereafter:

Mr. Stew, Thanks for the article about Workouts and Time Management. As a full-time student with a part time job, I find that my school, work, and study time fill my day pretty well. I only have one semester left, and I plan on enlisting and going Army SF. I see where there is some time to squeeze in workouts in my day, but what would you consider a good workout through the day?

You may want to give yourself some time after graduation before enlisting after a high stress few semesters as you have recently completed. Though they are great for stress and time management, the semester you had recently may not be the best for training. However, you can get creative with the following training that will help you as a future Army soldier:

1 – Ruck everywhere – Walk to classes carrying your backpack not just loaded with books, but extra weight. However, you should be trained to be able to do this with a background of lifting, running, and rucking in your past. If you need a progression, try it every other day, or only in the mornings.

2 – Run and PT in the morning – Here is a classic quick workout that you can do in the gym or even in your room. Perhaps spread through the day when studying as well:  PT Super Set

Repeat 5-10 times (spread through the day or study period or one quick 20 minute workout)
Pushups 10
Situps 10
Wide Pushups 10
Crunches 10
Tricep Pushups 5-10
Plank pose 1 min
*add 3-5 pullups each set if you have one available, or a door jamb pullup bar in your room
It is recommended to only do this every OTHER day.

On a leg day you can mix the squats and lunges with short and fast runs:

Repeat 6-8 times
400m sprint or goal paced run
squats 20
lunges 10/leg

3 – Short Cardio During Lunch – Depending on your running ability, you can get a quick run or ruck during lunch period or in between classes when you have an empty period. However, if you need a break from the impact of running / rucking, do a bike, elliptical, or rowing pyramid or swim with fins to work the lungs and legs stamina.

4 – After School / Before Work or Study Time – If you have 30-60 minutes late in the day depending upon the day, either get a solid cardio time with a mix of running or rucking. Or, get into the gym and do a lift to get stronger for being an Army SF / Ranger soldier. You will need some lifting to work the lower back and legs to prepare for the long rucking and equipment carries of training as well as the job itself. Creating that foundation of strength is critical. We call it Tactical Strength. Some classic mixes of weight, calisthenics and short / fast cardio workouts are like these:

Weight Vest Workout -  mix of calisthenics and weights and cardio.

Or more specifically a circuit of these exercises:

Mix of Weights and Calisthenics Workout:
Warm up 5 minutes

Repeat 3 times
Military Press (weights) — 10–15 reps
Pushups — max 1 min
Pullups — max reps
Pulldowns (weights) 10–15 reps
Squats — 1 minute
Dead Lift or Leg Press (weights) 10 reps
Hang Clean 10 / Push Press 10
Burpees 1 min
Cardio of your choice 5 minutes
Run 2 miles timed

These are just some of the ideas you can do throughout the day. The suggestions are not meant to be done ALL in a day. Pick one or two options and get something done each day. You will find that when you training on top of a full day of work / school, you are actually preparing yourself pretty well for the long day in military training. Once you are in the military, you will find that your days are busy with some classroom, various physical labor work events, as well as harder workouts and fitness tests.

Keep up the busy life!  It will prepare you for your future training better than you realize.

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness