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Ask Stew: Preparing Your Body For Military Service

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Every day, people ask for tips or advice on how to prepare for jobs such as military service that require both a fitness test for entry as well as follow-on training to join their ranks. There will be additional training programs as you pursue other interests in your career as well -- so preparing your body for the rigors of military service ranges in both specific events as well as intensity. Some will argue that the branches of service have varying levels of intensity and difficulty in both basic and advanced training. I am one to agree with that argument, as the answer to HOW to prepare your body for military service really is, "It depends." Here is an email from a young man who knows he wants to serve his country but is still on the fence regarding which branch of service.

Stew - I have recently decided to pursue a career in the military. I was able to discover your work through a forum discussing physical fitness preparations for enlisting. At this time, I have not made a decision on how I'd like to serve for I know I am not physically prepared for it. I'm currently 20 years old weighing roughly 140 lbs and stand 5'11". It has been roughly 6 years since I have made any attempt at working on my physical state and have chicken wing arms to show for it. The intended purpose of this email is to hopefully gain some information on how to properly approach a healthy workout routine. Cody

First, since you are starting out on your fitness journey, you want to build a foundation of fitness. Start with daily activities such as running, calisthenics, get into the weight room and build your upper body as well as your legs / core for maybe a future of load bearing (rucking if Army / USMC). Get on a plan. If you are not sure on the branch of service, try Tactical Fitness. It focuses on all the elements of tactical fitness preparation.

Getting into the weight room is not a bad idea for your current height and weight. Putting on some muscle is a good idea as well. Remember that if you want to be big you have to eat big. See ideas.

Regardless of your branch of service, you will take a fitness test that involves the following events:

Pushups, situps, pullups, and running. The distances vary from service to service, but getting your mile pace down to respectable levels is a good idea. Shoot for a 6-7 minute mile pace. Being a lighter person, running improvements will come easier to you, as will pullups and other calisthenics. When in doubt, one of the best workouts we have to help prepare people is the PFT Bible, as it covers near every service and will help build a solid PFT taking foundation for you regardless of service branch.

I hope this gives you some ideas about how to get started. When in doubt, treat yourself like a beginner. Do not start off too hardcore and hurt yourself.

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