Ready for Boot Camp?

by Stew Smith

Prepare Yourself for Boot Camp

Why show up at your boot camp or a service academy unprepared for the physical fitness test? You would be surprised, but many people are physically unprepared for life in the military when they arrive. Why make life your first time away from home any more stressful than it already is?

If you show up fit and able to pass your respective Personal Fitness Test (PFT) easily, the fitness part of boot camp will be a stress releaser - not a stress increaser! If you prepare yourself properly, you can go into the military able to compete instead of having the mentality of just surviving. This makes all the difference in the world between those who graduate and those who quit.

You have to take a running test - so run! You have to take a swimming test - so swim! You'll also have to do push-ups and sit-ups. Some boot camps even have you do pull-ups- so practice those calisthenics.

Here are the exercises of all the PFTs, with helpful tips to increase your overall score on test day:

Test Yourself

The anxiety felt by most service members is largely due to performing within a time limit. The more your workouts are timed, the better you are at "pacing" yourself, thus eliminating most anxiety.

Pull-ups

During the pull-up and push-up test, you want to perform these as fast as possible while adhering to the proper form and technique. Also, look straight up at the sky in order to use your back muscles more for pull-ups.

Recommended Workout

Pyramid workout. Start off with just one pull-up for the first set, two pull-ups for the second set. Continue up the pyramid by adding one pull-up for every set possible. When you can no longer continue, repeat in reverse order until you are back to just one pull-up (Ex. 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1).

Push-ups

Placing your hands in the wrong position can seriously affect your maximum score. A perfect location for your hands is just outside shoulder width. This position enables the chest, shoulders and triceps to be equally taxed. Keep hands at shoulder height when in the up position. Your push-ups will be weakened if your hands are too low, wide, close or high.

Recommended Workout

Try five sets of maximum push-ups in five one-minute periods.

Curl-ups (sit-ups)

This is an exercise you need to pace. Most people burn out in the first 30 seconds with 30 curl-ups accomplished, only able to perform another 20 or so curl-ups within the next 1:30. By setting a pace at, for instance, 20 sit-ups every 30 seconds, you can turn your score of 50-60 to 80 with very little effort.

Recommended Workout

Try timing yourself with 5 sets of 30 seconds, setting your pace to your goal. A good pace is 20 sit-ups in 30 seconds - totaling 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes.

Running

For most people, the most challenging event of any PFT is by far the run. Timed runs equals pace. The most important thing is to not start off too fast. Learn your pace and set your goal by pacing yourself to the finish. For instance, if your goal is to run the 2 mile run in 14:00, you must run a 7:00 mile or a 1:45 - 1/4 mile.

Recommended Workout and Techniques

The Four-Mile Track Workout has worked for many military and short distance runners for years. The Four Mile Track Workout is broken into 1/4-mile sprints and jogs and 1/8-mile sprints and jogs for a total of four miles. The workout goes as follows:

4 Mile-Track Workout

- Jog - 1 mile in 7:00 - 8:00
- Three sets of:
- Sprint -1/4 mile
- Jog - 1/4 mile in 1:45
- Six sets of:
- Sprint -1/8 mile
- Jog - 1/8 mile 1:00

Do this workout without walking to rest. The only rest you will receive is during your slower jogging pace. Try to catch your breath while you jog. Have fun with this one it is tough. At first, you may have to walk in between fast running.

Other Related Boot Camp Articles:

- Are You Fit to Serve?
- Getting Prepared for Boot Camp
- No Weights at Boot Camp
- Pre-Boot Camp Training
- Physical Fitness Test Anxiety

Next Step: If you are considering joining the military, your next step should be to speak to a recruiter from the service of your choice.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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