Often one of my number one pieces of advice to people is to not join the military simply because you have completed high school or junior college or completed your college degree. Join when you are ready! This means that you should not put an arbitrary date in your head to leave -- make sure that date coincides with you being fully prepared to endure whatever challenges that are ahead of you. You may ask, "How will I know that I am ready?"
Here is a Top Ten List of Signs To Know When You Are Ready
These signs can be for just about any challenging event in your future. Military, Police, Firefighting Academies, and Special Ops Selection programs all require a certain level of preparation. Regardless of your past abilities, we all have weaknesses that these types of training programs will quickly expose. That is why the number one sign on your list is Reducing Weaknesses.
1. Reducing Weaknesses – You first need to find what your weaknesses are physically. Are you a strength athlete who thinks long distance running is anything over 100 yards? Are you an endurance athlete that has never lifted weights or cranked out double-digit pullups? Related Article - Common Weaknesses you may not even know you have.
2. Can Your Crush The Entry Fitness Test? – Getting TO any training requires you pass a fitness test. You can be in the zone of barely passing with the minimum standards or you can be in the group that maximizes the standards. These tests are a decent predictor of success at tactical training programs in our government. By striving for the minimum standards, you are setting yourself up for possible failure to meet future standards of training OR getting injured due to over-use type injuries. The PT test should just be another workout for you as you have done it so many times in preparation for your future job.
3. Longer Workouts – Obviously, preparation is not limited to just a PT test. You have to also prepare your body for the rigors of the specifics of your future training. This may be carrying heavy weight in a backpack or gear. It may require swimming and the water confidence of a marine mammal. And without a doubt, it will require running – lots of running. There is not 30 minute gym routine that prepares you for a day of military training. You have to put in your time – working out and staying busy the rest of the day.
4. No Naps – Long workouts and working the rest of the day is a typical training day for all tactical professions. There are no nap times. Many people who have the time in their schedule will work out for a few hours, eat, take a nap, eat, work out again, eat, maybe take another nap and that is their preparation day. I am not saying that if you are tired and need a quick nap for recovery purposes to skip it. Just be aware that in the near future, your day will consist of work, working out, and more work. Many students with a successful selection program will work out for a few hours, spend the rest of the day in school or working, then work out again before calling it a day. These are more realistic timelines you will have when going through your selection, boot camp or academy.
5. Running Foundation – When people say it is a running man's game out there, they are not lying. Most challenging selection programs are based in running and/or rucking, which requires a solid foundation of weight bearing and impact exercise that running provides. Running is also a proven method to see how badly someone wants to succeed and an easy event to mark progress. Are you getting faster? Can you run as long as the instructors tell you to? Are you feeling no overuse pains during and after you run (knee tendons, shins, feet, hips)? If you answer YES to these, your running foundation is solid. Running Articles
6. Swim Skills – Swimming is a survival skill and we all should know how to do it – just to save your own life. However, in many programs, swimming and the skills in the water must be competent enough for night swims and SCUBA dives, long treading sessions, miles of swimming with fins, and possess good form for both surface and underwater swimming. (Military Swim Skills)
7. Rucking – If you are going Army, Marines, or Special Ops, you will be rucking. If you are becoming a police officer or firefighter, your daily gear is heavy as well. Get used to moving carrying extra weight and fast by adding weight vests to your calisthenics/walking and running workouts. What is a Ruck?
8. Multiple Workouts – Spread through the day, a morning PT and a run and an afternoon swim or ruck can be logical ways to fit in a few hours of physical activity. Topping it off with an evening weight training session and still feeling like you are not over doing it is a good indicator that you are well prepared for any challenge of your future. Two a Day Workouts – related article.
9. Get Specific – Make sure the focus of your workouts is on what you will be specifically tested on during your training/selection. That may mean more rucking than swimming or more longer distance timed runs than upper body strength requirements. It all depends on your branch of service or job you seek. To and Through Training – related article.
10. Recover Quickly – In the end, the answer to if you are READY is how quickly do you recover from previous tough workouts? Making sure your nutrition, sleep, mobility, and workouts are in balance is the key to pursuing recovery and achieving optimal performance. More information on recovery. Recovery Tools of the Trade