Get Boot Camp Ready!

bootcamp prep

If you are out of shape, here is a crash eight week workout program to make you fit as fast as possible.  This is a great program for those who have enlisted in the Navy, Army, Marines or Air Force and need to get in shape to survive boot camp. This workout program is also great for civilians who want to jumpstart their fitness programs.

Who this pre-boot camp is appropriate for

  1. Those who can’t run two miles without walking or stopping
  2. Those who can’t do 10 pullups
  3. Those who can’t do 20 pushups

If you can do the above things then this boot camp workout program is too easy for you and you can find a more appropriate workout here: The best workout program.

Military Physical Fitness Tests (PTF)

Virtually every branch of the military in every country has their version of a Physical Fitness Test (PFT).  This is a test that recruits are required to pass to graduate from boot camp and also to pass on a recurring basis once they are in the military. The Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force all have different PFTs and differing countries have differing requirements but they are all very similar. Virtually all the physical fitness tests require running, pullups, pushups, and situps.  If you show up to boot camp fat and out of shape, not only will boot camp be a miserable experience for you but there is a good chance that you will not graduate either.  The physica fitness test requiremets are quite complicated but here is a very rough idea of a minimum passing score and a perfect score:

 

Perfect ScoreMinimum Requirement
pullups 20 pullups 3 pullups
pushups in 2 minutes 92 pushups 42 pushups
3 mile run 18 minutes 28 minutes
situps 109 situps 50 situps

 
If you can achieve the minimum levels listed above before showing up to boot camp, you will most likely be able to graduate although it might be living hell. If you can achieve the perfect score levels above, the physical aspect of boot camp will be easy for you and you can focus on your leadership skills rather than gasping for breath :)

Getting Ready For Boot Camp

So you have enlisted and you look at the above requirements for the PFT and you are a bit apprehensive.  Your goal should be to get a perfect score on the PFT *before* you show up at bootcamp.  Boot camp is stressful enough without having every day be a physical struggle.  First some general words of warning are in order.  If you wait to the last minute you are doomed.  If you are 100 pounds overweight and have never done anything athletic in your life and are trying to get ready for bootcamp that starts in 3 weeks, you are doomed – period.  Getting in shape takes time and the worse shape you are in the longer it takes.  There is only so much you can exercise in a day.  You cant wait till the last minute then workout 8hrs a day to make up for it!  “Nine women can’t make a baby in a month” as I always say.  The below workout program pushes the overtraining limits to the maximum.  Working out more than these very aggressive schedules will get you injured, not in better shape.  Similarly, if you are really fat, losing weight takes time.  If you wait till the last minute and have to do a crash diet then you are going to lose as much muscle as fat and that muscle loss will hurt you rather than help your PFT scores.  Don’t wait till the last minute unless you want to be drill-sargent fodder!!!

#1 easiest way to improve your PFT score

When it comes to PFT scores, bodyfat is enemy number one.  When you are doing pullups, that bodyfat is a useless anchor yanking you towards the floor.  For many people, lowering their bodyfat from 30% down to 10% can make the difference between only being able to do one pullup and being able to do 20.  Bodyfat kills your running times as well.  The rule of thumb runners use is that for every 10 pounds of fat you lose, your 3 mile time improves by 1 minute.  If you are 30 pounds overweight, thats 3 minutes you can improve your 3 mile run without a single lap around the track!!!  You get the idea, losing weight is your #1 task.  Start early.

Nutrition Plan To Get Boot Camp Ready

As mentioned, losing bodyfat is the #1 best way to improve your PFT scores.  You will be getting plenty of exercise with this pre-bootcamp workout program but you need to set your caloric intake properly or your efforts will be wasted.  Eat too little and you wont gain the strength you need to do the pullups and pushups.  Eat too much and you wont lose the weight necessary to run fast and make pullups easier.  This is going to be the hardest part of the program for many of you, for at least two days you need to count calories.  Every single thing you eat or drink needs to be tallied to make sure you intake is on track. Using an application like loseit.com or myfitnesspal makes totaling your calories easy.   My calorie calculator will tell you how many calories to consume, in step 6 set your goal to be “20% calorie reduction” and in step 5 set your activity level to be “3-5 hours of moderate exercise”.  Remember more exercise is not better and starving yourself is not better either.  What to eat?  Without getting complicated, eat lean meats, nonfat dairy products, lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and some fruit.  Be very sparing of sweets, fried foods, chips, fries, cakes, cookies, and all alcohol including beer.   After the first week of calorie counting you should have a very good idea of how much to eat so you can stop the calorie counting.  Every time you lose another 10 pounds, use my calculator to re-calculate your target calories and count calories again for two days to make sure your eating has been re-calibrated properly.

If you are one of the few recruits who is see-your-ribs-skinny, rather than fat, then your will have a much easier time getting in shape for boot camp. Your focus is on building strength, adding muscle, and increasing endurance and to do that you need proper nutrition. For you, eating at a caloric surplus is called for – I would recommend setting my calorie calculator to a “clean bulk”. You will also need to count your calories for two days but in your case, its to make sure you are getting enough calories and enough protein. To build your muscle mass and strength, it is imperitive that you get enough protein. Make sure that you get 1 gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight per day.

Weeks 1&2 of 8 week pre-boot camp program

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
 WorkoutsA & CB A & C BA & C B rest

A Workout: Five minute fast walk.  Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of walking for a total of 25 minutes.

B Workout:  45 minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense!

C Workout: Do as many knee pushups as you can, then rest 2 minutes and do another set.  Repeat this until you have done 5 sets.   If you are not sure how to do knee pushups, please watch this video on pushups for the complete beginner.  Rest 3 minutes then do 5 sets of chin-up (palms facing your face) walk-the-plank’s, 8 reps per set, one minute rest between sets. (note: this is same as phase 1 in my pullup program).

Weeks 3&4 of 8 week pre-boot camp program

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
 WorkoutsA & CB A & C BA & C B rest

A Workout: Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 30 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking

B Workout:  45 minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Sit-ups, one set of as many as you can do.

C Workout: Do 5 sets of 20 pushups.  You will do as many real pushups as you can, then drop to your knees to finish the rest of the 20 reps with knee pushups.  Rest 2 minutes, and do another set. Do 5 sets of chin-ups (palms facing face) with 20 reps in each set.  Do as many real chin-ups as you can, even if its only one, then finish the rest of the 20 reps with walk the planks.

Weeks 5&6 of 8 week pre-boot camp program

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
 WorkoutsA & CB A & C BA & C B rest

A Workout: Five minute fast walk.
Alternate 2 minutes of jogging and 20 seconds of walking for a total of 30 minutes.
Follow with 5min of fast walking

B Workout:  45 minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Sit-ups, one set of as many as you can do.

C Workout: Do 5 sets of as many pushups as you can with 2 minutes rest between sets.  Do 5 sets of pull-ups (palms facing away from your face) with 20 reps in each set.  Do as many real pull-ups as you can, even if its only one, then finish the rest of the 20 reps with walk the planks.

 

Weeks 7&8 of 8 week pre-boot camp program

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
 WorkoutsA & CB B BA & C B rest

A Workout: Five minute fast walk for a warm up then jog for 45 minutes.

B Workout:  45 minutes of cycling, swimming, or elliptical machine at 70%-90% of your maximum heart rate – intense! Sit-ups, one set of as many as you can do.

C Workout: Do 6 sets of as many pushups as you can with 3 minutes rest between sets.  Do 6 sets of pull-ups (palms facing away from your face) and do as many reps as you can with 3 minutes rest between sets.

 

WARNING:  This is a very aggressive, accelerated program.    If you notice any joint pain or any signs of overuse injuries – STOP and take a few days off.  The last thing you want is to get overuse injuries!  Make sure you consult your physician before starting this exercise program.