So you’re going to be entering the military? Congratulations on your decision to serve your country and put your future on a very bright course. However, there remains work to be done. Before you are handed your uniform, tank keys, and orders, you will have to hone your body from a soft, sedentary blob into a lean, mean, fighting machine. Boot camp will be six weeks of torture – running, pull-ups, obstacle courses and drills – and you are not quite sure your body is ready for it.
Okay, let’s be honest – you are NOT ready for it. Nobody is ready for it when they enter boot camp. It’s not possible to prepare your body for the wide variety of training stimulus you will encounter in boot camp. Training beforehand is a good idea, however. But what kind of training will be the most effective?
Your initial reaction might be to hit the weight room, right? You may decide to build up some muscle fast so you’ll have some strength and endurance out there. Over the years, many a bodybuilder has entered boot camp and been in for quite a surprise! Those extra pounds of muscle do nothing but hold you back when running for miles each day. Sure, you are a bit stronger, but you’re also slower and heavier. If you’re already muscular, then dropping weight is also an option. Many regular lifters will move from their thick and muscular bodybuilder physique down to a smaller package, keeping strength and lines, but losing the mass.
The ideal path to physical preparation for boot camp is to develop a training package which is a combination of running and plyometric exercise. The running part is simple – hit the fields every day and run until you cannot run any more. Walk, then jog, then run. But the resistance comes first!
When it comes to the training, you will want to use body weight exercises as your chief resistance operatives. Weights are fine and dandy for making you stronger in the main lifts, but you won’t be squatting and bench pressing in boot camp nor in the battlefield. You will, however, be required to pull your body weight, carry a heavy sack, and trudge through nature for miles. You achieve this with a great deal of pushups, pull-ups, chins, sissy squats, and other movements.
Running will be essential in your boot camp experience. You’ll be moving miles per day, with and without a heavy sack. Many boot camp newbies will wash out of the military due to knee or foot injuries inflicted because their bodies are just not used to running so much. Don’t begin your running regimen with all out sprints. You should begin by walking several miles each day on a soft surface, such as grass. Then, move to brief periods of jogging. Walk, run, walk, run until you are comfortable. Then, bump up to more and more running as your body will allow. You’ll soon notice your lung capacity increasing just as your leg muscles strengthen. Combine running with bodyweight exercises of plyometric movements for 6 to 8 weeks and you’ll find boot camp to be a breeze!