For those who have decided to serve either their country or their community, the first big step is Basic Training. Much like the walk up hills in the snow, ice, and wind is difficult, so is preparing for the unknown of “Boot Camp”. We aren’t talking about the fitness boot camp we can Google and find so easily, no, we are talking about the “REAL” boot camp. The military basic training.
What follows below is information that was generated from 4 caring individuals who have previously served their country, and now serve their communities. We want to share some advice on good ways to prepare for Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Space Force, and civil service Basic Training.
#1 Prepare Yourself Mentally
We at Hot Ground Gym® chose mental first. It is often proven true that a person’s mind will break before their body will. The body will ALWAYS follow the conscious mind. The belief in yourself, your training, your team, and your “mission” is what will get you through the hard times in the service.
The first one is most important - believe in yourself. You must understand on an instinctual level what you are volunteering for, and believe in it. Whether your goal is to be a Special Forces Operator, Fighter Jet Pilot, “Regular” Soldier, Police Officer, or a Firefighter, you are volunteering to put yourself in harm's way in the service of others. That is fine, and it sounds great to say until the time comes to make those decisions. Know yourself, and why you make the choices you do. So that when the time comes, you are ready to do your duty. Don’t worry, they will go over all this in Boot Camp ;)
We all have reasons why we choose to serve. Remember those reasons while you are in Basic Training. Use those reasons to boost you up when you get low, use them as your mental fuel, or what Marines call their “motivation”. Basic Training is just the first step in the service (arguably the biggest step) but it is only one step in the staircase of your life. “Don’t let the stairs make you look for the elevator.”
In conclusion here, I will share advice that was given to me that boosted my mental health during Marine Corps boot camp, “live chow to chow”. Doesn’t matter how bad it gets, they still have to feed you. Remember that it helps get you through the long days.
#2 Work on Your Physical Fitness
Once you have made the choice to serve (which the earlier the better from a preparation standpoint) and are prepared mentally, then the next step is to start working on your physical fitness level. YES, one of the main purposes of Basic Training is to “whip” people into shape. However, there are still minimum standards that have to be met to even go, and there are things you could do to greatly assist the chances of you having an easier time than others.
- Know the minimum physical fitness requirements (or standard) for the branch of service or civil service organization you are joining. Let that minimum standard be your first goal. You can get the minimum physical fitness requirements from your recruiter or online very easily.
- Find someone to train with. It is always better to train with someone else until you possess the knowledge, tools, and most importantly the discipline to train by yourself. Be humble and learn.
If you are interested in participating in “Military-Style” fitness training with us, visit our Force Fit™ page and come train. We have a great Military and Civil Service Preparation Program at Hot Ground Gym® which utilizes indoor military-inspired obstacle courses integrated into the training. Another good option is Personal Training programs from your local gyms and of course your recruiter. Any recruiter worth their weight in salt will be able to point you in the right direction for getting a physical training program/partner.
#3 Be Able to Run
Running. Some love it, some hate it. I love to hate it. Whether it is in a formation of 1000 Marines, with just your team/unit/section/platoon, or just with a friend as a workout; running will be in your life if you want to be successful in the service. You need to be able to survive the physical stressors of service, and running is one of the best ways to “practice” that. Another way is obstacle course running, like in our Force Fit™ classes.
Each institution has its running test requirements. For me, the Marine Corps standard was a 3 mile run in under 28 minutes. Somebody thinks it’s easy, for others it’s disqualifying. My suggestion is to train to where you can run at least in the middle of the row when it comes to the running test standards. We always ensured that we could run at least a 20-24 minute 3 mile. The point here is to know the minimum standard and train till you can pass it consistently and easily. I have seen Marine Recruits go through almost 2 weeks of mental “realignment” just to fail the running portion. If you have never run 3 or more miles, start now!
Run the minimum, then run further. This will help you not stand out during running sessions with your basic training unit. It’s good not to stand out there. All in all, running is considered one of the best workouts to prepare you for basic training. Don’t overcomplicate this, just start putting “feet to pavement” as they say, and let your motivation pull you through the miles.
#4 Level Up Your Nutrition
You are what you eat. In Basic Training, the happiest I ever was when we got to eat. First things first, the average American eats way too much food. This was not common knowledge to me until I arrived at Basic Training. I spent the first 3 weeks of a 12-week training cycle as a “diet recruit” where they kinda starve us a little…… It worked, right or wrong, I learned. The leaner you are the faster you can move and the healthier you are.
#5 The Instilling of Discipline
Discipline means many things to many different people. If you want to be successful in the service or life as a whole, you need to be disciplined. There is a hard and soft side of the word discipline.
The hard side of discipline is external, involving other people and a set of social norms that must be adhered to. It’s the obey the rules or be punished discipline. Yes, that is a reality in the service. You will be briefed on what the “code of conduct” and laws are, and then you will be vigorously held to that standard. If you deviate, you will be punished. This discipline is hard as stone, it is very difficult to change, so you must follow and obey. The Marine Corps called it “Instant willing obedience to orders”.
The other side of discipline is soft like clay and can be molded for good or bad. This is self-discipline. No one but you can tell you how much of this you have. You must find it and grow it. It is the extra mile, the extra preparation, the non-procrastination initiative, and the belief in growing your self-worth. I have spent my entire life trying to grow my self-discipline, and you will too. This is what separates the good from the great.
So, for beginners to the military and civil service preparation, the work starts here. Find the discipline in you to do your best, not just good enough. The service doesn’t necessarily force people to be more disciplined (you can quit whenever you want), as much as it teaches people that they should be disciplined if they want to be better versions of themselves, as well as they will “live longer” in dangerous situations.
#6 Prepare Yourself Intellectually
Doesn’t matter what branch or agency you desire to join, you will have to take a written test, usually before any serious physical test. There are different testing requirements to meet for each branch/agency. These requirements are always going to be more than just having a warm body. So don’t trivialize this, study hard for it.
#7 Learn to Be a Team Player
It’s not ME, it’s WE. You will meet many leaders in the service. Some good, some bad. Learn from the good ones, and learn what not to do from the bad ones. Teamwork is what makes the US Military such a formidable fighting force. The desire to help someone else, and the humility to accept help from others make a healthy teammate. Military Basic Training will weed out all the overly selfish people, leaving at least decently humble individuals that can work with others. It’s simple, if you don’t work together, you won’t live. This refers to teamwork at its highest level, military service, and combat. If you know something more than others, lead them. If you don’t, follow until you do. But remember, WE not ME.
If you are interested in experiencing some team-building activities, drills, and exercises to help you prepare for military and civil service, check out our website and book an event with us. We love our team-building private events, they are a blast!
In conclusion, this article was generated from individuals who have experienced things that have changed who we are. We hope this information will help prepare you for military and civil service Basic Training. We at Hot Ground Gym® have given this very same advice to numerous young people right before they left for basic training. We always hear from them after “thanks it helped” and “it made life easier for sure”.
So what we wrote here is from the heart, but more importantly, from wisdom. So head our words, and go be the best you can. For your country, your community, your family, and for yourself. Strengthen the Future! Contact us today!