T Nation

Basic Training


Im planning on joining the military, so should i pretty much say goodbye to the muscle mass Ive worked so hard for?


It'll be worth the loss on you'll gain it back very quickly.

Just don't come back telling everyone you're now in the Special Forces after Basic at Jackson and AIT like my friend's friend did.


I'm guessing "military" means the Army...

I can only account for the Navy and Marine Corps, but the big surprise for recruits there is how much marching you do. I'm willing to bet the Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force are the same.

PT, obstacle courses, and running...some. But marching all day every day.

By the second week I was waking up with "rigid ankles" from the shin splints as a result of marching around all day. On the upside...you get unique calf development from it.

I wouldn't sweat muscle mass loss. Basic doesn't last that long and most guys just increase gross weight and learn to stand up really straight.


If you're joining Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard, no sweat. If the UNMC, I can't comment on that. If the Army, then here are some pearls.

They have lowered the standards for Army fitness to keep the ranks filled, so don't be concerned with cardio breaking your muscles down. Eat as much as you can, whenever you can. Army basic training is 8 weeks and you may have access to a gym. Expect access to a gym and more access to food during your specialty training.

If you go to Ranger school, then you will probably lose a lot of mass. It will come back relatively quickly thanks to the "muscle memory".

Drink milk at every meal for the calcium. Big guys who aren't used to running much are more prone to stress fractures.

If you really are a fitness stud, be anonymous (no showing off). It'll only draw attention to yourself and some DI may make a point of wearing you out more. Act like you're smoked when every one else is, even if you aren't, but don't look like a pussy. It's all part of the game.

So don't sweat it.

And thanks for serving.


Funny thing...I was talking to a friend of mine (a Marine Recruiter) a couple of weeks ago and this subject came up.

Seems that all of us expect Boot to be a lot more physical than it is.


A lot of speed work during your basic training. AKA running, push ups, sit ups, etc. Everyone knows the drill. Once your out of training you can start hitting the weights up again for the most part. When you get deployed sometimes you'll have to stop though. All depends on the job and service.

As for the normal military food, your nutrition can sometimes suffer. Military chow is not too horrible these days. But still you won't be taking in chicken/sweet potato meals very 3 hours so to speak.


I have a friend of mine (we are both trainers), when he did basic training he lost 15 pounds and increased his bodyfat percentage. Thanks for the increased levels of "itness" and calisthenics!


I went from a fat fuck 218 to a very lean 166 in a little over 10 weeks at Basic. I ate everything I could get my hands on during those ten weeks, including what was left in the pans when I was on KP.

That was at Ft. Knox before there were any women there. Things are probably better now. I didn't see a gym until I had been at AIT for 4 weeks--14 weeks after leaving for Basic. My muscles didn't remember anything but running and pushups.

It was well worth it, though. You come out feeling better than you ever will in your life.


I have never done basic training, but I would imagine it is a good program for someone who has alot of fat to lose, but if you are already in shape and have a good amount of lean mass, its a much different story...


I don't know what they do for basic training in the US Marines but it can't be anything but demanding.

The general experience of my training with the Parachute regiment was I had a general idea. But the runs like the '10 miler' with full gear and the stretcher race (running as a team with (what seams) a bloddy heavy metal stretcher, and also the running with logs waist high in water is an absolute killer.

The worst part is some NCO screaming at you that you are a 'fucking lazy bastard' even when you in the lead.

Then squatting in a ditch for a week in the freexing cold, wet with a Sergeant firing an SA80,M16 or a GPMG right by your ear as part of the 'live firing' experience, all that after missing three days sleep. Complete nightmare is what it is, no glamour at all.

Sort of the thing that you look back on fondly but at the time, its awful. CS GAS being the ultimate lowlight. Even the fittest guy in the world will struggle with modern special units training. One guy who was training with us ran Marathons and did shot put and stuff, and he cracked mentally when he had to live off rabbit, worm omelettes, ditch water and puritabs and nettles.

That thing where you are so cold you can't do your button up on your shirt, well imagine that when you cant feel even raise your arms to find the damn button.

As a SEAL lot more cold sea water in the training, similar to SBS training, and getting use to that, you might almost start getting webs between your joints.


Like everyone already said, it really depends on which branch of service you join. In the Marine Corps you will run. Alot. One portion of the physical fitness test is a 3 mile run. 18 min is the perfect score. When i was in from 98 - 03 we ran 3-5 times a week for at least 4 miles at a time or more. That was during peacetime. Now, that things are popping off around the world, I have been told by friends that are still in that they train alot harder. Last I knew, the Air Force uses an exercise bike for their version of a physical fitness test, the Army "jogged" 1.5 miles, and I don't remember about the Navy. There's a pretty broad difference across the board. When I was in I weighed 175lbs at 6"1' with about 9% bf if I had to guess, now I weigh 195lbs at around 13 % bf with little to no cardio.

I did have friends that were able to maintain some considerable mass while they were in, but it wasn't "natural".


there are plenty of big devil dogs in the usmc,semper fi


When where you at Knox, Doog?

I was there in 1988 for Cav Scout training. As I recall, there was a decent weight room, but the gym at Fort Benning was better.


Just try not to get put into the "A" running group. You'll know what I mean soon.

Good luck


I was there for basic in 1995. Left San Antonio in shorts and got to Kentucky and it was snowing.


Christ, seriously, if you want to have an easier time void the A group at all costs, this means completing your initial testing within the alloted time, but not aggresively so. Of course when I went thru I was young and full of piss and vinegar so I was striving for it, but my morning runs would've been a heck of a lot easier had I avoided it.

The DS in charge of our run group was a crazy son of a bitch, I'll never forget the first morning we started running he told me he was going to pace us and to stay even with him. He takes off at what was pretty much a dead sprint and I'm thinking to myself, I guess we're doing interval runs...he maintained that fucking pace for 4 miles that morning. Our formation was strung out all over the place and when we got too far for his liking he would turn us around, collect everyone, and then stop the formation in order to smoke us. It was a fucking dismal morning.

On another morning he was facing the formation while sprinting and ran into a telephone pole full speed. We all stopped like oh shit he hit that hard. He gets up and starts screaming at us for stopping. Drill Sgt Baker, you've probably had a heartattack by now, but I will never forget your crazy ass.


Alright, now I think everyone should tell there own lame story about how bootcamp went for them... Wait a second! You tools already did! Congrats on trying oh so hard to feel special for being in the military.

My advice: Eat right, eat accordingly, find some weights(most people have access during personal time), if weights aren't availible learn to love the bunkbeds.


That is one of the best god damn things I've ever read on this forum.


What is the point of having stories if you never tell them?

You're the coolest btw


I understand that when you have muscle,lose it, its easier getting it back campared to never having it. Why is that though? I'm looking for some what of an technical answer.