This week, a typical email crossed my desk and I realized that I have not devoted an article to answering this question fully. There are several articles in the Article Archive that will help you with running speed, endurance, pushups, situps, and pullups but here is a comprehensive answer to the age-old question � �What do I need to do to prepare for Bootcamp?� This article will be a one-stop shop for people to find links on training and techniques on many of the physical events that occur during Bootcamp. Here is the question:
I am currently planning on enlisting with the Army National Guard here in a matter of weeks. I will not attend basic until next year because I am still in school (Age 17, Junior.) Do you have any tips that I can use to increase my run endurance, time, etc. along with upper body strength to better my PFT score?
To properly answer this broad question, the answers needs to break down your question into several different workouts as well as circuit training tips to combine the entire PFT.
Mastering the PFT is really the first step to getting prepared for Bootcamp. For the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the physical fitness test will consists of
Pushups � Proper pushups are the key to more pushups. Placement of the hands should be just greater than shoulder width directly under your shoulder when in the UP pushup position. This will better distribute the muscular involvement between the arms (triceps), chest, and shoulders. Wider hand placement works more chest while close placement works the triceps and shoulders more. Touch your chest to your counter�s fist, which is usually about 2 inches off the floor. To score higher on this test, try to do your pushups non-stop without rest and always practice them fast to get used to multiple reps of pushups workouts. See the Pushup articles for more workout ideas:
Pushup Push Workout
Situps � Situps or curl-ups will be tested with someone holding your feet with your knees bent. Sit up by flexing your stomach muscles with your hands crossed over your chest and touch your elbows to your knees. Drop your torso to the floor by relaxing your abs and let gravity take you down. Do not waste your energy letting yourself down slowly.
This is an exercise you need to pace. Most people burn out in the first 30 seconds with 30 curl-ups accomplished, only able to perform another 20 or so curl-ups within the next 1:30. By setting a pace at, for instance, 20 sit-ups every 30 seconds, you can turn your score of 50-60 to 80 with very little effort. The best way to get better at situps is to practice situps with timed sets of the above and a goal pace for 1:00 or 2:00 test periods.
1.5 or 2 mile timed run (Army) � Running is another pacing exercise that requires practice up to five or six days a week in order to become an above average runner. To pass the PFT runs on an average score, you still need to train at least three days a week. Some ways to train can be found in the article below:
Interval Training for Timed Runs
Proper Tips for running should include deep inhales and exhales (no shallow breathing), heel-toe rolling strike, and a straight arm swings. See the Article on proper running techniques:
If you are entering the Army or Marine Corps, practicing running in boots is also a good idea about two months from Bootcamp. Only practice about 1-2 times a week in boot prior to Bootcamp. Wear two pair of socks to prevent blisters. One thin polyester pair against the skin and one, thick, cotton sock on the outside.
The Marine Corps adds pullups to the PFT list, but does not test in pushups and adds an extra mile to the Army�s two-mile run. So for the Marine Corps you need to be able to master the following:
Pullups � This is the ultimate exercise to test upper body strength. It requires grip strength from your hand and forearms and pulling power from your biceps and back muscles. The proper pull-up requires your palms to be facing away from you and your hands just greater than shoulder width. Pull you chin over the bar and simply drop back to the starting position with your arms straight and biceps relaxed.
3 mile timed run � This run is twice as long as most Bootcamp tests and requires more endurance training. The article below will help you train for the longer timed run. If properly prepared, you can complete this run on the same pace of the 1.5 mile timed runners of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. It is not uncommon for Marines to run the 3 mile run in 18:00.
Run Even Faster
Depending on your service Bootcamp, the training programs have an obstacle course, rope climb, swimming, ruck marches, and use the pushup as a �punishment exercise�. So prepare yourself properly for your service�s standards at least 4-6 months prior to departing for the military.
If you have any questions about the training programs at the Military.com Fitness eBook store (www.militaryfitnessebooks.com) please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep the emails coming.
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About the Author
Stew Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former Navy SEAL, and author of several fitness and self defense books such as The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness, and Maximum Fitness. As a military fitness trainer, Stew has trained hundreds of students for Navy SEAL, Special Forces, Air Force PJ, Ranger Training, and other physical law enforcement professions. His eBooks at Military.com can help you achieve your fitness goals, whether you're a beginner or an expert.
For more info on his books, visit:
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Ever since I wrote The Grinder PT -- Key to Mental Toughness eBook, I have noticed that the majority of people who attempt one of the toughest workouts I have ever created do quite well on pushups tests upon finishing. This eBook is modeled after the first month of SEAL training, where pushups are done five days a week in the magnitude of several hundred a day. Improvment surprised me -- I assumed the workout would border on over-training.
This went against all the physiology I had studied in the past. What was meant to give SEAL candidates a taste of SEAL training on paper, turned out to build muscle and increase pushup maximum scores. Typically, you give the body 48 hours of rest before doing similar resistance exercises or weight training, so the body has time to recover and grow stronger. That is why many workout routines offer upper body exercises on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and lower body exercises Tuesday-Thursday. Some workouts even give up to 72 hours of rest before repeating the same exercises. But Bootcamp in every branch has used pushups as a daily exercise either in organized PT or punishment for not conforming to regulations, usually improving results. Throughout the years of experiencing military training either as a student or instructor, I noticed people were typically stronger in pushups by the end of training.
So, I started experimenting mostly with younger people from 18-30 years of age with similar goals of increasing their pushups scores on the PFT. The program is a ten-day pushup plan that requires pushups daily, but still has some sound physiological rules that incorporate ?some? rest but not much. Below is the program that has helped people go from 50 pushups to 80 pushups in two weeks.
On ODD days: Do 200 pushups in as few sets as possible in addition to your regularly scheduled workout of cardio exercises. You can still do upper body workouts on these days if you are already on a program. This is a supplemental 200 pushups using maximum repetition sets (4 x 50, 8 x 25 ... it's your choice how you get to 200).
On EVEN days: Do 200 pushups throughout the day. This can be little sets of ten done every half hour or fifty pushups done four times throughout the day.
RULE: If your maximum is under 50 pushups, do 200 a day. If your maximum is above 75, do 300 pushups a day.
Repeat the ODD/EVEN routine for a total of 10 days. Then take three days off and do NO upper body pushing exercises that work the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Then on day 14, give yourself the pushup test (one or two minutes depending on your PFT). I would not recommend this workout more than once every six months, since it rather challenging on the same muscle groups repeatedly.
Here are pictures of the three main types of pushups you can do to break up the monotony:
As you can see, the only difference in these three pushups is the placement of the hands. Regular pushups distribute your body weight proportionately between your chest, shoulders and triceps, whereas the wide pushups will work the chest more, and the Triceps or Close Pushups will work the triceps and shoulders more.
If you are using a program like the ones featured on the Military.com eBook Fitness Store, continue and add this supplemental program to your training. If you are not on a program, you can try to add this with a one of the free running programs to help your PFT running. See the "Running Plan" article at the Military.com Article Archives.
Thanks for the emails -- they really do inspire me to develop articles, so keep them coming at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This workout is an opinion of the author. Should you proceed with this plan or any derivation, you do so at your own risk and should be cautious.
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