Getting Ready

Recruit Training is going to be tough no matter what, but preparing properly will make it much more bearable

We break down some tips for getting your body, mind, and spirit ready for the 13 weeks you'll be cut off from the outside world.

Physical Preparation

Earning the mantle of Marine is tough. Many Marines will tell you they left boot camp in the best shape of their lives.

Getting physically ready is also the single best way to ensure your success at Recruit Training. 

It's no secret - Marines run the most of any military branch. During Recruit Training, you'll see why. You run almost every single day for 3 months and are tested on your running ability and overall fitness three times.

These tests are the IST, the PFT, and the CFT. We also have some pointers to help you get ready.

The first test is the Initial Strength Test or IST.

It is given two days after you arrive at the Recruit Depot and you must pass it to begin recruit training. If you fail, you will likely be held indefinitely in the Physical Conditioning Platoon until you can pass, delaying your graduation from Boot Camp and making you spend more time than needed on the recruit depot.

This test consists of pull-ups or push-ups, crunches, and a mile and a half run.

You must declare pull-ups or push-ups before starting and will get two minutes to complete the maximum number of repetitions without kipping, piking, or any other cheating. If you let go of the bar, shake out a hand, or touch your knees to the ground, you are finished. 

 
 

Meeting the bare minimum won't cut it. It might get you in the door, but take it from us - you will have a really hard time keeping up physically if that's all you can do.

Our recommendation, regardless of gender, is to be able to do a of 3-4 times the number of required pull-ups, 2-3 times the push-ups, twice the crunches, and complete the run 3 minutes faster.

Over the coming 12 weeks, you will have to run the much more difficult Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Combat Fitness Test, and complete conditioning hikes and forced marches between 3 and 15 or more miles in one day.

The second test is the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test, or PFT. In the fleet, this test is taken once a year between January and June. In boot camp, passing the PFT is a graduation requirement.

The PFT is scored out of 300 points consisting of three sections. Each section is worth 100 points. The sections are:

  1. maximum effort pull-ups for 100 points (or max effort push-ups, but those carry a max of only 75 points)

  2. max effort crunches for 100 points (or holding a plank)

  3. A three-mile run for 100 points.

150 points are needed to pass. Failing in one category counts as a failure of the whole test. Performing only the bare minimum in each category (as outlined below) will result in 120 points, also a failure.

 

 

The third test is the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test, or CFT. In the fleet, this test is taken once a year between July and December. Passing the CFT is a graduation requirement.

The CFT is scored out of 300 points consisting of three sections. Each section is worth 100 points. The sections are:

  1. A half-mile sprint (880 yards/800 meters) known as the Movement to Contact

  2. Max Effort Ammunition Can Lifts of a 30 pound ammo can

  3. A Maneuver Under Fire circuit involving crawling, running, carrying a Marine, and throwing a grenade

150 points are needed to pass. Failing in one category counts as a failure of the whole test. Performing only the bare minimum in each category (as outlined below) will result in 120 points, also a failure.

 

 

We have provided tons of workout plans and proven guides to take you from the couch to crushing it in a few weeks. Some of these are accessible in our Shop while the rest are included with a membership to the Boot Camp Insider's Guide.

2) Get your feet ready

With all the hiking, running, marching, and more, one of the most common things we see are foot injuries, blisters, and infections. Learning to train and care for your feet before getting to the Depots is a huge benefit.

We recommend buying a fresh pair of running shoes for training prior to recruit training, breaking them in, and then bringing them with you. If you can't afford new running shoes, don't worry - every recruit will be given a brand new pair of New Balance "go-fasters" at Boot Camp.

 

Spray your feet every night with athlete's foot spray to prevent cracking and scaling. Put foot powder in your socks daily. You can't fight with messed up feet - you'll learn this at boot camp - and it helps to start early.

3) Get used to waking up early.

Recruits wake up at 0400 or 0500 depending on which Depot they are assigned. Start practicing early mornings and nights about a week before shipping to boot. Or don't. Once you get there, you'll wake up early regardless, so decide for yourself how hard that should be.

 

Mental Preparation

There's a saying that "they break you down so they can build you back up." It is true. Your hair is cut, your clothes are gone, and everyone looks the same. You will not refer to yourself as "I" but as "this recruit."

 

Stripped of your individuality, Drill Instructors will break you down, no matter how tough you think you are.

 

You will not have privacy in the squad bays, bathrooms, or showers. You will ask permission to eat, stand, scratch an itch, go to the bathroom, and drink water.

Your background and reputation in the civilian world mean nothing once you arrive at the Depot. Everyone starts from scratch. Prepare to be humbled and leave your ego at the door. You will fail at something, but you are a part of a team. Your platoon-mates will carry you through it all, thick or thin.

The first two weeks are the hardest as you get used to waking up early, being away from family, being tired all the time, and having people yell in your face. If you get through these two weeks, you can make it through all of boot camp. It isn't about being unafraid - it's about pushing through your fear and uncertainty, to always continue moving forward.

Every day you will be challenged, forced to overcome fears, and operate as part of a team. This is the Marine Corps way.

Our recommendations to you are:

  1. Figure out how you will keep in touch with your family

  2. Get in great physical shape. The more tired your body is, the more your mental state suffers. Physical fitness will be a part of your armor in this and all other tough times.

  3. Remember your "why." Never forget the reason you joined the Marines. This will get you through the darkest times when you want to quit (everyone has these moments. There is no shame in wanting to quit, only in doing it. NEVER QUIT, no matter what. Generations of Americans have gone through the same struggle and made it through. You can too.).

  4. Visualize graduation day and start counting down from 84. You've got this, and we've got your back.

  5. Lastly, NEVER QUIT. Yes, we said this twice because it is that important. Whenever you think you have given absolutely everything you've got and have nothing left in the tank, hold on for just those extra few seconds. It's called earning the title for a reason.

Learn what else to expect, how to best prepare, and start getting your head right. If you are reading this, you are already one step ahead of the rest. Check out our Insider's Guide where we break down every single day of boot camp to make sure you are as prepared as possible. We provide counseling sessions and answer any questions you or your family have.

 

Spiritual Preparation

Recruits are encouraged to attend religious services of their choosing every Sunday and are provided one hour of free time every day to take care of personal routines. Most platoons will have small clusters of recruits from similar denominations who choose to pray together every night if they choose to.

 

US Navy Chaplains are attached to every battalion to address your spiritual concerns any time you need assistance.

In addition to this, we recommend developing a routine during personal time every night to help you recenter, calm down, and get yourself ready for the next day. Routine helps keep inner calmness and that will help you get through each day.

 
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