getting ready for marine boot camp

How to Prepare for Marine Boot Camp

The physical training you can expect at boot camp is rigorous, and many new recruits wonder how to best prepare for Marine boot camp to meet those demands.

The Marine Corps basic training is considered the toughest in the United States military, so being prepared for success is essential.

There are several ways to train to get yourself to a level of fitness, so you not only survive basic training but you will excel.

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3 Steps to Preparing for Marine Boot Camp

A Marine recruit navigates an obstacle during boot camp. Image:

Marine boot camp is so challenging because the goal is to prepare you to pass your Physical Fitness Test (PFT) closer to the end of boot camp.

The PFT is what helps determine what occupation you qualify for and keeps you combat-ready.

To ensure you are ready for Marine boot camp, you must have the endurance to run without sacrificing speed.

Also, your body strength must be strong enough to meet the demands of training.

Finally, you must be emotionally ready to succeed because your mentality and mindset are what sets you apart from others.

Related ArticleMarine Corps PFT Standards 

Step 1: Start a Running Regimen

To ensure your success in Marine boot camp, you must have the ability to run three miles in under 28 minutes if you are a male. If you are a female, you will have less than 31 minutes to run the same distance.

There are basic strategies you can use to ensure you are ready for Marine boot camp by increasing your speed and endurance a little at a time.

Increase Speed and Endurance

Each week, increase your running distance but increase it gradually to avoid injury.

The body adapts as you push yourself to your threshold, but you first must establish your baseline so you can define your running goals.

Once you established what you can run, you are ready to increase your mileage.

If you are new to running, run two the three times a week for up to four miles and keep yourself there for three or four weeks to acclimate before increasing your distance.

As you gain more experience running, you can increase your mileage by 10 percent for individual runs.

You might also consider adding another day of running, which will increase your running by more than 10 percent.

While it might be tempting to increase those running goals faster, being injured does little to prepare you for Marine boot camp.

In the end, focus on consistency and patience in building the speed and stamina necessary to exceed expectations at boot camp.

Step 2: Body Workouts

In Marine boot camp, it is expected that you can carry your weight.

The PFT requires recruits to perform push-ups or pull-ups as well as planks.

These exercises require a tremendous amount of strength, and recruits should prepare well in advance by building core muscles and upper body strength.

Core Muscles

You can prepare for Marine boot camp by building up your abdominal and back muscles, which make up your core, with specific exercises.

Free Weights

Compound exercises use several muscle groups at the same time to build up the core, and some of these require the use of free weights:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Overhead press

A fantastic exercise to prepare for Marine boot camp is planks.

Planks are a part of the PFT, and Marines are expected to hold a plank for a minimum of 1.5 half minutes.

Recruits can prepare by practicing daily the different variations of the plank to build core strength and endurance in maintaining this position.

Remember, your goal is to exceed minimum expectations. Check out the video below to see how to do a plank:

Upper Body Strength for Pull-Ups and Push-Ups

The ability to perform pull-ups is essential for success at Marine boot camp due to the fact this exercise uses all the upper body muscles and leads to functional strength that Marines need.

This functional and practical strength allows a Marine to have the strength necessary for any demanding situation.

Also, all the exercises that build enough strength for pull-ups are critical for the ability to perform push-ups.

Assisted Pull-ups

Begin doing assisted pull-ups that offer some resistance, but reduces the body weight that you must pull up. You can gradually build the strength to perform a pull-up.

Over time, your upper body strength will increase, and the amount of assistance needed to perform a pull-up is decreased.

Hanging Hold

Another way to build the ability to perform a pull-up is by practicing lowering from the pull-up bar with control.

This pose also helps build grip strength.

Improving Upper-Body Strength

If upper body strength is a concern, there are specific exercises that do well to build up strength over time to give you the functional strength needed for success at Marine boot camp.

Exercises to include in your routine:

  • Bent-over row
  • Inverted row
  • Lat pulldown
  • Hammer Curl
  • Shoulder Press
  • Bicep curls

Step 3: Mental Preparation

A Marine DI 'motivating' a recruit
A Marine DI ‘motivating’ a recruit. Image:

There is a mindset necessary to complete Marine basic training successfully, and this mindset is rigorous.

The drill instructor has the job of turning a civilian into a Marine. This means breaking down what you once thought of yourself and rebuilding you into a combat-ready Marine.

To mentally prepare, there is a mindset you can adopt before you leave for boot camp.

It Is Not Personal

Marine boot camp is a high-stress environment. 

You are not only going to clash with others but there will also be people yelling at you.

It is essential to push past the feeling of not being liked and move on.

Challenge Yourself

You will continually face challenges in boot camp.

Getting into the habit of accepting challenges as a matter of routine is helpful.

You might challenge yourself to give up snack foods, to adhere to a strict daily schedule that involves waking up early, and to a challenging fitness routine.

Be Physically Ready

By following the advice regarding being physically capable before you leave for boot camp, you will spare yourself a lot of stress.

Being confident in your ability to face the physical challenges of boot camp will help you remain mentally focused.

Leave the Attitude at Home

Recruits who approach Marine boot camp as a power struggle will have a difficult time adjusting.

Drill sergeants have the job of teaching recruits the skills that could save not only the recruits’ lives but also the lives of those nearby.

Learning to do as you are told is often a challenge.

If you can set your mind to accepting this challenge before you leave, you will be better equipped for success.

Failure Is Not an Option

Fear often stands in the way of progress.

Having the mindset that fear might be present, but it is not going to be an obstacle between you and success at Marine boot camp is vital.

Having the thought established in your mind that you never quit and never stop trying months before you leave for camp will serve you well both during boot camp and in your efforts to prepare beforehand.  

Related Article:  How To Join The US Marine Corps


Basic training does not last forever, but it is the gateway to the rest of your life as a Marine.

The habits you develop both before and during boot camp help define your character.

By taking the time to prepare both physically and mentally for the journey, you are already defining your success as a recruit.

Begin by establishing a running routine that pushes you to increase both speed and distance.

You can also prepare for the physical demands by increasing body strength to ensure success with pull-ups and planks.

Lastly, the mind has the power to decide either success or failure. It is essential to shape your mindset for success before boot camp.


Levi D.
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