How to Prepare for Marine Camp

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How to Prepare for Marine Camp
How to Prepare for Marine Camp

The United States Marine Corps military camp is very demanding, even when compared to other branches of the US military. Aspiring Marines (also called "poolees") are pushed far beyond their limits and made to withstand extreme levels of physical and mental stress as part of a total transformation to becoming an active Marine. Although it is impossible to be 100% prepared for the stresses of military camp, gaining physical strength and studying the mental requirements of the camp in the months leading up to your trip can help you gain the strength to survive this rigorous challenge.


Part 1 of 2: Physically Prepare for Military Camp

Learn about the marine corps testing standards

Create a Workout Plan for Teenagers Step 3
Create a Workout Plan for Teenagers Step 3

Step 1. Find out about the tests you will be subjected to

Good physical condition is another of the important pillars to be effective in the Marine Corps. The Marines are expected to be able to test their strength and endurance. Poolees must pass an initial test, called the Initial Strength Test (IST) at the beginning of their training and the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) at the end of their training to become a Marine.. Additionally, Marines undergo an annual test called the Combat Fitness Test (CFT). Knowing the passing criteria for these tests can help you judge your physical ability before arriving at the military camp.

Step 2. Learn what the criteria are for the Initial Strength Test

The IST takes place at the end of the “welcome phase” of the camp, which lasts for three days. The three components of the IST are: barbell push-ups or bent-arm barbell suspension, sit-ups, and timed running.

  • Barbell Pushup or Bent Arm Barbell Suspension - Men should be able to complete two barbell pushups to begin training. Women should be able to hang on a bar (starting in an "over" position and keeping the elbows flexed for as long as possible) for twelve seconds.
  • Sit-ups: both men and women should be able to complete 44 sit-ups (elbows or forearms must touch knees) in two minutes.
  • Timed race: Men must run 2.5 kilometers in 13 and a half minutes, while women must run the same distance in 15 minutes.

Step 3. Learn what the criteria are for the Physical Fitness Test

The exercises on the PFT are the same as those tested on the IST, only more rigorous. These criteria assume that the candidate is between 17 and 26 years old; however, its severity decreases according to the age of the participant. The criteria are detailed below:

  • Barbell Push-Up or Bent-Arm Barbell Suspension: Men should be able to complete three barbell push-ups. Women should be able to hang on a bar for 15 seconds. It should be noted that the Marine Corps originally planned to increase the requirement of three push-ups for women in 2014, but this decision has been postponed.
  • Sit-ups: both men and women should complete 50 sit-ups in two minutes.
  • Timed race: Men should be able to run 5 kilometers in 28 minutes, while women should be able to run the same distance in 31 minutes.

Step 4. Learn what the criteria are for the Combat Fitness Test

Passing the CFT is an annual requirement for all Marines. The CFT tests the ability of Marines to apply their physical skills in combat situations. The CFT has three components, each of which provides a maximum score of 100 points. Therefore, the highest score you can get on the CFT is 300 points. The minimum scores for each test vary according to the age and sex of the recruits.

  • Combat Movements: This is an 800-meter obstacle course that tests the speed and endurance of the Marines. The maximum score is 2:45 for men and 3:23 for women.
  • Heavy Artillery Lifting: The Marine must lift an artillery box weighing approximately 15 kilos above his head (until his arms are extended) as many times as possible. The maximum score consists of 91 repetitions for men and 61 repetitions for women.
  • Simulated Sinister Obstacle Course: This aerobic endurance test incorporates various combat tasks including running, crawling, carrying another marine, throwing grenades, and more. The maximum score is 2:14 for men and 3:01 for women.
Choose Comfortable Walking Shoes Step 7
Choose Comfortable Walking Shoes Step 7

Step 5. Make it your main goal to meet the minimum requirements

It is not advisable to “just” meet the IST requirements when arriving at the military camp. Poolees who achieve the lowest score on the IST will find it very difficult to adjust to the intense physical demands of life as a Marine. In addition, they will be at a higher risk of injury than other Poolees and may need to take recovery courses to gain strength and do cardiovascular exercise. If this happens, it will distract you from combat training and make it more difficult (but not impossible) for you to become a Marine. It's a good idea to pass the IST with a little head start and be on your way to pass the PFT as well when you get to camp. Use your remaining time wisely before moving to camp!

Improve your physical condition

Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 1
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 1

Step 1. Establish a running regimen

In addition to passing the IST and PFT Career tests, Marines are expected to have good speed and high aerobic endurance so they can move quickly from one task to another. Your routine should contain a combination of jogging, running, and sprinting so that you can increase your speed. When running, be sure to breathe deeply, maintain a quick but reasonable pace, and maintain good posture. In addition, the heels of your feet should be in contact with the ground until they touch the ball of the foot. The contact point then "rolls" forward, allowing you to propel yourself with your toes.

  • Many recruits are successful in employing interval training to increase their aerobic endurance and reduce their race times. Here is an example of an interval training regimen, obtained from the website. Let's assume that the pace to be reached is 4 minutes per kilometer, which is equivalent to 2 minutes per 1/2 kilometer, 1 minute per 1/4 kilometer, etc.:

    • Run 1/4 kilometer at the desired pace.
    • Walk or jog 1/4 kilometer to rest.
    • Repeat the previous two steps 4-6 times.
    • Run 1/4 kilometer at the desired pace.
    • Walk or jog 1/8 kilometer to rest.
    • Repeat the previous two steps 4 to 6 times.
    • Run 1/8 kilometer at the desired pace.
    • Walk or jog 90 meters to rest.
    • Repeat the previous two steps 4-6 times.
  • Make it a goal to do this routine consistently, whether you decide to run for intervals or one long run at a time. Do this routine 4-5 times a week.
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 2
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 2

Step 2. Plan a walking regimen

Marines are expected to be able to walk and traverse rough terrain while carrying their gear on their backs. Get into the habit of walking, as it is a great exercise that will increase your endurance, strengthen your feet and help you develop the muscles of the back, ankles and other muscles necessary for the outdoor activities that are part of the life of a Marine. When you hike, take a heavy camping backpack with you. It's a good idea to add extra weight so that you can better simulate the sensation of walking across the terrain with a 15-30kg backpack loaded with ammunition, clothing, gear, etc.

Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 3
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 3

Step 3. Begin practicing the barbell push-up or the bent-arm barbell suspension

These exercises are fundamental components of the IST and PFT for men and women, respectively. Both exercises test core strength by using a large number of muscles that are essential for effective combat.

  • To complete a barbell pushup, you must first hold onto the bar with both palms facing you or facing away from you. Hang from the bar with both arms fully extended. Your knees can be extended or bent; If you fold them, they should not reach higher than the waist. From a resting position, raise your chin until it rests on the bar. Then, lower your body until your arms are extended again. Pause and then repeat the exercise.

    • In order to train for the push-up test, you will need to purchase a push-up bar or join a gym that has the proper equipment to perform this exercise. If you can't do a barbell pushup, you may need to gradually strengthen your ability to accomplish this feat by using a machine or by asking a friend to hold your legs and support a little of your body weight. Finally, it will be easier to do barbell pushups if you start above the bar and then lower yourself or if you kick with both legs to increase momentum.
    • You can strengthen your upper back, biceps, and triceps by doing strengthening exercises.
  • Women need to pass a barbell suspension test with arms extended instead of a barbell push-up test. However, they are given the option of doing push-ups. Just like men, women also need to strengthen their back, biceps, and triceps by lifting weights, performing assisted barbell curls, and, of course, increasing the time on their barbell suspensions.
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 4
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 4

Step 4. Establish a swimming regimen or take swimming lessons

In addition to meeting the evaluation criteria for the IST and PFT, Marines are expected to be excellent swimmers. If you never learned to swim and find the right balance in the water, it will be very difficult for you to pass the swimming tests. To be a marine, you must be able to swim about a mile without stopping. Try to swim 3 times a week for 45 minutes to increase your lung capacity and to build resistance in your legs, shoulders, and arms.

  • Now, the three levels of qualification in swimming tests for Marines are: basic, intermediate and advanced. Each candidate must earn the basic qualification, which requires the Marine to detach his gear underwater in less than 10 seconds, jump into the water from a tower, float in the water for 4 minutes, and then pull his gear through a 25 meter pool. All these tests must be done with the uniform on, including boots.
  • Many public swimming pools, schools, and gyms offer swimming lessons. If you are not sure if you are swimming freestyle or diving correctly, take a class to improve your technique.
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 5
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 5

Step 5. Do sit-ups every day

Core body strength, as measured by the abdominals, is one of the major components of IST and PFT. Additionally, developing core strength is a vital step to avoid damaging your back, which could happen as a result of strenuous exercise (especially if you're carrying a lot of weight). Make sure to add a complete abs routine to your weekly fitness plan. In this way, you will work your oblique and lower abs, as well as your hips, frequently. Try to do it every day if possible. Classic crunches, planks, and leg raises are good options to increase the strength of your abs.

  • The abs component of the IST and PFT is, in a way, a test of speed. Don't forget that you have a time limit of two minutes to complete the abs. Do your abs as fast as you can and try to maintain good posture and control. You can use a stopwatch to measure your times.
  • Core body strength isn't just about your abs. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts are other crucial exercises to prevent injury and develop this type of strength. Do these exercises correctly to avoid back injuries.
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 6
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 6

Step 6. Eat a healthy, low-fat diet

A proper diet is absolutely essential to develop the muscles necessary to meet the physical requirements for all marine. Your diet should consist of healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Reduce (and aim to eliminate) from your diet the consumption of sugars, excessively rich foods in fat and preservatives. It should be noted that Marines are expected to maintain a healthy level of body fat. If they exceed certain weight and body fat standards, they are enrolled in a weight loss program. If they don't pass this program, the Marines can be disqualified.

  • When it comes to carbs, try to get most of them from green leafy vegetables, fruits, and healthy whole grains. Limit starch intake, such as sliced bread or potatoes. You should get protein from lean meats whose portions do not exceed the size of the palm of your hand. You can find healthy fats in nuts, eggs, and vegetable oil, which should be served in golf-ball-sized portions.
  • As soon as they arrive at the military camp, people who are underweight for their height are given food rations to increase their weight. Overweight people are given a low calorie diet. Training before going to military camp can help you gain or lose weight so that you are at the ideal weight in your category.
  • As you prepare for military camp, eat 3 balanced meals a day and a snack between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch and dinner. This will help your body recover from training sessions and stay healthy. As the camp start date approaches, try to eliminate the snacks as these will not be part of the military camp.
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 7
Prepare Physically for Marine Boot Camp Step 7

Step 7. Maintain a high level of hydration before, during and after your workout

Hydration is an essential part of any exercise routine. Because the training you will receive as a Marine may be the most intense you have ever experienced, it is a great idea to develop good hydration habits before camp. Drink lots of water every day and even more so if you exercise. Consume hydrating beverages (such as Gatorade, etc.) during intense workouts to help your body regain electrolytes lost when sweating. In general, you should drink 1 oz (30 ml) of water for every 2 lb (1 kg) of body weight, or about 8 to 12 glasses of water if you are large.

  • Other hydrating drinks are low-fat milk and, depending on the sugar content, fruit juice.
  • Keep in mind that two of the Marine Corps military camps are located on Parris Island, South Carolina and San Diego, California. Both locations can be hot, depending on the time of year, so hydration can become the most important part of your training, especially if you are used to a more temperate climate.

Part 2 of 2: Mentally Prepare

Step 1. Prepare to be treated like you are worthless

If the sole objective of the Marine Corps military camp was to obtain optimal physical condition, it would be difficult but manageable for almost all Poolees who are willing to work hard. What makes the military camp so demanding for the Marines is that it also intensively tests the intelligence, focus and character of the Poolees. Simply put, you are looking to test your mental toughness. Even recruits who are athletic sometimes fail in camp because of the mental stress they are subjected to. Upon arriving at the military camp, prepare to be thrown into a world where you have no right to the courtesy and respect that you were used to when you were a civilian. Prepare to be yelled at, insulted, disrespected, embarrassed, and simply put, treated like trash.

Also, be prepared to obey those same people who will yell and insult you without a second thought, as any show of laziness or defiance on your part could have severe consequences

Step 2. Prepare to live with only the essentials

Marine camp is not a place of luxury. Poolees are expected to leave everything at home, except for really essential items.

  • Here are the basic items recommended by for military camp:

    • Valid driver's license or identity document
    • About $ 10 to $ 20
    • The clothes you are wearing
  • Other minor accessories may be allowed. Contact your recruiter to be sure what items you will need and / or what items you will be allowed to bring:

    • Orders and documents issued by your recruiter
    • Social security card
    • Debit
    • Certificate of citizenship (if the person was not born in the United States)
    • Marriage license and / or birth certificates in case of being a dependent
    • Phone card
    • Bank identification code and account number
    • Religious materials
    • A small padlock (that opens with a combination of numbers or with a key)
    • Men: three sets of white underwear
    • Women: panties, bras, pantyhose, nightwear (all in neutral colors)
    • One pair of sports socks
    • A change of civilian clothes
    • Personal hygiene items
  • No bring the following items:

    • Telephone
    • Computer
    • Watch
    • Extra clothes
    • Makeup
    • Meal

Step 3. Prepare to be away from loved ones for 13 weeks

The Marine Corps Military Camp is a program that lasts approximately three months. During this time, communication with your friends and family can be very limited. Poolees are generally allowed to make a 30-second call upon arrival to notify their family that they arrived safely. After this, the use of the phone is very limited and sometimes non-existent. Some instructors may allow you to use the phone as a reward, but others may not. In order to be conservative, plan not to use the phone until the last week of training and not see your loved ones until Family Day, which is celebrated the day before graduation.

Your family and loved ones can send you letters, but even this stipulation comes with several rules. The letters must be written on plain paper, without decorations, decorations or special envelopes and must be addressed to the “Recruit Surname, Names”. Make sure your family members do not use any other rank than "recruit", that they do not send crumpled or decorated envelopes, and that they do not send you packages. Doing so will draw all the attention to you and that is what you should avoid

Step 4. Prepare to follow your military instructor's orders without question

Marine Corps military instructors have achieved that legendary rank for their rigorous and controversial style of instruction. They will yell at you and be mean and aggressive to you. However, they are fair to everyone, as they will never have a favorite or have compassion for any of the recruits. Understand that by pushing you beyond your limits, the instructor is helping you. The life of a marine is not easy, as they can even recruit you to lay down your life for your country. To become an effective Marine, you must be able to make balanced decisions on the battlefield. As rigorous as the instructors may be, in the end you will be glad that they have instilled in you the values of strength and discipline, especially if you are ever involved in combat.

Even the slightest mistake can guarantee that you will receive a punishment. By simply glaring at the instructor, you can earn yourself a severe wake-up call. Any small mistakes when cleaning your gun can guarantee that you will be forced to iron. By adhering to these rigorous standards, your instructor helps you increase the strength and focus you will need on the field

Step 5. Get rid of your ego

One of the first things that happen to Poolees in the military field is that their haircut is altered to meet military specifications. Men have their heads shaved, while women have their hair cut or asked to wear a bun. This is done for an important reason. Marines are expected to sacrifice their individuality for the benefit of the unit. This applies from a simple point of view, such as sacrificing a personal appearance that distinguishes you from others, as well as from a deeper point of view, sacrificing your life for others. Prepare to shed your ego when you get off the bus and enter the military camp. From then on, your country and your fellow Marines are your priority.

Step 6. Get ready for a variety of "brain games."

Often times, instructors will put recruits through a variety of tasks and situations with the goal of humiliating them so they can become perfect marines. Instructors are constantly looking for opportunities to stress, embarrass, or, in other words, "humiliate" Poolees. Recruits may be forced to perform impossible tasks, then punished when they cannot complete them. A recruit may be ignored or arbitrarily harassed for no apparent reason. Your actions may seem unfair. It's true, they are and they're supposed to be. As cruel as the behavior of an instructor may seem, remember that it is nothing personal, since all the Poolees who pass through the military camp have the same experiences. Here are some examples of "mind games" experienced by a former recruit who is now an active Marine:

  • During one exercise, a trunk was left without a lock, so the instructor had all the poolees hook their locks to each other, forming large chains, and then throw them to the ground. The recruits were then given a minute to find and open their own locks. Failing this impossible test, they were punished with insults and physical training.
  • After winning a competition, the poolees were punished with physical training in a mud pit because they had not won by a wide enough margin.
  • Marines are not allowed to let their pennant (a special type of flag) touch the ground. When in the attention position, Marines are not allowed to move unless instructed to do so. An instructor may throw the pennant to the ground as a symbol of his dissatisfaction with the performance of his platoon. When the Marines break ranks to pounce and catch her, they receive punishment.

Step 7. Prepare not to sleep

Usually, a marine's duties begin before the sun rises. If you don't usually get up early, you should start adjusting your schedule well before your travel date to ease the transition to the camp routine. Additionally, sleep deprivation is part of basic Marine training. For example, during the ultimate test of a Marine's training, known as the Crucible, the Marines embark on a 54-hour mission, of which only 4 hours sleep. Lack of sleep prepares the recruit for life in an area of combat in which at any time you can be asked to fight, whether you are rested or not.

Step 8. Prepare to be responsible for all your actions

During military camp, recruits learn to trust each other and always expect the best from each other. Platoons often compete for trophies awarded for cumulative results in marksmanship tests, academic tests, etc. Because platoons are evaluated together, the members of each platoon trust the other recruits to do their best. Also, remember that platoons are punished collectively for the mistake of one of their members, so each recruit should strive to hold each member accountable for their actions.


  • Training before entering the Marine military field is an essential step, especially if you have a desire to excel and score high. Platoon leaders pass the PST in the first places.
  • You need to start mentally preparing for the Marine Corps military camp. This camp uses fatigue, deprivation, and pain scenarios to develop its recruits. Talk to people who have been part of the military camp and ask what they would recommend to increase your mental strength.
  • If you go shopping on your own, choose food in the outdoor sections of supermarkets. Most supermarkets offer wholesale fresh fruits, vegetables and meat in the outdoor sections. Processed foods are in the middle sections.
  • Set a personal goal of meeting the highest possible standards through consistent training over a set period of months. According to some military sources, recruits who only meet IST minimum standards upon arrival at the military camp are at increased risk of injury.
  • Vitamin supplements are not necessary in preparation for the United States Marine Corps military camp. However, in some cases, people who have lost a lot may need to add a daily dose of multivitamins to avoid disease or mineral loss.

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