How to Prepare for Military Basic Training

By SGT Volkin

Arm yourself with knowledge before you leave for basic training.  Much of what you learn in basic training can be mastered at home before you even see a Drill Sergeant.  To give yourself a major advantage before you depart for basic training, it is imperative that you start thinking and acting like a soldier.

What You Need to Do

First, start exercising early in the morning.  In basic training, your organized physical training sessions will be conducted in the mornings, before breakfast. Therefore, a couple weeks before you start basic training make it a habit to get up at 4:30 AM. Don’t just get up and watch television – get up and follow a workout program. The workout program should be geared toward the exercises you will do in basic training, such as the one designed in The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook. I want to emphasize what a tremendous advantage you will have at basic training if you arrive in shape.  Now if you are one of those fitness gurus, don’t be fooled.  Military fit is different than civilian fit.  Being able to bench press 300 pounds isn’t going to get you far in basic training.  So if you adopt a workout program before basic training, make sure the exercises you are doing compliment your future basic training workouts.

Quit the Habits

Also, stop munching on snacks such as chips and cookies. During basic training, there is no snacking. By training your body early to stop snacking, you will help reduce your hunger urges in basic training. If you smoke, or use chewing tobacco, I recommend you begin a program to quit immediately. There will be no tobacco products allowed at basic training. It is better to develop a plan to quit on your own terms, rather than the Army’s terms. Too many recruits come to basic training and experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. This makes the already tough nine weeks of basic training unnecessarily tougher for you.

Feed the Need

Give your body what it craves after a good workout.  From a nutrition standpoint, put down those Raman noodles™ and bologna sandwiches. Instead cook yourself beef, chicken, fish, and pasta dishes. Your body will appreciate the consumption of healthier foods and this nourishment will compliment your workout program.  Be sure to get a healthy dose of vegetables, fruits, protein and carbohydrates.  Yes, I said carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates get a bad rap now-a-days, but they could be just what your body craves when you undergo intensive physical exercise.  Carbohydrates fuel your system and energize your body.

Consider the Time Zones

During basic training you will rarely get eight hours of sleep, five to seven hours will be normal.  Train your body to go to bed at about 9 PM. This way, when you get to basic training, you won’t be lying in bed awake trying to adjust to a new schedule. Also, consider the time zone where your basic training will be conducted. If you are on the West coast and your basic training is on the East coast, there is a three-hour time difference. Training yourself to go to bed at 9 PM Eastern Time means going to bed at 6 PM on the West coast.  Likewise, waking up at 4:30 AM Eastern Time means waking up at 1:30 AM Pacific Time. Everyone is different, but it generally takes 4-7 days to adjust to a new sleep schedule.

Don’t Be Fooled

Millions of soldiers have already completed basic training.  Don’t be discouraged, or even encouraged by one person’s opinions about basic training.  Bottom line-basic training is challenging, but with proper preparation your nine weeks could be a lot easier.  To properly prepare for basic training you should be educated on exactly what your training schedule will entail.  I cannot express to you in words how such a small amount of preparation will give you an enormous edge in basic training.

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics for Boot Camp Survival

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Sergeant Michael Volkin is a U.S. Army veteran and one of America's most successful military authors focusing on basic training. He served in Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom as a Chemical Operations Specialist and received an Army Commendation Medal for his efforts and for the military fitness programs he designed to help his fellow soldiers. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Science from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and also a Real Estate Brokers Degree. Note from the author: "I knew absolutely nothing about the military when I entered basic training. I had no immediate military family history and no prior desire to ever join the military. It was on the tragic morning of September 11, 2001 that I realized what I was taking for granted all these years. Freedom, as wonderful as it is, is an uphill struggle, and comes with an enormous responsibility. It wasn’t so much a decision, but a calling, that I joined the military - the Army Reserves. I departed for basic training without an ounce of military knowledge one month after September 11, 2001. However, I used this lack of knowledge to my advantage. I took notes on everything, with the ambition that no military recruit would have to go through boot camp like I did, with no knowledge of what was in store for me. I listened to hundreds of soldiers share their advice, tips, and tricks on surviving basic training. When I was deployed shortly after basic training to serve in Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom, I had the time to organize the notes, add to them, and assemble the most practical basic training guide ever written. The Ultimate Basic Training Series is straightforward, easy to understand and applies to every branch of the military. Take advantage of the military fitness routine in these books. Many hours of research and trial and error went toward creating the program. I believe there is no other fitness program that can get you in shape for basic training faster." SGT Volkin is currently a real estate broker and marketing consultant.


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