Learn how to eat an MRE BEFORE going to basic training

By SGT Volkin

One of the many pleasures a drill sergeant has during basic training is watching a recruit figure out how to eat an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) for the first time.  An MRE is a bagged lunch that military recruits are given in the field when hot food isn’t available.  The below story is true and your story will be very similar, unless you watch my instructional video on How to Heat an MRE before you go to basic training.

STORY: Your First MRE Experience

It was 5:30 am and even though the sun wasn’t up, the morning air gave hints of an upcoming hot day.  The recruits just finished their morning physical training routine and were marching to the chow hall for breakfast.  When the recruits arrived, the drill sergeants instructed them to be outside in 15 minutes.  This seemed like plenty of time to eat, except it takes at least 12 minutes to get your food. As you inch toward the front of the line, you count every second and your stomach grumbles in hunger.  Finally, you get your food and you begin shoveling it in your mouth as fast as possible. “Alright Privates, get your sorry butts out here” yells the drill sergeant.   “That’s not fair” you think to yourself, “I just sat down and had three bites of food”.  You rush outside and you march with the other recruits to the rifle range.  The day heats to over 100 degrees. Your stomach is growling loud and you begin wondering what part of your rifle is edible.  It’s now 2 pm and there are no signs of returning to the chow hall anytime soon.  In the distance a drill sergeant yells “Lunch time Privates, you have 10 minutes starting now”.  You know from experience that 10 minutes means 5 to a drill sergeant, so you stampede with the other recruits to a long picnic bench.  At the bench are a pile of bags.  “These Privates are MRE’s, you are not allowed to eat your meal cold.  Heat your meal and eat it in 10 minutes or spend the evening cleaning the toilets” said the drill sergeant.  As the other recruits all dive for a bag you have no choice but to grab the first one you can.  Even though you grabbed a vegetarian meal, you don’t have time to be upset.  As you try to open the bag you realize the plastic is so thick you need to be Hercules to get it open.  You somehow get the bag open and realize there is a heating pouch that is required to heat your food.  As you read the instructions on the heating pouch you realize you are losing valuable time and take a quick look around to see if any drill sergeants are watching you. “Forget this”, you say to yourself as you tear the main course open without heating it first.  “Private!” yells the drill sergeant, “Didn’t I just tell you to heat your food first? You’re so stupid, that you got fired from the M & M factory for throwing away all the W’s.  Ladies and gentleman we have a volunteer for toilet cleaning duties this evening.” As the other Privates thank you, you wonder why you didn’t watch SGT Volkin’s video on How to Heat an MRE.

Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook and Basic Training University. His books are available at www.UltimateBasicTraining.com

categoriaUncategorized commento3 Comments dataSeptember 9th, 2010
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How to Impress Your Drill Sergeants at Basic Training

By SGT Volkin

Let’s face it, surviving boot camp is tough. This article applies to all military branches, whether your going intoAir Force boot camp or the Army.  For the first time you will be dealing with Drill Sergeants who love to yell at you and hang on your every move.  I made it through basic training hardly ever getting yelled at, here’s how I did it:

In my best-selling book, The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, I teach recruits how to make basic training as stress free as possible.  It’s important to understand that nothing will make you “yell-proof”; however, there are preparations you can make to reduce the amount of personal attention you get from Drill Sergeants. 

• Understand the Game- Drill Sergeants don’t personally hate you.  If you take the yelling and insults a Drill Sergeant gives you personally, you will add extra stress to an already stressful situation.  A Drill Sergeants goal is to motivate and train you in the quickest time possible.  Their job is to break you down as a civilian and turn you into a member of the U.S military in the shortest time possible.  That job is not easy and would be difficult with a Richard Simmons type motivation approach.  The Army basic training workout is tough and you need to be trained properly. Military fitness (and Army fitness) is different that civilian fitness, and requires different motivation.  If you get personal attention by Drill Sergeants at basic training, just remember it’s for your own good. Just know, that when you pass basic training, you will be able to surpass any Army fitness standards. If you have any doubt, check out the Army physical fitness program in The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook.

• Don’t be Friendly- Your Drill Sergeant isn’t looking for a friend, so leave your manners at home.  Don’t attempt to have a leisurely or friendly chat with a Drill Sergeant because you will find yourself doing push-ups in the mud.  90% of what you say to a Drill Sergeant should be “Drill Sergeant yes Drill Sergeant”, or “Drill Sergeant no Drill Sergeant”.  The other recruits should be your friends, the Drill Sergeants should be your motivators and trainers.

• Don’t be a Know It All- Drill Sergeants aren’t impressed with what you know, or think you know. Many recruits come to basic training hearing stories and learning lessons of when their friends and family attended. Don’t listen to those recruits as stories are often exaggerated or interpreted incorrectly. Even if you know the answer to something, don’t shout it out unless you are specifically called upon.

• Speak with Confidence- Drill Sergeants love to pick on recruits who answer or talk in a quiet or timid voice. Their job is to turn you into a lean mean fighting machine. When asked a question, only respond with a confident voice, even if you don’t know the correct answer. A wrong answer spoken confidently sounds better than a right answer spoken timidly.

• Don’t be Late- When a Drill Sergeant asks you to be somewhere in 45 seconds, you better be there in 15.  Arriving on time is the same as arriving late to a Drill Sergeant.

The Army basic training schedule and other branches, is demanding, be sure your prepared!

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

categoriaUncategorized commento2 Comments dataSeptember 6th, 2010
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Coping With Your First Day of Basic Training

By SGT Volkin

Certainly if you have been to basic training you will always remember your first day.  As you laid in your bunk on that first night, thoughts were rushing through your head and your mind was scrambling trying to remember everything your Drill Sergeants taught you.  Your muscles and mind were fatigued.  On that first night, you felt helpless, alone and at the bottom of a very big hill to triumph. 

For all you recruits who entered the military I will tell you this, your first day will be the worst.  You will be homesick, in a new environmental and you will not see an end in sight.  This will be a time where you need to be mentally tough.  You have to remember to take your days one at a time because looking at the entire 9-weeks ahead of you will be very difficult.

In my book, the Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook (www.ultimatebasictraining.com), I interviewed many soldiers and wrote about their first day of basic training.  After I wrote this chapter I discovered something very important.  Wherever these recruits went to basic training, their experiences differed very little. All of their experiences encompassed basically the same aspects.  In the following paragraphs I will explain to you what others have gone though on their first day of basic training, and most likely what you will be going through.  I will also add pieces of advice to help you make your first day much more enjoyable.

The Pick-Up

This takes place after the Reception Process (when all your paperwork and medical tests are completed).  A bus or cattle truck will pick you up.  You will be packed in a crowded vehicle and you may or may not have Drill Sergeants on board.  If there are Drill Sergeants they will either introduce themselves, tell you to be quiet or ask you to sing the star spangled banner as loud as you can.  Drill Sergeants look intimidating, but do understand, they cannot physically hit you.
Tip:  Try your best not to show off or stand out at this point. There is always one person on that ride who tries to show he/she is different. 

The Drop-Off

When the vehicle stops, all the recruits will be asked to get out as fast as they can.  At this point, you may be asked to do a number of various exercises.  I will use my first day as an example.  When I got out of the vehicle they asked 150 other recruits besides myself to line up and place our luggage in a perfectly straight line, in alphabetical order, in under 3 minutes (which is 45-seconds in Drill Sergeant time).  Seeing how it is impossible for 150 strangers to know each other’s names, we were forced to do exercises because of our failure to complete the mission.  You will fail the first mission you are asked to accomplish; it is designed that way.  The purpose of basic training is to turn you from a civilian to a soldier in 9 short weeks.  In order to do that you need to realize how difficult it is to become a member of the strongest military power in the world.
Tip: At this point, you need to show your Drill Sergeants you are capable of handling physical activity.  Mentally prepare for physical activity when you wake up in the morning on the day you will meet your Drill Sergeants.  Also, don’t be letdown when you fail your first mission, which is what the mission is designed for, failure.

The Meet and Greet

After the exercises you will bring your luggage up to your bunk and meet the members of your platoon.  You are all strangers now, but rest assured, you will know a little more than you care to know about each and every member of that platoon when basic training is over. 

Tip: I cannot stress how important it is to get the rest of the members of your platoon to like you. Don’t order people around and don’t be too passive; come off as a team player. You can accomplish this by asking each person in your platoon a personal question such as “where are you from” “what sports do you like to play” anything at all.  Personal questions show others that your interested in what they are like, and they begin to respect you because of that.

Lights Out

Despite your physical fatigue, you will have trouble sleeping.  Your mind will be shuffling through many thoughts.  Before you go to bed make sure each member in your sleeping area is prepared for the next day.  Often, recruits will need help preparing their uniform or finding certain items.  Offer your assistance, your kindness will be appreciated and the favor will be returned in the future.
Tip: Keep the big picture in mind and remind yourself why you joined the Army, and how proud everyone will be of you when you return.  Mental toughness is 99% of surviving basic training.

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataAugust 22nd, 2010
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Basic Training Injuries-Shin splints

By SGT Volkin

Shin splints are a common cause for concern for each military recruit. Whether you are leaving for marine corps basic training or army basic training, the outcome of painful shins will be the same.  And, to make it even worse, there is no magic pill to cure them.  Shin splints are a result of fatigue and trauma of the muscles near your shins.  This trauma can feel like someone is hammering at your shins with each step. For military style workouts, shin splints can definitely be a road block, and surviving boot camp will be that much harder. 

Basic training leaves little room for rest and relaxation, so what can a recruit do to get rid of shin splints before arriving at basic training? Lots!

First things first, get new shoes. Most recruits don’t get the right shoes. Shoes should fit comfortable and feel well, if they do not, you are adding trauma to your shins with every step you take. Shin splints often occur with new shoes, if this happens, simply get new shoes that fit better and you will see shin splints quickly disappear.

Another quick fix for shin splints is to practice running on soft surfaces, not pavement. Running on grass should help the pain subside.

Rest may not be a luxury you have if your in training, however, if your shins are throbbing even when sitting on the sofa, you must stay off them as much as possible.

Another cause of shin splints is being overweight.  If you are overweight and have time to drop a few pounds, you will put less stress on your shins.

Last but not least, try adjusting your running technique. Get some gel insoles for your shoes. This will angle your foot toward your toes slightly. You should try running on your toes more than the heels of your foot. When you run on the heels of your foot on a hard surface, your shin is experiencing too much trauma for your muscles to bear.

Follow the above tips when preparing for boot camp and make your life a lot easier.

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataAugust 13th, 2010
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Basic Training Running

By SGT Volkin

Le’ts talk about running at army basic training (or marine corps basic training, or heak, even air force basic training). When going through basic training a recruit has to do lots of running. In Army basic training a recruit will typically do a group run every other day of at least a couple miles. The drill sergeants will lead the run and it is the recruits job to keep up with the drill sergeant.

When joining the military, I highly recommend each recruit have a clear expectation of what is expected of him or her. Joining the military means more than just signing some papers and taking an oath.  You are now the responsibility of everyone in your platoon to perform to military standards. In the Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook I give a detailed 8 week fitness program. If you can, complete this program 16 weeks before you leave basic training, so you can complete the program twice

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataAugust 7th, 2010
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How to Avoid Getting in Trouble at Basic Training

By SGT Volkin

Don’t go to basic training unprepared.  The small amount of preparation you can do before basic training will save you hundreds of sit-ups and push-ups in front of a drill sergeant.  During basic training you will be dealing with Drill Sergeants who love to yell at you and hang on your every word.  One of the best compliments I received at basic training was from a drill sergeant on my graduation day. The drill sergeant came up to me and asked me if I belonged on stage.  She wasn’t asking me if I deserved to graduate, she was asking me if I was with the right platoon.  She had never seen me before because I flew “under the radar” so well.  I made it through basic training without getting yelled at much, here’s how I did it:

In my best-selling book, I teach military recruits how to make basic training as stress free as possible.  It’s important to understand that nothing will make you “yell-proof”; however, there are preparations you can make to reduce the amount of personal attention you get from Drill Sergeants.  

Understand Why They Yell- Drill Sergeants don’t personally hate you.  If you take the yelling and insults a Drill Sergeant gives you personally, you will add extra stress to an already stressful situation.  A Drill Sergeants goal is to motivate and train you in the quickest time possible.  Their job is to break you down as a civilian and turn you into a member of the U.S military in the shortest time possible.  That job is not easy and would be difficult with a Richard Simmons type motivation approach.  If you get personal attention by Drill Sergeants at basic training, just remember it’s for your own good.

Don’t be Friendly- Your Drill Sergeant isn’t looking for a friend, so leave your manners at home.  Don’t attempt to have a leisurely or friendly chat with a Drill Sergeant because you will find yourself doing push-ups in the mud.  90% of what you say to a Drill Sergeant should be “Drill Sergeant yes Drill Sergeant”, or “Drill Sergeant no Drill Sergeant”.  The other recruits should be your friends, the Drill Sergeants should be your motivators and trainers.

Don’t be Einstein- Drill Sergeants aren’t impressed with all the knowledge you know, or think you know. Many recruits come to basic training hearing stories and learning lessons of when their friends and family attended. Don’t listen to those recruits as stories are often exaggerated or interpreted incorrectly. Even if you know the answer to a question, don’t shout it out unless you are specifically called upon.

Speak with Confidence, Even if You Know Your Wrong- Drill Sergeants love to pick on recruits who answer or talk in a quiet or timid voice. Their job is to turn you into a lean mean fighting machine. When asked a question, only respond with a confident voice, even if you don’t know the correct answer. A wrong answer spoken confidently sounds better than a right answer spoken timidly.

Don’t be Late- When a Drill Sergeant asks you to be somewhere in 45 seconds, you better be there in 15. Arriving on time is the same as arriving late to a Drill Sergeant.

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of several basic training books, including the best selling: The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp

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Top 5 Tips on How to Avoid Getting Yelled at by Drill Sergeants

By SGT Volkin

Let’s face it, basic training is tough. For the first time you will have to wait for permission to eat or even go to the bathroom. Wouldn’t it make life easier if you knew some tips on avoiding special attention from those mean Drill Sergeants?

In my best-selling book, The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook I teach recruits how to make basic training as stress free as possible.  It’s important to understand that nothing will make you “yell-proof”, however, there are preparations you can make to reduce the amount of times you might get singled out by a drill sergeant. Use the 5 tips below to help you avoid getting yelled at by drill sergeants.

5) Don’t Volunteer- Many recruits think that if they volunteer for tasks then they will become the drill sergeant’s favorite. This might be the case in school, but not the case at basic training. Volunteering for tasks at basic training is like jumping in shark infested waters with chopped fish tied to your ankles. Your goal at basic training is to graduate, not become someone’s favorite recruit.

4) Label Everything- A common reason why recruits get yelled at is because they lose an item of clothing or gear, or they get theirs mixed up with another recruit. Drill sergeants will often do an inspection of your sleeping quarters. During these inspections, items are tossed all over the place often mixing up gear and clothing. Take a black marker with you to basic training and write your initials on everything you own.

3) Don’t be a Know It All- Drill sergeants aren’t impressed with what you know, or think you know. Many recruits come to basic training hearing stories and learning lessons of when their friends and family attended. Don’t listen to those recruits as stories are often exaggerated or interpreted incorrectly. Even if you know the answer to something, don’t shout it out unless you are specifically called upon.

2) Speak with Confidence- Drill sergeants love to pick on recruits who answer or talk in a quiet or timid voice. Their job is to make you a lean mean fighting machine; they don’t want you sounding like Richard Simmons. When asked a question, only respond with a confident voice, even if you don’t know the correct answer. A wrong answer spoken confidently sounds better than a right answer spoken timidly.

1) Don’t be Late- When a drill sergeant asks you to be somewhere in 45 seconds, you better be there in 15. Arriving on time is not going to cut it in basic training.

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

categoriaUncategorized commento1 Comment dataJuly 25th, 2010
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Basic Training Questions: Top or Bottom Bunk?

By SGT Volkin

I have to admit, from time to time I get unique questions which I have never been asked before. Someone going to army basic training asked me if the top or bottom bunk was better at fort benning and/or fort jackson. Whether you are going to marine corps basic training or air force basic training, the bunk you choose could have a small impact on your overall experience.  I specifically chose the top bunk.
Why?
I felt if I was on the bottom bunk, I would just be staring at the bottom of the top bunk mattress, which didn’t appeal to me. At least at the top bunk, I could see the ceiling and have a small sense of aloneness. That’s just my view though. Military basic training is filled with stress, and that small sense of aloneness helped me just a little bit. Sometimes, the drill sergeants will assign your bunks for you (especially in the Marines), but if you get a choice, I would recommend the top bunk. It’s easier to make the top bunk bed in the morning too (also in my opionion)

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

categoriaUncategorized commento1 Comment dataJuly 23rd, 2010
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Military Basic Training-Why Are You Joining?

By SGT Volkin

Why are you joining the military? Have you asked yourself that question yet? Too many recruits just join the military becuase they saw a neat commercial or they need the college money. That, in my opinion, is the worst reason to join.  You will have a difficult time at basic training with those excuses as motivation to graduate. With USMC training; being the most difficult of all the branches, you need more motivation than college money to surpass your drill sergeants; standards of what a soldier should be. Let’s take military fitness for example, more specifically, Army fitness. In military basic training you have to be able to run at least 4 miles without stopping. Do you think college money will help you push through that third mile? I will tell you from experience, the answer is most likely no.

In Army basic training your drill sergeants will be on you like white on rice for 10 weeks. After the second week, the college money won’t seem like much of a motivational factor.  Army training is difficult and you have to want to be there, not be doing it for some other reason. You have to want the training, you have to want the structure and you have to want the discipline.

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

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Army Fitness-Are You Ready

By SGT Volkin

So, you decided joining the military is what you want to do, congrats! Are you ready for army basic training? Do you have what it takes to surpass army fitness standards? If you are not joining the Army, do you have what it takes to pass military fitness standards? Military basic training is tougher than the recruiter might make it sound.

Drill sergeants are not there to be your friends, so if you’re not prepared for the grueling fitness regime you will encounter, you will be adding stress to an already stressful situation. Your Army training will be 9 weeks long with the one week for MEPS. That might seem like a short amount of time, but it isnt. You want to make it as easy as possible for you. Be sure to properly prepare yourself for boot camp! Make it easy on yourself and your drill instructors, especially if your going to USMC training.

To prepare your body for military fitness, you should begin to replicate the actual excercises you will do at basic training. Don’t go to the gym to lift weights, yes that will make you stronger, however, it is much better to prepare your muscle to memory retention. Everytime you do a push up for example, your body remembers that movement and can replicate it better and better each time through a process called muscle to memory retention. This can be much more beneficial to you as you will not have a weight room in basic training.

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

categoriaUncategorized commentoNo Comments dataMay 24th, 2010
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