Endurance Training to Gear Up for Boot Camp (Guest Post)

runner dealing with injury

This is a guest post by my friend Joh Dylan From Victoremgear.com

You’ve decided to honor your country and signed up for the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard.

Whether you’re already in decent shape or starting from ground zero fitness levels, one thing is for sure – basic military training is the most difficult ten weeks of mental and physical challenges that any American could endure. 

You’ll want to prepare your body as best as possible to make your time in basic training as painless as it can be. 

Basic combat training consists of learning physical hand-to-hand combat, running, sit-ups/push-ups at all hours of the night and day. Part of the boot camp workout involves pushing your body beyond what it can typically handle – extreme feats of strength and endurance performed on little to no sleep.

Endurance. Physical endurance is what will get you through and pass basic training with flying colors. 

Here’s our guide to help you push yourself, build strength, and endure whatever physical challenges get thrown your way. 

Running

Timed 2-Mile Run Requirements

To pass training, you’ll have to run a timed 2 mile run within the following requirements, dependent on age and gender.

MEN

Aged 17-21 – under 16:36 minutes

Aged 22-26 – under 17:30 minutes

WOMEN

Aged 17-21 – under 19:42 minutes

Aged 22-26 – under 20:36 minutes

The Two L’s of Running: Legs and Lungs

There is no way around it – in basic training, you’re going to be running a lot. You’ll head out on long, endurance testing runs every day and get tested on the timed 2-mile run outlined above. 

It’s going to take some practice and grit during endurance training to get your speed and endurance where it needs to be.

The two L’s, lungs, and legs will hinder (or improve) your running performance.

Lungs

You can train your lungs by running paced runs. If the goal is to run an 8-minute mile, as required for male recruits aged 17-21 and you’re not there yet, the best route is to break down your run.

The best way to build your speed is to run 1/4 mile in 2 minutes first. Slow down your pace to recover, then repeat 6-8x to complete the session.

As you start hitting your pace regularly, increase to running 1/2 mile in 4 minutes. Recover, and repeat as above.

You’ll want to throw in some long-distance, easy-paced runs 1-2x/week, and run 2-miles as fast as possible, 1x/week, to build endurance and test your improvements.

Legs

To keep your legs easily carrying you at a quick pace, building muscular endurance is a must. Work out doing some resistance training 2-3 times per week with a focus on your lower body. Rest for 48 hours minimum between workouts for sufficient recovery and regrowth of muscle fibers. 

Use a resistance band for your training – they’re designed to apply constant tension on your muscle during an exercise, which is the best way to build muscular endurance. Find out more about resistance bands here.

Try these moves to build up your legs and blast your record times:

  1. Lateral Band Steps
  2. Standing Glute Kickbacks
  3. Single-Leg Stands
  4. Clamshells
  5. Runner’s Extensions

Sit-ups

To pass your sit-up portion of the basic training test, men and women need to perform 43-47 sit-ups within 2 minutes.

The first trick is to find an even pace throughout the 2 minutes. If you start too strong, you may burn out too quickly and not complete the test. 

How to Increase Sit-ups

  1. Do the 2-minute test to determine the current total number of sit-ups you can do within the time. 
  2. Say your max number is 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes. Multiply that number by 3. 50 x 3 = 150 sit-ups. 
  3. Perform this new total for 1-2 weeks.
  4. For week 3, break down the sit-ups into 30-second chunks. Perform 20-25 sit-ups within each chunk. If you’re performing 20 sit-ups every 30 seconds, 150/20 = 7.5. You’ll perform 8 sets of 30 seconds, with 20 reps in each.
  5. During week 4, increase the increments to 60 seconds. Perform 40-50 reps within the minute, and repeat the process until you’ve reached 150 reps. 
  6. During week 5, increase to full 2-minute sets, focusing on keeping the same pace as above. 
  7. Take a few days rest, and test yourself!

*Note: You can perform these sit-ups back-to-back or spread them throughout your regular workout.

Work on your core with moves other than sit-ups too. Here are some of the most effective core exercises you can try:

Push-ups

The push-up requirements differ between genders. To pass the test, men need to do 31-35 push-ups in 2 minutes, depending on age. Women need to prove they can do 11-13 in the same time frame.

How to Increase Push-ups

  1. If you can’t perform one push-up, try a modified version like the incline push-up or static holds. 
  2. Once you graduate to full-body push-ups, start by planking your body in a push-up position with good form. Hold for as long as possible, aiming for 30-60 seconds. 
  3. Try regular push-ups and keep practicing. Once you can perform 3-6 push-ups properly, begin performing low-rep sets. Stop a few reps short of your max reps. Repeat 10 times, resting at least 30 seconds between sets.\
  4. Once you’ve hit 7 push-ups without failure, continue doing 10 sets on your workout day and slowly increasing each group’s reps. Continue to keep the reps slightly under your max. Focus on keeping your range of motion in the challenging low-mid half of the movement. 
  5. Once you hit 15 push-ups, start adding an extra challenge to the move to continue strong growth. Try decline push-ups, spiderman push-ups, one-armed push-ups.

*Note: You can perform these push-ups back-to-back with 30 seconds rest in between, or spread them throughout your regular workout.

You should also do some other resistance training to build up your chest, shoulders, and upper body muscles. Here is a great set to get you started:

Final Word

No matter your starting point, use these tools to get your body into shape to pass basic training. 

The #1 most important skill you need is strength in commitment – commit to your runs, commit to building your core, commit to blasting out push-ups, and commit to training to make yourself stronger. 

The physical and mental strength you’ll develop will take you far when it’s time to face the challenges ahead.