So you’re thinking of joining the military but you’re not in shape. Isn’t that the purpose of boot camp? Unfortunately the answer is, not quite, or in some cases not at all. Where yes, boot camp will help you get into better shape, each branch has some minimal expectations of what you should do before you come. I will speak for the fact that I do not know the Navy Standards but out of the other branches Marines have the highest expectations going in and out, followed by Army, then Air Force. The better shape you are entering will make basic training easier overall for any branch. Below you will find a more detailed explanation of the Army. For those looking in the Air Force as always I will guide you to Erin.
You are in luck if you are joining the army and are enlisting. They have very minimal standards for PT prior to basic. However, your physical fitness can affect your job choice as a test has been implemented to determine physical capacity for certain MOSs. The army still uses the 1-1-1 as well, females must run 1 mile in 10:30, complete 3 push ups in 1 min, and 17 sit ups in 1 min this will be given to you during the first week of basic. Males need to do 13 push ups, 13 sit ups, and run a mile in 8:30. The new test for job selection is called the OPAT.
The OPAT is a four part test:
- Standing long jump
- Seated power throw with medicine ball
- Strength dead lift
- Interval Aerobic Run (essentially a pacer test)
The OPAT passing levels are explained well here. You must pass at certain levels to obtain specific MOSs but you may retake an OPAT. If you pass but not high enough they will give you another MOS.
If you fail the 1-1-1 at basic you will be placed into remedial PT which means you get to do PT twice a day have fun!
If you are submitting an officer packet you must be able to pass the AFPT. You need to have least the minimum scores but the higher you score the better it looks in your packet for when you go to the board. Search for AFPT standards online and the score charts will come up they are different for males and females.
First off I am not a trainer so I will speak about my own personal experience but will recommend you seek out advice from someone who is a professional. PT sucks if you are in your 20s, only semi fit, and have been able to set your own pace for years. I am under the impression it is easier if you are still a 17 year old athlete who just finished up track season. When I started seriously doing PT to try to meet Army Standards it was pathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I was well within weight but that’s due to a very organic, very healthy diet. Here were my stats on day one:
- Push ups (mind you even when I was super fit I didn’t do these)- 1 and I’d fall to my face
- Sit ups- Struggled to do 20 in a row on an incline (hill sit ups are great)
- Running- I couldn’t keep pace for more than .33 miles until I needed to slow way down
My recruiter suggested charting my progress. DO THIS. It helps seriously, even the smallest gains make you feel good. From here you need to determine what your fitness plan should be and how to make gains depending on your weaknesses. I will not share my plan entirely but I will say it did include one total day of rest from everything, and off days for certain muscles. Within my first week here were my gains. Mind you I was also doing sets of these. So run take a quick walking break, sit ups, push ups, run again.
- Push ups- 5 total before I’d fall
- Sit ups- 30 in a row of hill sit ups
- Running- I could make it about .5 miles
Second Week Gains
- Push ups-11 total before I’d fall
- Sit ups- Starting practicing 2 minute timer test and could do 55
- Running- I could run a mile without stopping
From there my progress went up a little more slowly but it went up because I worked at it My chart seriously kept me accountable and all I wanted was one more rep than yesterday, or a little farther to run. Some days I fell short, others I exceeded expectations. You just have to keep at it. There are lots of resources out there online or apps such as Couch to 5k, Run Keeper, or 100 push ups. I really like Run Keeper and 100 push ups they keep track of progress for you. If you are not a member of a gym often times joining one comes with a few free trainer sessions. I am a member at the Y and got six when joining. The only other recommendation I’d make is actually practice a PFT. Two minutes of push ups or sit ups doesn’t seem like a lot until you are in the middle of doing them.
Here is a recent post PT shot, forgot sun screen might be good.