How To Physically Prepare To Join The Military

Joining the armed forces is a big decision, and it is one which I am sure goes through most young men and woman’s mind’s in the run up to the day they turn 16. 16 years being the day you are legally aloud to start basic military training in the UK. Once you have decided that the military is right for you, the question remains, how do we go about becoming physically fit, not just civilian fit but fit enough to join one of our fighting forces. Below we are going to look at some of the things you should do in order to prepare yourself efficiently for all the physical demands of basic training in the British Armed Forces.

As a Leading Physical Trainer in the Royal Navy I have not only gone through the process of basic training in the military, I also know what it takes for a new recruit to physically pass the standards. Having overseen a number of recruits during their phase 1 & 2 training I am able to give an insight into exactly what is needed in order to prepare yourself physically, in order to give oneself the best possible shot at completing the basic training element of the British military.

All military training is progressive but starts quickly, upon entering through the gates at any military establishment they will expect a certain level of fitness. This is a baseline level, and you should aim for higher, you will need to pass a fitness test also as part of the application process. Hopefully depending which armed force you have decided to join, you will have done you’re homework and looked into some of the basic requirements of fitness. Below we will go over a few things that you will need to do in order to get yourself ready in time to join.

The first one is run, running plays a huge role across all the services, it is by far one of the simplest tests of physical fitness and it will be used from day one. In order to get competent at running, you simply need to run, it sounds very self explanatory but believe it or not the majority of tests you complete initially will involve a run, yet you still see people getting themselves ready for basic training on a cross trainer, this will not suffice! The more you run the better! Lace up your shoes and get on the road a minimum of 3 times per week. Try different distances, time yourself over 2.5, 5, and 10KM. Do this weekly and try to beat your times from the previous weeks. These distances will suffice for most forces, should you wish to join the Royal Marines however? Well you may need to go a little bit harder and further. 

Secondly, get comfortable carrying weight! Be it a person, a stretcher or the standard military bergen, you will need to be able to carry weight and normally over a prolonged distance. So how do we train to carry weight? Such things as fireman’s carry’s and farmers walks are great, want to do these in the gym? If so you can use kettlebells, dumbbells and powerbags. Portraying carrying a burgeon is easy, just simply load a bag, strap it to your back and go for a walk/jog. Remember to be progressive, start out lighter and look to make it harder the closer you get to you’re joining date. The object is to peak once you arrive at the gates ready for you’re first day on camp.

Thirdly, get good at lifting your own body weight. The military will test you, it will put you under extreme pressure at times, some of the workouts will make you feel weak and like you are about to fail. In order to limit this feeling we must get comfortable in the art of lifting our own body weight. Now when I say this I don’t mean anything out of the ordinary, I simply mean the basics, these are press ups, pull ups, rope climbs, dips and sit ups. Now let me first say all of these movements are very easy to practice. You can perform them alone in your bedroom, outside if you wish, or in the gym, maybe as part of a circuit. We will talk about circuits in the next paragraph, just make sure you are doing lots of bodyweight exercises. Once again make sure you are being progressive, the object is to get better each day. A little tip from me.. Military PT’s love nothing more than seeing someone with the ability to improve. Not necessarily the fittest person on day 1, but the person who turns up and gives it their all, day after day. 

Moving onto circuit training, the military puts together some of the most intense circuits you could ever think off. It seems like my favourite word is progressive but they truly are, they get harder the longer the weeks go by, but you also get fitter. The physical training instructors like myself, will expect more from you every time you turn up at the gym. Circuit training covers a whole a bunch of different elements, it will test your cardiovascular ability, they will have you carrying things, climbing, going under and through objects and it is very hard to know exactly what is coming. The best way to train for this is to be inventive, train outside as well as in, lift weight whilst moving and trial putting your own circuits together. Go online and search ‘military circuit training’, there are literally hundreds of ideas out there. The more variety you work with, the more likely you will be able to handle all that is thrown at you.

The last element I am going to talk about is swimming, now firstly let’s start by saying swimming is an art. You can be the fittest guy on the planet but if your technique is out, your trunk will sink fast and you will find it really difficult to swim with any efficiency. Swimming takes practice, it takes time to get better, work will need to be done in your local swimming pool, if you want to become competent and comfortable in the water. During your training experience in the military a good number of ‘circuits’ will take place in the pool, it is therefore imperative that you spend ample amount of time in a local pool before you start training. Those extra lengths every week could make all the difference, this is especially true if you are a weak swimmer to begin with. Work on your weaknesses and make them better before you walk through the gates. 

Above we have given you a simple guide, into some of the things you will need to do in order to get ready for the military. One of the greatest resources you can have in the military is being fit, because if you are, there will always be someone that isn’t and the ones that aren’t struggle. So get fit, put the hours in before you start, remain flexible within your training! Try not to be good at just one discipline, put in the time and work to learn them all. 

Thinking about joining the military? Unsure of your next step even after reading this blog? Head over to my instagram account, linked on this website and give me a message. I will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. Just please don’t say hello if I see you during your basic training, doing so will cost you some burpees and maybe a run (laughs). 


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