Preparing For Marine Corps Boot Camp? | Do These 20 Things Now!
It is no secret that the Marine Corps Recruit Training is challenging. Boot Camp is designed to test every ounce of your being. In this article, we’re going to discuss 20 things you can start doing NOW to prepare for Marine Corps Boot Camp!
My goal with this article and For The Corps, in general, is to give you the resources necessary to succeed, as well as, a different way of looking at things.
Earning the title of United States Marine is extremely challenging, but not impossible!
If I learned one thing from my time serving in the Marine Corps, it’s that everything comes down to mindset.
With the right mindset and attitude, anything you set your mind to is achievable.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from all of this it would be fearlessness.
Train your minds to be fearless and aggressively pursue your goals and dreams.
If becoming a Marine is one of those dreams of yours, then keep reading!
Here are 20 things your can start doing now to prepare for Marine Corps Boot Camp!
1- Go To Bed Earlier!
In Boot Camp, there is no sleeping in.
You will be waking up before the sun comes up and going to bed after it sets.
I encourage you to get in the habit of waking up early.
I kn0w it’s tough and sleeping in is easy, but waking up early gets easier!
I wake up every morning at 6 to work on this website and my YouTube Channel!
If I can do it, you can too!
You only have 24 hours in a day.
It’s on you to figure out how many hours of sleep a night you get!
Use your time wisely.
I advise you to get in the habit of waking up early.
When you get to basic training it’ll be a whole lot easier to get accustomed to waking up early when you’ve already been doing it!
2- Eat Healthier
In Basic Training, you don’t have the luxury of eating junk food and soda.
There is most certainly junk food available in the chow hall, but your Drill Instructors won’t allow you to eat it.
I remember being a teenager.
I ate anything and everything I wanted!
At your age, you can afford to do so.
Although, this isn’t sustainable if you plan on staying fit and healthy as you get older.
Especially if becoming a badass physically fit Marine is what your goal is!
So, why not start eating healthy now!
Look, I’m a healthy eater and I wish everyone was as well.
I understand that many people don’t have the desire or even the discipline to eat healthily and stay away from crap food and pop.
All I ask and advise you to do is at least eat healthy before you ship out and during basic training.
After that, you can do as you please!
Plus, eating healthy food supplies your body, mind, and muscles with the proper nutrients it needs to perform at the level that is required to make it through boot camp!
3- Start Working Out/ Exercising
There is no escaping exercise or physical activity in Boot Camp.
I get asked all the time how in shape someone should be before they ship out.
My answer is always the same, the more the better!
Don’t get me wrong, you will get in shape whether you like it or not in recruit training.
As long as you can pass the Initial Strength Test (IST) you will have met the minimum requirements necessary to ship out.
Initial Strength Test (IST)
PULL-UPS / PUSH-UPS
Male: 3 pull-ups or 34 push-ups (2:00 time limit)
Female: 1 pull-up or 15 push-ups (2:00 time limit)
Male: 1.5 mile run in 13:30
Female: 1.5 mile run in 15:00
PLANK OR CRUNCHES
40-second plank (1:03 minimum)
44 crunches (2:00 time limit)
Now, keep in mind that the scores above are the minimum requirements and individuals must pass before they are allowed ship off to recruit training.
You should be striving to get well above these numbers!
If you find yourself barely meeting these requirements I would highly advise you to start exercising more.
Basic Training is extremely challenging.
If you are in poor physical shape it will much more challenging for you.
Do the things now that you know you should be doing (following this list!) so that your time in recruit training will be just a little more bearable.
For those of you that didn’t know, your PT (Physical Training) scores play a large role in your promotions from E1-E3.
I was meritoriously promoted to Private First Class (PFC) out of boot camp due to my physical fitness scores and positive mental attitude in basic.
4- Form Routines
Routines are a powerful tool.
They guide you and ensure that your day is as productive as it can be.
They are especially helpful when training and preparing for Marine Corps Recruit Training!
Getting in the habit of developing a daily routine will put you one step ahead of your peers.
It will also give you the discipline necessary to perform at a higher level throughout your life.
Think about how many people don’t follow a routine.
They sleep in late every morning, maybe eat some breakfast, and they kind of just wander through their day and life aimlessly.
Routines are a great way to hold yourself accountable and they build self-discipline.
I find that I am most happy when I have a solid daily routine.
I encourage you to develop a daily routine and to hold yourself accountable for it.
Everything in boot camp is done on a strict schedule and when you are there you will notice it is very routine.
By following your routine now it will be less of a wake-up call when you get to basic!
5- Set Goals & Achieve Them!
Goals can be extremely beneficial if you follow through on them.
I wish that I would develop the habit of setting goals when I was younger.
Setting goals give you direction, clearer focus, and increased motivation.
Simply writing things down is powerful in and of itself!
Not writing down your goals is like training for a marathon without a plan.
You’re essentially just shooting blanks while expecting them to hit a target.
I encourage you to start small.
Make your goals achievable.
If you tell yourself that you are going to run 20 miles a day 6 days a week, I can most certainly guarantee you will fail.
Instead, start small.
Set a realistic goal of running 5 miles per week.
Then work on breaking that down per day, or slowly chipping away at that 5-mile target as the week progresses!
Setting small, realistic goals that you can easily achieve will give you little wins when you accomplish them.
When you start checking those boxes off you will feel amazing.
Those little wins add up, trust me!
6- Develop A Sense Of Urgency
Everything in boot camp is fast-paced.
From the unrealistic countdowns by the Drill Instructors, head calls (bathroom breaks), going from point a to b, and everything else in basic you are doing it with a sense of urgency.
I want you all to understand this concept because everything you do in basic training is done as if your life depended on it!
You learn to eat your food within minutes, go to the bathroom in record time, and run everywhere you go.
Boot camp is designed this way.
The never-ending pressure heightened levels of stress, and overwhelming expectations from your drill instructors are the closest thing to simulating a combat environment.
Instilling that discipline and learning how to move with a sense of urgency when it matters most could save your life someday!
Take that seriously.
You might be asking yourself, “well how do I start preparing for this now?”
Start doing things as if your life depended on it!
Do everything with a sense of urgency.
Take out the trash faster, do your chores faster, brush your teeth faster, get dressed faster, you get the idea.
When you get to boot camp there is no more moping around!
7- Embrace Fear
Fear is something we all have in common.
It is the one thing that holds people back from achieving their goals and dreams.
All too often, we let fear get in the way of our actions.
Whether it’s starting that business you’ve always wanted to, asking that girl for her number, or joining the Marine Corps!
We all experience fear daily.
I once read this quote that said FEAR stood for False Evidence Appearing Real.
If you think about it when we are faced with something challenging or scary we often cloud our minds with negativity.
We create every excuse in our minds and think about every negative possibility.
Think about this for a second.
What was something you wanted to do but didn’t because you were afraid or nervous?
A big moment for me was when I joined the Marine Corps.
The first time around I was all ready to go.
I took the ASVAB, picked a MOS, and was in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) awaiting my ship out date.
The problem was I had 8 months before I shipped out.
During those 8 months, I had way too much time to think, dealt with way too many people who said I couldn’t do it or that I was making the wrong decision.
What do you think happened?
You got it!
I back out of the DEP Program and opted not to join.
It wasn’t because of the haters, or that I wasn’t good enough, it was because I was scared and I let the fear of the unknown get in the way of achieving a lifelong dream.
While I ended up coming to my senses and facing my fears and joining the Marine Corps, I almost didn’t.
I almost lived a life of regret because I was too afraid to go after something difficult!
I don’t want you all to make the same mistake!
This goes with anything in life.
Use fear to your advantage.
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.”George Addair
Follow your dreams and understand that the roads going to get bumpy, shit gonna be hard, and you may feel overwhelmed.
Maintain a positive attitude, and positive thoughts, and be aggressive in everything you do.
8- Have A Positive Attitude
You’ll hear me talk a lot about a positive mindset.
Because having a positive mindset is something you can control.
It doesn’t matter how negative everyone else is around you because you can choose to either be negative as well or be positive and tune that shit out.
People feed off of each other’s energy.
You’ve probably experienced this first hand.
Have you ever been hanging around a group of friends and everyone is talking crap about the situation and being a bunch of downers?
Just being around that you oftentimes fall into the trap of feeding into that negativity.
I try and focus on my mindset throughout the day.
If I find myself slipping into negative self-thoughts or complaining I quickly steer myself in the other direction.
Many people find it hard to understand why I am always upbeat.
What they don’t realize is that I am doing it for myself.
Sure, it may seem weird that I don’t contribute to those negative conversations or complain about the thing everyone else is complaining about.
But, I try hard not to fall into the trap of being a downer.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”Frank Outlaw
The art of being positive and having a positive mindset takes work and practice.
Start developing it now and it will benefit you while in boot camp, but also for the rest of your life!
9- Be Self-Critical
Self-criticism is a powerful tool if used properly.
This is the ability to evaluate yourself, your actions, and your failures.
You can either criticize yourself too harshly or not enough.
It is important to find the right balance.
It all starts with self-awareness and being able to recognize your strengths and weaknesses.
Realize how your actions affect not only you but those around you.
Learning to be just critical enough of yourself can be an invaluable quality.
Be conscious of yourself and your actions.
Recognize your mistakes and understand why you made them.
I look at self-criticism as a way to be your critique in everything you do while being self-aware of yourself and those around you.
It will allow you to become the best version of yourself and someone that others will look up to!
10- Check Your Ego
Having an ego isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there has to be a healthy balance.
A person with too big of ego may come off as arrogant, cocky, narrow-minded, or stubborn.
Too big of ego can cause a person to lack humility and they often have to be right about everything.
On the other hand, too little ego can hinder a person’s growth and performance.
They may lack the confidence necessary to pursue opportunities.
The right amount of confidence in yourself is necessary and having an ego is important.
Although, I encourage you to find the right balance.
The ability to understand you isn’t perfect, but rather you are forever growing and learning is something you need to understand.
A person with the right “amount” of ego shows humility, is flexible, can adapt, and is confident in their actions.
Understand the healthy and unhealthy qualities of ego!
11- Embrace The Suck
It became the thing I told myself during any difficult or shitty situation I found myself in, which was quite often!
When the going gets tough and you’re faced with overwhelming odds it is important to maintain a positive attitude
Make the best of the situation and use that pain and suck to your advantage!
Lean into the pain!
“It’s the idea of being emotionally comfortable while being physically uncomfortable.”Dr. Nate Zinsser, director of the U.S. Military Academy’s Performance Psychology Program
Look, life is going to knock you down often.
It is going to challenge you to your very core and test you physically and mentally.
Learning the art of embracing the suck will give you the mindset needed to take on anything life throws at you.
The things you can control during challenging, miserable, or times of uncertainty are your mindset and the ability to look for the good in any situation.
This is how I embrace the suck and how I continue to live my life years after the Marine Corps!
12- Develop Some Discipline
We all come into this world as undisciplined little monsters.
The Marine Corps views everybody, regardless of their age or background as “nasty undisciplined civilians.”
This is why boot camp is necessary and required to earn the title.
As Marines, we represent something much bigger than ourselves and we carry on the legacy of our brothers and sisters that came before us.
We hold ourselves to a high standard and one way of doing this is through discipline.
The Marine Corps defined discipline as, “Discipline is the instant willing obedience to all orders, respect for authority and teamwork.“
While discipline will be instilled into your bodies in recruit training there are things you can start doing now to work on it.
If someone, be it your boss or parents, tells you to do something guess what you should do?
Get it done!
Don’t give them grief or try and avoid it.
Show them that you can be relied upon.
Respect authority and have the ability to work as a team when necessary.
The path to becoming a great leader starts with being a good follower and it all starts with discipline!
13- Lose Your Entitled Attitude
That’s right, lose that entitled attitude.
Nobody owes you a damn thing.
In recruit training, you are all equal.
Where you come from or your family’s status means absolutely nothing in recruit training.
The Marine Corps doesn’t give a shit about any of that.
All your drill instructors care about is whether or not you’re worthy of earning the title.
So, if you think for one second that you are better than someone because your parents are rich, or because you’re older than most, think again.
Learn to be a team player, embrace the suck, and understand that you will receive no special treatment in boot camp.
14- Learn To Follow Orders
As a Marine, you will follow orders from every person who outranks you.
If you have a problem with authority then you should consider another profession.
Although, if this is something you can get on board with then continue!
Following orders is easy, yet so many people struggle with it.
In Basic Training, your drill instructors will hammer the discipline into you.
Some things you can start doing now before you ship out are learning to follow simple orders instructed by your parents, boss, etc.
Learn to do as you are told with a sense of purpose.
If your parents have to tell you multiple times to clean your room or take out the trash, then you’ve probably got some work to do!
After all, if you still can’t get it down, your drill instructors will make sure you do.
15- Develop A Work Ethic
Work ethic in my opinion is an extremely valuable trait.
You either have it or you don’t.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m cleaning a bathroom, or working at my day job, everything I do is done right, efficiently, and of the highest quality.
I pride myself on my work ethic and it has rewarded me with many opportunities in life.
People feed off of it and as a result, I stand out above my peers.
You would be amazed at how many people just don’t care.
These types of people tend to cause more work for others, slow down progress, and unmotivate those around them.
Don’t be one of these people, especially when you become a Marine!
16- Develop A Plan
Having a plan is crucial.
You need to understand what it is that you want to accomplish.
What do you want the Marine Corps to do for you?
It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but figure out your path and what that looks like.
Do you want to go to reserves or active duty?
Officer or Enlisted?
Do your four years and get out and go to college or make a career out of it?
Understand that plans change, you change, and life happens.
A basic idea of what you want to accomplish will go a long way!
17- Prepare To Talk With A Recruiter!
The thought of talking to a recruiter might sound terrifying.
I can assure you that you will be nervous, but the more prepared you are the less nervous you’ll be!
This is your first big step toward joining the United States Marine Corps and your recruiter is essentially your golden ticket.
You need to prepare for this conversation.
Understand what questions you should ask.
Lucky for you, I’ve made a video outlining every question you should ask: 20 Questions To Ask Your Military Recruiter!
What I want you to understand is that despite being nervous, you are the one that holds the power in that conversation!
Your recruiter needs you, not the other way around.
If they aren’t delivering on their promises or you don’t feel like they are as invested in helping you as they should be, go find another one.
I am sure this will not be an issue, but on the off chance that it is, move on.
Know what you want before you even set up the conversation.
Understand the questions you want to be answered and control the conversation!
18- Study For The ASVAB!
You’ve talked with the recruiter now you are ready for the fun part.
The ASVAB is one of the first hurdles you must get through as you prepare to join the Marine Corps.
It is unfortunately unavoidable.
I encourage you to take it seriously, study for it and try your very best to get the highest score possible, as your future depends on it.
Obviously, the higher the score, the more job opportunities!
Speak with your local Marine Corps recruiter about your options.
Many sites offer free ASVAB training and resources, but your recruiters will also have access to practice tests that you can take to see where you’re at in terms of scores.
19- Learn Basic Marine Corps Knowledge (add links!)
You’ve spoken to a recruiter, take the ASVAB, now you must start preparing!
Marine Corps knowledge is important and should be an area of focus as you prepare to join the Marine Corps.
Learning your rank structure, general orders and various leadership traits will benefit you because you’ll need to know these things when you join.
Sure, you’ll learn them in boot camp, but I encourage you to learn them ahead of time!
You should also familiarize yourself with the history behind the Marine Corps and the significant figures that have come before you.
The Marine Corps is rich in history and learning more about it should motivate and inspire you.
20- Know Your WHY!
If you’ve made it this far, you should have a decent list of things to help you start preparing for Marine Corps recruit training.
But, I saved this one for last because I feel it’s one of the most important ones.
As we’ve already concluded, the Marine Corps is difficult.
There will be times when you want to quit and give up.
Having a clear definitive WHY will help you during those times!
Understanding why you want to become a Marine in the first place will give you that little bit of motivation you’ll need to continue!
Thoughts to consider
All of the things we just discussed will assist you in preparing for Marine Corps boot camp, but none of it matters if you don’t have the right mindset!
Look, you can prepare all you want, but unless you take the necessary steps towards joining you will go nowhere.
Lastly, you can prepare all you want and try and educate yourself on what to expect, but you need to just experience it to fully understand what you’re getting yourself into!
I aim to be a resource for you guys as you transition into and out of the Marine Corps.
Grab your FREE copy of the Marine Corps Knowledge eBook!
Thanks for stopping by!
Sergeant (Marine Corps Veteran)
For The Corps
Before you leave, here are some Articles you NEED to Check out!
- What To Ask Your Military Recruiter? Ask These 20 Questions!
- Are You Considering Joining The Marines in 2022? | Don’t Fall VICTIM To This!
- Where Do Marines Live After Boot Camp? | Here Is EVERYWHERE You Will Be Going After Basic Training!
Visit the For The Corps YouTube Channel for more content!