Now we are getting somewhere. You've met with and negotiated a contract with the recruiter. You may've made your first trips to MEPS for physicals and other reasons. You are pumped up. Maybe you've been doing some poolie functions. Now, let's eyeball some specifics that will help you prepare for recruit training.

The first and most important thing to do is get in shape. You cannot afford to show up sloppy, overweight, and out of shape.

What you need to do is focus on three exercises.

  1. Running. Marines run, a lot. So, before leaving for boot camp give yourself a head start and run. The best type of training will work you up to a three mile run starts with simple intervals. Go to a track that is a quarter mile in length. Pick your starting point and sprint as fast as you can. When you start to tire, you will slow to a jog. When that is tiring, slow to a fast walk. The key here is to not stop if at all possible until you complete a full lap. Do it again. You will notice that your ability to sprint and jog will increase in both time and distance. Your overall goal is to be able to run three to five miles without keeling over. The closer you are to making that goal, the better you will adapt to the physical training during boot camp.
  2. Pull Ups. Pull ups are a graded event in the Corps. You must be able to do as many as possible. There are two ways to do pull-ups. You can have your palms outboard (away from your face) or inboard (towards your face). Each method uses slightly different muscle groups. I find palms inboard to be my best pull-up position. Now, with your feet not touching the ground, hang from the bar for five seconds and then pull your self straight up. Hold in the up position for five seconds with your chin over the bar but not touching it. Now, control the downward motion so that it takes three to five seconds to descend back to a dead hang. The exaggerated slowness will over stress your muscles and build strength. Also do push ups, bench press, and dumbbell rowing to vary the routine and avoid burnout. Lastly, for the women; You will focus on the flexed arm hang. Essentially you get your chin over the bar and hang there as described above for as long as you can. Nothing says that women cannot do pull-ups at all. But the event graded for women is the flexed arm hang.
  3. Crunches are another graded event. Any abdominal workout will help you. Your recruiter will demonstrate perfect form if you ask him. The key is to be able to do them quickly and efficiently for a minimum of two minutes non-stop without keeling over. Like anything else, progression is the key. Start by simply doing them until you can do twenty-five. Once you can do twenty-five, begin timing drills. Have a friend hold a stop watch. On his "go" begin to smoothly do the crunches over and over concentrating on form and rhythm. Have him stop you at thirty seconds. You want to work your way up to doing a full one hundred crunches in two minutes if possible. If you can't make it, you will during boot camp. Your specific goal is to average 25 perfect crunches every 30 seconds.

The next area to take special notice of is how you look. Grooming is important. Trust me on this. You do not want to show up at Parris Island or San Diego with long hair, an earring, and dressed in Goth leathers. So, cut your hair to a conservative style without shaving your head. Let the earring holes close up. Shave off your mustache and/or beard. And wear well fitted clothing.

Make sure that you are eating right with a well balanced diet. Get used to no sweets. Lose the caffeine and stop smoking or using tobacco products. Withdrawal is not pleasant. Withdrawal in boot camp will be far worse.

IF you have ever done any recreational drugs make sure you've stopped. Drug tests will happen and it isn't if, it's when, you will get caught. Drugs are almost a virtual certainty to get you kicked out with an unfavorable discharge. The bottom line is that if you party the night before leaving stick to legal substances.

Study, study, study. Make a habit of studying your Marine Corps knowledge daily for an hour or so. The more you know before you depart, the easier it will be to assimilate.

Finally check with your recruiter about what you can bring with you. I would strongly recommend that you bring your own running shoes. Buy the very best you can get. Your knees and feet will appreciate it.

My friend, you are almost there. Hang in there and good luck.

The next article in the series is undetermined. At this point you can go from zero to departure. If there is enough interest, I would be happy to document the rest of your potential career.