Week One of Marine Recruit Boot Camp at Parris Island

Published: 18th May 2009
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Week one of Basic Marine Corp Training can be quite a shock upon arrival at Parris Island.

This article pertains mainly to preparing for Marine Corps basic training at Marine Boot Camp, but the lessons here can be applied to any of the armed forces. Too many recruits show up having done zero research into how to be a Marine or what they are about to endure when dealing with drill instructors.

The physical requirements for the Marines are more stringent than those for other branches and the amount of materials covered is overwhelming mentally. This article series attempts to help you prepare for your 12 weeks of intense training, beginning with the first week and your arrival at Parris Island.

What I suggest is using the time between signing up and the day you leave to train your butt off. If you have more than 12 weeks to train, that's great. If not, at least you'll have head start.

Week 1. Arrive at Parris Island (West of the Mississippi, you'll go to the training center in San Diego but let's use Parris Island for ease of discussion). For starters, you'll show up at about 2AM that first night and will be greeted by screaming drill sergeants.

The DIs will force you to start listening to them while you are still sitting on the bus. They need to instill discipline and the foundation begins immediately. Everything they tell you to do has a reason: to turn you into Marines.

You on the other hand will be living in a blur. You must remember 2 things: 1. Go whenever or wherever an instructor tells you to without question. 2. Forget your name. Practice referring to yourself as "this recruit" and your friends and fellow Marines as "these recruits" for weeks before you show up and implement this technique the second you are first spoken to by an instructor.

Never, ever, refer to yourself as "I" or any other recruit by his name or mention "We." This alone will keep you from feeling the heat too much that first week. If you do nothing else, adhering to this rule hard and fast will keep the focus off of you and onto others who are caught unaware and/or otherwise "just don't get it".

In order to avoid the Physical Conditioning Platoon (PCP), you'll have to perform some basic exercises to show a modicum of fitness. The PCP is where they send out of shape recruits to get in shape and it's not at all the best way to start your Marine experience.

So therefore, at the very minimal you need to be able to do the following: 2 pull-ups, 44 crunches in 2 minutes and a 1.5 mile run in 13.5 minutes for guys. Females need to run 1.5 miles in 15 minutes, perform a flex-arm hang of 12 seconds and do 44 crunches in 2 minutes. Get at it!

Start running 4 miles a day, everyday right now. Even if you suck at it, your heart feels like it might burst and you are essentially plodding along, you will be much more mentally prepared to go the 3 miles per day that the Marines will expect of you with less trouble, and finish far ahead of the back of the pack and again, keep most of the heat off of you.

Even if you workout, lift weights and can rip telephone books in half, you will not be prepared for the amount of pushups you'll be required to do. Here's a good rule of thumb: be able to 125 straight pushups and build up to 1000 a day. Even if you have to forgo some gym time, do it.

Benching 300lbs, squatting 500lbs and curling 150lbs simply won't help you when you're face down in the mud with a DI screaming at you to quit and drop out because you're struggling with getting to the 500th pushup of the day.

To recap Days 1-7:

1. Listen and be prepared to do nonsensical things without questioning them.

2. Give zero advice at this stage to other recruits. Just follow DI orders unless you are specifically asked to offer your own and then make it short. On occasion, offer encouragement to those who "get it" but may be physically hurting. Never try to verbally prod a slacker although physically helping up a teammate at your own expense can sometimes endear yourself to the team. It may or may not endear yourself to the DIs but offering a helping hand at the right time is often better than stepping on a fallen Marine just so you can finish a run, for example.

3. Never, ever, ever, refer to yourself as anything other than "this recruit". Ever, right from the minute your bus disembarks. Same goes for fellow trainees - they must be referred to "these recruits". The DIs will be specific if they want you to refer to someone by name.

4. Get used to saying "yes sir" and always look everyone in the eye unless specifically asked not to.

5. Be able to run 4 miles in under 40 minutes.

6. Be able to do 125-150 pushups non-stop, (resting in up position), and do 500 total per day for weeks before you go off to marine training.

This is a good start for anyone considering joining the Marines. Week 2 will be coming soon. These lessons will at least keep much of the heat off of you and onto those who the DIs would like to get some to either drop out or make serious gains.

You can get the entire Weeks 1- 12, official combat manuals, combat tips, both physical and mental toughness training tips and more by signing up for my free newsletter "Marine Tough" at http://www.militarytough.com

You'll learn all aspects of physical and mental toughness necessary for all branches of the armed service and corresponding Special Forces.

Thanks for reading, good luck.

M.A. Coates

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