One of the hardest parts of beginning an exercise program is actually getting started. It can take a lot of will to overcome stasis and generate momentum toward your fitness goals. An effective method for overcoming this inertia is taking on a physical fitness boot camp program. Boot camps are modeled on their military predecessors as a way to combine intense bursts of simple exercise with unrelenting external motivation. For beginners, an exercise boot camp can be daunting, but preparing for a few of the exercises you’ll likely encounter may ease your trepidation.
Pushups and Situps
Pushups and situps form the backbone of basic military training. Both exercises are simple to perform and require no equipment. Situps target your core muscles, which are essential to achieving total-body fitness, while pushups establish upper-body strength. For example, a boot camp instructor may require three to five sets of situps at 20 to 50 reps per set. These sets may be alternated with three to five sets of pushups at 10 to 30 reps per set.
The most important thing a boot camp offers is intensity. Wind sprints push you past your comfortable fitness limit, improving your cardio health through short bursts of activity that increase your heart rate, burn calories and build stamina. Wind sprints will typically involve running between 10 and 100 yards as fast as possible, but the distance is up to the boot camp trainer. A good boot camp workout may include running anywhere from five to 20 wind sprints in a session.
Boot camps work on the principle that the structured exercises will vary enough so you don't get comfortable and slack off. To ensure this, many boot camp instructors will devise simple obstacles you have to overcome during a timed exercise. For example, you may have to run from side to side through a series of cones, or you may have to step over and around items placed strategically around a field. The number of sets you do is up to the instructor, but generally you'll only have to go through a particular course one time, with the configuration changing the next time you do it.
Every boot camp is run in a unique way, and your boot camp instructor will define exactly which exercises you will perform and how. Because boot camps are group activities, the instructor has little leeway to tailor the exercises or the workout intensity to your individual needs. Boot camp training is about always keeping in motion, even during rest periods. Keep your heart rate up to stoke your metabolic fire.
- Boot Camp Fitness for All Shapes and Sizes; Bob Weinstein and Joseph R. Weinstein
- Getting Stronger (Revised Edition): Abdominals; Bill Pearl
Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.