5 Tips to Survive Army Basic Training

Today, I want to share five tips on how to survive Army Basic Training.  Although I went through Basic Training 17 years ago (January 1996), I feel I can still offer you some tips to help you survive Army Basic Training.  Listed below are my top 5 tips.  I would love if you would chime in and leave a few comments of your own.

# 1 Get in Shape

My first tip to survive Army Basic Training is to get in shape.  It sounds like common sense, but a lot of new recruits don’t exercise much before Basic Training.  I think that’s a big mistake.  Even if your weight is well within standards, that does not mean you are in shape.  At a minimum, do some running, jogging, circuit drills, long walks, push-ups and sit-ups before you ship out.  I suggest you start exercising at least 90 days prior and preferably 180 days prior to your ship date.  If you arrive at Basic Training already in shape, you are doing yourself a great favor.

# 2 Check Your Attitude at Home

If you have an attitude, leave it at home.  Regardless of your upbringing, your social surroundings, your baggage, or friends and family, Basic Training is no place for an attitude.  So get that chip off your shoulder and learn something called RESPECT.  I’ve seen people with attitudes at Basic Training and nothing good ever happens because of it.  If you have an attitude at Basic Training two things will happen (1) your Drill Sergeants will have a field day with you and (2) life will be much more difficult than it needs to be. Humble yourself and don’t act like (or think) that you are better than anyone else.

# 3 Know What to Expect

Educate yourself about what to expect in Army Basic Training.  Watch some YouTube videos, read articles like this one, and talk with recent graduates.  Make a list of questions and get the answers.  Learn everything you can about Basic Training ahead of time so you can be prepared.   And remember this, the purpose of Basic Training is to break you down as a civilian and then to rebuild you into a Soldier.  Basic Training is 90% mental (my opinion) and 10% physical.  So just realize this ahead of time and life will be a lot easier for you.  You will get yelled at daily and do lots of push-ups!

# 4 Practice the APFT and Exercises

This goes hand in hand with getting in shape.  Practice the APFT.  Have your recruiter give you a diagnostic APFT several times before you leave.  Practice doing push-ups, sit-ups and the 2-mile run.  When you get to Basic Training you don’t want to be the weakest link. Get in shape ahead of time and get good at the APFT events.

# 5 Be a Team Player

Please realize that there is no “I” in team.  For some people, Basic Training is the first time they have ever been part of a team.  If you don’t have experienced playing in team sports or participating in a team, this can be difficult.  Just realize that when you ship out, it’s no longer about you!  Learn how to help your buddy when they are in need.  Learn how to help the team succeed!  Don’t go to Basic Training thinking that YOU are the only thing that matters.  Simply put, be a team player.

Final Thoughts

These are my top 5 tips on how to survive Army Basic Training.  Do these five things before you ship out and you will have a much better experience at Basic Training.  What are your thoughts on how to survive Army Basic Training?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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9 thoughts on “5 Tips to Survive Army Basic Training”

  1. My middle son is graduating high school this year. He is still debating which branch of the armed forces he wants to join so we have been doing our research. He has been staying in shape by doing plenty of cardio and strength training. He is strong-willed and stubborn though. I wonder how well he can check his attitude. Oh Greg, I laughed a little when you said you were broke like a wild horse in a rodeo. I can only hope my punk kid (I say that with much love) comes out a man of meaning.

  2. A mistake a lot of young soldiers make is they think that just because they are young, they don’t need to work out. They haven’t been to Basic! Then when they arrive and realize they aren’t performing up to par, they get upset and their ego comes to the forefront. It’s not your Drill Instructors fault that your idea of working out is lifting a beer to your mouth! Leave that chip in the wood pile, your ego at the door and bring your running shoes…..you’re gonna need them!

  3. I wish I would have read this post before I went to basic training; but wait, was there even internet that far back?

    I partied and didn’t exercise. I had a chip on my shoulder along with hair past my shoulders.

    I got broke much like a wild horse in a rodeo. When I passed basic training, my drill sergeant came up and said he thought I would be the first TDY and that he was very proud of me. He told me that he believed I would make great Ranger material. On leave, a car accident put me out of it and a medical discharge. That was a sad day for me, but Mom was happy. She didn’t want me in.

  4. Candace Ginestar

    I know the Guard made the RSP, and that was supposed to help Soldiers prepare for basic. I missed out on that by a year, so I was left to my own devices to prepare for BCT. I think I did fine, but I also sought out advice from people to help me and make the best plan. It involved a lot of PT, more than anything else!

      1. Candace Ginestar

        I think if you are in shape, you are more mentally fit, too. I feel sharper and more focused when I am physically fit, and when I am not as fit, I feel dimwitted almost. I think the two are 100% connected, and if you are in shape, then you can handle the mental part of basic much more easily.

  5. The PAANG used to run a terrific Pre-IET program at FTIG for Soldiers who were shipping off to Basic Training. It basically addressed all the issues you posted here, Chuck by having a “mini” Basic Training. It truly put the PAANG Soldiers above the learning curve when it came time to show at for BCT. Shame they don’t run it anymore…

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