In the military, being in shape is not just a requirement, it’s a necessity. Every day, for at least an hour, units get together and workout to maintain their fitness levels, and this old-school military training has never had greater appeal among the mainstream masses than it does today.
Bootcamp workouts are increasingly gaining popularity for their ability to help build strength, endurance and agility. It all sounds too intimidating, doesn’t it? We break down the concept, and help you figure out if it’s the right kind of workout for you.
What Is A Bootcamp Workout?
They can vary, but generally include a mix of strength training and aerobic elements. One bootcamp workout might stress calisthenics (pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and crunches), while another stresses military-style drills and sprints. Some even incorporate martial arts training. In essence, a bootcamp workout is a type of interval training—bursts of intense activity alternated with intervals of lighter activity.
How Does It Work?
Courtney Wilson, female combat veteran and owner of Bronze Star Fitness, which specializes in bootcamps and personal training, says, “I structure my bootcamp classes to be like army physical training—there is continuous movement with short rest breaks in between the sets.”
Elaborating, she says you’re required to do six different bodyweight plyometric exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, lunges and sit-ups for a minute each, get a 30-second break, and then repeat the circuit two more times.
How Does It Benefit You?
It is believed that you burn more calories through this type of workout as compared to any other because you are in constant, intense motion, with very little rest time. “Also, because of the intensity and duration of the class, you’re building muscular endurance while also increasing strength, whereas in most workouts, you have to choose between one or the other,” says Wilson.
Another benefit is that since a majority of the exercises rely purely on body weight, you can do the routine at home or when you’re on the road; you’re not limited by equipment the same way you are with weight lifting.
One key to success with bootcamp training is knowing that you’re not in it alone. A group makes you accountable to show up, and the support helps you push through an intense workout. Wilson says, “Military-based physical training is great because it pushes you to the edge while still incorporating the military’s camaraderie. So when you feel like quitting, all you have to do is look to your left or right and watch how the people next to you are still holding on and pushing through.”
Is It Right For You?
The exercises can be too challenging for those who aren’t already in shape. But, if you have a strong foundation of strength and aerobic training, you’re probably ready for bootcamp. On the other hand, if you’re above the age of 40, are pregnant, or have health problems, consult your doctor before jumping into it headfirst.
With that said, if you think you’re up to the challenge, it’s time to fall in line and earn your stripes, officer!