Talk to any recruit who has just enlisted and you likely will hear them say something like “I hope I make it through basic training.” Hearing that comment, the old adage comes to mind that says “Hope is not a plan,” and like anything in life, preparing for basic training is key to succeeding at basic training, especially if a recruit has enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and plans to attend the Marines basic training.
Marines basic training is a four-phase, 13-week transformation that takes civilians and turns them into United States Marines. It is well-known in the military ranks that Marines basic training is the toughest basic training out of all service branches.
So how can a recruit prepare for Marines basic training? We spoke with some Marine veterans and asked them to give us their top three recommendations on how to prepare for Marines basic training.
1. Learn what you can before you go.
There is a lot of information available on the internet about the Marine Corps. Recruits should learn military ranks, Marine Corps history, USMC Core Values, the phonetic alphabet, and the Code of Conduct. It’s also recommended that recruits study drill and ceremony before they leave for Marines basic training. The Marine Corp Hymn and the 11 General Orders of a Sentry should also be learned. All of this information will prepare a recruit for Marines basic training and most of it is available on official government sites.
2. Start physical training yesterday.
Marines basic training is a challenging physical test of endurance and strength. Most Marine veterans said that they had pain in muscles they did not know existed and all of them said that it is important for Marine recruits to start running as soon as possible. A Marine recruiter can likely offer a great running regimen to help better prepare recruits for Marines basic training. Remember to run for at least three miles.
While running is important, it is only part of the physical expectations that are expected of recruits at Marines basic training. Recruits should also practice rucking (hikes with a lot of weight in a backpack) for about 10 miles. Recruits should also perform a wide array of exercises like pull-ups, sit-ups, and push-ups to prepare for Marines basic training. If recruits have access to obstacle courses, it is recommended that they practice on them as obstacle courses are a part of Marines basic training. If a recruit doesn’t know how to swim, it is highly recommended to learn before leaving to Marines basic training.
3. Get in the right frame of mind.
Most Marine Corps veterans say that attitude is a large part of whether or not a person survives Marines basic training. It is important for recruits to understand that the drill instructors are not there to personally attack recruits (although it sure seems that way while you’re there, according to Marine veterans). Their mission is to train and transform a civilian into a Marine and while some of what they do might be perceived as personal, there are literally millions who have endured the same type of stress, survived and became U.S. Marines.
Recruits should try to compartmentalize things as they transpire and when mistakes are made, execute the incentive training (what civilians might call the “punishment”) and move on. Recruits in Marines basic training should avoid getting bogged down with a bad attitude.
That said, recruits should be as resilient as possible during training and focus on the tasks at hand, keeping emotion out of it. Understanding that the pain and tension is a part of the rite of passage will help recruits make it through Marines basic training.
Depending on where a Marine recruit enlists will determine where a recruit trains but the two locations are Recruit Training Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, and Recruit Training Depot, San Diego, California. If a recruit lives west of the Mississippi, they will likely go through Marines basic training in San Diego. If a recruit lives in the east they will go to Parris Island.
Regardless of location, all Marine recruits should prepare before they arrive. Remember, hope is not a plan. Prepare, cooperate and graduate.