Getting that Patriotic Body: How to Train like a US Soldier


It’s no secret that some of the best, most well-conditioned athletes in the US are the proud members of our armed services. Maybe you’ve seen an old friend from high school ship out to boot camp right after graduation, and return several weeks later with a body you never thought possible. Or maybe your current workout program isn’t working for you, and you want real results. Regardless of the reason for your curiosity about how our service members whip themselves into shape, the proof is in the pudding: the military is definitely doing something right.

Short of actually showing up at your local recruitment office and joining the military yourself, you may not feel as though you have many opportunities to achieve that perfect Boot Camp Bod. The truth is actually quite the opposite: there are many ways you can put yourself through a military-style workout in the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Below we have some general tips, suggestions, and an explanation of the theory behind why soldiers train the way they do. So if you’re ready to take a peek into the mind of our service members in hopes of obtaining their Adonis-like physique, just keep reading…

Understanding How Soldiers Train

First and foremost, you have to understand how soldiers typically train, and why they train the way they do. If you know what type of workout you’re getting yourself into beforehand, it will dramatically help you stay on track and reach your goals.

A soldier’s workout isn’t for everyone. It involves a lot of calisthenics, including jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, and other moves that train your muscles by using your own body weight as resistance instead of a machine or free-weights. Sure, being able to bench-press 300 pounds might look impressive and make you feel manly, but how is that going to help you survive in a combat situation?

Speaking of combat situations, military programs also emphasize endurance training and cardio. Jogging, interval training, and CrossFit (which is very popular among service members, despite its high risk of injury) are all popular methods for achieving this goal. After all, in an absolute worst-case combat scenario, your body may need to keep going for hours or days on end with very little rest. Having high levels of endurance and cardio could mean the difference between life and death for a soldier.

Military-Inspired Training Tips

As anyone who has served knows, the military has its own unique way of doing things. Below are some fitness and workout tips which are directly inspired from service members, as well as military culture:

  1. Keep it simple, stupid. In a combat zone, your resources will undoubtedly be limited. You have to do the best you can with what you’ve got. That’s why callisthenic routines are so popular for soldiers. Start by creating a simple circuit routine which incorporates common moves such as burpees, planks, push-ups, and crunches. Gradually add exercises to it, increase your intervals and reps, and change up your routine once in a while for a little variety.
  2. It’s dangerous to go alone… which is why so much military PT (physical training) is done in groups. Aside from building a sense of teamwork and comradery, soldiers can encourage each other to push the limit and achieve greater fitness results. If possible, recruit an exercise buddy to work out with you, or join a local running/CrossFit/cycling/etc. club.
  3. Set Goals – work out with a purpose. In the mind of a soldier, every action must yield a benefit. If not, then it’s a waste of time and resources which could put the mission in jeopardy. While your “mission” might not be as dire as survival in a combat zone, what sense does it make to waste time at the gym with no objective goal in sight? Whether you want to lose body fat, improve your cardio, or get bigger muscles, make sure you know why you’re exercising.
  4. Track your progress. Most soldiers won’t set food in the gym without a small notebook and a pen or pencil for recording their workout. This is especially useful for circuit training and keeping track of reps and time.

Summer is the season of patriotic holidays in the United States. By far, the best way to celebrate is to find some way to thank the service member in your life, whether it be a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or a member of your own family. Beyond that, crafting your own soldier-inspired workout can do just as much for your sense of patriotism as it can for your physique.