Incorporating Strength and Muscle in Boot Camp Training

Build Strength and Muscle at Boot Camp

Man leading fitness class in a weight squat outside
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Boot camps are popular fitness programs run by personal trainers. They usually involve aerobic and anaerobic running and some bodyweight exercises. Boot camp exercise training is loosely on military training for recruits -- at least the name is. There can be lots of yelling and small-time abuse to get people motivated to perform – often caricatured by big men with very short haircuts.

In the personal training world, this type of approach has just about had its day; and while the basics of boot camp training survive – running and calisthenics – the guy or woman in army fatigues with the loud voice is somewhat out of fashion.

While boot camp programs will usually give you sufficient work at aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility conditioning, strength and muscle exercises can sometimes be lacking.

Here is an approach to boot camp training in an outdoor environment that covers cardio-respiratory fitness and strength without you having access to the usual weight training equipment you would find in a gym.

The Boot Camp Training Environment

Let's say boot camp takes place at a local sporting field. It’s a soccer (football) field with line markings for various sections. They make convenient sprint sectors. At the edge of the park are a series of seats and low fence barriers that encase the oval. You will utilize these as well.

The Strength Exercises in Boot Camp Training

Running and stretching exercises are not the focus of this article, but no matter what form the program takes, here are three ways to incorporate strength and muscle training into boot camp programs.

This approach can apply to any outdoor training program -- boot camp or other forms.

Bodyweight Exercises in Boot Camp Training

Here are three essential bodyweight exercises that supplement any fitness program.

  • Pushups - full or knees on the ground, depending on fitness of the group members.
  • Squats – body weight only, or with hand weights of any sort if available. Squat to the point where lower thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Crunches - or situps with wrist to bent knees. Don’t do sit-ups with straight knees.

Using Benches, Seats and Fences in Boot Camp Training

You can use these structures to incorporate further strength exercises into the program.

  • Dips – Triceps dips can be done facing away from the fence or seat, feet on the ground, hands on the structure.
  • Pushoffs. This is a form of push-up except you utilize a seat, bench, or fence instead of the ground to push away from.

Therabands or Elastic Bands and Tubes in Boot Camp Training

Stretch bands are great utilities when you need resistance in an environment where gym weights and machines are not available. They're light, portable and an amazing number of exercises can be performed with them. A good trainer will often have these available for each member of the training group. If not, ask about them.

See an example of exercises that can be performed with bands and tubes.

I used the boot camp program as an example, but even if you train alone, all of the above examples of strength training exercises can be incorporated into a training session to add strength and muscle development and variety to outdoor training.

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