Boot Camp Workouts 101: What You Need to Know

Killer workouts for maximum results

Boot Camp Workout
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Boot camp workouts — and it isn't just the ones where a man wearing camouflage screams unintelligible commands at the top of his lungs — have been whipping participants into shape for decades. Luckily, boot camp workouts have evolved into something a bit more user friendly. We've realized we don't have to train like a soldier, or get yelled at like one, to lose weight and get in shape.

Here is what you need to know about what makes boot camp workouts so effective and how you can make your own.

Boot Camp Basics

Boot camp workouts come to us, of course, from the military and the very intense training soldiers have to go through to prepare for the difficult task of defending our country.  Boot camp training traditionally involves all the classic exercises we may remember from gym class:  Pushups, pullups, crunches, burpees and other intense, body weight exercises designed to build endurance and strength.

In general, boot camp workouts are much like other circuit training workouts in that you move quickly from one exercise to another, keeping your heart rate elevated and helping you scorch tons of calories.  What makes this workout a little different is that it's typically done in a group setting, since it's easier to experience torture when you're doing it with others.

The Pros and Cons

Boot camp workouts have a number of benefits, including:

  • They burn more calories than the average workout.
  • They're more efficient — You work your whole body in a short period of time.
  • They're fun — The variety of exercises and a competitive atmosphere makes you forget you're working out.
  • It can be as challenging or as easy as you want it to be — You can always modify exercises to make the workout fit your fitness level.

    On the other hand, boot camp workouts aren't for everyone. Some of the drawbacks are:

    • They're advanced and intense, which may not work for every exerciser.
    • They can put you at risk for injury — If you're not used to working at that level of fitness, it's easy to get sore or injured if you don't ease into it.
    • Classes can be expensive, depending on where you live and how many sessions you commit to doing.

    Get Started with Boot Camp

    If you do decide boot camp workouts are for you, make sure you do your homework before signing on the dotted line. You want to make sure the classes are safe, the instructors are certified, and you're getting the kind of instruction you need to do the exercises safely and correctly. If they're making you flip tires on your first day, that may be a sign that this isn't the class for you.

    Create Your Own Boot Camp Workout

    Don't think you have to join a class or pay money.  You can easily set up your own boot camp workout by putting together your own exercises. Here's how:

    • Choose a variety of body weight exercises, such as squats, push-ups, and dips.
    • Alternate exercises so that you're resting one muscle while working another.  For example, a set of squats for the lower body followed by a set of pushups for the upper body.
    • Order the exercises so that the intensity is manageable. For example, a minute of burpees is intense, so you wouldn't want to follow that with another very intense exercise if your body isn't ready for it.
    • Focus on time rather than reps. It's often easier and simpler to do each exercise for an interval of time rather than counting reps, say for 30-60 seconds.
    • Insert rest periods every few exercises to avoid overdoing it.

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