Here is an email that I have received about 50–60% of the time over the past five years.
“Stew, I am trying to join the military but the recruiter says I need to lose 25lbs in order to meet the height weight standards for the Army. Needless to say, I am not in that good of shape either. What do I do — where do I start?”
Yes, it is true. Unfortunately, it is not lack of a high school diploma, disqualifying medical issues, or having criminal record that are the number one reason why our young men and women cannot join the military (any branch). It is failing to meet the height, weight and body fat standards.
Though it is possible to enter the military just barely inching under the body fat standards, it is not recommended to be 20+% body fat when entering. To ensure your own personal health during boot camp or basic training, try to build up your fitness level to not be hovering around the minimum standards and get your body fat at least under 20%. This will help you tremendously with physical training and long days of military indoctrination wear on your body. Going in too heavy and under fit only adds to your stressful life at boot camp. In other words, do not let the minimum standards in either the PT scores or your body fat percentage be your goal prior to entering.
Here is how you start on your fitness journey: Start out by going to military.com article archive and read as many articles as you can about running, swimming, pushups, pullups, situps, special forces, and bootcamp, nutrition and MORE. Then start moving several months or a year prior to your enlistment date.
But here is a free starter plan that will help with both weight loss and building a foundation of fitness - 45 Day Plan
and a running plan for beginners and others and a food plan — to help with healthier eating ideas / weight loss. It is recommended if you are overweight and have never run before to start your cardiovascular exercise using non-impact options like biking, rowing, elliptical gliding, swimming, etc.
Fast Weight Loss — Do NOT try to lose 20 lbs in 20 days! This is not the way to lose weight long term. Take your military fitness preparation seriously. One day your fitness will save your life so do yourself a favor and be fully prepared to serve. Your body will thank you for not making it endure a daily beat down of unprepared muscles, tendons, and bones.
For other PFT and running programs check out the more advanced articles in the archive or see the PFT specific ebooks and books at the Fitness Book / eBook Store.