Why Military Workouts are So Effective at Building Muscle Strength

Boot camp is notorious for taking skinny or slightly overweight men and women and whipping them into physical shape to meet insane yet necessary fitness requirements.

But why are military workouts so efficient at getting recruits in the shape?

Let’s find out.


What is a typical military workout?


There is no single military workout that every branch, or even drill instructor/NCO, follows to the letter. Instead, new recruits are trained so that they can pass various fitness tests that are dependent on their branch of the military.

For instance, Air Force recruits will eventually need to complete a timed 1.5 mile run along with a number of push-ups and crunches.

Marine recruits, on the other hand, will need to complete a timed 3 mile run with a series of push-ups/pull-ups, crunches, and another physical fitness test for combat duty.



Drill sergeants in charge of new recruits will develop training programs for each batch to meet these physical standards. A new recruit’s actual workout schedule can vary dramatically, although all drill sergeants will require recruits to perform at least one hour of PT (physical training) every single day.

Some drill sergeants might have recruits focus on running and cardio exercises, while others may emphasize the physical fitness of the upper body or core.



Regardless of focus, a correct military training program will snap recruits into shape because it will emphasize three main areas: running/cardio, upper body, and core muscles.

These three areas dictate how fit you are overall, compared to more targeted exercises like you might see people focusing on at a civilian gym. In the military, performance and overall fitness matter a lot more than muscle growth or physical appearance.

As a result, they utilize a combination of compound exercises, weight training, and bodyweight training. This will benefit recruits seeing as physical activity, and even combat, will be expected.

The military focuses on running and cardio because everyone in the military may need to run long distances with lots of gear.


Running improves cardiovascular health, which makes your heart – arguably the most important physical muscle in the body – stronger as well.


They also focus on upper body exercises past a traditional bench press because many members of the military need to lift heavy things all day.

Core exercises are important for general power, burning body fat, and posture – in fact, lots of people have poor postures because they lack core abdominal strength.

By far our best program to build muscle that combines isolation exercises and bodyweight exercises is the Military Endurance Functional Training Guide.



Another massive benefit that military workouts provide the recruits is exercise regularity. In boot camp, military workouts are so effective because they’re performed every single day at the same time.

Recruits don’t have a choice not to execute training, so they end up seeing significant physical changes even though the training themselves are far from the most intense you can find at your local civilian gym.

These new American heroes in training benefit further from being fed three times a day, so their bodies are constantly fueled with new protein and other nutrients that they need to repair torn muscle fibers and maintain physical health.

All in all, new recruits in the military get into shape so quickly because their workout routines are designed from the ground up to forge fit personnel.

Even though the training may be uncomfortable, the military makes sure that every person they train has what they need to grow physically and mentally.  

Thank you for reading, STAY STRONG

Justin | Military Mental Endurance

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