Dean 1Hailey DeanMs. Bennett12th Lit/Comp7 September 2011 Making Greatness The United States Marine Corps is currently the most sparsely populated branch ofmilitary service, with only 202,786 active-duty Marines and 309 reservists who served three ofthe past four years on duty (Lamothe). Of these Marines, 182,147 were enlisted troops and only20,639 of them were ranking noncommissioned officers (NCO). This low number of activeMarines is primarily due to the hardest basic training of any branch of military. Marine recruitsendure sixteen weeks of intensely demandingphysical and mental training to become one of theFew and the Proud. A recruit must master drill, marksmanship, geographical education andphysical prowess before he can be called a Marine. The recruit must then take further specializedtraining courses depending on his chosen MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), or job. Inshort, it takes an incredible amount of dedication, determination, and sheer strength of character,as well as an extraordinary amount of leadership, to become a Marine. To prepare for a militaryfuture, a recruit will need to strengthen his mind and tone his body to a very specific standard setby the Military after over 200 years of successful training. Getting in top physical condition and being properly prepared for a future in the militarytakes dedication, perseverance, and iron leadership. One of the most well-known andintimidating elements of any Marine Corps boot camp is the ferocity of the tough as nails DrillInstructors, or DIs. A DI is trained to be tough, ruthless, loud and very strict. In fact, a DI finds it
Dean 2in his job description to make a recruit stressed and miserable.However, these coarse men andwomen are responsible for every step of a recruit’s training, and it is also the duty of a DI toknow a recruit’s physical breaking point. A good leader knows when to stop, how far is too farand when the training is not hard enough for improvement. There is no substitute for a valid DIand boot camp environment; however, knowing some of the information an instructor usesduring boot camp can help a recruit prepare for his experience there (Dept. of the Army). In order to achieve a higher standard of physical fitness, the recruit must understand thephysiology pertinent to the body’s muscular and cardiorespiratory condition. In order to properlycondition the heart and lungs (cardiorespiratory system) for performance at a high level, a simplecalculation is done to configure both a Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and a Training Heart Rate(THR). A person’s MHR is needed to figure his or her THR. To get the Maximum Heart Rate arecruit must subtract his age from 220. For example, a person at 20 years of age does more harmthan good by exercising at or above a heart rate of 200 Beats Per Minute (BPM). Body systemsattempting to function above the maximum heart rate produce less muscle during the time oftraining and spend more time trying to recover after a training period. Thus a recruit in goodphysical condition should train at approximately 80% of the individual’s estimated MHR formaximum improvement. In order to calculate the proper percent heart rate, the MHR is simplymultiplied by .80 (“FITT Factors”). Using the earlier example, a healthy 20 year old with amaximum heart rate of 200 has a training heart rate of 160 BPM. Another important factor of being in shape is a healthy diet. A lot of people hear the worddiet and think only about cutting calories and counting carbohydrates. However, a certainamount of exercise can increase the body’s metabolism, or ability to burn calories. Age, gender,and muscle mass can all affectthe body’s metabolic rate, which is the rate at whichitmetabolizes
Dean 3calories (Bouchez). If a recruit is not mindful of diet during the training period, his or her bodyruns the risk of becoming undernourished.Such an enervated state will result in possible bodyfailure during or after workouts, as well as prohibiting the greatest amount of body function. It isalso possible that too many calories will prevent the body from losing fat to create a propermuscle/fat ratio. In order to compensate for a change in this ratio, as a recruit begins training andcreating a more lean body structure, he should eat more often, in smaller portions. Eating withthis method will allow the recruit’s metabolism to remain at a steady rate of calorie consumption,allowing the recruit to burn fat and build muscle at a quicker pace (Bouchez). A recruit will alsohave only three minutes for meals during boot camp, and becoming accustomed to eating smallamounts rather quickly can help a recruit once he enters boot camp as well as the followingcombat environment. In addition to cardiorespiratory fitness and diet, overall muscle development is crucial topreparing for boot camp and the ensuing lifestyle. There are three styles of muscle motion thatcontribute to the formation of healthy muscle fibers: isotonic, isokinetic, and isometric. Isometricmuscle movements consist of a muscle conditioning exercise in which the muscle contracts butthe joints do not move. Examples of isometric muscle movement include body planks, wallsquats, and calf raises; essentially any exercise in which the muscle belly lengthens withoutmovement in the joints (“Isometric Exercises…”).Isokinetic muscle movement is theconditioning of your muscles with a constant range of motion and speed of movement. Examplesof isokinetic training generally include a type of weighted equipment and/or stationary exercisebike (FitDay). Isotonic muscle movement is muscle contraction accompanied by jointmovement, such as bicep curls and tricep dips. Both isotonic and isokinetic muscle movementshave a concentric and eccentric phase. During the concentric phase, the muscle belly shortens to
Dean 4lift and support weight.During the eccentric phase, the muscle belly lengthens as to distribute andstabilize the weight without changing the position of the load (“Muscular Fitness”). In order toproperly develop a healthy and strong muscle system, all three muscle movements must beexercised. At the beginning of every workout, the body should be warmed up with a muscle strengthexercise, or Conditioning Drill. Limbering up helps loosen muscles for cardio as well ascontribute to muscle formation. It is important to focus on exercises that enhance muscle focusby using the three muscle movements, as well as push the lower back and hamstrings to moreflexible positions. Workouts like the rower and windmill are used by the military as warm-upsfor just this reason. Other efficient warm-ups include pushups, sit ups, lunges both forward andbackward, and any variety of squats. Once a recruit has been properly warmed up, he should begin working on hiscardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory involves the strength of the heart and lungs;especially involving any activities that increase the heart rate and require the heart and lungs tofunction for an increased interval of time at a heightened state of operation. In order to have thestamina necessary to perform in combat situations, a recruit must improve his or her cardiostrength. The most efficient way to improve is to drill using exercises that cause a recruit tosustain his recommended THR. Events that raise the heart rate and can be considered proficientfor training include: laterals, verticals, jump-roping, jogging, and running in cadence. A third, equally important factor in maintaining muscle health is a proper cool-downtechnique. In order to sustain muscle growth and proper body function, as well as preventcramping and muscular fatigue, this third step cannot be skipped. Without properly cooling
Dean 5down, the body will take twice as long to recover, causing physical pain as well as mentalapprehension towards future workouts. To begin cooling down, a recruit should repeat theconditioning drill followed by a stretch drill. The conditioning drill consists of the same activitiesas the warm-up drill and should be relatively equal in intensity. The most excellent time forstretching is after the second phase of conditioning while the muscles are still hot. Women tendto have less trouble with flexibility but men in particular need to focus on suppleness in thelower back and hamstring region for optimum performance and to prevent injuries (US Dept. ofMilitary Services). Stretches such as the groin stretch, thigh stretch, overhead arm pull, and thebend and reach are considered as efficient for progress by all branches of US Military. To be a Marine is to be a warrior and defender of the constitution and American way oflife. It is a strong calling, but a difficult one indeed. It takes an extraordinary quantity ofleadership and an unparalleled balance of diet, cardiorespiratory fitness, conditioning drills, andunderstanding of basic physiology to accomplish the task and become one of the Few. Washoutrates in the Marine Corps are up to 11% males and 20% females failing before completion(PetzMarine), proving the first phase of boot camp alone is often enough to have many recruitswriting home that they have made the wrong decision (Anna). In order to prevent failure andease the difficulty of phasing in, a recruit should already be in peak physical condition. Strengthof mind and body before boot camp can determine a recruit’s success overall. This success is notanaffairto be saved for the last minute or left to fate. Every recruit with a hope of rank andsuccess needs to put service before self and do what needs to be done in preparation for amilitary life.
Dean 6 Works CitedAnna. “USMC Boot Camp.” Marine Wives 101. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Sept. 2011. <http://www.marinewives101.com/faqflex/faq.php?answer=33&cat_name=C: USMC Boot Camp, by Anna&category_id=7#33>..Bouchez, Colette. “Make the Most of Your Metabolism.” Health & Fitness. Ed. Louise Chang. WebMD, n.d. Web. 9 Sept. 2011.FitDay. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/ what-is-isokinetic-exercise.html>.“FITT Factors.” Fitness Training. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2011. <http://www.fitness-training.net/ cardiorespiratory_fitness/17/>.“Isometric Exercises and Static Strength Training.” Sports Fitness Advisor. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/isometric-exercises.html>.Lamothe, Dan. Marine Corps Times. N.p., 16 Oct. 2009. Web. 1 Sept. 2011. <http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2009/10/marine_202Kreached_101609w/>.“Muscular Fitness.” Muscular Endurance and Strength. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2011. <http://www.emunix.emich.edu/~bogle/muscle_strength_and_endura.htm>.PetzMarine, and ArmyMP. Weblog comment. Marine Boot Camp Dropouts. N.p., Apr. 2009. Web. 1 Sept. 2011. <http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8282.United States. Dept. of Military Services. Pocket Physical Training Guide. N.p.: n.p., 2007. Print.Dept. of the Army. “Physical Fitness Training.” FM 21-20. Washington DC: n.p., 1998. 1-5 & 11. Physical Fitness Training, FM 21-20. Web. 31 Aug. 2011. <http://www.usma.edu/ dpe/testing/fm21_20.pdf>.