Physically Fit for Plebe Summer


10-Year Member
Dec 5, 2007
I'm sure this is in print somewhere else but ! (again).......S. just finished swim season and has no Varsity spring sports....what should he concentrate on to be prepared for all the July PT drills and fun :eek: in hot/humid Annapolis , besides continuing his pool time ?
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running!!! :) and of course pushups, situps, etc.
Good luck and congratulations to your son!
Biggest problem I saw from doing PS detail was running. That will make or break your PRT and is the thing we concentrate most during your morning PS workouts.

We'll test you at the 1.5 mile run, but to be in shape, you should be running more than that (minimum 3+ miles) for your distance workouts. Also throw in some interval workouts (like 1-2 lap sprint repeats) round a track a few times a week.

After your run, do some pushup/situp ladders to work out your core. Once accepted, there will be a pre PS weekly workout plan for you to follow but feel free to do more if you want.

Any other PT drills you'll learn there.

I'm not sure what kind of climate you're coming from, but be aware that the summers in Annapolis are awfully humid. That was the biggest change for me coming from arid SoCal. It actually takes a few weeks for your body to be fully acclimated to a humid environment so your physical performance will suffer a little.
Your son's appointment package should include detailed instructions on how to get fit and stay fit for the USNA plebe summer. It will be coming soon!
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The academy should send you a workout plan that includes running (distance and intervals), pushup ladders, and situp ladders. I followed the 7 week routine and I was well-prepared for plebe summer. I recommend following their prescribed plan because the morning PEP routine will be fairly similar. I had no trouble over the summer after following the prescribed workout, but those that did not prepare had difficulty.
Do not wait to start working out. The PT is only hard if you show up without any prior preparation/conditioning.
I do not know if Marine and I are thinking of the same workout but if you go to< >it is a 8 week plan by the academy to prepair you for plebe summer. If you're already on that level you might try and looking up Stew Smith's stuff. There is a lot on increases every part of PT from pushups and pullups to situps and the run. He also has several published books but those may be harder to find. There are both free and purchaseable books and instructions on Congradulations and I would encourage you to push youself as far as you can in all areas. Don't forget about aerobics either!
Will following the 8-week program really prepare one for PEP and the PRT or should a soon-to-be-plebe be doing more than this?
Will following the 8-week program really prepare one for PEP and the PRT or should a soon-to-be-plebe be doing more than this?

It's been a LONG time, but if memory serves, whether the 8-week routine will work depends on the shape you're in before you start it. If you're out of shape, you'll need more time.

Running is really the most important b/c weakness there is the most obvious in that you lag behind the other runners. It's a hard situation to overcome quickly, no matter how much effort you put in.
As above: RUN,RUN,RUN,RUN. The front or middle of the pack is good. Back of the pack and lagging is bad and will draw attention you don't want.
Following the 8 week program should be enough, but as another person posted, hydration is important also. I suggest working more hydration into your day at least 4 weeks before I-Day. That is, drink more liquids - water in particular - several times a day. A good check to make sure that you are hydrating sufficiently is pee color - the less yellow (paler), the better. Believe it or not, your urine output and color will be monitored daily throughout PS, so preparing your body ahead of time with the workout routine coupled with a hydration program will make a huge difference in the heat and humidity. In fact, if you are coming from a cool and/or dry climate, running indoors would be helpful.
My DD was a recruited athlete, so she was in very good shape, good cardio, good strength, etc. She started working out with a "boot camp" program 4 days a week (at 5:30 am before school!) and ran a 5K 5 days a week. She said she was well prepared and didn't suffer (too much) physically during Plebe Summer. I heard from other girl's parents well after Plebe Summer that their girls thought they were in good enough shape before going by just doing some calisthenics and some running and they were dying during PS.

BEFORE PS - learn good stretching/warm-up/warm-down exercises. This will help avoid shin splints and shoulder injuries!

Oh, she did the program starting in the 3rd week of April last year.

The thing about PS is that only a part of the physical training is PT, by which I mean traditional cals and company runs. Not too far back in the day, PEP obviously included and still includes cals, but about half of it was non-calisthenic PT - for example, fireman's carry relays, or tug-of-war, or wheelbarrow races. There was a strong focus on upper-body strength, and I was kind of surprised to find out that it was not just women who they were concerned about deficiencies.

The other significant physical part of the training is the dynamic, multi-muscle training requiring coordination, or fluid movement. Examples are the O-course, Zodiacs, confidence course, rappelling, water confidence activities, and so on: taking a running jump at a wooden wall and pulling, pushing, swinging, and leveraging yourself up and over; or using your core to balance on one knee while paddling an oar. These are activities that the priors and NAPSters have had experience with, but your average new high-school graduate has not, even though most played at least one sport very well. While cals and running are essential preparation before PS, nothing can prepare you for the dynamic, multiple-muscle-group movements except exactly that. Although it is my speculation, when I think about what I know about exercise physiology now and what I and my classmates were asked to do as plebes, I think this helps explain why some plebes breeze and some struggle (physically). The wrestlers and the gymnasts among us were some of the best at Zodiacs, O-course, confidence course etc. because they had spent years training their bodies to move with precision and to take advantage of the combination of strength and momentum. I will never forget the shortest, smallest woman in my company - probably eked in at minimum height and weight - who could do 11 pullups and one one-handed pullup. (Because of her height, she also took an inadvertent elbow to the cheek one day, splitting it wide open - she went and got stitches, then came back to train with us on what had to be the hottest day ever - she was badass!) There's no way she could catch the top of the wall on a jump, but even she could use her body weight and momentum to help get a 170-pound classmate up and over the wall.

Tothetop14, I would surmise that this was part of the reason your DD felt so well-prepared. Boot camp fitness courses tend to emphasize dynamic stretching and powerful movement as much as classic aerobic and strength training.
DS filled his months before PS with flag football, ultimate frisbee, running, weights, biking, canoeing...anything and everything that kept him moving. He spent every free minute doing something active (but, he would have done that with or without an acceptance to USNA). He stayed very well hydrated and we live in south east Texas so he was used to the hot climate...also played football for three years in the adjustment to the climate in Annapolis was not a factor.

The month prior to I-day he woke up very early and headed out for a 3-5 mile run.

NOTHING can fully prepare these kids for PS, but if you can get ahead of the game physically you will have half of the battle won. DS was in very good aerobic shape and that helped him alot. Detailers will find the Plebes weakness, no matter what it is, but if you can be LESS physically exhausted than the avaerage Plebe, you'll do much better.

DS said that the plebes that had the hardest time were out of shape and from cold/dry climates.