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All You Need to Know About Army Basic Training


I am currently a stay-at-home mom and a Beachbody coach. I have two wonderful children and an amazing Marine husband.

I went through basic training and my recruiter used these tips for new soldiers that he enlisted. Hopefully, they will help you.

Road March

Road March

General Things to Know



  • Shave your head and face completely. At basic training, you are going to have to do this anyway, so why not get used to it beforehand.


  • You do not have to shave your head, but you are either going to sport short hair so that you don’t have to fuss with it, or you will grow it long enough to put into a bun.
  • Technically, you can have your hair any length you want, but these two are the most convenient.
  • If you have any unnatural colors in your hair, get rid of them. This means pinks, blues, purples, and exotic colors, including highlights. Your hair can only be your natural color.

Physical Training

Keep your body in shape. Ask your recruiter for a PT (physical training) chart to tell you how many push-ups and sit-ups you have to be able to do in two minutes, along with how fast you have to run your two miles. If you have trouble in any of these categories, ask your recruiter about the best ways to improve. For me, I sucked at everything, so here are a few exercises I learned to help me.


For my push-ups, I started out at 8 when I went into basic training. As of the end of last year's PT test, I could do 50.

To get better, you have to do a lot of push-ups. If you can’t do any at all, start with inverted push-ups. To do these, put your hands on a table or a desk and do push-ups like you normally would. Do these at least every hour or as much as you get a chance to. Even when you reach the 'passing' amount, you want to be able to do more than that. So when you get more advanced, find someone who is willing to work out with you.

The Buddy System: You start out on the floor and do 1 push-up, then your buddy does 1 push-up. Then you get back down and do 2; then he/she does 2. Do that until you get to 10. Then work your way back down. It doesn't seem like a lot of push-ups, but when you add it up, you are doing 100.


For sit-ups, do flutter kicks. To use your muscles even more, wear heavy boots while doing this.

Instructions: Lay on your back, puts your hands under your butt, and then lift your feet 6 inches off of the ground and start to flutter your feet up and down. To make it a little harder, hold your feet 6 inches off the ground and then bring them all the way up. When you come back down, don't drop your legs. Bring it back to where you began: 6 inches off the ground.


You will need endurance. Run around a track and have someone time you. Run for a minute at full speed, then jog for a minute, and then run again for a minute at full speed. Keep rotating until you can't walk anymore.

I would do this once a week. For the rest of the week, I would run 2 1/2 miles every other day so that when you run your two miles, your body will expect another 1/2 mile. If you have any other questions or concerns about your PT, speak to your recruiter or the RSP cadre.


These are a few things that you should learn before you go to basic training because you are going to need to know them anyway.

  • Know the ranking system because if you call a specialist a sergeant, someone may take an offense to that, and you may be punished.
  • The other thing that the drill sergeants liked to do when I was there was to quiz you in the lunch line. If you were the first in line, they would give you a question: "What rank is…?" If you answered incorrectly, you went to the end of the line. So know your ranking system. You can find it on Google or get a chart from your recruiter (they may or may not have one).
  • Know the "Soldier's Creed."
  • Learn the first chorus and the refrain of the "Army Song."
  • Learn the General Orders.
  • After you know these, you can ask your recruiter for anything else that you may need.


  • I would pack a few pairs of underwear, a few pairs of socks, and two sets of civilian clothing.
  • You are going to get to reception very late, and they do not care that you are going to have to wake up early in the morning. I would suggest a small bag with small containers of shampoo and conditioner, and a small body wash.
  • Don't pack a lot because a drill sergeant is going to go through everything in your bag.
  • You will also have a chance to buy everything when you get there. Bring your packing list so you will remember the things to purchase.

Basic Army Training Packing List


3-day supply of comfortable season-appropriate clothing (no halter tops or ragged shorts)

This is needed as you may spend a good week in reception before getting clothing issued.

3 sets of white underwear and 1 pair of comfortable shoes

Running shoes can be purchased shortly after arrival or you can buy them prior to arrival.

1 small suitcase/gym bag

Only bring a bag that holds listed items and clothing worn to BCT.

2 locks (combination or padlock)

Additional locks with keys can be purchased at the Post Exchange (PX) after arrival.

6 pairs of white, calf-length athletic socks

Also available at the PX

Disposable/safety razor with blades

You cannot carry them on the plane, so shave before you get there, and then buy upon arrival.

Shaving cream

This is optional for women.

2 washcloths

Also available at the PX

2 towels

Also available at the PX

Toothpaste, toothbrush with case, and dental floss


Hairbrush or 6" comb

For females.

Anti-perspirant and other hygiene items


Shampoo, soap, and soap case


Social Security Card


Driver's License


SF 1199A (Direct Deposit Form) signed by bank official

Bring two if you pay child support.

Current marriage license

(if applicable)

Divorce Decree(s)

(if applicable)

Child(ren)'s birth certificate(s)


Proof of citizenship

(if not born in the USA)

Documentation for any ROTC experience, such as college transcript(s)


Copy of lease for off-post quarters

If married to another service member, you must provide the name, SSN, and military address of spouse.

If enlisted with the Loan Repayment Program, bring all promissory notes.


Once You Get There

  1. You will receive your bags, then separate into male and female lines.
  2. You will go inside and fill out some paperwork.
  3. You will go into the next room and empty out your bag. The drill sergeants will check every pocket, so I would give up any tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or anything that can be used as a weapon. This includes small scissors, knives, guns, and handcuffs. If they find it, the consequence will be bad, so just throw it away before you arrive.
  4. You and everyone else will then walk to your new home for the next week. Once you get there, you are going to receive a pillow, blankets, and sheets so you can make your bed. Do not argue with the fireguards about where you are going to sleep. Just quickly change into pajamas and go to bed as fast as possible.
  5. In the morning, you will be woken up. Get dressed quickly (in the bathroom only) and make your bed.
  6. A drill Sergeant will come in to get you for breakfast. Eat a lot. You may want to learn how to mix things together. I always ate sausage, gravy, biscuits, eggs, and bacon. I would mix all of these together and chomp it down.
  7. After this, you will probably go through many stations, including medical (shots and blood draw), clothing issue, ID cards, and many more.
  8. Once you are done with all of these stations, you will learn what unit you are going to be joining.
  9. Your new drill sergeants will come to pick you up with busses, cattle trailers, or whatever they choose.
  10. The rest of it is your own experience, and you are going to have to make it the best one that you can.

The Soldier's Creed

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the
United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

The Army Song


March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free.

Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory.

We’re the Army and proud of our name!

We’re the Army and proudly proclaim:

First Chorus:

First to fight for the right,

And to build the Nation’s might,

And the Army goes rolling along.

Proud of all we have done,

Fighting till the battle’s won,

And the Army goes rolling along.


Then it’s hi! hi! hey!

The Army’s on its way.

Count off the cadence loud and strong;

For where’er we go,

You will always know

That the Army goes rolling along.

Second Chorus:

Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,

San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,

And the Army went rolling along.

Minute men, from the start,

Always fighting from the heart,

And the Army keeps rolling along.


(same as above)

Third Chorus:

(slower, more freely)

Men in rags, men who froze,

Still that Army met its foes,

And the Army went rolling along.

Faith in God, then we’re right,

And we’ll fight with all our might,

As the Army keeps rolling along.


Then it’s hi! hi! hey!

The Army’s on its way.

Count off the cadence loud and strong; (two! three!)

For where’er we go,

You will always know

That the Army goes rolling along! (keep it rolling!)

And the Army goes rolling along!

General Orders

1st General Order

I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.

2nd General Order

I will obey my special orders and perfom all my duties in a military manner.

3rd General Order

I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions, to the commander of the relief.

Family and Friends

The thing that made my experience at basic training so much easier was that my family and friends were there for me and supported me. I wrote letters every night to them, and they wrote to me every day too. I would tell them not to send me anything other than letters and PG-13 pictures.

I would not try to sneak in contraband because you will not get away with it 98% of the time. Once you get closer to the end, you are going to learn different ways to get away with it, but if you try to, you may get an article 15. You do not want to get this right before you are about to go home or before moving on to AIT.

Every day is hard, and it will only get harder, but try to have the most fun that you can with all of this. Just remember that when the day is done, you have done more than most Americans can even think of doing.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Leah G on October 19, 2018:

Thank you very much for all this infomation it was extremely helpfull

Jason on July 20, 2018:

This was really helpful and alot of good pointers

Jason on July 20, 2018:

Do they do a drug test once you arrived onto bootcamp?

LC on July 11, 2018:

This is SO HELPFUL all my research on one blog

LuisGallegos on June 27, 2018:

Thanks so much for the advice. I'm going to Fort Benning Georgia on July 2nd, and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm nervous about the whole or deal. After reading what you wrote has made it less nerve-wrecking.

Thank you.

Cheyenne on May 23, 2018:

Thanks for everything you have said to make me want to join even more than i did before Ive always wanted to be in the army ever since I was 11 years old I just cant stop thinking about it thank you so much for everything you have shared

Betania Sanchez on December 05, 2017:

So if ur hair touches your butt you can still have your hair that long?

Lawrence john on September 13, 2017:

I want to joint army

Sarah on May 17, 2017:

THANK YOU! This is the most useful post I have come across (and there has been a lot). I find out my MOS and my ship date tomorrow and I tend to like to be prepared as early as possible. So, again, thank you! The packing list with the side notes for each item is exactly what I needed! I was afraid to pack since I've heard so many stories of stuff getting thrown away and that some stuff is just better to get at the PX.

Thank you, for your service!

Alli on May 08, 2017:

hi! I loved your post and I have a few questions. Is it alright if I email you? I have been seriously thinking about joining. I am not really ready to talk to my family about it because I want to join when I'm 19, that is when I graduate.

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on September 30, 2016:

You certainly can! When you turn 17 you can go and talk to a recruiter and they may have a program for you to join others in their pursuit as well and that person can help you get to where you need to be to get in.

Jessica on July 26, 2015:

I am 16 and going to be a Junior in High School. It has always been a dream to serve my country. I really would like to join the Amry. I am slightly over weight and i have a very hard time doing push ups. I currently run at least 1.5 miles everyday and do a 20 minute core/situp workout. Should i start prepairing for fitness stuff now? And what are somethings I could start doing now to help me for when I am able to go to Basic Training?

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on April 07, 2015:

I would stop using and make sure they are out of your system before you go to MEPS.

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on April 07, 2015:

They are the same standards across the board. Only hands and toes touching the floor and then lower yourself until your arms are at a 90degree angle. Then push yourself back up.

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on April 07, 2015:

You need to do what is right for you. I decided when I was 16 that I wanted to join and signed the papers when I was 17. Chase your dreams, nobody else can choose your destiny.

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on April 07, 2015:

yes of course you can but let me warn you that the information that I provide to you will be outdated. I went to basic training back in 2007 and a lot has changed since then. E-mail me if you would like. cassandra.meredith@hotmail.com

juggernaut on October 16, 2014:

If your using steroids , and your willing to stup using , can i still try out for the army?

Jenny W. on August 03, 2014:

I had a question. For females, do you have too do man push-ups or females?

Dana.T on July 30, 2014:

I'm only 12and I'm seriously considering joining the army some people say it's too early to be picking what you want to do with your life and to just forget about it but I know what I want to do I want to serve my country are they right? Should I just forget about it ?

Danielle on July 02, 2014:

Is there anyway I can email you to ask questions ? @ armygirl

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on June 29, 2014:

It is 10 weeks

pinkyboo on May 22, 2014:

how much months is the first training

Alice on December 30, 2013:

thanks this really helped a lot and wow all that exercise I like to think I`m in shape but now that I read that you guys do all this in the army it has me thinking I really need to step my game up

makala on December 27, 2013:

I`m 17 and I'm thinking about join the army and I`m not very good at push-up because I had surgery on my right arm will that mass my training up and I'm going to start training today and join once I'm out of high school I want to stead up for my county! That's always been my dream. And I love helping others out i want a job that help me and others out as well do you guys think I would be good at this job my family steads behind me on whatever I won't to do.

Latria on May 14, 2013:

I agree you are an adult and for one why can't you stay at a job long. You do realize once you join the military u can't decide in a month or so u want out. U sign a contract for 2 years or more. Your father may be right b/c being that u are a adult and don't have some stability in your life shows u really have not grown up much.

Im also joining on May 12, 2013:

Chi86 - if that is your attitude I guess you should not join, its your life , its future , if you are affected on someones else opinion to run your own , i guess you will also not do any good in yor life.

chi86 on March 21, 2013:

I need some help in making a decision on if I should join the army or not. Any opinions or comments would be great! So here is my situation: I am 27 year old female and over the past 11-12 years have been bouncing from job to job. I usually only stick around in them for 1-3 months before I move on to the next. I have a bachelor's degree in Communication from a university as well. Due to this it is very hard for me to pay my bills so of course I am back at home with my parents. My dad was a Marine and is completely against me joining b/c of my age, gender, and does not believe I would like military life at all. I went to a recruiter and took the practice test and they said I scored high and wanted me to take the real asvab. I have not taken it because of my families opinions, mainly my father's. I have been researching all over the internet to try and gain some clarity. Thanks for reading and for any input negative or positive it's all appreciated.

Military Police on January 29, 2013:

Shave your head before you go .. So you can get used to it. They are going to make you shave it anyways. Unless you are a female, than you have to have it short, or long enough to be in a bun. Females can pretty much have what they want with their hair.

I would work on push-ups and running 2 1/2 miles and timing it. You have to run 2 miles when in basic, so having your body ready for another .5 miles will be for your benefit.

Push ups.. Get with a friend. Do 1.. Then have them do 1. Then do 2, then have them do 2. Do this all the way until you get to 1o.. Then work your way back down. It doesn't seem too strenuous, but when you look at the big picture, you've done 100 pushups.

Bryan on December 29, 2012:

I heard you shouldn't shave your head before going though, they give you crap for it

Dana on December 21, 2012:

I'm thinking of joining the army too, I started training myself a week ago but yet can't do any push-ups. Well, it's nevermind, I'll get them anyway. But what about peeing in public? Do they really force you to do it every day there? Sorry, but I heard that baths in army do not have doors or anything like that......It scares me a lot.

i am on ESA on September 06, 2012:

I am currently claiming on the sick for depression, been prescribed tablets but never took none of them but i feel fine enough to join the army, i smoke quite a lot 2 though :( even tho i am on the sick can i currently join????????????????????????? need to know asap ppl thanx a lot :) :)

annie on August 29, 2012:

Im 16 and considering of joining the British army ..how many press ups and other enduring exercises do i have to do ?

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on August 01, 2012:

mlb21 - Yes the training is very hard but it is totally worth it in the end.

Nicholi- Yes it is penicillin you get that in the first week you are in training

Nicholi on July 20, 2012:

Okay I cant seem to find a straight answer anywhere. Do they or do they not administer the Peanut Butter Shot at reception? The thick one that goes in your butt cheek.

mlb21 on June 28, 2012:

Is the training hard?

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on June 05, 2012:

Recruit you will be fine the blood draw is only for females to see if they are pregnant.

Susan you get to only when you need to so probably only 3 times when I was there but DO NOT BRING YOUR OWN. You will buy what you need there I would suggest bringing the clothes on your back and a change of underwear and that is it when you go there you will just have to throw it all away anyway. Including asprin or any other meds unless you need them.

Nicola - I am going to be honest with you I am in the National Guard and right now it is tough because I just had a baby girl and it is not as disciplined as I would have liked it to be but those people that you work with either on a daily basis or if you join the reserves or the national guard like I did on a monthly basis become your family. I wish that I would have gone active.

nicola on June 05, 2012:

I really want to join the army, is it good when you get into it, did you like your experience?

Susan on June 05, 2012:

How many times do you shop at the Px during basic training?

Recruit B11 on May 01, 2012:

I'll be heading to MEPs in about a week, I used to be involved with some drugs but am turning my life around, I can pass a piss test, but when you go to basic, do they do a blood test? Or hair follicle? Or is the blood drawing purely to see your blood type?

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on April 20, 2012:

Heather you need to do your research and remember that once you are in and you have signed that contract you cannot get out just because you don't want to do it anymore.

Sophie I would not do something just to prove to your friends this is something that you would have to want to prove to yourself. If you want to serve your country that is great but like I told Heather please make sure you do your research. Also if you are in a big city talk to one recruiter have your list of questions and write down his answers then just drop in to talk to another recruiter and write down his answers. A lot of recruiters lie!!!!

If either of you have questions you can private message me and I will give you all the answers I can or else I would say talk to your parents talk to recruiters (only a little) then listen to your head not your heart.

sophie on April 20, 2012:

i am 15 and i allways wanted to join the army and prove to my friends that i can do something and that is to searve my country

Heather on April 16, 2012:

I am a sophomore female in high school and seriously considering joining The Army after I attend college. How did you know that The Army was right for you?

armygirl (author) from Rushford, MN on March 28, 2012:

You would have to talk to a recruiter to see if you are qualified

Novabab on February 28, 2012:

I am an indian.how i join to u.s.an army

Bob on February 20, 2012:

At twelve your have five years before you can even consider joining the army. However if you don't have a prescription inhaler when you turn 17 I doubt it will keep you from joining the army. Just don't volunteer the information that you previously had asthma to your recruiter or the medical folks at MEPs.

emily on February 10, 2012:

i have had ashma ever since i was 5 but im 12 now could i join the army

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