What Kind of Exercises Do You Do the First Week of Boot Camp?

By Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Workout routines modeled after military boot camps tend to be tough and can push participants to their limits, helping them overcome exercise plateaus and reach new levels of fitness. But you should know what you're getting into and what to expect during your first week so you don't come unprepared. Although there isn't a set routine that all boot camp classes follow, there are some general exercises that you can expect to encounter in your first week.

Interval Training

The workouts you do in week one will probably be similar to those you do in week four, but the intensity in week four will be much higher. You should expect, however, to jump right into the basic workout in your first week. Most boot camp workouts incorporate an interval training structure, which typically involves a combination of blood-pumping cardio and slow, focused strength training. Even in the first week, you'll usually go for short runs or sprints and do other high-energy exercises that quickly shift to lower-intensity circuits like lunges, push-ups and pull-ups.

Aerobic Intensity

Be prepared to breathe hard from the get-go. A highlight of boot camp workouts is the high-intensity cardio portion. You'll be pushing your body to its limits from week one, burning about 600 calories or more per hour. Your heart rate will be at about 77 percent of its maximum intensity during the cardio portion, sometimes soaring up to 91 percent. You'll be asked to do rapid aerobic movements, even during the first week. These can include running up and down stairs, sprints, jumping jacks, shuffling runs, squat jumps and knee tucks. If you are just starting to pursue fitness goals and get in shape, you might want to begin slow with a circuit routine in the gym and then work your way up to taking a boot camp class.

Constant Movement

Be ready to get little or no downtime during your first boot camp sessions. You might feel like taking a lot of breaks, but you'll have to use the built-in cyclical nature of the workout as your rest. You'll be out of breath after the aerobics portion, so the switch to doing push-ups, sit-ups and lunges will have to substitute as your recovery. Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated, taking quick sips whenever you can. Listen to your body, though. If you have sore joints or are experiencing a lot of pain, you may have to step out rather than forcing your way through the workout.

Strength Training

The strength training portion of your boot camp workout will include a variety of exercises that build your muscles quickly. These may incorporate your own body weight rather than hand weights, depending on the type of boot camp class you're attending. In week one, you'll likely be asked to do exercises such as mountain climbing push-ups, during which you move your feet in and out while you do push-ups. Other strength training exercises might include include tricep dips using a bench or curb, planks, leg lifts and sit-ups while holding a dumbbell over your head.

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