Royal Marines Commando get fit to apply guide

ROYAL MARINES COMMANDO

GET FIT TO APPLY GUIDE

www.royalmarines.mod.uk

Career enquiries 0845 607 5555



Introduction

Royal Marines must have an all round level of fitness and a strong upper body. Whilst much of the fitness required to be a Royal Marine is attained during training at Commando Training Centre (CTC), research has shown that individuals with good fitness and strength to start with, have better success rates on the course.

Get Fit to Apply will help you reach the fitness levels required to pass the Potential Royal Marines Course or Potential Officer Course, and greatly increase your chance of a career with the Royal Marines.

The training program emphasises the importance of not overdoing training, always exercising sensibly, maintaining good technique and the need to use the designated rest days. If you over-train you may arrive at CTC tired, injury prone and unable to maintain your level of fitness. Before entering into any training programme you should consult a doctor to ensure you are medically fit to attempt arduous physical training.

State of mind

Royal Marines approach the near impossible with grit and inner belief. This helps create our 'State of Mind' and reminds us that the mind helps power the muscles.

Royal Marines are wary of arrogance, of contempt for others, of a belief that they are special simply because of who they are. They are special because of what they do and the way they do it, not who they are that is their ethos.

The Commando Spirit

The four elements of Commando Spirit:

  1. Courage
  2. Determination
  3. Unselfishness
  4. Cheerfulness in the face of adversity

These constituents of the 'Commando Spirit' are what make individual 'Commandos'. They shape the way we work as a team, giving the Royal Marines its special identity. The way we carry out our duties is the second set of group values listed below. It is the combination of individual Commando Spirit qualities, coupled with these group values, that together forms our Royal Marines ethos.

The Royal Marines ethos:

  • Courage
  • Unity
  • Determination
  • Adaptability
  • Unselfishness
  • Humility
  • Cheerfulness
  • Professional Standards
  • Fortitude
  • Commando Humour

Values

Unity

There is a unity within the Corps that crosses all ranks and is unique to our organisation, and its outward sign is the Green Beret. Unity is bred into recruits and young officers at the Commando Training Centre by the proximity of their training together and by the shared hardship of the Commando Course; both not only share the same training and the same hardships but they see each other doing so. Unlike some other military training courses, Commando training stresses the importance of the team; completing the 30 miler as a syndicate and finishing the 9 miler with the whole troop. Different ranks, a variety of jobs, but the overriding factor is the unity we share because we all wear the Green Beret.

Adaptability

Unity and solidarity across the ranks allows the Corps to be adaptable; open to information and opinion from every available angle and able to adapt to this new knowledge. The Commando role demands an ability to adapt at short notice and to respond to new developments. An important principle during training is constant uncertainty, which breeds an ability to innovate and improvise and must be second nature to all members of the Royal Marines. This ability to respond to ever changing situations was put to great effect time and time again at the tactical level during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our emphasis on adaptability is a product of our maritime heritage; when the Royal Navy deploys it must achieve its mission with whatever resources are immediately available as additional support may well be weeks away. Adaptability is thus as much a part of our parent organisation's ethos as it is of our own.

Humility

The Royal Marines is an organisation that is sometimes criticised for its understated approach. This is not just false modesty; arrogant organisations believe they have little to learn from others, and arrogance leads to inflexibility and rigidity. In order to adapt and innovate it is essential that the Corps, while proud of its standards, remains sufficiently self critical humble enough to recognise and adopt the good practices of other institutions. Humility also contributes to the essential bond between all ranks and on operations allows us to work with considerable success, from our handling of Prisoners of War, to our interaction with civilian populations and non-combatants.

Professional Standards

The three group values so far are shared by many other non-military institutions; it is these, coupled with an adherence to the highest professional standards as amphibious commandos that ensures the success of the Royal Marines as a military force. The environment in which commandos operate is complex, dangerous and uncertain, and successful action in this sphere requires the highest professional standards. In response to the unforeseen on operations, we must automatically fall back on the same core skills, knowing that our 'oppos' will be doing the same. Training, both at the Commando Training Centre and thereafter, is intended to develop common procedures, which will be instantly and collectively followed. Professional standards generate an individual and collective response to any situation. The Royal Marines' training standards guarantee a level of professionalism that contributes to operational success. Every man is Commando trained; every man is guaranteed to react, perform and deliver to a level that can be relied upon by his comrades and his superiors. It is only by the fierce adherence to the Royal Marines' professional standards that we will retain our operational utility as a Commando force.

Fortitude

It is fortitude that underpins achievement rather than simply physical fitness. Whilst fitness remains a critical component of our success, it will not, by itself, guarantee it. Our physical abilities must not be directed in one particular direction, we must be good 'all rounders' with an ability to run whilst carrying weight, to cover considerable distances with a heavy load, to climb obstacles and to work on foot in difficult terrain; all set against a backdrop of lack of sleep, uncertainty, fear and harsh weather conditions. We have to be as comfortable operating at minus 30 degrees in the Arctic winter as we are patrolling at altitude over rugged terrain in central Asia. It boils down to fortitude; an ability to endure no matter what the conditions and no matter how tired we feel. Commando training is all about enduring. It is the mental stamina to continue, when everything is telling you to stop, coupled with physical fitness, that results in fortitude. The 'yomp' across the Falkland Islands, the altitude of Afghanistan, the heat of Iraq, all were overcome by individual and collective fortitude; mental will that builds upon, but goes beyond, professional skills and physical fitness.

Commando Humour

How better to 'endure' than with humour? One of the four individual Commando Spirit characteristics, cheerfulness in the face of adversity is made possible only by humour, which although apparently superfluous to operational effectiveness is actually fundamental to the way we operate within the Corps. A sense of humour allows 'Royal' to come to terms with demanding situations, whether it be the physical hardship or the fear and uncertainty of operations. We have our own particular humour; no matter how grim the situation we manage to see the funny side. If an 'oppo' is injured we'll immediately give help and assistance, but we'll also be inclined to offer gentle ridicule rather than sympathy! This sort of humour can seem incomprehensible to an outsider but to us it is second nature; we'd expect nothing else! Our unique commando humour allows us not only to endure hardship, but actually to enjoy enduring!

Tips on Developing the Correct State of Mind

  1. 1. Get motivated about what you want to achieve the moment you wake up.
  2. 2. Cut down on your bad habits like smoking, drinking and eating bad foods.
  3. 3. Focus on your short term goals and the long term goals will soon materialise.
  4. 4. Try and be as self reliant and self sufficient as possible, you will not always have someone on your shoulder pushing you - you must learn to push yourself.
  5. 5. Do not rest on your laurels, always strive to go one step further.
  6. 6. Do not focus on your limitations, focus on what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there.
  7. 7. Always have self belief - you will be capable of more than you think.
  8. 8. If you have any problems or concerns let others know as they may be able to help you. Being in the Royal Marines is all about teamwork and helping others.

Training Schedule

Week Schedule

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
AM Cardiovascular 30 min run Cardiovascular 45 min run, bike ride or 30 min swim REST Cardiovascular 30 min run Cardiovascular 45 min run, bike ride or 30 min swim Cardiovascular 30 min run REST
PM Circuit Circuit   Circuit Circuit Circuit  

Cardiovascular Fitness

Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness (CV) fitness by helping to improve the fitness of your heart and lungs. For improvements in CV fitness it is most important to maintain a steady pace through-out the exercise. Do not be tempted to push to hard at the beginning of the training program as this will not achieve the best benefits for the CV fitness. Once you have gained a good base level of CV fitness it will be easier to include harder and faster work-outs at a later date with a lowered risk of injury.

CV Exercise Example

Below is an example of the type of exercise you should be aiming to achieve:

  • Monday - Up to 30 min RUN at steady pace.
  • Tuesday - Up to 45 min BIKE RIDE at steady pace, or up to 35 min SWIM (breast stroke).
  • Thursday - Up to 30 min RUN at steady pace.
  • Friday - Up to 45 min BIKE RIDE at steady pace, or up to 35 min SWIM (breast stroke).
  • Saturday - Up to 30 min RUN at steady pace.

Cycling and swimming are included to add aerobic exercises that are low impact (running being high impact). Swimming is also included to encourage weak swimmers to seek advice and improve their breast stroke technique. During training you will need to pass your "Battle Swimming Test", the Royal Marines Swimming Test. Any time devoted to practicing swimming before arriving at CTCRM will help you pass the test early on in training.

Progression

If you are not comfortable running for 30mins straight away then start with less. Run for 15mins if that is all you can do, but finish with a brisk 15 min walk. The following week increase your run times to 20mins (10 min walk), the following week 25mins (5 min walk), etc. This will allow you to progress. The most important part of this programme is to gain a base level of CV fitness.

Fartlek and interval

After four to six weeks your base level of CV fitness should be in place, so you can start to include some sharpening exercises as part of your run. For instance, "fartlek" training will increase your stamina as well. To do this set off on a normal run or bike ride, after 10 minutes or so, speed up to just below your maximum pace, over a short distance, (e.g. say from one telegraph pole to the next).

Carry on with the run/cycle as normal after the sprint to let your heart recover. After a couple of minutes, repeat this process and do so at least four times. Try to do this in the middle part of your run/cycle, so that you complete the last 10 15 minutes at a steady pace. You can increase the number of times you speed up as you get fitter.

Another running technique is called "interval" training, it raises your heart rate and enables you to improve the rate at which you recover. To do this choose a certain distance, say all the way round a football pitch (300metres), or across a large playing field with 2 or 3 pitches marked out. Sprint this distance as fast as you can, then walk/jog back to the start (or round again) for recovery, then repeat.

You can also do the recovery on timings. i.e. give yourself 1 minute between each interval, or 2 minutes depending on your fitness. Try to do at least 4 intervals on your first attempt, then add 1 or 2 each times, aiming to reach ten eventually. Then you can decrease your rest time as well, from 1 minute down to 40.

It is important not to overdo fartlek and interval training, introduce it once a week initially, ensuring you have built up a base level of fitness first. Around week six to eight of your training programme you can increase it to twice a week.

Muscular endurance

The body weight circuit exercises should follow the order of an "upper-body exercise", an "abdominal exercise" and a "leg exercise". Three different exercises of each type should be used for the circuit to give a "set" of nine exercises in total. After a short rest repeat the set. After completion of the second set of nine, rest and finish off with a final set of nine exercises. Including warm up, stretch, circuit and warm down, the circuit session should take approx 40 minutes.

It is very important to use correct technique when doing these exercises (see videos on following pages). Keep good posture and concentrate on quality exercises, rather than quantity. It is better to do 10 quality press-ups than 20 poor ones. With training your muscular endurance will improve and the rate of improvement is accelerated if you concentrate on quality. Doing these exercises too quickly and/or with incorrect technique you are likely to injure yourself. Consequently you will be unable to attempt the rest of your training programme or your PRMC or POC.

A suggested programme is detailed below. We recommend doing the CV fitness in the morning when most people find it easier to do a run or swim and the circuit training in the afternoon / evening. That said, if it suits your needs it does not matter if you switch the ordering.

  • 1st SET

    • 15 Press-Ups
    • 20 Knees to Chest
    • 20 Squats
    • 4 Pull-Ups
    • 20 Alternate knees to elbow
    • 15 Box Jumps
    • 15 Triceps Dips
    • 20 Half-Sits
    • 10 Lunges (each leg)
  • 2nd SET

    • 20 Press-Ups
    • 25 Knees to Chest
    • 25 Squats
    • 6 Pull-Ups
    • 25 Alt knees to elbow
    • 20 Box Jumps
    • 20 Triceps Dips
    • 20 Half-Sits
    • 20 Lunges (each leg)
  • 3rd SET

    • 15 Press-Ups
    • 20 Knees to Chest
    • 20 Squats
    • 4 Pull-Ups
    • 20 Alt knee to elbow
    • 15 Box Jumps
    • 15 Triceps Dips
    • 20 Half-Sits
    • 10 Lunges (each leg)

Notice that the repetitions have increased in the second set. This is because you always want to make the second set the hardest of all three.

Your Circuit

To create your printable personalised circuit visit:

http://www.royal-marines.mod.uk/training-and-fitness/training-tool.php

You will need to login/register for free and enter in some basic fitness information in the Training Schedule section.

If you do not have access to the internet then the following information will help you create your own circuit.

We all have different fitness levels and some will be stronger or weaker in different areas than others. It is therefore necessary to make the programme specific to you. As we cannot personal train each of you, you will need to find out how many of each exercise to perform. To do this, you must establish your starting maximum for each exercise by performing each exercise (as shown in the videos), without stopping or resting, until you can do no more. The number you complete is your starting maximum. Give yourself at least 5 minutes rest between each maximal exercise.

Once you have the maximum for an exercise divide this by 2 and round it down to the nearest 5. This will give you the number of reps that should be achievable for your first and last set. The 2nd set will be this number plus 5 for all exercises. Do this for each exercise, except for pull ups where the number performed will be exactly half the maximum number of pull ups done, and the 2nd set it will be plus 2.

Examples:

Press-ups

If the maximum number of pull-ups you can do is 32. Half of 32 is 16. 16 rounded to the nearest 5 is 15. You should do 15 press ups for the first and last set, and 20 for the 2nd set.

Pull-ups

If the maximum number of pull-ups you can do is 9. Half of 9 is 4.5. As you cannot do 4.5 pull-ups do 4 for the 1st and last set, and 6 for the 2nd set.

Progression

Once you know the number or reps for all 3 sets for all your exercises perform them as per the week programme. You will find that by the end of the week your strength will increase so you will have to progress the number of repetitions across your 3 sets. This natural progression is expected over your training period, but do not rush it by performing bad quality exercises.

To progress your circuit use the second set figure for each exercise as your 1st and last set figure, meaning your 2nd set will now be 5 more than this for each exercise, except for pull ups where it will be plus 2.

Examples of Exercises:

  • Press-up
  • Close Arm Press-up
  • Wide Arm Press-ups
  • Triceps Dips
  • Half-Sits
  • Sit-ups
  • Alternate Elbow to Knee
  • Knees to Chest
  • Step-ups
  • Box Jump
  • Knee Raise
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lunges
  • Squats

Watch the videos of all these exercises online to make sure you are performing them correctly:

http://www.royal-marines.mod.uk/training-and-fitness/training-tool.php

Recovery/Rest Days

Recovery and rest days are very important. Without adequate recovery time, the benefit gained from the previous days training can be lost, or severely reduced. Adequate rest allows the damaged muscle fibres to heal and reform in a strengthened state; this is also true for the muscle fibres within the heart. It is therefore important that the rest days scheduled into the programme are used. This will allow your body to recover faster. Overtraining is a common outcome if rest days are ignored and can lead to illness, fatigue and in many cases injury.

Exercises

Warming Up and Stretching

Injury is a very real and sometimes unavoidable reality of training. If you warm up properly, and stretching sufficiently, you will improve your flexibility, which in turn improves your strength. More importantly, used correctly, you will reduce your chance of getting injured. Always warm up thoroughly (minimum of 10 minutes) prior to exercise.

Do this by performing some light aerobic type movements and then stretch the major muscle groups of the body for at least 10 seconds. Do not "bounce", overstretch (experience pain or discomfort) or stretch cold muscles.

Warm Up Stretches

Stretching and gently warming up the body is essential in preparing for exercise. Ensure you breathe normally during each stretch. Failure to warm up the muscles and mobilise the joints can lead to injury. A minimum of ten minutes before and after each period of exercise should be spent stretching and warming up/down.

Ensure you warm up all the muscle groups and mobilise all joints. Get into a set routine and work from top to toe. Once you have completed your warm up and stretch, carry out a two-minute jog that will warm the body generally and start your heart working effectively. If at any time during your stretch you experience any pain STOP.
If the pain persists consult your doctor.

ALWAYS OBEY THE SIX RULES OF STRETCHING

Muscles
  1. 1. Always ensure a correct start position.
  2. 2. Always stretch slowly.
  3. 3. NEVER bounce the stretch
  4. 4. Hold the stretch for at least twelve seconds.
  5. 5. Stay relaxed and stretch under control.
  6. 6. Never ask another person to push the stretch further.

How to Exercise Correctly

When we exercise our body gets hot. To help us cool down we sweat. Unfortunately when we sweat a lot and do not drink enough water to replace the sweat we become dehydrated. Dehydration by as little as 2% can lead to a drop in performance by as much as 7%.

It is very important that you drink water throughout the day, and not just while exercising. It is also very important to drink while performing your exercise programme. A small drink between sets is a good start. On average you need to drink about 1 litre per hour of exercise, depending on the temperature and how hard you are working.

Remember that during training, you need extra fluid on top of the usual 1.2 litres (6 to 8 glasses) we need in climates such as the UK to stop us getting dehydrated.

Staying well hydrated (replacing the water) stops you from getting tired and helps keep your performances at their peak. This means you will be able to train better and recover more quickly after a lengthy sports session.

The signs of dehydration:

  • If you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.
  • If your urine is orange/dark yellow in colour you are dehydrated. It should be clear.

To help stay hydrated carry a water bottle around with you, and drink little and often.

Warm Down

To finish your session correctly you should always try to warm down correctly. This will help reduce muscle stiffness the following day.

After exercise, walk around to help bring your heart rate down slowly, then stretch the major muscles used in the exercise.

Aim to hold each stretch for between 10 and 20 seconds.

Bleep Test

The objective of the progressive shuttle run test is to run for as long as possible between two points which are placed 20 metres apart; keeping to the speed indicated by the bleeps on the bleep test.

You will hear the bleeps at regular intervals. Pace yourself, so you are at one end of the 20 metre track when you will hear the first bleep, and are at the other end when you hear the next bleep. Make sure you start with one foot on or behind the 20 metre line and that you turn properly, by pushing off with one foot or the other.

At first your running speed will be very slow, but you will need to speed up at the end of each minute. Your aim should be to follow the set rhythm for as long as you can.

Each single bleep signals the end of the shuttle, and each triple bleep signals an increase in running speed. You should stop running when you can no longer keep up with the set rhythm.

The test is maximal and progressive - in other words it is easy at the start and harder towards the end. The running speed for the first minute is very slow. You have nine seconds to complete each shuttle, so do not set off too fast.

Diet

What You Should Eat

While training it is important that you eat the correct foods at the right time. If possible you should eat a fulfilling healthy breakfast (example: Weetabix, muesli or porridge), and then about 1/2 hour before training have a banana or sugary snack to raise your sugar levels pre-exercise. After exercise, you should try to replenish your energy stores within 15-30 minutes of finishing your exercise, a glass of orange juice or a banana is suitable for this.

If you eat healthily and sensibly, there is no requirement to take any supplements. Everything that you need exists in ordinary everyday food; it just takes a bit of knowledge to choose the right food. A book on Sports Nutrition would be a good source of information. Make sure any literature you read on diet is written by an accredited Dietician or Nutritionist.

Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen, chilled, canned, 100% juice, and dried fruit & vegetables all count here. You should try to eat at least five portions of fruit & vegetables each day. The size of a 'portion' can vary depending on what you're eating, but a good rule is that a portion of fruit or vegetables will generally weigh about 100 grams. Juice also counts as a portion, but however much you drink in a day it will only count as one portion. This is because juice doesn't contain much fibre as "solid" fruit.

Bread, Potatoes and Cereals (inc. noodles, pasta and rice)

Starchy foods like these should make up half your plate. The carbohydrate they contain is your body's main source of energy during physical activity and the high fibre keeps you regular in the bowel department. Surprisingly, an average serving of potatoes also contains a healthy dollop of vitamin C and, unless you've smothered them in butter, absolutely no fat. Chips, and other fried foods are very high in fat, and should not be eaten regularly.

Lean Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Nuts, Beans and Pulses

All of these provide a good source of protein, which helps your body rebuild itself (repairing damaged muscles, hair, nails etc). There are small amounts of protein in grains and dairy products too.

Milk and Dairy Products

These are a rich source of calcium, which strengthens your bones and teeth and helps your muscles and nerves function properly. The best products health wise will be those classified as having lower fat. A pint of milk a day is enough to ensure you're getting the recommended daily intake of calcium.

Foods containing Fat and Sugar

Fat is very high in energy, but the body can't use it to fuel physical activity as well as it can use carbohydrate (e.g. from starchy foods). Just one gram of fat contains about nine calories so unless you are very physically active, eating a lot of fatty foods, means you will put on weight. But don't avoid eating fat altogether - your body needs some fat and in smaller doses fat is an important part of healthy eating. And though it's high in fat, chocolate's fine every now and then.

Foods high in Fat

Try to eat these sorts of foods less often or in small amounts:

  • Meat pies, sausages, meat with visible white fat
  • Chips
  • Hard cheese
  • Butter and lard
  • Pastry
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Cream, soured cream and crème fraîche
  • Coconut oil, coconut cream or palm oil

For a healthy choice, use just a small amount of vegetable oil or a reduced-fat spread instead of butter, or lard. And when you are having meat, try to choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat. Bake or grill rather than fry.

Sugary foods provide energy which is released quickly, so can be useful during and after exercise. But sugary and fatty foods don't contain very many nutrients such as vitamins, and are referred to as 'empty calories'.

Tips for a Healthy Diet

What to Eat

Eating a healthy balanced diet will provide you with all the nutrients you need to maximise your performance in sport or physical activity. This means eating a wide variety of foods; see below for how to get the balance right.

Good Sources of Energy During and After Exercise.

Carbohydrate is the most important fuel for energy, so you should eat lots of foods that are rich in starchy carbohydrates. Many different foods contain carbohydrate. The richest sources of carbohydrate are bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes, but other foods also contain useful amounts, such as fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, yoghurt and milk.

The more you exercise the more carbohydrates you need. The actual amount you need depends upon the type of exercise you're doing, the intensity, duration and frequency of the exercise, and your fitness level.

Your body stores carbohydrate as glycogen in muscles and the liver. The bigger the glycogen stores in your muscles, the longer you can perform. So this is particularly important if you do an endurance sport such as marathon running, long distance cycling or fell running.

After exercise, your muscles can refuel their glycogen stores twice as fast as normal, so it's important to eat foods containing carbohydrate soon after you've finished exercising.

I'm Ready

Once you feel you have achieved a good foundation level of fitness, and understand the mental discipline required of a Royal Marine, the next step is to contact our Careers Advisors. You can either call them on 08456 07 55 55, or enter your details in our online form and they will call you back. Our Advisors will take you through the application process in detail and clarify the full eligibility criteria.

Throughout the training at CTCRM, Corps instructors will exert every effort - through teaching, coaching and mentoring - to create conditions for recruits to achieve success and realise their ambition of becoming a Royal Marines Commando. In return, all that is demanded from recruits is that they demonstrate the determination, commitment and self-discipline to succeed.

Application process for Commando Officers

  1. Step 1 Careers Advisors

    Our Careers Advisors will be able to answer your initial enquiries about a career in the Royal Marines. You can contact them online or call 0845 607 5555

  2. Step 2 Meet a Careers Liasion Officer

    Talk to a Careers Liasion Officer about what could be right for you, and how to apply and prepare for the Potential Officers Course.

  3. Step 3 Potential Officers Course

    Three intensive days at the Commando Training Centre, to test your mental and physical abilities, as well as your leadership potential.

  4. Step 4 Admiralty Interview Board

    Two days sitting various test, and an interview about your perfomance and ambitions.

Application process for Commandos

  1. Step 1 Careers Advisors

    Our Careers Advisors will be able to answer your initial enquiries about a career in the Royal Marines. You can contact them online or call 0845 607 5555

  2. Step 2 Visit an AFCO

    Our Careers Advisors will arrange an appointment for you at one of our Armed Forces Careers Offices. here you can talk informally about career options.

  3. Step 3 Aptitude Test

    This is a quick gauge of how strong your numerate and reasoning skills are - this only takes a few minutes.

  4. Step 4 Interview and Medical Check

    You get to talk to a serving Royal Marine and be asked to take a quick medical check.

  5. Step 5 Pre-joining fitness test

    A 1.5 mile run in 10 minutes 45 seconds - you can do it at your local fitness centre.

  6. Step 6 Potential Royal Marines Course

    A 3 day course at Lympstone to test you physically and mentally.