How to Get Fit for the Royal Marines

For Commandos in the Royal Marines, Britain's amphibious infantry, the concept of boot camp is an understatement. At 32 weeks, the Commandos' basic training at CTC Lympstone is the longest of any NATO service. Writer Susie Rushton of "The Independent" reports that recruits consume over 4,000 calories per day during training and still shed pounds, a testament to the sheer intensity of the Commandos' routines. Getting fit for the Royal Marines is a dedicated and determined endeavour, and while many are injured or fatigued before they reach CTC Lympstone, others experience a dramatic transformation that prepares them for success at basic training and as future Commandos.

Eat for both fitness and weight loss. According to the Royal Marines' Training Tool, eating the correct foods is only half the battle. Eating the correct foods at the correct time is often the most crucial aspect of any diet. Potential recruits should focus on limiting foods high in fat and replacing those choices with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and starches. Healthy eating habits also help to ensure that physical exercise is as beneficial as it can be. Breakfast jump-starts the metabolism, and starchy snacks a half hour before training increase sugar levels. A similar snack should be consumed within a half hour after exercise in order to replenish energy stores and to provide the body with the proteins necessary for muscle growth.

Drink water throughout the day. Water is integral to universal health. It provides energy, increases alertness and flushes the system of toxins. It also aids in digestion and even plays a role in weight loss. While the average man or woman is expected to consume six to eight cups of water over the course of a day, hopeful Commandos should drink an additional litre of water per hour of exercise. Dehydration is dangerous. The Royal Marines argue that a minimal drop in hydration of 2 per cent can translate to a drop in performance of up to 7 per cent. Due to the intense nature of Commandos' training routines, even the slightest hint of weakness or loss of concentration can have severe consequences.

Begin a stretching routine. Stretching is important for any athlete, but it is especially important for those individuals just starting an exercise routine. Stretching prevents injury by warming the muscles and preparing them for stress. When a muscle is flexible, it is able to adapt to different movements without tearing. For prospective recruits, improved flexibility also means improved strength. A well-stretched muscle is able to achieve a greater range of motion and a greater assortment of challenges.

Institute a daily training schedule. Rushton states that the Royal Marines require exceptional athletes of rare physique. Most long-distance runners maintain superb cardiovascular fitness but lack solider upper-body strength: Commandos must have both. Training for CTC Lympstone must begin with a foundation of endurance-based exercises, but running, swimming and biking are not enough. Circuit training is the key to preparing for the Royal Marines. With circuit training, potential recruits perform a series of nine exercises in a row and repeat the same pattern three times. These exercises focus on lower and upper-body strength, as well as the core. Circuit training also introduces cardiovascular fitness by requiring the recruit to hustle between stations instead of standing between sets. The heart rate remains elevated during the entire circuit, and most circuits require at least 40 minutes to complete. Royal Marines must be strong, but they must also be able to endure.

Develop the Commando Spirit. Preparing for the Royal Marines is taxing on the mind as well as the body. Commandos must constantly navigate the mind-body conflict, the idea that the body is often more resilient than the mind believes. Royal Marines train and perform against impossible odds, and without a state of mind founded on pure inner belief, both Commandos and recruits will fail. When getting fit for the Royal Marines, individuals must exercise both the mind and body. Only a strong State of Mind and the Commando Spirit can push a potential recruit to the edge, and only at the edge do civilians become Royal Marines.


Do not begin any exercise program without a doctor's consent. The intensity of Royal Marines' training routines can be dangerous or even deadly for individuals with underlying health problems. Do not overtrain. Lack of proper rest leads to injuries and can even render an individual too tired or weak when it comes time to ship out to CTC Lympstone.

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About the Author

Jennifer Boyden has been writing professionally since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College and graduate degrees in mental health counseling and criminal justice from Suffolk University. Boyden also has experience playing and coaching collegiate softball and is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer.