Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BMT: PT Regimen

Negligent blogger that I am, when I returned from tech school, I never took the time to tell you the ins and outs of my experience at BMT.  By September, BMT seemed like a world away.  BMT is one of those experiences that you hate when you're in the thick of it, but love in hindsight, or at least it was that way for me.

Now that I'm two weeks away from my first anniversary in the Air Force, I thought I might take the time to describe to you some of my experiences.  It's easier to do it in little chunks, than it is to try to tell you everything at one.  So, today I bring you...

PT...the 10th circle of hell!

Ok, maybe I'm kidding, although it is a shock to the system when you first get there!  Wake-ups at BMT were officially at 0445, when reveille played.  Typically, trainees were up long before that, getting their hair done (there was no time to do it later), putting on sneakers, and strapping on our running belts if it was a running day.  We live in fear in the mornings, that it would be the day that we got an early inspection, what they call a "Non-Duty" (probably "non-duty hours").  If the clock reached 0430 and there wasn't a key coming into our dorm, unannounced, we were safe.  MTIs have morning meetings at 0430, so they were tied up by then.  If an MTI came in for a non-duty and you were up and walking around, let alone with your hair done and ready to go, there'd be hell to pay.

I typically slept in full PT gear - socks, spandex, shorts, shirt, ID holder around my neck, and usually with extra 341s in my pocket already (more on them later).  In the morning, all I'd have to do was throw my hair up into a bun, put my money list in my pocket, put on my shoes, and grab my flashlight and running belt.  Meanwhile, if you were ready to go, you should've been making your bed already, since time would be limited after PT.

MTIs couldn't tell us to come down for PT too early, or else they'd catch hell from their supervisors about not giving us the required amount of sleep (that was a joke, to say the least - we didn't get much sleep).  At 0448, our MTI would be on the intercom telling us, "Let's go, let's go, let's go - get down there!"  [Lots more after the jump!]
As the Dorm Chief, I'd be the last person to leave, as it was my responsibility to see that everyone got out.  The guideon bearer would be the first person out, and the group of us would yell "FIRST TRAINEE OUT," with the appropriate echo as they left.  Once they got out of the foyer, it was "GUIDEON IN THE STAIRWELL," always echoing.

Trainees would hustle downstairs and stand at the dots, prepared to be called to attention and have the flight sized.  Our MTI would be right there as we came down the stairwell, yelling at us to hurry up.  I wouldn't typically size us in the morning, since we were always in a rush to get to the PT pad first.  Needless to say, this was not a leisurely wakeup.  You were always moving with a "sense of urgency."

Ah, the PT pad!  [Source]
Not my picture - this one looks bright, sunny, and pleasant - far from my experience!  Being in San Antonio during the summer, PT was the first order of business for the day.  We did PT six days a week, with the only day off being on Sunday.  We alternated strength days (T, Th, S) and running days (M, W, F).  Picture that PT above, but with a dark, early morning sky, stars and moon still out.  Imagine those lights, with an eery yellow glow, illuminating that red synthetic track.  Couple that with an MTI barking at you and you may get the idea.  We were being marched out to my own personal hell, every morning.  The only thing calming about it was gazing at the stars while on our backs doing warm-ups.

Now, before you poo-poo my thoughts here since this is only Air Force BMT and not the Army or the Marine Corps, I challenge you to give it a go if you're not a service member yourself.  Demanding physical training on little sleep in a stressful environment is never fun.  Working out is a lot easier when you're not being yelled at or demeaned during the process.

Here's a quick rundown of each day.  I still do the warm-up and cool down for the running days when I'm running on my own.

Run Days
Warm Up - Dynamic Stretches

  • Arm Rotations
  • Torso Twists
  • Knee Lifts
  • Knee to Chest
  • Leg Over
  • Knee Over
Running Program - Trainees are organized by speed/ability and wear colored belts to indicate their group.  The fastest runners run the most.  I was in this group all summer long, and after the first time, I was wishing I hadn't hustled so fast in my first PT test (which placed me in the blue group).  Luckily, it got better as I improved.  Those self-paced runs were some of the only peaceful times I had to think and imagine myself racing back in CO.
  • Timed Run - 15 minutes at a 2:15 min/lap pace.
  • Self-Paced Run - 10 minutes.  It says "self-paced," but you still have MTIs yelling at you to hustle.
  • Brisk Walk - 1 min, and don't you dare put your hands on your hips!
  • Interval Sprints - 6 30-second sprints, alternated with 30 seconds of brisk walking.  War cry time!
Cool Down - Static Stretches
  • Abdominal 
  • Chest
  • Upper Back
  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Groin
  • Thigh
  • Calf
  • Side Bend

Strength Days
Strength days were painful.  Running I can handle, strength, not so much!  They start you out with a minimal number of reps (always in 2-3 sets), which keep building week by week, until you graduate.
  • Sit-ups
  • Push-ups - Eventually, you were able to get away with the modified push-ups on your knees, but don't get used to that, since they're not allowed in PT tests.
  • Arm Rotations
  • Partial Squats
  • Knee Lifts
  • Squat Thrusts - Holy Moses...
  • Arm Rotations
  • Cross-Knee Crunches
  • Pyramid Push-ups - Shoot me now, these are the worst!
  • Leg Lefts
  • Knee Overs
  • Pull-ups

PT Tests
Tests are done on the Mondays of weeks 1, 4, and 7.  Week 7 is the biggie, since it's your final PT test. Failing your PT test during week 4 can get you recycled (held back, sent to another flight to repeat training), I've seen it happen.

All throughout those exercises, you're sounding off.  We would count off beats through squadron chants - "3 - 2 - 4 - KNIGHTS!"  "Check out these Knights!"  "Ready for Battle!"  "One sir!  Two sir! Three sir!"  Don't even think about hesitating to jump up or jump down when you're supposed to be standing or lying down.  The more you look like you're trying and you're motivated, the less the MTIs will bother you.  If you're a high profile trainee - a leader or a known troublemaker - they're going to find you.  Luckily, they taper off a bit as you advance in the weeks of training.  We tried to get away with as much as we could when they weren't looking.  During week 1, they swarm around you and sluggishness from one exercise to the next makes everyone hold their positions until the MTI in charge of calling the exercises thinks they're ready/motivated to move on.

Did I mention that you shouldn't dare try to make casual conversation during these workouts?  Keep your mouth shut, unless you're sounding off.  Ignore the attempts of others to chit chat, lest the MTIs will hear you and be all over your ass.

Ok, on that pleasant note, I'm done describing most of my PT experience!  It's possible for you to be put on a waiver, if you're ill or injured.  We had our fair share of people who seemed like they were on waivers the entire time.  NOT a good idea, trust me.  Suck it up and do it.  I was sick during my 6th week of training, but I didn't bother to go into the clinic until after my 7th week PT eval.  I didn't want anything to jeopardize getting out of there on time.  It worked in my favor - I got to enjoy some leisurely runs at my own pace on run days in those last weeks of training.

Hope you've enjoyed reading all of this nonsense!  If you've got any questions, don't hesitate, especially if you're considering enlistment.  It was well worth the effort - a boot camp workout at its purest form!  I came out of BMT looking great!

65 comments:

Mrs. Duh said...

Okay, my husband is an MTI... but he never told me that trainees have to do all that! That's crazy! I have heard that they'll be all over you if you dare chat or complain, though. You are one tough lady for making it through BMT! Thanks for sharing this story.

Joaniqua Rutherford said...

Your post have helped me a lot! Thank you so much! I leave for basic training April 2nd and my only two worries are pushups and mainly running. I read somewhere where you said that your pushups were at around 13, what did you do during BMT to help you increase them? For me I can do about 15 right now and my running is about maybe 16-17 minutes. I'm so worried that while I'm there that I wont get my mile and a half down to at least 14 minutes.

Erin said...

@Joaniqua - Glad to help! Not too much longer before you leave! I didn't do anything out of the ordinary while at BMT to bring up my numbers - PT will do that for you, trust me! If you ARE worried, your MTI will make some suggestions as to some exercises to do while in the dorms. There's one that has a specific name, but it slips my mind right now. As for running, you'll improve as well. Focus more on your running - your pushups are almost there!

Robin Chatelle said...

Hello Erin. I am part of the April shippers group on facebook. We have been trying to get some clarification on a couple of things. 1) What happens if you are over your max weight when you arrive?
2) What happens if you are above your max abdominal circumference when you arrive?
3)When do they weigh you and do the abdominal circumference? What day and what time of day? Do they take their time when measuring to make sure the tape is straight?
I realize you may not know this information but I thought I would ask. Thank you!

Erin said...

@Robin Chatelle - You know, I'm not entirely sure about the weight thing. I thought they didn't let you ship if you were over the weight limit. As for the waist, they took our measurements that first night. I don't remember too much about being weighed initially, but I'd assume it happens that first night as well. It happened pretty quickly, when the female MTL picked us up and put us in the dorm. They do the measurements fairly quickly, since they have 50ish people to measure. We were in our underwear as well. Hope that helps!

Sarai said...

I leave in 2 weeks and I am so worried I won't be able to make the physical part of it. If I can't do what they ask me to do right off the bat when I get there, do they give me time to work up to it? Or am I automatically sent back home?

Erin said...

@Sarai - My understanding when I went through is that the first PT test was a diagnostic and they allowed you to work up to it, possibly with the assistance of additional PT sessions during the day. I'm not sure if that's changed. You might try joining the FB group for your shipping month and asking recent graduates what their experience was like.

Shirls Downs said...

Hello! I heard they have two different tracks.. one track if for PT testing which is a 1/4 mile lap track.. the other track was used for running days (group paced run, self-pased run, and sprints).. do you know the distance for each lap on that track?

Erin said...

@Shirls Downs - Yes, that's correct, although I don't know the exact distance. It's not that much different, just rectangular.

Becca Nys said...

I am loving your blog! So informative. I can run no problem but push ups are my weakness. How many could you do when you first arived versus graduated?

Erin said...

@Becca Nys - Not many, trust me! Pushups are definitely my weakness - I've never had much upper body strength. There were plenty of people there that couldn't do many (under 10 for sure, maybe 5ish) that were able to do the 19+ to pass. Off the top of my head, I really can't remember what I did and I don't have my notes handy. I focused on meeting the minimum in that area and excelling in the run. Best of luck to you!

Jaleesa Davis said...

how much did your endurance build throughout pt?

Erin said...

@Jaleesa Davis - My time definitely dropped, especially due to the altitude as well. I felt like I came in with good habits though. At BMT you'll learn to keep driving on, and never stopping!

Hannah Bartlett said...

Thanks so much for all of the time you took into putting this blog together and helping so many people especially me. I have been living off of your blog for many weeks carefully reading everything about three times haha I leave in 7 days and this has definitely made me at ease knowing what to expect. Thanks again so much!!
-Hannah

Erin said...

@Hannah Bartlett - You're very welcome! Have an amazing experience and best of luck to you!

Erin said...

@Hannah Bartlett - You're very welcome! Have an amazing experience and best of luck to you!

Christopher Armistead said...

Sorry to ruin it with me not being female, however you will quickly learn that you are not the only person there who does not know how things are. In other words you will learn, just take it the best you can and don't worry. The saying in the AF is "we set you up for success." Oh and the most important thing to know before you get there is your reporting statement.....
"Sir/ Mam trainee (your last name) reports as ordered." That's it no more no less to that statement. Oh and if the MTI calls for you make sure you say "proceeding Mam/Sir.

Erin said...

Always good advice, @Christopher Armistead!

Orion said...

Ah the good old days.. glad to see a fellow Knight!

Leanne said...

What are the PT standards we need to pass for graduation?

Jon Betz said...

Hello. I'm needing some assistance. I've been instructed to lead the pt regimen in student flight for my Air National Guard unit. Chief wants it to be as similar to basic as possible. I don't rememeber too much about it in basic. Can you give me as much info that you know for strength days. Sets, and reps for males and females. Order of excersices-push-ups, sit-ups, bridge push-ups to sitting military raises, etc. He wants everything from lining up to cool downs. Anything helps. Thank you

Erin said...

@Leanne - You'll need to pass the same standards as the Active Duty AF charts. You can do a search for "AF Physical Fitness charts" and see what your requirements are based on age. Shoot for the charts for 17 - 29 year olds. My MTI never clearly answered if I was held to those standards or the ones for 30 year olds.

@Jon Betz - email me at erin@aimhigherin.com. I may be able to put you in touch with someone.

Karie Fleming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ana Valentin :)(: said...

Hello Erin. Are pull ups a big part in PT? What will happen if you are struggling with them?

Amanda said...

Ana don't worry about pull ups we always had to try doing them but I nay have done one the entire time we were there. I never got yelled at but I always tried.

David Gomez said...

Is the BMTSG available for download. If it is, do you have the link. I have search but I'm not sure what publication number it is. Please help with the link , it would help my daughter. She will be joining the Air Force very soon. Thank you

Erin said...

@David Gomez - I have not been able to locate in it e-pubs. It's possible they may be keeping it offline, since it changes so often.

Camille Dysart said...

What type of physical shape were you in prior to heading to BMT? Did you come from Colorado? I currently live in Colorado Springs. I read you were selected to honor grad and that is what I want. I leave in 30 days and I am currently at my max for pushups, my run was 11:53 about two months ago, but my sit ups need the most work. I can do 1-2 pull ups. When doing flutter kicks, squats, sit ups, etc do you think it is more beneficial to go for a minute (or two) or do X number of reps/sets? Any other tips/preparation for reaching honor grad?

J said...

Yo, I was in the 324th 5 years ago. Those MTIs were some crazy SOBs. Especially TSgt Anderson... Lmao.

Erin said...

Poor squadron, I was there over the summer and it was sad to see it in its current state.

Erin said...

Nothing crazy spectacular. I'd been running every other day and doing push-ups and sit-ups. If I were training for initial entry, I'd focus on reps/sets. As for the last bit, focus on your leadership/Airmanship while you're down there, as well as your academics. Good luck! You'll rock the run!

J said...

Isn't it the new med hold squadron?

cb86f21c-e08b-11e5-88c4-c715c8a0235b said...

I am seeing differing information online about passing PT scores to graduate. Can you point me in the right direction for what exactly is required to pass the final PT test?
Also, are the strength day exercises similar to those that you would do in a boot camp class at a gym?

Erin said...

Here's the chart for PT scores. The BMT standard should be the same. They were VERY vague about it when I was down there, and didn't confirm/deny that all of us that were 30+ were being held to the appropriate chart. They want to push you to the very best.

http://www.afpc.af.mil/affitnessprogram/charts.asp

I've never done a boot camp class at a gym, but I would assume they are the same. Typical strength exercises - flutter kicks, different types of pushups, bicycles, etc.

Alabama girl said...

Do you have the number of repetitions of each exercise you did each week written down somewhere?

J said...

Honestly, just be fit. Here in the real Air Force we just go to the gym. So just do that now and you'll be fine.

Erin said...

@Alabama girl - I don't, I'm sorry. I don't think it was any more than 20/30.

@J - I definitely agree. Sometimes easier said than done, but that's all you need to strive for.

Unknown said...

This may sound crazy...it is crazy, but I'm 40 years old and leaving for BMT April 12th (I enlisted at 39). I struggle with push-ups in a bad way. I can do under 5 regular push-ups due to poor upper body strength. I can do modified push-ups all day long, and with good form. I'm worried that I won't be able to pass my PT tests! Any suggestions that you might have would be great! Also, do you know if I am held to the same standards as the younger trainees or will I follow the standards for my age? I think for my age, females have to do 11 push-ups, but the BMT standard I believe is 27.

Erin said...

@Unknown - You won't be the first, trust me! :) Have you already been working on core strength through planks and the like? You will follow the standards for your age group. They won't likely tell you that outright, but you will. Always shoot higher, just in case. I was never strong at pushups for the same reason, but the training at BMT is really helpful and you'll advance in your ability more than you think. Good luck to you!

Megan Brown said...

I've talked to a recruiter n my area and looked online at the weight requirements and I need to be at 170 which isn't too far from where I am, I was wondering if you have any tips on how I can lose weight faster, like a certain maybe. I try to eat less and exercise but I have a long way to go. I want to be a good bit under 170 before I sign up, any tips?

Megan Brown said...

I meant to say certain diet, my phone is acting up

Erin said...

@Megan Brown - I'm a big fan of My Fitness Pal (the app) and logging all of my food, but I can't say that it's a "fast" fix. Have you looked into maybe consulting with a nutritionist or trainer?

lisa ran said...

I don't know if you still reply to this blog but I am a 36 year old female that recently enlisted for the AFGuard. I was wondering if you had any pointers for running. I have mastered push ups/sit ups but my running is not great. Thanks.

J said...

Hey Lisa, I sucked ass at running when I joined, haha. You'll get good at it. I went from a red belt to a blue belt (worst to best) in like 5 weeks. It's all good.

lisa ran said...

Thanks! Glad you made it through!!

Queline Diaries said...

I just enlisted in the ANG as well! I actually enlisted the day you posted this question. Have you received your ship date yet?

Queline Diaries said...

I just enlisted in the ANG as well! I actually enlisted the day you posted this question. Have you received your ship date yet?

Erin said...

@Lisa Ran - Yep, still do! Congratulations on your enlistment! Just keep at it. Build up the endurance first, and the speed will come.

@J - Thanks for the input!

@Queline Diaries - Awesome! I hope you two get to connect!

Unknown said...

This is great. I was looking for a summary of PT from basic. I was in the Knights too!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erin said...

@Unknown - Glad to help! CHECK OUT THESE KNIGHTS!

Emel Yuksel said...

What is the running surface like? Is it cement? I run but I do trail running so I am worried if the surface is cement, I have to move onto cement trails so that I can avoid shin splints and other possible injuries. Thank you!

J said...

It's concrete. Have fun

Erin said...

@Emel Yuksel - Yes, J is right. It's concrete, although the testing surface is a track with a slightly more forgiving surface.

Unknown said...

For the strength days, did you do the exercises by time (like 30 sec) or by the amount required (i.e.20 push ups)? Thank you.
-Alex

Alexandria Philpot said...

Also what exactly are knee overs?

Hayley Sewell said...

Hey there! So I leave for basic in May and am shooting for a Warhawk status for my final PT. But i can't do one pull up! I'm in the Delayed Entry Program and we do our run(last time was 10:50) and Push ups(last time 47) and sit ups(41), but we never really work on pull ups. Do they help build your strength for them there?

Erin said...

@Alexandria Philpot - We did the number required, but we sounded off as we did so - we were all in unison with our motions. Knee overs are when you lay on the ground and bring your knee over to the other side and touch the ground with it. I'm assuming it's to work your obliques.

@Hayley - You have plenty of time to build up that upper body strength! You'll have opportunities to do them at BMT, but I wouldn't go in expecting to do a bunch. Might be something to work at while you're still home.

Chase Dostie said...

That's so awesome you were a knight me too!! And it was brutal. I went may of 2007. And you described this perfectly. Ha love it I haven't remembered sounding off 3 2 4 knights till I saw this . Most remember phrase .... sir, trainee dostie reports as ordered ....

Chase Dostie said...

If you could do a YouTube video demenstraiting these stretches and the strength exercises. I'd be forever grateful I have been trying to remember each of them but again that was almost 10 years ago

Patrice Campbell said...

Ms Lisa ran and ms diaries, have either of you left yet?i joined ang in sept and I'm waiting on a date for bmt

Patrice Campbell said...

Have you went to bmt yet?

Queline Diaries said...

Hey! Thanks for reaching out. No, I leave May 8th. How about you?

Kenny Hunter said...

Hello my daughter went in and her first pt test she only did 10 push-ups. I think she has to do 27 to graduate. Do you think that by the time she has to do her final pt test if she works on it hard that is possible to do that many more in the time she has?

Kenny Hunter said...

Hello my daughter went in and her first pt test she only did 10 push-ups. I think she has to do 27 to graduate. Do you think that by the time she has to do her final pt test if she works on it hard that is possible to do that many more in the time she has?