Pushups are one of the mandatory exercises of the Coast Guard boot camp.

What Exercises Are Done at Coast Guard Boot Camp?

by Kevin Charles

Before you are accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard, you’ll have to go through eight weeks of basic training that includes a pretty grueling boot camp. The training, located at Cape May, New Jersey, is meant to prepare you for the physical challenges you might have to face when you’re in active duty. Knowing which exercises you’ll be doing and how to prepare can give you the edge you need to successfully complete the boot camp and get you one step closer to becoming a full-fledged member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Strength and Flexibility

It’s expected that if you want to be a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, you'll have the physical strength needed to face any physical challenge. To test your physical strength, the boot camp includes pushups and situps. To graduate from basic training, women are expected to be able to do 15 pushups in 60 seconds to test their upper-body strength and 32 situps in 60 seconds to test their core strength. You’ll also need to attain at least 19.29 inches in a sit-and-reach test. For this test, you’ll sit on the ground with your legs straight and reach past your toes. The test measures the flexibility of your lower back and hamstring muscles.


Being in the Coast Guard means that you will be near water, so it’s important that you have at least basic swimming skills. As part of your boot camp training, you’ll have to do a swim circuit that involves jumping off a 1.5-meter platform and swimming 100 meters in five minutes without touching the side or bottom of the pool. You’ll have to do this without wearing goggles. You’ll also have to tread water for five minutes.


Running is almost a daily exercise during basic training. It’s meant to measure and improve your aerobic endurance. By the end of your eight weeks, women need to be able to run 1.5 miles in under 15:26 minutes. You should be able to pass this test even if you can’t run for the entire duration. Just take a few walking breaks, but make sure you maintain a good pace.

Getting Ready

If you want to improve your chances of graduating basic training, train before you get there. Go on regular runs and swims to build your endurance. Do regular resistance-training exercises, including pushups, situps, squats and lunges, to increase your total-body strength and routine stretches to improve your flexibility. If possible, you should aim to be able to pass all the fitness tests before you get there. Basic training can be intimidating. Knowing you have the physical skills needed to get through boot camp will help alleviate some of your stress.

About the Author

Kevin Charles is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with more than 14 years experience working in fitness clubs as well as his own firm: My Favourite Trainer, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has written articles on fitness and nutrition for various Canadian publications over the last 12 years.

Photo Credits

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