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Marines Senior Project

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Making Greatness

The United States Marine Corps is currently the most sparsely populated branch of military service, with only 202,786 active-duty Marines and 309 reservists who served three of the past four years on duty (Lamothe). Of these Marines, 182,147 were enlisted troops and only20, 639 of them were ranking noncommissioned officers (NCO). This low number of active Marines is primarily due to the hardest basic training of any branch of military. Marine recruits endure sixteen weeks of intensely demanding physical and mental training to become one of the Few and the Proud. A recruit must master drill, marksmanship, geographical education and physical prowess before he can be called a Marine. The recruit must then take further specialized training courses depending on his chosen MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), or job. In short, it takes an incredible amount of dedication, determination, and sheer strength of character, as well as an extraordinary amount of leadership, to become a Marine. To prepare for a military future, a recruit will need to strengthen his mind and tone his body to a very specific standard set by the Military after over 200 years of successful training.

Getting in top physical condition and being properly prepared for a future in the military takes dedication, perseverance, and iron leadership. One of the most well-known and intimidating elements of any Marine Corps boot camp is the ferocity of the tough as nails Drill Instructors, or DIs. A DI is trained to be tough, ruthless, loud and very strict. In fact, a DI finds it in his job description to make a recruit stressed and miserable. However, these coarse men and women are responsible for every step of a recruit's training, and it is also the duty of a DI to know a recruit's physical breaking point. A good leader knows when to stop, how far is too far and when the training is not hard enough for improvement. There is no substitute for a valid DI and boot camp environment; however, knowing some of the information an instructor uses during boot camp can help a recruit prepare for his experience there (Dept. of the Army).

In order to achieve a higher standard of physical fitness, the recruit must understand the physiology pertinent to the body's muscular and cardiorespiratory condition. In order to properly condition the heart and lungs (cardiorespiratory system) for performance at a high level, a simple calculation is done to configure both a Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and a Training Heart Rate (THR). A person's MHR is needed to figure his or her THR. To get the Maximum Heart Rate a recruit must subtract his age from 220. For example, a person at 20 years of age does more harm than good by exercising at or above a heart rate of 200 Beats Per Minute (BPM). Body systems attempting to function above the maximum heart rate produce less muscle during the time of training and spend more time trying to recover after a training period. Thus a recruit in good physical condition should train at approximately 80% of the individual's estimated MHR for maximum improvement. In order to calculate the proper percent heart rate, the MHR is simply multiplied by .80 ("FITT Factors"). Using the earlier example, a healthy 20 year old with a maximum heart rate of 200 has a training heart rate of 160 BPM.

Another important factor of being in shape is a healthy diet. A lot of people hear the word diet and think only about cutting calories and counting carbohydrates. However, a certain amount of exercise can increase the body's metabolism, or ability to burn calories. Age, gender, and muscle mass can all affect the body's metabolic rate, which is the rate at which it metabolizes 3calories (Bouchez). If a recruit is not mindful of diet during the training period, his or her body runs the risk of becoming undernourished. Such an enervated state will result in possible body failure during or after workouts, as well as prohibiting the greatest amount of body function. It is also possible that too many calories will prevent the body from losing fat to create a proper muscle/fat ratio. In order to compensate for a change in this ratio, as a recruit begins training and creating a more lean body structure, he should eat more often, in smaller portions. Eating with this method will allow the recruit's metabolism to remain at a steady rate of calorie consumption, allowing the recruit to burn fat and build muscle at a quicker pace (Bouchez). A recruit will also have only three minutes for meals during boot camp, and becoming accustomed to eating small amounts rather quickly can help a recruit once he enters boot camp as well as the following combat environment.

In addition to cardiorespiratory fitness and diet, overall muscle development is crucial to preparing for boot camp and the ensuing lifestyle. There are three styles of muscle motion that contribute to the formation of healthy muscle fibers: isotonic, isokinetic, and isometric. Isometric muscle movements consist of a muscle conditioning exercise in which the muscle contracts but the joints do not move. Examples of isometric muscle movement include body planks, wall squats, and calf raises; essentially any exercise in which the muscle belly lengthens without movement in the joints ("Isometric

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