Posted on Oct 18, 2017
SPC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
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So, I would like the insight of my superiors on something.

TL;DR at the end for those of you who can't be bothered to read a wall of text.

I'm 19 and a second year college student. I'm a dual major, and dual minor. I'm studying information security intelligence with a cyber security focus, homeland security, criminal justice, and military leadership.
In order to graduate in a reasonable amount of time, I need to take excessive amounts of credits. I'm taking 19 now. That usually lands me spending 10-12 hours a day six days a week dedicated to school.
I'm in ten campus organizations, including university student government, and I'm a conductor in training/trombonist in four college bands, one of which has over 100 performances yearly.
My school's recreation center (gym) is under maintenance and has been only slightly accessible all year. It's always crowded, and I find myself spending more time waiting for space or equipment than actually using it. Plus, people I know are always staring me down. It's kind of natural when you're as involved on campus as I am. I don't want to say "I don't really care," because I do and I'm insecure, but I normally just ignore them. Uncomfortably.
Finally, the food courts are horrific. Our salads would be amber, everything else would be red-I absolutely guarantee it. Fried oreos as a side of volcanic chilidogs may sound great, but our food is horrifically unhealthy. People here blow up like blimps. I'm. Not. Kidding. Student Government did a survey and 60% of students gain 20 or more pounds in their first year here. Hence the "freshmen 15." I would link to the surveys, but that would give away my University and I kinda want to keep that off of the internet.
Ultimately, I am in a unit where no one really cares about PT. Everyone fails their PT tests. Someone got 11/11 raw score for their pushups and situps and came back double middle-fingering the NCOs (30 year old specialist) when he walked his 2-mile. But I do not want to be like them. I want to excel. I want that 300+ PT score. I've been an E-1 for six months now and I want to move up the chain. I'm willing to work. I've been buying fruits, vegetables, and melons from the local Meijers with my drill money. I've also been drinking lots of milk & eating at least one salad a day. I volunteered for a deployment in May (they wanted NCOs I think, but I saw another E-2, so I slipped my name in). Finally, once weekly I am a "physical trainer" for a couple of reeeaaallyy cute sorority girls and we go through all PRT drills that do not require equipment and finish with the run. I also am that guy that always complains at drill that we don't PT enough :P


Too Long; Didn't Read: How do you guys manage to keep a good PT score while overwhelmed with crazy and hectic college life? What are your workout routines? What are your habits? How do you eat? What kind of advice can you give me?
Edited 3 y ago
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Responses: 24
CPT Corporate Buyer
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Here's a life lesson: You can't do everything. We all get the same amount of time each day. How you spend it is up to you? As an adult it's time to start making the hard decisions. Would you rather be in 10 organizations or score a 300 on your PT test? Is it worth it to you to keep doing everything you're doing and score a 200? That's what you have to decide. For me, I have a full time job, a wife, and young children. There's plenty of other stuff I'd like to go do but my #1 priority is my family so that other stuff either gets done to a lesser extent or doesn't get done at all.

Once you've made your decision here's my PT advice. Forget the gym. It takes time to get there, workout, and get home. Time is something you don't have much of. Buy a pull-up bar. If you want to score a 300 start doing pushups/pull-ups/sit-ups three days a week for about 30 minutes. There's tons of workouts online but these need to be intense workouts. You'll need to run 4 or 5 days a week. These can range from 30 to 60 minutes. Make sure one day is devoted to legit speed work and another is in the 5-6 mile range. Or go online and find a good 5K program for advanced runners. Keep in mind that running is something you need to ease into. i.e. if you're only running 10 miles a week now, don't jump to 20 at once. You have to increase mileage gradually or risk injury.

Remember that PT is no different than your classes. You'll get out of it what you put into it. I'm 40 years old and I score a 300 on the APFT doing what is above. Calisthenics are like running in that they take time to improve. You'll see improvements in a couple of months but to see the best results you have to keep building. The guys you see doing all the crazy calisthenics online have done it religiously for years.
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SPC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
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Thank you for your thoughtful response, Captain. You are entirely correct, and I have been preparing to start a morning running routine
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Col Jim Harmon
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First, your overloaded. You will burn out within two years working 12 hour days for six days a week. You are in a marathon not a sprint. You need to adjust your schedule to reflect that reality and that means giving up a few things.

Assess your end goal and focus your efforts only on those things that will make you successful in obtaining that goal. For example, you are involved in ten school organizations. Cut that down to one or two. How do Information Security and Criminal Justice benefit from your participation in Band or Student Government? You may really enjoy being in the Band, but does it pay off for you down the line in achieving your goal. Any activity that you are participating in that does not directly contribute to achieving your goal should be jettisoned, or put on hold until after you are through with your studies (With the exception of working out with the cute co-eds . Keep that one). Weed out those things that will not help you achieve your goal (i.e., band) and use that time for physical fitness.

If your gym is unavailable then start using a prison PT Program (Pushups, Sit-ups, Chair Dips, Lunges, Squats, Pull-Ups, Burpees (we used to call them Bends and Mothers), Planking, Star Jumps, Jogging, and Wind Sprints are all free and require no facility). Some of the great athletes of our age never lifted weights and used only their own body weight for strength training. Work in one week increments where you alternate between upper body and lower body on alternating days. Every week you should be increasing the number of repetitions you perform for each exercise. Get a note pad, write down your work out routine, and track your progress. The great part is the entire program can be done in the privacy of your dorm room (with the exception of running), requires no gym equipment, utilizes your body weight to build strength, doesn't cost you a dime, and can be done when it is convenient to your schedule (not when the gym is open).

Food is a tough nut for a college student. You are at the mercy of the contractor as to what is served. Try to eat smartly and opt for salads when available. If not, then eat smaller portions and augment your diet with the fresh fruits you talked about. Go for a long walk after you eat. Walking will help you burn off the dead calories and it will become a great mental refresher for your mind to work over an academic problem or to just relax.

Good luck and keep it up. You're well on your way. And tell those co-eds I said hello!
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SPC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
SPC (Join to see)
3 y
Thank you, Colonel! I will keep your advice in mind. I am definitely feeling a burn, and am in the process of dropping things. Since I made my post, I have made plans to work out with even more cute co-eds after our Thursday classes :) But for the most part, I can totally do the prison PT workouts in my room
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SPC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
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3 y
As per my position on Student Government and Salads: Tuesday night, we got approved for a Salad bar in our food court! It's going to be added next semester. But until then, I'll stick with my fruits, veggies, melons, and meats from Meijers.
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PFC Jonathan Albano
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Edited 3 y ago
My advice would be to incorporate your exercise into the space between your scheduled activities. For instance, going to your next class, jog there. Regardless of distance, it's a drop in the bucket. Need a break studying, take a minute to knock out some jumping jacks. Gives your brain a break and forces your legs to wake up. You'd be surprised, when you sit down and think about it, just how many college activities you can incorporate exercise into.

You're going to have people staring. There isn't much that can be done about that. What you can change, however is your outlook on the people staring at you. Rather than feel uncomfortable about it, use it for motivation. Tell yourself that they're probably interested in how you're keeping your rock hard abs with all that crappy food they serve in the cafeteria. Just don't say it out loud. They might assume you're full of yourself.

Hope this helps.
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SPC Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Operations Specialist
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Thanks, Albano. I got a laugh at your comment. This is something I have done before, and will continue to do. I want that 300 PT score haha
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LTC Robert Evans
LTC Robert Evans
3 y
I'm in with the PVT's comments, I'd add doing push-ups and sit-ups, planks,,, just a few 10-15-20 when you have a minute "to stop, drop, beat your face" as my Drills and TACs would order.
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