Back to Top

Physical Fitness

Getting In Shape

In a short time, you will begin Coast Guard Basic Training at Cape May, New Jersey. You should arrive physically fit and ready to comfortably EXCEED the minimum standards listed. Here is how to get started:

DOCTOR EXAM - If you have never exercised regularly, you should have a physical exam by a doctor to ensure safety.

CLOTHING - Dress for the temperature. If it is cold outside, cover your ears and fingers. If it is hot, wear cool, comfortable clothing.

FOOTWEAR - Ensure that you wear a good quality running sneaker.

The Elements of Fitness

Since exercise alone does not make you fit, consider these elements together for a lifetime approach to physical fitness:

  • If 21 or older, moderate your alcohol use.
  • Follow a low-fat nutrition plan.
  • Follow an exercise plan that includes cardio respiratory endurance, muscular fitness, flexibility, and strength.

The first few weeks of Boot Camp are tough. Smokers have the added challenge of not being allowed to smoke (smoking or chewing tobacco is prohibited while you are in recruit training). Make every effort to be tobacco free before you arrive. It is highly recommended that you participate in a smoking cessation program prior to entering training if you are either a heavy smoker or have been smoking for several years.

Come Ready!

Physical and mental preparation materials are available on our Facebook page and blog. Start training now and Come Ready for the challenge and opportunity of a lifetime.


Stretching for flexibility should be conducted as part of your exercise program, both before strenuous exercise and as part of your cool-down afterwards. REMEMBER, do not bounce, but slowly extend and hold your stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.

Minimum Physical Fitness Standards 

Bent-Knee Sit Ups

  • Minimum Qualification for Graduation
  • Male - 38 in one minute
  • Female - 32 in one minute

This exercise measures abdominal muscular endurance. Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the deck, hands cupped behind your ears, and if necessary, have someone hold your feet for stability. Keep your lower back on the deck and raise your upper body approximately 90 degrees, touching your elbows to your knees before beginning a controlled descent back to the deck. Once your lower back touches the deck, you can raise your upper body again. Do not tuck your chin into your chest as this causes strain on your neck.


  • Minimum Qualification for Graduation
  • Male - 29 in one minute
  • Female - 15 in one minute

This exercise measures the muscular endurance of the upper body. Perform by placing hands shoulder-width apart, your feet together and your body forming a generally straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Keep your body straight throughout the exercise. Lower your body until your chest touches the pad, then push up to the initial position by completely straightening the arms. Your goal is to exceed the physical fitness qualifications for graduation.

1.5 Mile Run

  • Minimum Qualification for Graduation
  • Male 12:51 (minutes)
  • Female 15:26 (minutes)

This exercise measures your full body endurance. Stretch out thoroughly before you begin running. Wear a good pair of running shoes that fit properly. Pick a good running surface. If a running track is not available, choose a level street to run on. Relax and breathe properly. Keep your elbows close to your sides to conserve energy. Practice lengthening your stride to reduce stress on your joints. When you tire, slow to a brisk walk and continue pumping your arms to maintain aerobic heart rate. If you have not run for a long time, or have never run, you should start out with a walk/run program.


  • Minimum Qualification for Graduation 
  • Jump off a six-foot platform into the pool, swim 100 meters, and tread water for five minutes. Swimming on your back is not permitted. 

This exercise measures your ability to swim. It is strongly recommended that new recruits show up already knowing the basics of how to swim and be comfortable in the water. There are seven essential components to a good swimming training program: stretching, warm-up, kick pull or drill sets, major set, timed swim, sprints, and warm-down.

Previous Section: Welcome
Next Section: Keys to Success