Bootcamp workouts have become increasingly popular over the last few years. These workouts are usually conducted outdoors using minimal exercise equipment and deliver a fun, tough training session. However, and despite allusions to the contrary, these workouts are nothing like “real” bootcamps.

Real bootcamps are all about total immersion; they turn soft-shoe wearing civilians into useful members of the military. They also weed out those who can from those who cannot – military life is not for everyone.

When you first arrive at bootcamp, you are given a pair of boots – hence the term bootcamp. Boot is also the name used by some branches of the armed forces for new recruits.

Bootcamps last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. They are designed to break you down and then build you back up in the shortest possible time. Days off are few and far between, and the recruit lives, sleeps and breathes training for the duration of the bootcamp.

Bootcamps are as much about psychology as they are about physical exercise. Yes, military bootcamp recruits are pushed hard in the gym, over assault courses, and on combat manoeuvres but they are also tested mentally too.

The result?

Someone who is fit and strong in both mind and body. Recruits learn and develop discipline, determination, confidence, willpower, mental toughness, single-mindedness, self-reliance, and a host of other mindset skills that will make them more useful members of the military community.

Many exercisers and dieters could do with developing a real bootcamp mentality. All too many people drop in and out of their diet or exercise program and, subsequently, achieve very poor results. With no one driving you on, it’s very easy to cruise through your workout or break your diet with unplanned cheat days – it’s no wonder so few people reach their fitness and weight loss goals.

If you are fed up with failing, find it hard to stick to your diet, or keep breaking your commitment to exercise regularly - maybe you need to develop a military mindset. The mental skills that are so important in the military are the same skills that will help you reach your fitness goals. And the best way to develop them? Bootcamps!

That’s not to say a weekly workout in the park will help; we’re talking more about the concept of total immersion rather than a style of exercise. Not that there is anything wrong with a fun, outdoor workout but that’s not the sort of bootcamp that will help you reach your goals.

Here are two examples of how you can use the bootcamp mentality to develop the mental skills you need to reach your fitness goals.

1) Nutrition bootcamps

If you want to lose weight, you will need to change your diet. There are lots of diets to choose from, but most of them fail. Why? Lots of reasons but those reasons include:

  • - Too complex

  • - Too time-consuming

  • - Too much variety

  • - Too many cheat days

  • - Not strict enough

  • - Too many opportunities for personal interpretation of the diet

  • - No accountability

  • - Do not establish new, healthy habits

  • - Very slow results

Rather than follow yet another diet, why not try something new and create an immersive nutritional bootcamp?

Instead of trying to make small but ultimately pointless changes to how you eat (diet soda in place of regular soda, low-sugar cookies instead of normal cookies), toughen up and create an eating plan that produces excellent results in the shortest amount of time.

For example, for the next 30-days, only eat the following foods:

  1. 1. Lean protein – 2 grams per pound of bodyweight per day

  2. 2. Brown rice – 100 grams per day for men/60 grams per day for women (dry weight)

  3. 3. Apples – 3 per day

  4. 4. Salad vegetables – 2 large bowls per day

  5. 5. Olive oil – 3 tablespoons per day

  6. 6. Water – 3 litres per day

  7. 7. Green tea – 3 cups per day

  8. 8. Calorie-free herbs and spices – unlimited

That’s it – that’s your menu and your shopping list all in one. Use these foods as you wish but aim to eat every two to three hours – three meals and two or three snacks per day. There are no cheat meals, no treats, no additional foods allowed. That list of eight things is the start, middle, and end of your food intake for the next 30 days.

While you might think such an approach is unbalanced or unhealthy, all your food groups are covered, there is adequate protein and carbohydrate to fuel and recover from exercise, and calories are restricted simply by the food choices. Weight loss is often said to be complicated, but really, it’s not. By limiting food choices, the need for willpower is removed. Like a real bootcamp, you either conform to the plan or you don’t.

After 30 days of eating like this, you’ll be leaner, mentally tougher, and will have broken all your poor nutritional habits. Think how much easier it will be to eat healthily afterward. Like the army says – train hard, fight easy.

Exercise bootcamps

Many people struggle to commit and stick to working out regularly. Life gets in the way and, before you know it, that 7 am workout becomes a lie in. Life is already too sedentary and skipping workouts means you can go several days without doing any meaningful physical activity – a recipe for disease and dysfunction if ever there was.

Break this barrier by committing to exercising every day for 30-days straight. No rest days, no time off for good behaviour but, most importantly, no excuses for not getting your workout done.

One great way to do this is to is to create a home bodyweight workout so you have no reason not to exercise. The workout should be hard but not ball-busting because, after all, you are going to do it every single day.

Push-ups, squats, lunges, pull-ups, planks, crunches, jump rope – these are your bread and butter exercises. Your workout should last 30-minutes, no more and no less, so you can fit it easily into your daily schedule. Don’t worry about “overtraining” or “over-use injuries” or “muscle soreness” or any of the other excuses that lazy people use for not exercising. Get up, grab a glass of water, and do your workout. Make it part of your morning routine – just like brushing your teeth.

While you will find your energy levels and performance fluctuate from one day to the next, by the end of the 30-days, you’ll find your work capacity has increased dramatically, as will your endurance and your resistance to fatigue. In just 30-days, you’ll improve your fitness more than most people do in a year or more.


If you are fed up with making no progress, take a page from the military and create your own bootcamp. Make it totally immersive and stick with it for long enough to crush your old habits and develop new ones. This approach works which is why all the military organizations around the world use it. In 30-days, you could be looking at a whole new you.