Two-Week Quarantine Workout Ideas for Pre-Military Basic or Selection Programs

Marine works out with resistance band during pandemic.
A U.S. Marine with 1st Intelligence Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group (MIG), pulls a resistance band during a physical training event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 13, 2020. (Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

As military training ramps back up, personnel will face 14-day quarantines when they arrive at their destination, at least for the rest of 2020.

Usually, quarantines will be held in dorm rooms or hotel rooms, depending on the training location, but you need to be prepared for this time in waiting.

Here are ways to pass the time and use it productively:

New Recruits

If you are going into the military via basic training, boot camp or service academy summer training, you should bring reading material that will help you with some of the professional knowledge you will be required to know. This includes General Orders (each branch of service is different), military chain of command, enlisted and officer ranks (name and insignia), and (depending on your branch of service) tanks, airplanes, weapons, ships, etc.

The goal here is not just to read these materials once or twice but to be able to recite them under pressure.

Don't forget to get some exercise. If you prepared well, you might bring some rubber resistance bands and a jump rope, but you largely will be able to do only calisthenics in your room. You most likely won't be allowed to run outside. Try an upper-body, lower-body and core split routine with whatever type of cardio you can cook up in the room.

Here are some ideas:

The three classic methods to train with calisthenics are the PT pyramid, PT super set and PT max rep sets. Try to do one of these every other day. You can exchange exercises and add in squats, lunges, heel raises, jumps and other leg exercises to these workout platforms.

If you can bring rubber resistance bands, check out the ideas in this video. You may not be able to do pull-ups, but some form of pulling activity will help you (rows, biceps curls), using whatever weight available (chair, backpack, etc.).

Running in place is not the easiest or most fun activity, but when you are trapped and cannot go outside, there are a few ways to get the heart pumping. These include jump rope ideas, jumping jack variations, burpees, 8-count push-ups, squat thrusts and jumping lunges with lunge variations.

Active-Duty Selection Candidates (Special Ops Level)

Active-duty members traveling to begin a variety of programs may be required to quarantine for 14 days before being able to train at very high levels. Using the quarantine as a recovery period from a tough cycle of training is a smart idea, but you still will need to do something.

The workouts listed above still apply, but you may be able to bring more equipment, like a TRX -- Suspension Trainer, weight vest, kettlebells or a door jamb pull-up bar. You can add to the creativity with this type of equipment, as well as the basics above, and not have to replace pull-ups, make calisthenics harder (with TRX or a weight vest) and add cardio with kettlebell swings and snatches.

Chances are, you will be unable to do outdoor cardio, but these rules tend to change depending on the situation, month and program for which you are testing.

Prepare for interviews by understanding the current jobs for special ops units. Stay current on events around the world by reading military news sources like For special ops-focused news, check out, operated by former special ops members.

Don't Forget Stretching/Mobility Work

You should move as much as you can and not sit or lie down all day long. Even if you are doing a variety of static stretches and mobility or foam roller work, you need to do this daily to stay ahead of any stiffness or injury that could be challenging to any high-performance testing events in the near future.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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