Ask Stew: Former Marine Who Wants to Rejoin Military Must Lose Weight First

A petty officer second class is weighed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.
Chief Petty Officer Terence Newton weighs Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Miller during the 75-day "Biggest Loser" weight-loss competition aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, Sept. 1, 2010. (Seaman Apprentice Tyler Caswell/U.S. Navy photo)

After a four-year enlistment, you might be ready to get out of the military. Maybe you want to go to college on the GI Bill, or you just need a change of pace for a high-op tempo. One thing is for sure: You will miss the camaraderie and may soon find that civilian life looked a lot more appealing from inside the base.

Regardless of your reason for leaving the military, there are many who seek to get back in, either where they left off, as an officer or in another service and MOS. Here is a common story of a Marine who turned soft after several months of not training and not being as physical as he once was while serving:

Hey, Stew. I am a former Marine who has been out for over a year. Over the past year, I really let myself go (weight), and now, after being a civilian again, I feel like my duty isn't complete. I want to get back to being fit quickly and enlist again. I am 5'11, 24 years old and 260 pounds and have no medical issues. What book or program would you recommend for me? Thank you for all that you do and helping people get in shape.

Getting back into the military will be difficult at your present weight, so you need to start seriously focusing on your eating habits and increase your workout activity progressively. Where many go wrong, especially hardcore Marines, is that they start off with a workout they did while in the military. Maybe it was a big PT circuit with hundreds of reps of pull-ups, push-ups, abs and/or squats. Many attempt a three- to five-mile run or a long ruck for 10 miles. The one thing you do not want to do is one of those "favorite military workouts" you have in your head.

Treat Yourself Like a Beginner

I know this will sound a bit lame, but your body will thank you for not running five miles on day one. Start off with a true beginner plan, even if just for a few weeks to get the kinks out.

Here is my favorite recommendation for people who need to lose weight and build a progressive foundation of fitness again. It is a 45-day plan, but you can move on to something more difficult if you feel ready after three weeks. But if things are working for you and your schedule, keep going with the 45-day plan. It  has helped people lose weight fast. Combined with the Lean Down Plan and drinking a gallon of water a day, dropping any soda or sugar drinks, you will lose weight quickly.

Once you have dropped some of that extra weight, start running again. Like above, start off easy and progress logically with running. Here are a few ideas for running plans:

As far as programs, it depends on your service goals: USMC Training PlansArmy Training PlansNavy, or Air Force. Any of these will work well for final preparation for military service fitness tests and selection programs.

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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