Overweight in basic training

How does it work for those who join a branch of the U.S. military who are overweight? Do they have some kind of identifier while in the chow line that prohibits them from taking certain foods? Do the drill instructors watch them more carefully to make sure they can handle the physical rigors of training?

If you were that overweight you wouldn’t be allowed to join (or just get told to go away and come back when you’ve lost it).

A five-mile run each day and a regular diet would probably cure any issues within a few weeks.

True even in times of combat. I worked with a cop who deliberately gained a lot of weight to stay out of Vietnam. Problem was, he never lost the weight later. When I knew him he was around 295.

You get sent to the physical fitness company. You’ll be in a company with other fat people, slow runners, and weaklings. They basically run/push/diet you to death.

How do they identify those people? When you get to basic, you go through reception. They give you your shots, uniforms, briefings on which spiders you can step on and which you can’t, etc. In order to leave reception, you have to pass a mini fitness test. You basically have to run half the distance (1 mile) you’d normally run (2 miles), do one minute of pushups, and one minute of situps. It’s pass/fail and the bar is set pretty low.

As they told me before I joined, the Army doesn’t find soldiers, it makes soldiers.

True, but you usually do 3-4 miles a day and your diet is anything but regular. A lot of people gain weight in Basic, and it’s not necessarily muscle.

Yep fat camp, those that end up there do not start on that cycle they have to wait for the next cycle they qualify for. As for weight management if you’re on the border of heavy my DS made you eat skinny to heavy, last man through the chow line had to get up when first one through the chow line was finished eating.

And I imagine you hear this a lot:

After all the “PT” they did, by the time he killed Hartman and blew his own brains out, Pyle should have been pretty svelte.

I’d advise anyone to try to get themselves in reasonable shape before they go do basic training. If you are overweight you will be humiliated quite often, and Basic isn’t exactly fun when you are in shape, so it will make the experience all the more stressful.

There is a minimum standard for recruits. The standards are higher for those in the Army. So you can’t be a total fatass when you join but they don’t expect you to be in perfect shape before training either.

I weighed 230 pounds when I got drafted. No one made me diet. I ate whatever I wanted in the chow line. Ten weeks later I weighed 185 pounds.

Of course, I only had three opportunities a day to eat. And, for eight of those ten weeks I doubletimed every step I took, except the daily three to five miles of marching. And probably about a hundred pushups a day, on the average.


An old buddy of mine back in Texas was overweight when he joined the Navy back in the day. They put him in fat camp, the time in it being added to boot camp. So he essentially had double the normal boot-camp time. Came out looking pretty thin though.

When I went to Basic (1989) I had enlisted after my first semester of college - wasn’t ready to academia at the time - and ended up not shipping off to Basic for another 14 weeks or so.

I spent an awful lot of time partying with friends and had gained about 20 extra pounds or so by the time I reported to MEPS. I was 5’11", and about 180. Not fat, but certainly overweight, especially as I hadn’t filled out yet.

Those of us who were extremely overweight but within enlistment guideline were put in a special company as mentioned above. Those of us somewhere in between were assigned to regular companies, but we were considered ‘Fat Boys’ by the drill sergeants.

The only difference for us was that we were given a restricted diet in the chow hall - no dessert, no soda, single servings of carbs - and not permitted to buy food or receive food in care packages until we had made weight. We were also generally pushed to the front of the formation for longer runs etc.

8 weeks later, I had lost probably 15 pounds of fat, and gained most of it back in terms of upper body mass.

By the end of AIT, I was 195 with very low body fat.

I was not overweight at all when I joined the military - but I was not in shape. I was skinny-fat which is bad because people expect you to be abe to do things like run.

I couldn’t do anything, and Basic was much worse because of my own unpreparedness. The fact that I was suffering through what should have been the very basic physical tests made it harder, both physically and mentally. The rest of the section/troop hates you every time you have to do anything, because to them, you just aren’t trying hard enough. The fact that you are actually trying with everything you have doesn’t matter, because it reflects badly on the group that you are doing poorly.

Nothing like huffing and dying through a run while everyone glares and wishes you were gone.

I have had friends ask me my advice for making it through Basic. I have told them simply - “Get to the standard first, before you go. Don’t make that part of what you have to suffer through - Basic Training is hard enough.”

I was, however, in very good shape when I got home.

That’s always bugged me about that film. Although Pyle was about at the maximum of what they would accept at the beginning, they would never graduate someone looking like that.