Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp

NOTE: I strongly recommend you read the article on counting reps during the Coast Guard Boot Camp workout before reading this. Otherwise some of the terminology used on this page may confuse you.

The following is a list (and description) of the exercises that recruits do on an almost daily basis while in Cape May. In essence, it is what makes up the typical Coast Guard Boot Camp workout. The only parts that I don't cover here are running and swimming. You run often, but not every day, and swimming is done less often than running. For more on swimming you can read my article on swimming in Coast Guard Boot Camp. All the others are part of either regular physical training (PT) or incentive physical training (IT). As for how long each workout lasts, well that will all depend on which of your company commanders is leading the workout and what kind of mood they're in.


For the actual physical fitness test the push ups are a little bit easier because you don't have to go all the way down. There's this pad they put on the ground under you and you only have to go down until your chest touches the pad.

When you're doing push ups as part of regular PT (physical training) or punishment IT (incentive training), you go all the way down like a normal push up. The company commanders also like to have you do cadence pushups which are a lot harder than regular push ups because you can't fly through them. You have to do them at the same pace as you are calling the cadence. The fact that you have to yell the cadence prevents you from being able to do it fast. To read more about cadence push ups please read my article on counting reps in Coast Guard Boot Camp.

If you currently don't have the strength to be able to perform even one proper form push up, then you will have to start with modified push ups. You can substitute these until you develop the strength necessary to do a normal push up. You CANNOT do this regression once you actually get to Cape May. I am simply demonstrating it because if you need to do it while you develop your strength then you can at least see what it looks like. In Coast Guard Boot Camp only REAL push ups count.

Push Up Regression: These work just like normal push-ups but instead of having the upper half of your body on the floor, you have it elevated by putting your hands on a bench, couch, or other stable elevated surface. See picture to the right.

USCG Pushups Regression 01 | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp
USCG Pushups Regression 02 | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp
Crunches in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp

This is your standard crunch. You will perform it this way (almost) every day as part of your Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp.

Sit-Ups | Crunches

Every branch of the military has their own way of doing sit-ups and the Coast Guard is no different. The Coast Guard way is to cup your ears with your hands and then come up until your elbows touch the top of your thighs. For the physical fitness test one of your shipmates will hold your feet down while you do them. For everyday PT / IT you will lift your legs off the ground so that your thighs and your upper body make a 90 degree angle. 

Sit-ups in Coast Guard Boot Camp

There is no such thing as cadence sit-ups so it's "ZERO ONE, ZERO TWO, ZERO THREE, etc" the whole way.

Flutter Kicks

While they are not part of the physical fitness test, flutter kicks are done almost every single day at Cape May and are a standard part of Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp. You will be doing lots and lots of flutter kicks and they are always done in cadence. Just like the cadence push-ups, flutter kicks work on a four-count, so it's "one, two, three, ZERO ONE; one, two, three, ZERO TWO; one, two, three, ZERO THREE; etc". The Coast Guard likes to have you sit on your hands and lift your head off the ground while you do them. At first you will do them in your go-fasters (running sneakers), but then you'll be upgraded to doing them in your heavy boondockers (boots). Check out the pictures to the right to see what they look like.

Flutter Kicks in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp

You will perform flutter kicks as part of your morning PT for the duration of your 8 week stay at the Cape May Training Center in New Jersey. They work on a four-count cadence, similar to cadence pushups.

Squats in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Starting Position | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp


Much like with flutter kicks, you will be doing squats almost every day. The Coast Guard likes to have you fling your arms out in front of you on the bottom part of the rep and then bring them back to your waist as you are moving into the top part of the rep. Basically it looks like something out of a Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda workout video from the 80's. Starting position is on the left. Bottom position is on the right.

Squats in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Bottom Position | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp


Planks are a great core exercise and aside from doing them as part of the daily Coast Guard Boot Camp workout, I also include them in all of the 8-week custom workout plans. My company commander had us do a 3 minute plank with him once - and this was after lots of push ups and sit ups. Will your company commander have you hold a plank for 3 minutes? I have no idea, but it certainly won't hurt you to be able to do it.

Everything you do involves your core. The stronger you make it, the easier all the other stuff gets. I know for a fact you will be holding planks for at least 1 minute after doing some of the other exercises. You will also (loudly) count this minute down as a company. Beginning at the 60 second mark you will all yell "SIX-ZERO, FIVE-NINER, FIVE-EIGHT, FIVE-SEVEN, etc". The word "NINER" was not a mistake by the way. The number 9 is pronounced "NINER". Also, all double digit numbers are broken up into single-digit components and said that way.

If you look to your right you will see a picture of a basic plank done correctly, along with two pictures demonstrating an incorrect way to hold a plank. There is even more I could get into about the ideal way to hold a plank but the Coast Guard doesn't really care about that. What you see here is what's correct and incorrect by USCG standards.

If you want to dive down the rabbit hole for your own knowledge though, look up anterior pelvic tilt versus posterior pelvic tilt when performing a plank. Also look up scapula protraction versus retraction when performing a plank.

HINT: An ideal plank has you in a posterior pelvic tilt with your scapula protracted. This applies to pushups too, but again the Coast Guard doesn't care about any of this stuff so learning about it is optional. 

Planks in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Correct Form | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp
Planks in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Bad Form 01 | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp
Planks in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Bad Form 02 | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp


Supermans are when you lie down on your stomach and then lift your arms and thighs up off the floor so that you look like Superman flying through the air. The origin of these comes from basic gymnastics training. It's essentially a reverse hollow body position, but not quite as clean looking. It works your lower back, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. Much like with the plank, you will be counting down from 60 seconds together as a company. A picture of the superman is to the right.

Superman Exercise in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp


Cockroaches are actually a yoga position. They are extremely challenging for your core, but also work your quadriceps. They are slightly easier to perform if you have a decent degree of hamstring flexibility so stretch those hammies!

For these you will also be counting down from 60 seconds. A picture is to the right.

Core Exercises in Coast Guard Boot Camp | Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Those are the bread and butter exercises you will do almost every day of your 8 week stay at the Cape May Training Center. If you are planning on preparing on your own, these should be a staple in your workout regimen. If you plan on getting an 8 week custom fitness success program from me, you can plan on doing all of these as well.

I hope you found this lesson on Morning PT in Coast Guard Boot Camp informative. If you'd like, you can return to the Physical Preparation Page to check out some more FREE lessons on Coast Guard Boot Camp Training.

Oh, and lastly, please consider spreading the word to others who you think would benefit from it.

As always, thank you for your support.