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4 Reasons to Prepare Physically for Plebe Summer

plebe summer Apr 19, 2020


Why is being in great physical condition advantageous going into plebe summer?


4 Reasons to Prepare Physically for Plebe Summer

I thought I was in great shape headed into plebe summer.  I was a recruited athlete at the Naval Academy (basketball).  I came to Annapolis in good basketball shape. 

I was not in Plebe Summer shape. 


I never did any long distance running. I wasn't used to the stress that's put on your body when you do long distance running five times a week. I got shin splints and not feeling too good for a little while because I failed to adequately prepare for plebe summer. 


It is important to train specifically for plebe summer.


The Academy lists examples of some of the physical requirements of Plebe Summer to help you prepare for the types of activities in which you will be participating:

  • 90 minutes, five days per week of strenuous physical calisthenics to increase cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, and confidence.
  • Runs up to 4.5 miles at an 8-9-minute per mile pace, interval, and sprint training.
  • Obstacle and endurance courses that test balancing, leaping, climbing, and team building skills.
  • Hand-to-hand training that incorporates martial arts, boxing, and wrestling.
  • Climbing wall training that involves upper body muscular strength and endurance, team building, and acclimatization to heights. 

The Academy provides guidance on how to prepare physically for Plebe Summer.


My 4 Reasons to Prepare Physically for Plebe Summer

  1. You want PEP to be a stress reducer, not a stress inducer. 

A friend, a 1991 USNA graduate and former Navy SEAL, and a fantastic resource for all things tactical and military fitness Stew Smith shared with me this concept.

If you come in great shape, then those morning workouts every single morning, they don't become something that you're not looking forward to and you're miserable to go to.

They will not cause you pain and stress, instead they relieve your stress. 

When you're not doing well in PEP or you're falling out of regimental runs, etc., it brings a lot of attention to you and you don't want that. You don't want to be the person who is falling out of the runs or not able to complete PEP because it just brings a negative light towards you and just puts attention on you. 


Detailer attention in plebe summer = STRESS


There is so much stress generally during plebe summer that you don’t need the stress of being behind physically.  

  1. Injury Prevention

If you come in great shape, it reduces the chance of injury, specifically shin splints and any kind of ankle or knee joint problems. 

Having been the Regimental Commander during plebe summer, I saw close to 150 to 200 plebes in the class of 2020 who had a medical chit because of shin splints. That's an extremely large number out of a class about 1200 to have that happen. 

Reducing the probability of shin splints, tendinitis, and other injuries is important.  You don't want to be hurt during Plebe Summer. 


The only thing worse than doing Plebe watching Plebe Summer.



Plebe summer is the first opportunity to build those lifelong friendships. You don't want to be the person who's not actively engaged or participating in all of the evolutions because you're on chit. Preventing injuries allows you more opportunity to build those relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime with your classmates. 

  1. It is a confidence booster. 

When you show up to plebe summer and you're in great physical shape it is a major confidence booster. There are so many physical activities that happen during plebe summer.

Not everything is necessarily evaluated or you're not being ranked always. However, when you run the O course or the E-course in a fast time, it feels good.



If you're leading your team squad combat course, it just provides you with confidence and gives you that reassurance that you are contributing to your team’s success.

Those things boost your confidence, relieve your stress, and make it more fun.  It is a lot more fun than the pressure on you to just survive. 


The purpose of preparing physically is to increase the probability you thrive during plebe summer, not just survive. 


  1. You want to pass the PRT. 

The PRT is the physical readiness test. That is the test you will take every semester at the Naval Academy and you need to pass it. At the end of plebe summer, you will run a PRT that will count as the PRT for your first semester at the Naval Academy.

The test consists of two minutes of

  • push-ups conducted on a two-second cadence
  • a timed isometric plank-hold position
  • followed by a timed 1.5 mile run.

Passing the PRT every semester is a requirement. 

The maximum (and minimum) scores for the PRT are as follows:

  • Female
    • Push-ups: 45 (20)
    • Plank: 4:20 (1:45)
    • 1.5 mile run: 9:35 (12:40)
  • Male
    • Push-ups: 60 (35)
    • Plank: 4:20 (1:45)
    • 1.5 mile run: 8:15 (10:30)

If you fail that PRT during plebe summer, then you're going to have to be on what we call the “brigade training team”, which is a remedial fitness group.

You will then do morning workouts around four to five times a week, in addition to whatever plebe duties you already have, until you pass the PRT. It is a tremendous toll on your time during the academic year.

Now, it's good if you do need it to get those extra workouts and have more dedicated attention. But quite frankly, you just want to do well in that PRT. You don't want to be on a brigade training team. 

It can be avoided (most likely) if you prepare properly before plebe summer.   


In summary, put the time and effort in now to be ready physically for plebe summer.

  1. Make PEP a stress reducer, not a stress inducer. 
  2. Prevent injuries and allow yourself to participate in the full experience of plebe summer.
  3. It's a confidence booster. You want to be confident going through plebe summer and coming physically prepared is a huge piece of that. 
  4. You want to pass that PRT. It sets the tone. 

I hope after this, you understand just how important it is to be in great physical shape before coming to the Academy. 




Grant Vermeer - Founder of Academy Insider 

Grant Vermeer is the founder of Academy Insider and the host of The Academy Insider podcast and the USNA Property Network Podcast. He was a recruited athlete which brought him to Annapolis where he was a four-year member of the varsity basketball team.

He was a cyber operations major and commissioned into the Cryptologic Warfare Community. He was stationed at Fort Meade and supported the Subsurface Direct Support mission.

He separated from the Navy in 2023 and now owns The Vermeer Group, a boutique residential real estate company that specializes in serving the United States Naval Academy community PCSing to California & Texas. 

Connect with Grant Vermeer, The Academy Insider here:


Academy Insider is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, not affiliated with the United States Naval Academy. All thoughts and opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the United States Navy or the Department of Defense.