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PRMC – Improving your Bleep Test

Royal Marines bleep test

Along with the 1.5mile run, the bleep test is the only other running only part of the PRMC that you can specifically train for. The assault course and endurance course is just a case of training both endurance and stamina in the round. But for the 1.5miler and the bleep test, you know what is coming and you test and measure yourself so you KNOW what time/score you are capable of getting.

First off, it’s worth reminding everyone that I have uploaded the various bleep tests (running, pull-up, press-up, sit-up) to my YouTube channel. You can use these to practice the tests at home/in the gym etc. Also, after finding out that a vast number of young men were buying my Haynes RM Fitness Manual or being bought it as gift when wanting to apply for the Royal Marines, I decided to write something a little more specific on how to Pass The PRMC. If you are training specifically for joining the Royal Marines (PRMC or POC) then my Pass the PRMC ebook contains all of my tips and hints as well as an 8 week training programme for preparing for the physical elements of the course.

However…

I sat with a friend of mine recently who is a photographer. We met working for Men’s Fitness, then worked together for Men’s Health and eventually he shot the pictures for my Haynes Transformation Manual. He has had the privilege of shooting the Royal Marines a number of times for various publications. He admitted to downloading my ebook and giving it a read. As always (and as taught to do in the Royal Marines) I asked for constructive feedback. He was complimentary, but admitted he felt there wasn’t enough on the bleep test and how to improve it. Fair enough. Second edition is in development, but until then.

To improve your bleep test I think the following things can help:

Intervals

Perform short sharp intervals over 10 – 50metres, increasing your speed over these short distances, rather that the longer intervals which help with endurance for the 1.5miler and stamina for the assault course.

Shuttle Runs

Perform intervals with turns. Shuttle runs that rugby, football, hockey and basketball players do are perfect. 20metres apart is great as it’s specific to the bleep test. Try setting a specific number of “there and backs” – say 10, and performing all 10 as fast as you can. You’ll start quick and slow down, but just try to keep going at your limit.

Practice turning

On a RM PT course you have to pass a Beach and Pool lifeguard course. The pool course isn’t too bad, but the beach course requires a timed swim in the pool. It’s not hard if you’re a good swimmer but tough if it’s not your thing. One great tip from the then Swimming CSgt (and surf board maker!) was to use the turns; push off the side of the pool to get maximum drive before swimming again. The bleep test is no different. The turns are crucial. You can either lose all momentum or keep it going. Practice the bleep test, arriving at the line on time so you can step over and drive straight off without losing momentum.

Turn on alternate legs

It may sound stupid, but making sure you arrive on a different leg each time over the first 6-8 levels when it is easy can play a part later. Practice doing this. You may need to shorten your cadence. But if you’ve followed the advice in my Pass The PRMC ebook then you may well have done this anyway.

Hydration

Make sure you are hydrated beforehand. You can’t drink while doing the bleep test on your PRMC and the likelihood is you won’t while training for it. However, you will have read or heard of the drop in performance from being even a few percent dehydrated. Therefore, make sure you are hydrated and fuelled before practising for best effort score.

Train your weakness

If you are a footballer or cross country runner and can get level 12 or 13 or above on the bleep test, but are struggling to get 30 press-ups or 2 pull-ups; spend the time doing what you are weak at. Not practicing your strength. We all innately want to repeat what we are good at as it makes us feel confident and good about ourselves. Don’t. If you can do 8 pull-ups and 45 press-ups but struggle to get to level 9 or 10 on the bleep test, keep training your upperbody (don’t neglect it) but spend a good proportion of your time improving your weakness until your bleep test is a strength.

As I’ve said time and time again, the body becomes its function. What you ask it to do, repeatedly, it will become good at. If you don’t ask it to do something, it may not be any good at it when it comes to a test. Therefore, practice all elements of the bleep test including turns and shuttles specifically.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

Out now: The Ration Pack Diet
Plus: Pass the PRMC