Training varied and was conducted in all types of weather over a four month period.
Marching: The first concept that new soldiers learned was the quick march (the "military pace”). This was taught by marching twenty Roman miles (18.4 miles/29.6 km) in five summer hours. Units that marched at a uniform speed had reduced vulnerability to attack. This was increased to 24 Roman miles in five summer hours with occasional ten minute breaks. Click here to learn about parade square drill.
Physical Exercise: Exercise consisted of running, jumping and carrying heavy packs.
Swimming: Recruits swam during the summer if their camps were adjacent to water.
Vaulting onto a horse: This part of physical training involved all recruits and employed a wooden horse. Exercises were initially performed without weapons and equipment.
General: As the recruits improved, they were issued weapons to use during physical training. Exercises increased in difficulty until military pace was achieved.
Sword: The soldiers employed wooden swords and round wickerwork shields, both double the weight of normal service equipment. Practice involved attacking six foot wooden stakes. As the soldiers experience grew, standard service swords and shields were issued.
Pilum: Soldiers trained with a heavier than normal weight pilum. They developed arm strength and marksmanship by targeting stakes. After the soldiers had become comfortable with their practice pila, they were issued service models.
Armatura: Once they were proficient with gladius and pilum, the men were paired to train in individual combat and mock engagements using wood weapons equivalent in weight to service weapons . When real swords and pila were finally employed, the tips were shielded with leather buttons to prevent injury.
Bow: 25-33% of recruits received bow training using stakes as targets.
Sling: The art of throwing stones by hand and with a sling was taught.
The final type of basic training involved field action. Under the supervision of an officer, soldiers in full equipment with 17 days rations (66 lbs/man) marched at military pace on unfamiliar routes, & established practice camps with fossa and valum.
Ambulatura: Battle formations were practiced on 10 miles marches thrice monthly. They included forming single and double lines, the wedge, squares, and circles. Recruits continued practicing until they were able to march at military pace & sometimes faster.