How to Prepare

Every Marine must maintain a high level of physical fitness regardless of age, rank or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
Those who aspire to become Marines must first pass the Initial Strength Test (IST), and all Marines are required to pass an annual
Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Combat Fitness Test (CFT). This information will help you prepare for all three.


Initial Strength Test (IST)

In order to begin recruit training, aspiring Marines must pass the Initial Strength Test (IST). It is recommended that recruits report to training with scores well above the minimum standards. The IST consists of the following three tests:


Those who wish to pursue a ground combat MOS must complete the gender neutral ground combat arms IST. Talk to a recruiter to find out more details.



Guidelines for pull-ups:

Mount the bar with your hands facing towards you or away from you. Your legs can be held straight or in a bent position, but may not be raised above the waist. To successfully complete a repetition, raise your body by bending your arms at the elbows until your chin is above the bar, then lower your body until your arms are fully extended. You may have an assistant extend an arm across the front of your body to help prevent swinging. The minimum standard for passing this test during the IST is two pull-ups.


In order to perform well during recruit training, the Marine Corps recommends starting an exercise routine early and monitoring your diet.


Guidelines for crunches (males and females):

Lie on your back, knees flexed with your feet flat on the ground. Fold your arms across your chest with no gap between your forearms and your chest when raising your upper body. An assistant may hold your feet or legs below the knees in whatever manner is most comfortable. Kneeling or sitting on the feet is permitted. To successfully complete a repetition, raise your upper body from the starting position, touching your thighs with your elbows or forearms. Return to the starting position with your shoulder blades touching the ground. A rest in the down position may be taken at any time. The minimum requirement for passing this test during the IST is 44 crunches in two minutes.


It is imperative that you practice these tests properly. It is much harder to change habits once you've begun practicing incorrectly.

Timed Run

Guidelines for the run (males and females):

Male and female recruits run the same distances during the run portion of the IST but have different time requirements to complete it. Males must complete the 1.5-mile run in 13:30, while females have 15 minutes to cross the finish line. It is advised that individuals who aspire to become Marines report to training able to run much further distances at a faster pace, as the IST run is only half the distance of the 3-mile PFT test required of all recruits. The run portion of the IST is normally administered last, and if an individual fails the pull-up, flexed arm hang or crunches portion, he or she will be re-tested at the end of that same IST.


In addition to passing both the IST and PFT, the Marine Corps requires an individual to be within acceptable weight and body fat standards.