Marines prepare for upcoming Combat Fitness Test

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan, (August 3, 2011)  — In 2008 the Marine Corps implemented a new test to determine Marines' fitness for combat, known as the Combat Fitness Test. The test includes a battery of physical exercises which evaluate Marines' ability to perform several combat-related activities. The CFT, combined with the Physical Fitness Test, provides good insight into Marines' overall fitness level.

July 1 began CFT season for the Marine Corps and ended PFT season. With this change, Marines on Okinawa have changed their physical training regimens.

"When training for the PFT you need to concentrate on pull-ups, running and crunches," said Cpl. Sanvir S. Sindal, the training noncommissioned officer at Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. "Both tests concentrate on endurance, but the CFT is more strength-based."

Since the CFT focuses more on combat conditioning, a different type of training is needed.

"Circuit training works best for getting into shape for the CFT," said Gunnery Sgt. Mackey D. Ware, the company first sergeant with Headquarters and Service Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. "Doing lunges then immediately doing bench press, and then going into dips – lots of various exercises without resting."

When preparing for the CFT, like any other test, it is best to be continually trying to improve yourself.

"Preparation is the biggest key for any fitness test," said Beckie A. Javinar, the group fitness director at the Health Promotion Office on Camp Foster. "Waiting until the last minute to try to get in shape for the CFT will not work, and you will get a low score. You need to determine what are your strengths and weaknesses and take the time that is needed to improve yourself."

Although the purpose of the two tests differ, both are crucial for being a well-rounded Marine.

"The PFT is designed to show how fit a Marine is," said Sindal. "The CFT is meant to keep a Marine combat ready. With the PFT, you already know how many pull-ups you do or how fast you run, but, with the CFT, you do not always know how you are going to score."

Marines often score differently on the CFT than PFT for a couple of reasons.

"Marines tend to score higher on the CFT than they do the PFT," said Sindal. "On the PFT, bigger Marines lose points because they might not be able to do as many pull-ups. This is not a factor during a CFT because partners of similar weight are chosen so Marines work within their own weight class."

Since any Marine could be called into combat at a moment's notice, it is crucial for every Marine to maintain combat readiness. The CFT is designed to ensure just that.

"The CFT is designed to not only test a Marine's fitness level, but to test the endurance level of a Marine during high-stress situations," said Ware.

"The CFT is driven more towards a stress-under-fire situation. It doesn't take as long, but after you finish a CFT you definitely feel like you have been through a workout."

Marines can prepare themselves for the CFT by attending unit training sessions or going to the gym or running on their own. For those that need help finding a work-out schedule or a plan organized for how to improve themselves, there are many options available on base.

"The Warrior Training Classes are an excellent way to get in shape for the CFT," said Javinar. "If you are unable to attend those classes, then you should get with a fitness coordinator to set up a routine. We also have a daily work out schedule online that is updated every month."

The schedule and other tools to help Marines develop a proper fitness regimen are available online at the Semper Fit page on is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.