The physical training program at Officer Candidates School is intense. Officers need the stamina and confidence to lead Marines
in physically demanding situations, and that preparation begins here. You will complete endurance hikes of up to 12 miles
in full combat gear, obstacle courses such as the elevated "Tarzan" course and combat conditioning.
Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
The PFT is the standard test that all recruits must pass, and all Marines run once a year to assess their physical conditioning. The test consists of a three-mile run, pull-ups (no time limit) or flexed-arm hang, and crunches (two-minute time limit).
Mix up your training between underhand chin-ups and overhand pull-ups until you can do 20 both ways. The program depends upon quality exercises—the number of repetitions is secondary.
Aspiring female Marines are required to do the flexed-arm hang during the IST and initial PFT. The Marine Corps is continuing to assess changes to the physical fitness test. During the interim, all Marines and those who aspire to earn the title are strongly encouraged to continue training under the assumption that pull-ups will remain a standard measure of physical fitness.
- Train five days on; two days off. Rest is a crucial component of performance.
- Complete five maximum effort sets per day. Rest 90 seconds between each set.
- Concentrate on doing perfect executions instead of the number of repetitions you complete.
Follow these workouts to prepare for the crunches portion of the PFT. Do this program consistently with the pull-up workout to see fast and effective improvement in your PFT score.
- Try doing three maximum effort sets. Rest 60-90 seconds between each set. As soon as you stop, that set is complete.
- Do six 20-second sets. Do as many as you can in 20 seconds as if you were taking the PFT. Rest 25 seconds between each set.
- Do 50 repetitions as fast as possible. Rest for 60 seconds. Then do 30 repetitions as fast as possible. Rest for 45 seconds and then do 20 more as fast as possible.
There are many ways to improve your run time. The key to a good run workout is not overall mileage or speed work, but consistency. If you put forth the effort now, you will reap the benefits at Marine Corps Recruit Training. Male recruits and Marines must complete the three-mile run in 28 minutes or less. Female recruits and Marines must complete the three-mile run in 31 minutes or less.
Tips to prepare:
- Try running with a partner who will help motivate you to continue.
- Start at a pace and distance you are comfortable with and build steadily.
- Look in the direction of where you are going—not down at the pavement.
- Run at least three times per week.