Physical Fitness


As United States Marines, we thrive on physical challenges. With determination and confidence, we welcome the unexpected as an opportunity to test ourselves, continually improve and remain certain that whatever difficulties are in front of us, we have the physical toughness to overcome them together. Marines face these challenges willingly because when you train for everything, you are prepared for anything.




Through the physical rigors of Marine Corps Recruit Training and Officer Candidates School, we will find out who has the willingness and determination to continue on when others quit. To ensure Marines maintain the physical endurance to outlast any challenge, obstacle or adversary, we administer the mandatory Physical Fitness Test (PFT) on an annual basis.


Many are willing and determined on an easy day. But what about when your breaths are so heavy it hurts to breathe? What about when your muscles ache and your pulse is racing? Without physical toughness, mental toughness caves and every good intention fades. For this reason, we push our aspiring Marines to the point of physical exhaustion, to see what they have left to give when there is nothing left in the tank. How you respond when conditions are toughest is the true measure of your willingness to fight and determination to defeat every adversary on behalf of the Nation that needs you.


Through physically taxing training, we turn the willing into the able, transforming purpose-driven young men and women into Marines who can make a positive difference. Only those who complete the most demanding training can prevail over the world's most demanding battles. If you seek our title, the path ahead will be one of great challenge. Prevail, and your most purposeful days will be realized.


No one can fully comprehend the physical difficulty of becoming a Marine without experiencing it firsthand. But there are ways to prepare. These tips will help you strengthen your mind, body and mettle for the Initial Strength Test, the first physical test that is required to begin Marine Corps Recruit Training.


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.


Begin in the push-up position with feet hip-width apart. Elbows should be bent and lowered to the ground so that the forearms are lying flat to the ground. Elbows should be aligned to the shoulders with the forearms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance.

Hands must be on the ground either in fists pinky-side of the hand down or lying flat palms down. Hips should be lifted off the ground with feet flexed and the bottom of the toes on the ground. The back, hips and legs will be straight head to heels and must remain so throughout the test. Toes, forearms and fists or palms will remain in contact with the floor, not a wall or other vertical support surface.

Look at the floor to keep your head in line with shoulders, back and legs.

The minimum standard for this test is 1:10.


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-ups or plank portion, he or she will be re-tested at the end of that same IST.


The tips above are designed to help aspiring Marines get ready for the IST, but this test represents just the physical requirements to begin Recruit Training. To earn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor and become a Marine, a much more demanding test will have to be passed, the Physical Fitness Test. Commit to this workout regimen to ensure you'll be able to keep up with your fellow recruits when the time comes:


  1. Train five days on; two days off. Rest is a crucial component of performance.
  2. Complete five maximum effort sets per day. Rest 90 seconds between each set.
  3. Concentrate on doing perfect executions instead of the number of repetitions you complete.


  1. As of January 1, 2023, the plank is mandatory and the crunch is no longer authorized for the Physical Fitness Test.
  2. Exercises like mountain climbers, flutter kicks and leg raises build core strength and can prepare you to meet or even exceed the standards of the plank portion of the PFT.

Timed Run

  1. Try running with a partner who will help motivate you to continue.
  2. Start at a pace and distance you are comfortable with and build steadily.
  3. Look in the direction of where you are going—not down at the pavement.
  4. Run at least three times per week.


The Delayed Entry Program is a yearlong program for aspiring Marines to train and prepare for the rigors of recruit training. Your recruiter will train with you to increase your physical, mental, and moral being and prepare you to overcome any obstacle you may face.

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One doesn't consider an endeavor of this magnitude without having questions. Here are some of the most common.


Marines are regularly tested on physical fitness, with a focus on stamina and physical conditioning. Learn more about the Marine fitness tests, the PFT and CFT.
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