Fitness

Marine Corp PFT – Physical Fitness Test Exercises to Get Fit!

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Marine Corps PFT Exercises – Introduction

Marine Corps PFT – Physical Fitness Test Exercises to Get Fit!

Most people who exercise do so for weight control, general fitness, building muscle, and the sheer enjoyment of working out.

Nothing beats feeling fit and healthy!

Of course, athletes and sports people work out to improve their competitive performance, often pushing themselves well beyond what the average gym-goer needs or wants to do, but that’s another topic altogether.

However, for a select few, fitness is part of the job and something that could even be the difference between life and death.

For example, firefighters need to be fit and strong enough to climb ladders while carrying heavy equipment or lift and transport casualties out of burning buildings.

The military is another profession where fitness is part of the job.

While much of the military is mechanized, soldiers still need to be fit enough to march, run, swim and even ski during a deployment.

Military equipment can also be heavy, so servicemen and women need to be strong enough to handle it with relative ease.

In this article, we take a look at the Marine Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and explain how to train yourself to be fit like a US Marine.

What is the Marine Corp PFT?

The PFT is the basic fitness level that all Marines need to achieve.

Prospective recruits must pass the PFT to enter into Marine Corp training.

It’s also administered annually to all Marines, and failure to come up to the required standard could result in remedial PT (physical training) or even discharge.

The PFT consists of three exercises:

  1. Pull-ups or push-ups
  2. Abdominal crunches
  3. 3-mile run

Marines have the option to choose between pull-ups or push-ups to test upper body strength and endurance.

However, all Marines should be able to perform both exercises proficiently.

To perform a Marine-standard pull-up:

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with an underhand or overhand grip.
  2. Your legs can be bent or straight as preferred.
  3. Bend your arms and pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  4. Descend under control and repeat.

Marine Corps PFT Standards – Pull-ups

In two minutes, Marines need to be able to achieve the following pull-up standards – adjusted by age:

Male Pull-Up Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

7-20

4

20

21-25

5

23

26-30

5

23

31-35

5

23

36-40

5

21

41-45

5

20

46-50

5

19

51+

4

19

Female Pull-Up Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

7-20

1

7

21-25

3

11

26-30

4

12

31-35

3

11

36-40

3

10

41-45

2

8

46-50

2

6

51+

2

4

If you don’t want to do pull-ups, you can do push-ups in the Marine Corp PFT instead.

To perform a Marine standard push-up:

  1. Place your hands on the floor, so they’re shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward.
  2. Walk your legs back until your body is completely straight.
  3. Bend your arms and lower your body down until your chest touches the floor.
  4. Extend your arms and straighten your elbows.

Marine Corps PFT Standards – Push-ups

In two minutes, Marines need to be able to achieve the following push-up standards – adjusted by age:

Male Push-Up Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

17-20

42

82

21-25

40

87

26-30

39

84

31-35

36

80

36-40

34

76

41-45

30

72

46-50

25

68

51+

20

64

Female Push-Up Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

7-20

19

42

21-25

18

48

26-30

18

50

31-35

16

46

36-40

14

43

41-45

12

41

46-50

11

40

51+

10

38

After testing upper body fitness, Marines must pass a core strength test using abdominal crunches.

To perform a Marine standard crunch:

  1. Lie on the floor with your legs bent and feet flat.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest.
  3. Using your abs, sit up until your arms touch your thighs.
  4. Lie back down and repeat.

Marine Corps PFT Standards – Crunches

In two minutes, Marines need to be able to achieve the following abdominal crunch standards – adjusted by age:

Male Crunch Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

17-20

70

105

21-25

70

110

26-30

70

115

31-35

70

115

36-40

70

110

41-45

65

105

46-50

50

100

51+

40

100

Female Crunch Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

17-20

50

100

21-25

55

105

26-30

60

110

31-35

60

105

36-40

60

105

41-45

55

100

46-50

50

100

51+

40

100

Cardiovascular endurance is an integral part of Marine Corp fitness, and marching and running are a regular part of most days.

In the Marine Corps PFT, cardiovascular fitness is assessed with a measured running test.

Marine Corps PFT Standards – 3-Mile Run

This test involves a three-mile (4.82km) timed run, and participants must complete the distance within the following age-adjusted times:

Male 3-mile Run Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

17-20

27:40

18:00

21-25

27:40

18:00

26-30

28:00

18:00

31-35

28:20

18:00

36-40

28:40

18:00

41-45

29:20

18:30

46-50

30:00

19:00

51+

33:00

19:30

Female 3-mile Run Standards

Age Group

Minimum

Maximum

17-20

30:50

21:00

21-25

30:50

21:00

26-30

31:10

21:00

31-35

31:30

21:00

36-40

31:50

21:00

41-45

32:30

21:30

46-50

33;30

22:00

51+

36:00

22:30

In addition to passing the PFT, Marines are also expected to pass the Marine Body Composition Standards Test and the Combat Fitness Test, which involves several military-based fitness scenarios designed to assess combat readiness.

These include timed sprints, grenade throwing, assault courses, and carrying a fellow Marine.

Getting Better at the Marine Corps PFT

It’s important to note that while achieving the minimum standard is a pass, prospective and serving Marines are usually expected to get close to the maximum possible PFT score in all of these tests.

Just scraping by is not acceptable for the USMC!

Here are a few ways to get better at the Marine Corps PFT.

#1. Practice the PFT

Doing the Marine Corp PFT is a good way to train for it.

Commit to doing a full run-through of the PFT once a week.

Work as hard as you can to beat last week’s score.

#2. Use the repetition method

To improve your push-ups, pull-ups, or abdominal crunches, try the repetition method.

Simply do a maximum rep set of your chosen exercise, and rest a moment.

Then multiply that number by 2.5 and do the remainder of the reps in as few sets as possible, resting just 30 seconds between efforts.

For example, if you do 8 pull-ups, multiply that number by 2.5 to give you 20.

You’ve done 8 reps already, so now you need to crank out the remaining 12 reps in as few sets as possible.

#3. Grease the groove (GTG)

To get better at any exercise, you need to do it frequently.

With GTG training, you do your chosen exercise several times each day.

However, the trick to GTG is not training to failure.

Instead, you should stay well within your limits, so each set is reasonably easy.

For example, if 20 push-ups is your maximum, do several sets of 10-12 throughout the day.

Try to accumulate as many of these GTG sets as possible, e.g., 6-8.

#4. Big three circuit + run

Employ circuit training to make your Marine Corp PFT workouts more varied and enjoyable.

With circuit training, you move quickly from one exercise to the next to elevate your heart rate and get a lot of work done in less time.

Do the following workout 2-3 times a week:

  1. 60-seconds pull-ups
  2. 60-seconds push-ups
  3. 60-seconds crunches
  4. Rest 60-seconds
  5. 45-seconds pull-ups
  6. 45-seconds push-ups
  7. 45-seconds crunches
  8. Rest 45-seconds
  9. 30-seconds pull-ups
  10. 30-seconds push-ups
  11. 30-seconds crunches
  12. Rest 30-seconds
  13. 15-seconds pull-ups
  14. 15-seconds push-ups
  15. 15-seconds crunches

Finish off your circuit workout with a 1 to 2-mile run.

#5. Walk, jog, run, sprint workout

When it comes to running, the best way to get faster is to actually run faster!

Plodding along at your usual speed won’t do much for your fitness.

This workout forces you to run faster than your comfortable pace.

With practice, you’ll get used to running faster, and this new speed will become your 3-mile run test pace.

Repeat the following sequence 3-5 times:

  1. Walk 1 minute
  2. Jog 2 minute
  3. Run 3 minutes
  4. Sprint as far/long as you can (probably 20-40 seconds)
  5. Walk 1 minute, etc.

#6. Do the Marine Corp Daily 7 Exercises

The Marine Corps Daily 7 is a set of bodyweight exercises once used by the Marine Corps as part of the physical training (PT) program.

The Marine Corp Daily 7 was designed to target all major muscle groups.

The Daily 7 has since been replaced by the Daily 16, but most of these exercises are still part of the program.

This series of exercises is very similar to the army’s APRT program.

The daily seven consists of:

  1. Side-straddle hops – AKA jumping jacks
  2. Wide-grip push-ups
  3. Crunches
  4. Squats
  5. Standing calf raise
  6. Standing toe raises
  7. Back extensions

How many reps should you do?

That’s up to you.

Start with a few laps of ten reps per exercise and increase from there.

3-5 laps of 15-20 reps is a good target for most exercisers.

Marine Corps PFT Exercises – Wrapping Up

The Marine Corps PFT helps illustrate that you don’t need a well-equipped gym full of state-of-the-art equipment to get fit, lose weight, improve your endurance, or even build muscle.

When it comes to body transformation, your own body is all you really need!

Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and running are every bit as effective as bench presses and rowing machines, and, best of all, they’re free to use and always available.

Whether you are thinking about joining the Marine Corp or just want to be fit like a Marine, training for and then acing the PFT is an excellent place to start.

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