Marine Corps (USMC) Recruit Training

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Marine recruits run during an initial strength test.
Recruits with Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, participate in the initial strength test (IST) at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Feb. 12, 2021. (Lance Cpl. Zachary T. Beatty/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

If you are thinking about joining the Marine Corps, you will have to pass the initial strength test (IST). The IST is a shortened version of the physical fitness test (PFT). A recruit only has to do pull-ups, push press, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run.

The IST is the first physical test aspiring Marines must pass in order to attend recruit training. You should practice this on your own before your first time taking it with Marines. The IST consists of four events: pull-ups, crunches, timed run and ammo can lift. The minimum and recommended standards for Marine recruits selecting a load-bearing military occupational specialty and passing the IST are as follows:

Minimum Standards Recommended Standards
3 Pull-ups 10-15 Pull-ups
45 Ammo Can Lifts 76+ Ammo Can Lifts
44 Crunches (2 minutes) 80-100 Crunches (2 minutes)
1.5-Mile Run in 13:30 1.5-Mile Run in Sub 10:30

Note: The recommended standards are the author’s opinion, not the Marine Corps'.

For those Marines who are not selecting a load-bearing activity MOS such as infantry or artillery, etc., should pass the IST with the following minimums:

Men have to complete a 1.5-mile run in 13 minutes, 30 seconds; women have 15 minutes. Both men and women must do 44 crunches in two minutes. The additional ammo can exercise does not apply to all MOSs for recruits, but all Marines will see it in their future combat fitness test (CFT).

Minimum Standards Recommended Standards
2 Pull-ups (men)

12-sec Flexed Arm Hang (women)

10-15 Pull-ups (men)

5 Pull-ups (women)

44 Crunches (2 minutes) 80-100 Crunches (2 minutes)
1.5-Mile Run in 13:30 (men)

1.5-Mile Run in 15:00 (women)

1.5-Mile Run in Sub 10:30 (men)

1.5-Mile Run in Sub 12:00 (women)

But the goal is not to be at the minimum standards -- strive for better than that. Reaching for the maximums is more of the Marine way of thinking and doing.

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The Next Level: The PFT and CFT

The enlistment requirements above are not the end of the Marine Corps fitness program. These tests get you to the training, not through the training. To graduate from Marine Corps recruit training, you must be able to complete the USMC recruit training final PFT, which normally is held during either week 10 or 11 of boot camp.

The final PFT is conducted in green-on-green T-shirt and shorts, socks and running shoes. The green-on-green sweat suit may be used in winter climates. Gloves also may be worn.

The PFT has three events -- pull-ups (or push-ups), abdominal crunches and a three-mile run. All PFT events are conducted in a single session, not to exceed two hours in duration. The movement of Marines from one event to the next should allow adequate time to recover, stretch and drink water.

Pull-ups (or push-ups)

This event is not timed. Your score is determined by how many pull-ups you can complete before dropping off the bar. This event is for all Marines who opt to do them, but push-ups are an option that result in fewer maximum points awarded.

Ammo can lifts

This event is timed; your score is based on how many lifts overhead of a 30-pound ammo can you can do in two minutes. This is part of the combat fitness test but is added to the IST for recruits selecting a load-bearing MOS.

Flexed-arm hang (IST only)

This event is timed; your score is based on how long you can hang maintaining elbow flexion. This event is for female Marines during the IST only. Once in the Marine Corps, female Marines will have to do pull-ups (or opt for push-ups).

Abdominal crunches

Your score is determined by the number of crunches you can do in the two-minute time limit. As of Jan. 1, 2020, you can replace crunches with a plank pose, which must be maintained for more than four minutes to achieve the max score.

3-mile run

This event is timed, and your score is determined by how long it takes to complete the run.

In order to pass the semiannual fitness test, you must perform the minimum acceptable performance requirements shown in the fitness score table. Additionally, you must have enough overall points to meet the third-class fitness requirements.

View the complete Marine Corps fitness score table.

Related Video:

Many PT programs to train for the Marine Corps PFT can be found in the following Military.com links:

Other Marine Corps fitness-related links:

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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