Making It As A Marine: Fitness Is A Must


By Kerry Moynihan


Our United States Marine Corps is consistently challenged with both physical fitness and combat fitness testing throughout their careers. It’s through this sustained physical effort that our Country’s Marines maintain peak combat ready shape. 

What is the difference between the Combat Fitness Test (CFT) and Physical Fitness Test (PFT)?  Great question and one that I posed to my son, PFC Pat O’Hearne, who recently graduated from USMC Recruit Training at Parris Island, SC. Here’s the 4-1-1. 


PFT: attire is shorts, t shirt and sneakers (go-fasters in Marine parlance).



In order to be a Marine at all you must pass an initial strength test.  This ensures that you are fit enough to even begin recruit training. The understanding is that you will improve greatly from here. Basic standards:  2 unassisted pull-ups, 44 crunches in 2 minutes and a mile and a half run in under 13:30. 
Over the course of 13 weeks of boot camp, fitness sessions are designed to improve those initial numbers. Body weight training is predominant in a timed, circuit style format. Circuit: pull-ups, inverted crunches, knee tucks, inverted push-ups, pull-up burpees, box jumps, tricep dips, 40 lb. ammo can lifts (push press), back extensions, lunges and squats. All at max effort, 2 minutes per station. 


Speed Training:  40 yard wind sprints 8 to 10 times. 
Throughout the duration of basic training there are 5 total long distance hikes with weighted packs for endurance. Hikes range from 3 to 12 miles with a final 15 mile hike prior to graduation hoisting an 80lb pack. 
The final PFT prior to graduation requires a MINIMUM of 3 unassisted pull ups, 50 crunches, and 3 mile run in 28 minutes. 
CFT:  Max effort in boots, camo pants and t-shirt.

There are 3 events for Combat Fitness which are all specific to warfare

1) 880m Sprint: (2 laps around the track) with the goal of completing it as quickly as possible. Max time 3:48. 

2) Ammo Can Lift: 30lb can lifted at a minimum 45 times in two minutes. 

3) Maneuver Under Fire: A timed event. This is a 300 yard shuttle run with combat related exercises. Here’s the format: a ten yard low crawl, 10 yard high crawl, zigzag run to the end where your partner must be lifted and dragged 10 yards, drop him and fireman carry him back to the starting point. After unloading your partner you lift two 30lb each ammo cans, run straight for 20 yards, zigzag for 30 yards, drop the ammo cans, lift a grenade (lacrosse ball in training) throw it into the “square zone” 15 yards away, drop for 5 push-ups, raise the ammo cans again and zigzag sprint for 30 yards and then sprint in a straight line for the final 20 yards to the finish. All must be completed in a max time of 3:29. 2:04 is considered a perfect score. 

Every Marine, regardless of age, is annually tested with the PFT and CFT. As one ages, the standard times and numbers required do adjust but are equally challenging. We can rest assured that our USMC is continuously physically and mentally prepared for work on our behalf. I, for one, am eternally grateful. 


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