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Enlisting in Marine Corps, Training


Hi all,
Sorry if this isn't totally relevant, but my buddy is into bodybuilding and told me that you guys know your shit and are a no-nonsense type of crowd.

I'm enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps and I want to get in shape while I wait for boot camp. I'm 21 y/o, 5'11'' and 185lb. I'd like to get to where I can get a 300 on the PT test before I start boot camp.

Right now, I don't keep to a diet. Honestly, it's a lot of pizza and beer. I've started running recently. I usually run for about 30 minutes and I try to increase the distance whenever possible. But I seem to be teetering on the verge of shin splints constantly and I have to take 2-3 days off now and then.

About once a week, I do some bodyweight exercises:
4xMax Chinups
4xMax Pullups
4xMax Incline (2 stairs) pushups gripping dumbbells (seems like a more natural movement)
4xMax DB Lat Raises
4xMax DB Tricep Overhead Extensions

I can currently do 15 chinups on my first set and 36 incline pushups.

What should I be working on/doing to get into better shape? I'd like to increase my chinups/pushups/run and get rid of my gut.





Hey there buddy, I was a Marine and I had a 300 PFT score. I can share with you what I did.

Before I enlisted I wanted to be a SEAL and did the BUD/S Warning order. I instead went into the Marines (another story). It is a simple prep routine of nothing but running, swimming, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.

Here is a good link I found: chriswilderusna2017.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/navy-seal-buds-warning-order.pdf

Start with Category 1. Best of luck.


^ agreed ....

Parris Island was 22 years ago for me, but you can't go wrong on a steady diet of push ups, sit ups, pull ups, and running .... Before I left for the Island I was doing 300 push ups (sets of 50) and 150 pull ups a day (ladders or sets of 10-15) .... I've always been good at sit ups so I didn't worry about those, and I ran at least 3 miles a day (5 x week) with one longer run (5-6 miles) and one day off .... I was in shape enough not to dread PT or draw "unwanted attention" from the DI's, lol

You don't need to go into boot camp maxing out the PFT, but being good at the above will definitely make life easier - especially pull ups, since so few show up being good at them

I've heard the Corps has gotten into Crossfit in the last few years (along with most of the military) ..... And while I detest all things crossfit for anyone with a penis, it might not hurt to start doing some "WOD's" just to familiarize yourself with some of the movements you MIGHT be doing in daily PT .... Your recruiter could probably fill you in on how crossfit heavy boot camp has become ...

How long before you report?


Thanks for the link. If I'm already at, say, week 4 levels, should I just start there? Also, is swimming really prevalent in Marine Corps boot camp?

And I'll probably be shipping out in April according to my recruiter. I just took my ASVAB and my recruiter's still working on paperwork to get me to MEPS in a few days. Really wish this process wasn't so drawn-out.


I'm not sure about the levels in that program. I would just advise you to do multiple sets of push ups, pull ups, and sit ups at least 5-6 days per week .... NEVER to failure - but try to increase your sets by a rep or two each week. These exercises tend to increase fairly easily if you don't go to failure and do them consistently. Google the "Recon Ron" or the "Armstrong" pull up programs .... They both lay out a system for maxing the pull up portion of the USMC PFT, but can be used with increasing any calisthenics if you play with the numbers a little bit. I've used both (post service) to get my pull up max higher when that was a training focus - they work well.

If you still want to hit the weights that's fine, but calisthenics should be your focus as that will me the majority of your PT sessions in boot camp - and where you will get your PFT total

With the running, 5-6 months is plenty of time to ease into it without causing or aggravating shin splints .... Take it easy and build up in 1/4 mile increments rather than big mile (or more) jumps. Access to a treadmill could be helpful here, as you can monitor speed and distance in small, specific increments ... The carryover to the road isn't exactly the same, but if you set the incline at 1% you shouldn't notice much difference between the treadmill and the roadwork you will be doing in basic.

Bonus ***don't show up to boot camp with your head already shaved! Lol


re diet...

Drop the dumbell extensions -you need to save your elbows for all the pressups you'll be doing. Band/rope pressdowns are ok once in a while.


You can start with week 4 no problem. Keep the rest intervals as short as you can without hindering performance of course.

You will be swimming in boot camp. Not to the extent of what is in this program, but you should be comfortable in the water and be able to swim confidently. Depending on your MOS, you will be required to pass a swim qualification at different levels. If you are infantry (03), you will have to pass SwimQual 2 minimum, if you interest Recon, SwimQual1 (unless they have changed this since the early 2000's.).

Boot camp really is not a big deal, it is more mental than anything else and just being there gets really old and irritating because you feel like you're in a POW camp. Don't sweat it, its only 13 weeks.


How does this plan look?

Pull Day:
4 x HO Pullups
4x HI Pullups (Normal)
4x Parallel Pullups

Cardio (Jog, Cycle, or Punching Bag)

Push Day:
4 x Dips
4 x Incline Pushups
4 x DB Lat Raises


I've always gone to failure on my first set of everything. I'm going to try stopping a few reps short of failure now and only going to failure on thee last set. How does that sound? And why is going to failure on the first set detrimental?


Just my 2 cents, but I would stop thinking in terms of "push" and "pull" days .... Your DI's aren't going to care that you did 100 pull ups yesterday when they tell you to get back on the bar today .... And I guarantee you WILL be doing push-ups every day for 13 weeks ...

Get your body used to what's coming ... Use the extreme frequency (everyday or close to it) instead of failure .... Body weight exercises, in my opinion, work best when done consistently with a decent amount of volume .... Going to failure on push ups, pull ups, and sit ups offers minimal gains at best and decreasing totals (burnout) at worst ...

Take the next 5-6 months to "bulletproof" yourself for the training to come .... The worst sessions I endured in boot weren't regular PT, but the "punishment" sessions that can occur multiple times daily - every time someone screws up, everyone is paying for it .... They used to call it "getting dug" - like you were digging your own grave , lol ....

If you can accustom your body to routinely doing high reps of body weight exercises prior to showing up, life will be much easier


ChicagoLad, where in Chicago are you from? I live in Chicago and I'm also on my way on becoming a Marine. Which is how i ended up in this forum. My ship date is 12/9/13... If you want to get in shape for USMC boot camp take advantage of the DEP, your recruiting center should have 2 PT days (Tuesdays and Thursdays) during the week. On these days you will train with pooles as yourself after MEPS and other kids that will be in high school. PT last about 2 hrs and they are kick ass, so drink lots of water on and off training days. Ask your recruiter for more info.


I'm a current Marine and a great pullup program we used in bootcamp in my platoon to get our pullup numbers up was the Armstrong Pullup Program. I saw guys who could only pull themselves up to the bar maybe two or three times able to complete 15 or more reps within eight weeks of this program. This program works great if you follow it well. Pullups definitely bring recognition to oneself in the Marine Corps. I absolutely suggest you use this program to get your pullups up. Good luck with all that may await you.

This is the link to a write-up of the program. This program is actually devised by an United States Marine Corps officer to prepare himself to set a world-record of number of pullups completed in a single exercise session.


Dense, quick workouts are your friend. Cross fit esque but keep it mostly bodyweight

Worked for me on the APFT. (2min pushup/ 2 min situp/ 2mile run)