T Nation

Marathons to Weights


All right. I am in the process of moving from training for marathons (PR 3:15) to putting the same time and effort into the gym.
My current stats are:
Arms: 12.5"
Chest: 37"
Waist: 31"
Current BF ~10%

Bench: 180lbs (based on calculator, I can lift 145 8x)
No idea on Squats, but with running I can do low weights high reps forever.
Never done a deadlift in my life.
I am currently doing full body (AB) workouts 3x a week for about an hour at high intensity (only supersets of push/pull variety). I barely stop moving.
Here is what I want: to score a perfect 300 on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness test: 100 crunches, 18:00 3 mile, and 20 pull ups. Besides that, I want to go from "scrawny to brawny".
Typical daily diet:
1.5 cups of oatmeal with honey
protien shake: ON, banana, low fat yogurt, orange juice
PB & Honey sandwich and apple
Lean beef stir fry with veggies
low fat yogurt
PB&Honey sandwich
Chicken breast and veggies
Snack either protien shake or ice cream depending whether I went to the gym or not.
I still run 3x a week for about 3.5 miles at @7:00 per mile.

How does it look so far?


If you're trying to put on mass drop the running.

I can't tell you how many guys I talk to trying to gain mass and strength that tell me they're still doing tons of running.

They don't mix.


If your primary goal is to hit that 300 number I don't see how additional mass will help you. I would think you should be trying to increase your maximal strength so that you can pump out 20 pullups. If you start packing on the weight it's gonna be hard to hit that 20 pullup number, although maybe you are already there and I'm off base. Plus I would think it would make it harder for you to run the 3 miles in under 18 minutes if you're lugginq around extra weight.

Seems like you need to pick one goal or the other, say accomplish the 300 number and then concentrate on gaining the weight. Also, you might want to throw this question into the locker room threads where some of the trainers can give you some advice. Good luck.


I am not going to tell you to quit running. You said you are (or were) a marathon runner, so obviously it is something you enjoy doing. I am sure you are aware of the health benefits, and if your knees can take it, why not?
And despite what some say, you can gain mass while running. I am proof of it, as is almost any soldier/marine who lifts. Just realize that you have to eat that much more to make gains.
At this point, diet is as much more important than work in the gym to gain weight. Eat, then eat some more, and then do a search within this site.
As far as gaining weight, yeah, it will make it harder to do that 300 PFT, but it will come. Consider doing your pullups with added weight, as your number of reps get up around 15, lose the extra weight.
Why not deadlift? A great all around excercise, it will help with the weight gain, and also the pullups.
Do a search; Zeb + Pullups for a good informative thread.
By the way, are you Marine, planning on joining, or just using this as a standard? Just curious. Hope all this helps.


I am not a Marine. I am a teacher who lives in Asuncion, Paraguay. The whole Marine Corps PFT goal got into my head for two reasons:

  1. I used to run with the Marines stationed at the embassy and I was always impressed with their overall fitness (more speed and power than size)

  2. I was looking for a measuring stick for adult fitness. In the States, in high school, there is the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. What is there for adults? So after talking to the Marines I did some research and their test is the hardest of the Armed Forces. Once I hit the MC numbers, I want to find the Special Forces tests.

I have always been a svelt guy and I love running, so my problem is that I need to keep running to hit that 18:00 three mile but I also need to add pure strength without adding much weight (as you put it, each extra pound I put on is going to slow down my running).
Thanks for the feedback. I will have to figure out a way to add weight to my pull-ups. I have hit a platau of 15 for the last few weeks. I am nearng the crunches and I have clocked an 18:30 3 mile.

I have never done a deadlift because I have no idea about the form. But after thinking about it, I am going to look into it. It may give me a boost in the hip flexors (running is so much core strength!).


You'd be surprised what running lower-distance intervals will do for your 5k. 1200-400 meter intervals and non-stop full-body circuit training have a big carry over to distances 5k and under. That's certainly not to say that you should bag the race distance runs all together; but you might consider subbing out two or three out of every six runs for an interval workout for a couple weeks, tapering, and seeing what it does for your 5k. I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Very right. You should've been doing some interval work for the marathon already, and I imagine you were. But if not start. And drop your mileage considerably if you want to pack on the mass. What has your running looked like up to this point?


Ah, I see. You don't really want to put on mass but want to add strength. You can increased your strength significantly. Follow the weight training suggestions so far and drop the mileage some.

I'd also suggest talking to Eric Cressey, one of T-Nations strength coach/contributors. He's excellent with athletes, and he's helped another T-Nation member, a triathlete doing the Ironman, develop his strength program.


I think you could add some mass and still hit the numbers if you really wanted to. So if you want to get bigger go for it, may take longer to reach your goal with the fitness test but if its what you want go for it.

I know a few marines who are all fairly big and can still run all day long and pound out pull ups without even thinking about it. Just takes time and consistancy.

I'll try and find a picture of my friend in the airforce. he competed in the armed forces triathalon/obstical course type events weighing 170-190lbs and he is only a couple inches taller then you.


I have the same goal of a perfect marine PFT as this guy, currently at 17-18 pullups and rising, and pretty close with the crunches as well. I weigh 160lbs right now, @ 5'6.5" and 12% bodyfat, been eating alot to gain size from 147 @7-8% in wrestling season.

My real problem is running, I suck at it right now, I run around a 6:30 mile. By interval training, do you mean sprinting a 400, jogging for a while, sprinting etc.? I need to start improving the running quickly as I only have about a year and a half before I may have to take the PFT. I don't care about size so much as I may have to lose weight for wrestling next year anyway.


Intervals can be all sorts of distances.
When I was training for marathons my intervals were 800m in under 3:00, jog for 3 minutes, 800m again in under 3min. I got up to ten times. I think for the 5k (3.1 miles) intervals don't need to be as long. I am going to stick with 200m and 400m intervals. So a session for me may look like run 200m in under 40sec, jog for 200m. Repeat. Building up to ten times should give the legs the necessary pep to bring in an 18:00 3 mile. Also, each week I plan on doing a 4 mile run at a relaxed pace (7:30-8:00 p/mile).