T Nation

Upcoming PFT. Need Some Help.


What's up everyone. Name's Jason. I'm 6'1" 190.
Not really what you would call a "beginner", but since it's pretty much my first time posting, I'll post here.

I have an upcoming PFT for the USMC (in about a month) and need to boost my stats quick.

Crunches, Pull Ups, and 3 mile run.

I've been lifting for about 5 years now, and the way the PFT's are conducted kind of piss me off. I have the mindset of getting a good workout out of it, and in turn sacrifice a good score.

Between each pull up, we are made to come to practically a dead hang with elbows locked. I am used to not coming down all the way, and keeping tension on the muscle. When I do it the way we are required, it cuts my pull up numbers in half.

What would be the best way to be able to increase my pull ups doing it their way? I am figuring just doing them that way when I go to the gym, but is there any other techniques or exercises that will help me crank out a few more? We are allowed over or underhand grip. I can get about 12-13, some days 14-15. A perfect score is 20.

Crunches are typical crunches, arm crossed over chest. Hands must remain on the opposite arm on at least to the inside of the elbow, with arms remaining in contact with the chest.

I normally do declined sit ups with a plate, and do them according to the plan I am on at the time, and go for 3-4 sets of 12-15. We have 2 minutes to do as many crunches as possible, with a minimum of 40. I usually die out around 85 or so. Which is only 15 from a perfect score.

Again, same question any tips or tricks to be able to knock out those last ones?


USMC, 1978-1984:

Perhaps, a few things have changed since I was in the Corps. I believe we use to only have 1min. to do the situps, and 80 was a perfect score, 18min. in the 3-mile run, and the same for pullups, 20.

Situps: nothing like practicing the actual test. Doing sets of 12-15 reps will help, but it's not the same as doing 100. So the best advice I can give you is to practice doing high reps, with someone holding your feet. Make sure they hold them tightly, especially during the test, even if they have to kneel on your feet.

A firm foundation will help you to easily crank out about 1 per second. And with that in mind, pace yourself, i.e., don't crank out 50 in 30 seconds, but create a cadence of 1 per second, and stick to it. One last thing, keep your butt as far away from your feet as is comfortable. This will give you better leverage, and make the movement easier.

Pullups: They used to allow a slight "kip" out of the bottom. If so, LEARN IT, and you will do 20 with very little effort. Think of it as the differnce between a Military Press, and a Push Press. Just that little bit of momentum generated at the start will greatly enhance your performance.

If you don't know what it is, taking an underhand grip, or overhand, if you prefer, you basically just pull with your arms, lean back slightly, and lift up your knees about 1 foot, while swinging them slightly forward, at the bottom of the movement, then explode to the top while straightening your legs. Easier to demonstrate, than describe.

Basically, the object is to eliminate most of the weight of your lower body, since your legs are moving downward, while your upper body is moving upwards. But you really have to explode out of the bottom, and sorta coast after about half way up...the momentum will get you there. But if you want to tough it out, practice the movement..!

In either case, practice, practice, practice. Don't worry about curls, etc. Practice doing pullups.

3-mile run: You didn't say much about this. Fortunately, I was a all-conference, all-state long-distance runner in high school, so it wasn't a problem for me. There was hardly ever a time while in the Corps that I didn't max the PFT. What can I say, run....

Good Luck, and Semper Fi..!



USMC 1993-1997

For the pull-ups, do they still allow you to switch grips as long as you don't drop off the bar? That would help work a different set of muscles. To the best of my knowledge kipping is out now though, they were just getting rid of it when I was leaving.

For situps there is no replacement for doing them like in the test. Remember, training speed and endurance qualities is not the same as training strength.

For the run, well not much you can do but running.

Honestly you're getting started a bit late, a month isn't that long to improve your performance.


Kipping is out now. We're allowed to swap grips.

Yeah a month is a bit short to improve. I've been lifting, but doing my normal routine splits instead of training for a PFT year 'round.

The end of the fiscal came along pretty quick before I knew it. Time starts to fly once you get rolling with doing work, and an upcoming deployment.

Thanks for the tips.

Oorah. Semper Fi, Do Or Die.


I'd say you can get to 20 Pu's in a month. Just add whatever weight you can do ten with and rock a set then rest up with a light run and go for max reps when you get back.

The key is to do them fast as hell and the weighted Pu's prime your back to twitch faster it seems. I can go uber fast after some Pu's with a 45 plate extra. If you get up to twenty using that then just be sure to train them every weekday and rest on week ends.

I used this to get to the spetsnaz perfect level of 18 pu's with a 10 kilo weight (20# ish) attached. It only took 1.5 months from 14 dead hang chins. Remember to go fast fast fast.

Changing grips sounds like it would just waste energy and grip endurance.