T Nation



I am a recent college graduate and a soon to be applicant for Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS). For the past year I've been training specifically for OCS, meaning I've been doing A LOT of running and working on my endurance strength(aka "combat conditioning"). Combat conditioning is essential at OCS, but particularly for events like the Obstacle Course, Combat Readiness Test, and the Endurance Course. I stumbled on this website from Marineocs.com when I guy posted something about Tabata. My question to anyone out there is this: how could I shape the Tabata workout to maximize my preparation for OCS, or what other type of workouts would you recommend for developing the ultimate combat condition?


Tabata, HIIT and GXP are purely fat-burning workouts, they do not help much with anything else other than recovery somewhere down the line. For strength endurance do some endurance drills without going all out. That way you'll be able to get more work in.


I'd say continue with your combat conditioning. The only way to get better at it is to do it. There's no real reason to do intervals or Tabata as combat conditioning pretty much includes all that. But that's my opinion. Good luck with OCS.

There's also a Marine Captain that posts on here as well. I don't remember his screen name, but look for one of the military related posts here or in supp/nutrition threads. He'll be able to help you more.


well, you're gonna want to train what you're testing on (pullups, situps, 3 mile run, roadmarches) as well as pushups and swimming. training for obstacle courses is kinda difficult, and i think is really a waste of time....

i plan on training my solders in preparation for a deplyment with a sprint day, medium distance run day, roadmarch day, and two days focusing and pushups, pullups and situps. obviously there will be assorted other exercises involved, as well...

good luck, man!


There's really nothing much besides the cardio. OCS/boot camp has little to do with strength and everything to do with endurance. I'd focus more on a PFT type workout which is 3 mile run (best-18 minutes), 20 deadhang pullups, and 100 crunches. I'd also start restricting the amount of food you eat because it'll certainly make the transition easier.

Good luck! You picked a great band of brothers to be a part of. I was enlisted (usmc sgt. 0311) so I guess once you go through the program we can't go hang out. :smiley:


The one thing that I've noticed with officers is that they LOVE to run. From what I've heard through the enlisted underground, officers have to do the O-Course and Endurance Course for time. The DC/NOVA T-Cell (that's those of us on this site from that area) is planning to head down to Quantico this saturday to run the course. You are more than welcome to come. PM me if you want the info.

Semper Fi


As a former 'ground pounder' myself, I definately would suggest you come in ready for high-rep endurance work.

I honestly wouldn't do many cruches, but would go ahead and do regular situps to get the feel for them.

PUSHUPS (not sets of 20, but to failure. Or in prep training, maybe a rep or two shy of failure. You've really got to get to the point where you can easily knock off 60 or so .. deep to the floor)

PULLUPS (see note on pushups)
RUN (get up to five miles a day five times a week and you should be set)

The major thing is to remember to eat like a total pig when you get there. I lost like 20 pounds in boot camp (and not all fat either. I was 'thinnish' when I went. I lost a lot of muscle mass).

Good luck!


Officer Candidate,
Keep working on the running and endurance work. The obstacle course is essentially pullups and sprints. The combat readiness test is sprints, heavy carries (fireman's carry another Marine for 100 yards), crawling on the ground, and running. The endurance course is what it says, endurance, it is a long run with obstacles. Just keep running through it, don't walk.

Tabatas will help you not for the strength building but for building mental toughness and endurance for repeated high intesity short duration movements (like low crawling 100 yards for time).

Try this tabata style workout.
Tabata pullups, tabata pushups, tabata situps, tabata squats. Do all the exercises one after the other. That is 16 minutes of work. No rest in between exercises except the 10 seconds in the tabata method. Killer. (you can score your tabatas by taking the lowest amount of reps in each exercise as your score, that way you can chart progress) Also checkout crossfit and use their workouts. It is good gpp work that will help you prepare. Go practice climbing a rope if you can. It seems easy but you will see a lot of weak bodies that can't get up the rope at the end of the obstacle course.

OCS is mostly mental, they use exercise to generate physical stress and exhausion, then evaluate your leadership potential in response to that stress. You will PT like crazy in the morning and then have to sit through classes to learn tactics. Don't fall asleep! Do whatever you have to do to stay awake. You are always evaluated at OCS, the Sergeant Instructors track everything. It will seem like you can never do anything right, but that is part of the sress. Suck it all up and perform, you will only be there for 10 weeks.

The best advice is to just suck it all up and put out 100% at everything. Stay out of medical and don't become a sick bay commando, get a bottle of Ibuprofen from the docs early on, they will usually issue you a big bottle of 800 mg Motrins. It will help when your knees, ankles, and back develop a permanent ache at about the sixth week.
Good luck candidate.

BTW: Do you know the origin of your screen name?