Posts tagged “usmc ist


For info, tips and advice on the physical fitness aspect of preparing for boot camp, click on the below image to visit the fitness section on our website.

You will find info on your IST, PFT, running, push-ups, crunches, pull-ups and much more.

This fitness site is no longer being maintained, so visit the new site by clicking the pic below.



Decades ago, Major Charles L. Armstrong devised a workout routine which enabled him to set a world record in pullups. Since then, tens of thousands of Marines have used his program to get to 20 pullups and beyond.
The Armstrong Pullup is the newest site in the USMC OCS Blog’s constellation of websites including Becoming an and It serves as your one-stop shop for the famous Marine Corps pullup workout. 
Additionally, you can find customized pullup workouts for Beginners, Advanced, and Women
Good luck and Semper Fi!


poolees runningAs a poolee you are going to be doing many IST’s, but during boot camp and throughout your USMC career, you will be doing PFT’s which your score goes on your permanent record and is factored into your promotions. IST’s are not used in the real Marine Corps.

The main difference between the two is that an IST has a 1.5 mile run while the PFT has a 3 mile run. The pull-ups and crunches remain the same. No matter how much IST’s are stressed prior to boot camp by your recruiters, it is in each of yours best interest to bang out a few PFT’s to see where you stand and to build your confidence prior to shipping to boot camp.

–Do not make the mistake of doubling your 1.5 mile run time and then assume this is what your 3 mile run time will be. You need to time your 3 mile run to get an accurate run time.

–Do not rely on your recruiter to get you to take an IST or PFT. You can do this on your own and you don’t need to be enlisted to do these simple things.

–If you only run when forced to such as during poolee functions, then you may want to think about the tone you are setting for your future. It is very important you try to run on your own.

–If running comes easy for you, then you have no business doing IST’s unless forced to, so step up your game.

–You will have to pass an IST your first week of boot camp to advance in your training.

–Don’t rely on boot camp or the Marines to get you into shape. You are setting yourself up for disaster when you do this, plus it doesn’t speak well of your mindset.

–If you cannot pass a simple IST within a month of you shipping out, then hopefully your recruiter does the right thing and moves your ship date back or kicks your ass out of the DEP.

–Average run time for Marines for a 3 mile run time is between 20-22 minutes. 18 minutes is perfect and 28 is barely passing. Your 1.5 mile run time needs to be between 10-11 minutes and you have no reason to not be able to run this 1.5 mile run in under 13+ minutes.

–If you suck at running and if it doesn’t come easy for you, then don’t worry about trying to be an 18 minute three miler and don’t worry about running longer distances then three miles. You have to master the basics before moving on to the next phase.

The “30” minute run time is a perfect way to prepare yourself if you are a beginner runner and this is the concept used in boot camp. This means you want to be able to run for 30 non stop minutes at any pace and the distance you run doesn’t matter. Once you can do this with ease, then you shoot for set distances and or more controlled pace and you get your times and go from there.

If you are a good or elite runner, then you should know how to go about in your training as far as running goes. Good or bad runner, just remember that during boot camp you run very little as in maybe 7-8 times during the three months and your runs begin at 1.5 miles and work up to 3 miles. You do not run fast or uphill or anything crazy like that, so make sure you clearly understand that running during boot camp is not something to be feared.

Be sure to read the “Running” page in this site for more info and advice about running.


chopping woodNatural workouts are a great way to toughen your ass up from the inside out and they are a great way to gain power and strength in many key areas that will help you excel as a Marine.

I have noticed that many who are obsessed with going to the gym are not always interested in working out in a manner that is most beneficial to them. They seem to be more concerned with their appearance and image which is why they hit the gym. If you are into that crap, that is fine. Just understand if you are looking to gain true raw power and strength, and if you are interested in also gaining mental toughness, then you may want to look into more natural workouts.

I want to give you an example and how natural workouts benefited me as a Marine. Growing up I would often tag along with friend who was a career mason. His work specialized in building block walls, tearing out concrete or asphalt driveways, pouring driveways, building brick or cement patios and things of this nature. This work was not done with machinery. Shovels, picks, sledge hammers and wheelbarrows were the trick of the trade. The constant bending over and lifting heavy objects and the constant digging or moving wheelbarrows filled with concrete or dirt ended up being the best mental and physical preparation I could of asked for.

This type of work naturally built my arms, forearms, hands, legs, feet, and back muscles. Without ever stepping foot in a gym and without ever playing high school sports, because of these natural workouts I was often able to out perform many recruits and Marines who were visibly muscular when it came to things such as hikes, obstacle courses, circuit courses, rope climbing, and events of this nature.

It’s no secret that boot camp and most combat jobs such as infantry require a lot of mental strength and toughness and they will often measure your strength in areas such as, pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, dragging, and grasping. Working out in a natural manner will often make a huge impact in these key areas., so do not be afraid to give these types of workouts a shot.

So how can you work out in a more natural manner? Here are some examples and some tips about natural workouts:

  • Shoveling snow is an excellent natural workout, especially when you move the same snow from one place to the other for long periods of time. This duty will build your mental toughness and it will build your strength and power in the obvious locations throughout your body. Going for a nice long walk in deep snow will also work wonders for you.
  • Digging ditches or trenches and then filling them back up over and over is an outstanding natural workout. Or if you have a large pile of dirt or sand, shoveling it from one place to the other will work wonders for you. Filling and moving sandbags is also good to do.
  • Hikes of any distance will help you in many ways. Read the Hikes/Humps page of this blog for more info about this method.
  • Climbing walls, trees, ropes, monkey bars and things of this nature will work wonders for you.
  • Flipping large tires or dragging weighted smaller tires is a great natural workout. If you don’t have access to a large tire to flip over and over, try to find a regular car tire and fill it with something solid. Tie a rope to it and try dragging it around for a while. You don’t even need a tire. You can use a sled or a piece of flat wood. The point is you want to drag something for set distances back and forth.
  • Chopping/splitting firewood is a great natural workout. If you use steel wedges, a sledge hammer and an axe to split your logs, this will accomplish a lot both mentally and physically.
  • Swimming, and cycling are great natural workouts.

Just get creative and do things that are done without having to go to a gym or are done without the aid of any fitness equipment. Use the environment you live in to create natural workouts. There are hundreds of things you can do to make you tough from the inside out. Remember, natural toughness is much better for you while in the Marines than being able to bench press 225 pounds, as an example. No one in the USMC really cares how much you can bench press or squat. What they do care about is how long can you drag a heavy load for, or how much weight can you pull up and over a wall or some other obstacle.

I know many of you have this image of a huge muscular Marine who is a bad ass. Just understand that this type of physique is not required to perform well as a Marine and in some cases being this way can slow you down. Think about it: If being huge and muscular made you a better Marine, don’t you think the USMC would stress this during boot camp and all throughout your USMC career?

There is a reason the Marine Corps added the Combat Fitness Test (CFT) to its requirements and natural workouts are a great way to prepare for this. It’s not always about how fast you can run or how many pull-ups you can do, so remember this when preparing for the Marine Corps, especially those of you who wish to serve in the combat side of the USMC.


Crunches are part of the fitness test you must pass while in boot camp and all throughout your Marine Corps enlistment/career, so learn how to properly do them by watching the below video.

Sit-ups are not part of the test, crunches are. Don’t confuse these two exercises.


Quick Tips For Pullups

  • Find a grip that is comfortable for you, you can do palms facing out, palms facing in, hands close together, or far apart, find what works best for you.
  • Tilt your head back so that your chin extends into the air, since only your chin must pass the bar for the rep to be counted you can reduce the distance your need to travel by doing this
  • Drop down quickly into the dead hang position, the longer it takes to go return to the bottom, the more energy your wasting.  Also minimize the amount of time you spend hanging, as this burns energy as well.
  • Don’t forget to breathe; breathe in on your way down, and then push out the air on your way up, as with any exercise proper breathing will help you a lot.
  • Try switching grips; you are allowed to change your grip on the bar as long as you don’t touch the ground, so if you find you cant do any more, give it a try, its a good way to add on 1 or 2 pullups right way.
  • The picture below gives you a good idea of what your hand should look like on the bar, the position of the thumb does make a notable difference so if your doing it like the “not recommended” give the other way  a try and see if it works better for you, if it doesn’t, do whats more comfortable for you.



This is a simple workout that should be a staple of any future Marine’s workout plan.

Starting with 1 pullup, 2 pushups 3 crunches, increase each set by 1 pullup, 3 crunches, and 2 pushups.  There is no rest period, move from each exercise to the next with no delay.  Move up the later until you cannot complete anymore pullups, for example, you get to 10 pullups but next set cannot get 11, this is when you start moving down the pyramid, so the next set you attempt 9.  Go as high as you can, we will use 10 for the example but go until failure.

Pullups: 1, 2, 3, 4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9, 10, 9,  8,  7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Pushups: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2
Crunches:3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 27, 24, 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3

Pyramid workouts are very effective for more than just pullups, running pyramids, pushup pyramids, etc are an extremely effective way to train, especially when attempting to break through plateaus.