Physical Preparation

Getting in Marine shape

Marines have a reputation as being physically fit, clean cut, and generally being squared away.

The Marines have strict height and weight standards you'll need to meet.

You must also be able to pass an Initial Strength Test, or IST, in order to ship to Recruit Training.

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Physical Fitness

You are evaluated on your PFT Score

The Physical Fitness Test, or PFT, is composed of abdominal crunches, pullups, and a 3 mile run.  Candidates (and Marines) have the option of completing push-ups in lieu of the pullup portion and planks in lieu of the crunches. Each exercise is worth 100 points for a total PFT score out of 300 points.

We will address each component of the PFT and what scores you should target to be competitive here:

Upper Body Strength - 100 possible points:

We recommend pull-ups over pushups for one basic reason - if you perform pushups, you can receive no more than 70 points for upper body strength. This already puts you in a disadvantaged position going forward.

Males should target 23 pull-ups while Females target 12 pull-ups. Maxing these repetitions regardless of age group will position you well going forward.

Core Strength - 100 possible points:

Men and Women should aim to do 115 crunches in two minutes. Maxing regardless of age is expected on this section. If you elect to perform a plank, you will need to hold it for 4 minutes and 20 seconds to achieve a perfect score on this portion.

3 Mile Run - 100 possible points:

An 18 minute three mile is required for a perfect score for males while 21 minutes is the score to max out for females.  If you can max both strength sections as outlined above, a sub-21 time for men and sub-24 for women will give you a 280+ PFT score, making you a competitive candidate.

To calculate your exact PFT Score, click here. your goal should be 285 or higher.


Height and Weight Standards

Do I have to gain or lose weight to join?

The height and weight tables referenced here are the allowable weight ranges for different heights and genders. 

Throughout your career, you'll be held to these standards.

There is some wiggle room for shipping to boot camp, but you'll leave within standards.


If you're overweight, prepare to get slayed.


If you're underweight, you'll be on "double rats" eating extra rations until you make weight.

The percentage body fat is determined by using a tape measure to determine the circumference of the neck and waist, known as the Navy tape test.