OCS Physical Training Guide

This column is courtesy of marinesocs.com and many other sites where it has been copied around.  I hope it’s helpful!

First off, the PFT is not everything. While it is critical to get accepted – and being able to do a lot of pull-ups or run fast is a good measure of relative fitness that carries over to OCS fitness to an extent – you will be doing yourself a disservice by training just for the PFT. For example, being able to run an 18 minute 3 mile in go-fasters on flat pavement is great but you only do that three times at OCS (and that’s during the three PFT’s, one of which doesn’t count for a grade).

Also, at OCC-199 the first event of the Inventory PFT was the 3-mile run, with the pull-ups and crunches done immediately afterward. Running the 3-mile first may bring down your numbers in the other events, so keep that in mind.

There are two or three exercise routines done every day that there is PT. The routines include (but are not limited to) fartleks, upper body development (UBD), cardio circles, run circuit, push/pulls/press/abs, Muscular Endurance Course (MEC), Combat Readiness Test (CRT), and functional fitness. While each routine may involve different exercises, they all are built around the basic idea of multiple stations requiring high intensity exertions with runs of varying lengths in between.

Upper Body Development

While not especially tough by itself, this routine is usually paired with push/pulls/press/abs and a fartlek run. This routine involves about a dozen stations set up around the PT field. You will be doing various push-ups (incline, decline, and regular; ~20 for each station), barbell curls, military press with barbells, rope heaves, crunches, dips on bars, dips on the edge of a bench, fireman’s carry across about 100 feet, supermans, and a quick 10 pullups.

Cardio Circles

Another minor event that is usually paired with a timed run or other events. All the platoons of the company run in concentric circles screaming at the top of their lungs, whilst the instructors demonstrate a particular exercise (pushups, frog situps, etc.). When the whistle is blown, everyone gets down doing the demonstrated exercise. When the whistle is blow again, everyone returns to running & screaming. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The most difficult aspect of this PT event is the screaming, believe it or not. It’s a real workout for your lungs. If you want to train this way without looking like a screaming idiot in public, calling cadence will give similar benefits.


12 Pull-ups/30 Push-ups, 10/25, 8/20 (this later increases to 14/40, 12/30, 10/25). Then run over to lift an ammo can for 2 minutes, then 2 minutes of crunches, then repeat, the time progressively lowering to 1.5 minutes, 1 minute, and 45 seconds on each successive set.


3-mile run with stations every quarter mile or so. Stations include plyometric jumps, mountain climbers, squat thrusts, push-ups, crunches, back extensions and pull-ups. The exercises are the same that are done with some of the other routines but it is the running that is the important issue and I will take an aside here:

Run as much as you can on rough terrain, not just on flat pavement. At OCS, although you do a lot of running, only the PFT is on flat ground. Every other run is in the woods on dirt, with tree roots and holes in the ground threatening to twist your ankles, and some brutal up-hills (beware Da Nang). By the middle of the cycle, you will be running in your boots and your sergeant instructor will not have slowed the pace. In fact, the very first boot run also had us donning on our LBV’s and canteens and carrying our rifles, something which you will have to be able to handle for the endurance course.

Run Circuit

Despite its name, this routine doesn’t involve much running, especially compared to the Fartlek. It is similar to UBD’s and the MEC in that it is a number of stations punctuated by a quick sprint, except instead of 30 feet separating stations, the exercises for the Run Circuit are separated by maybe 100-300 feet. These exercises involve dips on bars, crunches, plyometric jumps, a tabata-style sprint/jog/sprint/jog across the parade deck, a tricep dips/decline push-up workout, and star jumps.


The MEC is very similar to the Run Circuit (which it is always paired with) but exercises are done for a certain amount of time (2 minutes by my reckoning), not for a certain number of reps. Exercises involve crunches, decline and regular push-ups, barbell curls, presses with a log, and squat thrusts. There is also a lunge walk for about 100 feet though this exercise is completed once the distance is crossed, not when time elapses.

Functional Fitness/CRT

Firemans Carry

Fireman's Carry

These two have merged together in my memory but I do recall low crawling quickly across the field, fireman’s carry preceded by a number of squats with a candidate on your back, dragging a candidate across the field by his armpits, running 3 miles in boots/utes/LBV/rifle, shimmying up the o-course rope with an LBV on and rifle cross body muzzle down, a 1-mile sprint with gear, a brutal 10 minutes of constant push-ups, and some other exhausting stuff.

Graded Events & Tips

Coming to OCS able to climb a 30 ft rope in under 20 seconds, able to do acollege boy roll over a pull up bar, and being able to jump over hurdles in quick succession will help you greatly on the Obstacle Course, as well as on the endurance course which begins with the o-course. Being comfortable with heights is important so you don’t hesitate before dropping from the obstacles or when walking down the logs on the combination obstacle.

Note: Juniors will be running the Stamina Course instead of the Endurance Course. Unless I’m wrong, the S-Course is just the “combat obstacle” section of the E-Course, so the E-Course looks like:

E-Course: O-Course run, 3-mile run with boots/utes/gear/rifle, Stamina Course

For the Stamina Course specifically, you will be low crawling under barbed wire (one dry and one wet obstacle) and will have to negotiate a series of hurdles going over one and under the next and so forth. A rope-assisted climb up a small embankment, commando crawl, a cargo net climb, a run through the muddy water of smelly gully next to the quigley, and two fords (one to chest level) wind out the event.

14 comments on “OCS Physical Training Guide

  1. Carter Dunham says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m leading OCS PT for the guys who still have to go and I couldn’t remember some of the PTs we did at OCS. All the different courses kind of melt into one in your mind. Thanks. Semper Fi.

  2. justin r says:

    hey thanks so much for your website. its soo helpful.

    I am leaving june 3 for PLC Combined. I am excited/anxious but anyways, having no prior experience with the military at all I was just wondering if you have any tips as far as the obstacle and endurance courses. I have never climbed a rope or done a college roll?? just wondering, any info would be great….

  3. Hey it’s great to have nervous energy. I’m sure you are well-prepared if you have been following the advice on the blog.

    I had never done a college boy roll or climbed a rope before but they teach you very well there. If you can’t try to figure it out ahead of time, then I would not be worried at ALL.

    If you have trouble rope climbing while there, you can get extra classes/practice sessions while at OCS called remedials. Don’t worry about it–you will probably be sick of the ropes and obstacle course while getting all that “practice” at OCS

  4. PARKER, CHASE says:



  5. Lieutenant says:

    Oorah, I like to hear that! I recommend studying the academics. I have pdfs attached on this website to multiple chapters, which will give you a leg up. If you are academically and physically prepared for OCS, you have a much better chance of success.

    Good luck!

  6. Shannon Stanley says:

    Hey Everyone,

    Just graduated college and I’ve always wanted to be a Marine. I’m still getting all my paperwork stuff straight for OCS and I wanted to say thanks to ya’ll for posting this info…I’m sure I’ll have questions to follow.

    Semper Fi,

  7. Andrew says:

    Hey, I found this website EXTREMLY helpful for info on what to expect and I just wanted to thank you and ask another question. I know I want to join the Marines I’ve always wanted to so it’s gunna happen. I’m just caught in between Officer and Enlisted (if I have the option) I just wanted to know which course I should take because honestly my head is being yanked everywhich way. I guess my main problem i would have with going in straight out of college is having not earned it really by having been lead first. Please get back to me on this.

    Semper Fi


  8. Andrew, my platoon commander at OCS and even several current officer friends of mine felt the same way as you. The great solution they came up with was to enlist in the Reserves, go through enlisted boot camp and get a taste of that, then go through college while in the Reserves. Then commission after college, and have that prior experience without losing too much time.

    That’s one solution I recommend. Try talking to as many enlisted and officers as you can to get input before making these life-altering decisions.

  9. SRollins says:


    Thank you again for the information. I’m shooting for OCC 207 in June. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to practice a few run-throughs on the O-Course at Ft. Meade. That being said, parts of it are challenging for me (the bars/chicken-winging it over). Also, I’m worried about my time. What if a candidate does not get through the O-Course in the maximum amount of time, even after remedial practice? I do not hope this is the case, but would like to know anyways. This question goes for all of the courses. Thank You!


  10. Stephanie Whiting says:

    This blog is incredible. I am going to OCS in October, so I will use these workouts as part of my routine. Wish there was information from a female perspective (since I am one), but overall extremely helpful.

  11. Hi Stephanie, Click on the [Female Candidates] link along the right sidebar on my new blog at http://usmcocs.wordpress.com/. If you need any info or have any questions, speak up!

  12. Craig Jackson says:


    All this information has been hugely helpful in preparing for OCS. I will be leaving in June for first term of PLC, but I also play college football and as spring workouts commence my exercise has been almost entirely sprints and heavy lifting with our trainers. I have been trying to get some distance runs in from time to time but it beats up my legs pretty badly to be working long runs in between two football workouts a day. Any recommendations on how I can maintain my cardiovascular fitness while balancing football? Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

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