OCS in Review: Physical Preparation

Although I’m done with OCS, I will be writing a few more posts to help out future candidates. Basically, these are the posts that have been requested, or that I just wish I had to read before OCS.

For physical preparation, much advice I got was wrong, or misleading before I got to OCS. The workouts and much of the training has evolved considerably since past CO’s.

If I had to do it again, I would mimic OCS workouts as much as possible in my own program. So, to that end I’ll detail the current workouts at Officer Candidate School. Enjoy!

PPPA: Push/Pull/Press/Abs

PPPA is often an addition to a run or another workout. This was the only workout that pushed me to my full physical limit. Know your weaknesses, right?

First, pushup/pull-up supersets. For example, 10 pulls, 25 pushes, 8 pulls, 20 pushes, 6 and 15.  The numbers increase each time you do it. By week 8 or 9, I believe it’s something like pull-ups: 16/14/12 and pushups 45/40/35. Ouch.

Marine Corps Pushup!

Marine Corps Push ups!

Ammo can press/crunch supersets come next. I think the ammo cans are 20 or 30 pounds each (full of sand.) This is a great preparation for the CFT and PFT. These are timed events, so you end up doing about 2 min/1.5/1 minute for ammo can presses, alternating with crunches of about the same time.

Fartleks

Fartleks are 3-5 mile runs, interspersed with workouts every half mile or so. Fartleks are very similar to the Run Course/Mec Weight (or something like that) where you just don’t run as far, and do more workouts. An awesome cardio workout.

Example exercises: Pushups, pull-ups, crunches, sit-ups, frog sit-ups (wide knees like you’re doing a groin stretch), diamond pushups, body squats, bend and thrusts, burpees, dips, mountain climbers, sprints

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Physical Fitness Test in Depth: The Run

This part of the PFT kills more applicants than anything. People are just intimidated to run. Running can be a lot of fun if people do it the right way. Here are a few steps to getting off on the right foot.

1. Always, always run with a partner. Running can get very boring by yourself.

Run with friends!

Run with friends!

 

 

2. Start at a pace and distance you are comfortable with and build steadily. Having said that, don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone relatively soon. The key word is START at a comfortable pace and distance.

3. Every run does not have to be lightning fast. Run at a pace that you can comfortably converse with your running partner.

4. Run slower at the beginning of your run and work into a faster pace. Always finish a run strong instead of starting like fire and sputtering across the finish line.

5. Look where you are going to instead of at your shoelaces or the pavement.

6. Run at least 3 times per week every week. Work up to 4 or 5 days per week even if you only run a mile or two on some days.

Remember that there are many ways to improve your run time. The key to a good run workout is not overall mileage or speed work but consistency. Plan your runs and run your plan. Believe it or not, ANYONE can run below 18:00 minutes if they put forth the effort. If you do put forth the effort now, you will be reaping the benefits at OCS. Here are some of the key elements that I have incorporated into my run workouts to help me. I have not done all of these at once but have done all of them at one time or another.

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Great Pre-OCS Workout: Fartlek

  Fartlek is a word that translates into “speed play”.  The basic concept of this system is to train the body using different intervals of rest and speed.  Normal Fartlek sessions tend to consist of about 3 to 4 miles, running about ¼ mile or more then resting before doing it again.  The course you are going to familiarize yourself with at OCS is a twisted representation of this concept. 

This is a great example of a Fartlek course you can do on your own time in preparation for OCS. Feel free to mix in other exercises found on this site.

     The OCS course will consist of running to pre-marked exercise stations along Quantico trails.  Each station is marked with a specific exercise and number of repetitions.  The repetitions increase as you progress through training.  Below is an example of exercises to include in your own Fartlek course, as well as, some recommended distances to space them out.

     Each station should have approximately 400m to ½ mile between them.  Each exercise should count between 10-20 repetitions.

Box Jumps

Pull -Ups

Crunches

Wide arm push-ups

Continue your workout

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.

-Read on about the details!>