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 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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Common Running Injuries, Causes and Treatments

You’ve trained intelligently and followed all the injury prevention techniques but you’ve still suffered a running injury.  How should you get back in shape for OCS or your next PFT?

What should you do now?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common running injuries, their causes, and how to treat those injuries.

Runner’s Toe
Runner’s Toe occurs when the nail is either pressed down too much on the bed underneath it or the nail tears from the bed itself. Either condition causes blood to pool between the nail and the bed. The nail eventually turns black.

Runner’s Toe can be caused by poor fitting shoes (most common cause), excessive downhill running, and wet shoes. Typically, the longest toe is pressed against the front of the shoe causing damage to the nail and/or nailbed.

The primary treatment is to ensure that your shoes are long enough and fit correctly. If bleeding continues and pressure builds beneath the nail, you will require professional advice to release the fluid.

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Recon Ron Pull-up Program

The Setup

To successfully use the Recon Ron Pull-up Program, one must follow the table below by doing five sets of pull-ups a night except for Sundays. Each set is specified on the table. To start the program, one must first be able to do six pull-ups. Also, all pull-ups must be “Dead Hang” pull-ups, where arms are fully extended before doing another pull-up.

This program can help Marines or Civilians

Proper Pull-ups

A Proper Pull-up as defined by the United States Marine Corps:

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ASTB Success!

To get into OCS with a flight contract, one must pass a written/computerized test battery and then take an additional physical in Pensacola, FL.  Last week I took my Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) and passed with a perfect score!  Some of the recruiters had never seen a perfect score before, so I was thrilled as I had to study in between my final round of college finals ever.  The study guide was very helpful, so if you are thinking of going pilot, that is your ticket in based on my personal experience.

Now in June to complete my application I am going to be flown down to Pensacola for a few days of physicals, and I’ll let you know what that entails!

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!>

Do’s and Dont’s of USMC OCS

Check out this post on the updated blog!

I don’t remember where I got this, but a friend emailed me this great list.  I hope it helps you out!

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following “do’s and dont’s,” but don’t get too bogged down in the specifics of them.  You will pick them up quickly once at OCS.  The important thing is to get in the mindset of an Officer Candidate.  You must be humble toward the staff, but loud; aggressive in your leadership and actions, but tactful toward your peers.  Start mentally preparing now, and your transition to “Candidate mindset” will be much easier.

    •          DO BE LOUD.
    •          DO BE AGGRESSIVE.
Do Be Loud!

Do Be Loud!

    •          DO AS YOU’RE TOLD.
    •          Do speak in the third person – “This Candidate request permission to make a head call.”
    •          Don’t say I   – “I request permission to make a head call.”
    •          Do address the staff by billet and rank – “Good morning Gunnery Sergeant, Candidate Smith request permission to speak to Platoon Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant Erwin.”
    •          Don’t say you – “Good morning sir, I request permission to speak to you”.
    •          Always speak to staff at the position of attention (POA), never at parade rest or at ease.
    •          Do salute all officers when covered (wearing 8 point cover), don’t salute officers in the field or when in formation.
    •          When the staff says “ZERO!” yell “Freeze!” and don’t move.
    •          Memorize the Basic Daily Routine (BDR) of your staff, this will make every day easier on you.
    •          Do be organized.  Having a specific spot for everything and knowing where everything is helps to alleviate the stress.
    •          Do keep you foot locker and wall locker within regulations.  The regulations are in your Candidate Regulations.
    •          Don’t ever lean against the bulkhead (wall) or racks (bed) or put your hands in your pockets.
    •          Don’t eyeball your staff or the area.
    •          Do memorize your rifle serial number and don’t ever leave your rifle unattended (the sergeant instructors will steal your rifle and then you will have to get it back).
Do be confident!

Do Be Confident!

  •          Do make sure that your weapon is always on safe and your ejection port cover is closed.
  •          Don’t ever take your rifle in the head (bathroom) unless specifically instructed by your staff.
  •          Do sew your white nametapes on your blouse if they come loose, or the staff will rip them off and you will have to re-sew the entire nametape.
  •          Do make sure that your utilities (and all other items) are clearly marked so that you don’t lose them.
  •          Do have your candidate regulations on your person at all times.
  •          If assigned an essay, make sure that you complete and turn it in as soon as possible and before the time hack given.  Write legibly.

PFT Calculator

How are you doing in preparation for the PFT?


Click for link

This site has a great, simple calculator to give you a PFT score: USMC.PFTcalculator.com.  I know it helped motivate me to work out to see how much one extra pullup or a few seconds off my run would help my score.  Set some goals to help you work out!

It also includes a link to the Body Fat Calculator, if that’s an issue for you as well.


PFT Calculator

PFT Calculator