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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Flight Physical: Pensacola

Just returned from an awesome trip to Pensacola, FL (paid for by Uncle Sam, you better believe it.) It was to get my flight physical as I wrap up my application process.

  • Sunday: Fly from Reagan to Pensacola, hang out at a USO office with some free food and magazines in the airport.  Meet 9 other Aviation candidates and stay on base.
  • Monday: Wake up early! Blood tests, urine analysis, heart and eye tests, and chest and face x-rays. “Did you need your face x-rayed?” Was a joke of the day… any of us with seasonal allergies needed a sinus x-ray done.  All my tests seemed to be fine!
  • Tuesday: Anthro tests–they test your height, length of arms and legs while seated, and so forth, to see if you’ll fit in a cockpit. Other tests for candidates who didn’t pass yet.  Get to see the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum.  It was a massive shrine to heroic Marine and Navy pilots from the last century of wars.
Naval Aviation Museum Interior: Old Blue Angels

Naval Aviation Museum Interior: Old Blue Angels

A great museum, definitely recommend checking it out if in the area.

  • Tuesday night: celebrating with all the candidates and some Marines at a local bar!  Everyone passed their physicals!
  • Wednesday morning: fly back to DC

I had a blast, just getting to hang out with Marines and aspiring Marine aviators.  Working in IT with a bunch of nerds (my usual weekdays) can’t compare to the energizing atmosphere of ten young patriotic, manly, motivated, cocky future pilots.  Several had been to OCS already and had plenty of tips and advice to share.

The whole visit, getting to stay on base, and meeting guys who will hopefully be at OCC-202 with me was exciting!  I definitely know this is what I want to do as a career, this is the organization I want to be a part of, and I can’t wait to get in.

Nearing the End of My Application Process

I now live and work in Washington, DC.

At the end of the month, I head to Pensacola, Florida for some last flight-related physicals.  I am told not to worry about them, but I’ll update the blog to explain what I go through.

For now, my old Pittsburgh OSO is putting me in touch with the DC officer recruiting team to have me run some PFTs to try to get my score up.  Yeah!

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!

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

Medical Examination, Check

Yesterday I woke at 0400 (courtesy of 5 alarms) and drove down to Pittsburgh’s Federal Building for morning-long physical exams.  With about 35 other young prospects for all branches, I got my blood drawn, took eye tests, hearing tests, a really fun urine test where they watched me and 3 other guys pee into our cups at the same time to ensure no cheating, and got a comprehensive sports-type physical from a doctor.  We had to do some weird things like demonstrate we could walk around squatting like a baseball catcher.  Most of the morning (this ended about 11am) was waiting, filling out paperwork, or getting awkward and/or invasive testing and probing.  Most of the waiting itself was with a bunch of other males in our underwear in a big cold air-conditioned room.  Of course we were all starving from not eating all morning, too.
The Vitruvian Man represents a physical.

But could I complain?  Heck no.  First off, I passed everything in my physical with flying colors.  Even remember some of my numbers:
eyes: 20/16rt, 20/25lft
pulse: 61
blood pressure: 105/56

Secondly, I was finally doing something official in my journey to becoming a Marine Officer.  I was surrounded by other military-minded young men.  The group of us talked quite a bit; the excitement level was clearly high, as many of them were swearing-in in a ceremony that afternoon.  Everyone was manly like me, patriotic like me, and eager for challenge, violence, and duty.  Talk about a thrill to be with young men of my own quality!  College can never be strictly lonely with all my friends here; but sometimes, all the nerds, selfish, apathetic people, and effeminate males make me frustrated.  Most guys here either seem to be getting fat living in front of a screen; or are pathetic in their own insecurity about their stunted, confusing (to them) masculinity; or only live for a never-ending chain of one narcissistic pleasure after another.  Sad.  And unlike me.  Being in the band of brothers will be glorious.

Lastly, I couldn’t complain because out of all the kids there I was one of only a few Marine candidates; and out of all the kids, I was the only officer candidate.  I don’t know how, but just being an officer candidate made me proud in that sea of new enlistees.  Being an officer and a leader is a very exciting goal and I am proud of it, and it’s that simple I suppose.

I realize I veered a little off my goal of strictly providing other officer candidates a roadmap, but hopefully my enthusiasm isn’t useless either.  

Here is a link to a much more complete run-down of the medical examination (physical) process.  Enjoy.