OCS In Review: Q and A

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.

Q: I have a question about the PFT and the CFT. Are the events (like pull-up, 3 mile run and crunches) back to back or is there a rest period in between?

A: Excellent question. I have always gotten enough time to catch my breath, get some water and even do a little quick stretching in between. At OCS, you will have so much time in between events that the worry is muscles cooling too much if it is winter or fall, in my opinion. They take a few minutes to total everyone’s scores and give instructions for the following event. Hey get excited about the CFT-it is awesome and of course tough: gotta push yourself right?

Q: Were you planning on doing a blog about TBS?

A:  I don’t think I’ll do a whole blog on it. Preparation and mental preparation especially is so key to getting to and succeeding at OCS, that’s what I wanted to help other people with. For TBS, you’re prepared if you make it through OCS. And at OCS, they tell you enough of what you’ll be doing at TBS.

So it won’t get its own blog, but maybe I’ll put some periodic “TBS” posts on here, just for curiosity’s sake.

Q: Do you recommend CrossFit also to prepare for Marine Corps OCS.

A: Crossfit is a great workout program and might help some get ready for OCS (hey, better than nothing) but in my opinion, it does not prepare you for most OCS workouts except indirectly. I definitely do not recommend it for everybody. I would say to most people, you need to work on your bodyweight exercises for sure, and need lots of running for starters. After OCS, I highly recommend Crossfit for your general fitness.

Q: I was planning to go this summer to OCS. Do you know if the OSO’s really strict on speeding tickets

A: Speeding tickets aren’t a big deal until you get one during OCS on libo! I had two on my record and no one said anything about them (you should report them to your OSO.)

Q: I know I need a better PFT score. What helped you bring up your pull-ups?

A: What helped me with pull-ups was doing the Armstrong program (click for link.)

I also began incorporating weighted pull ups as I could do 20, 21, 22 reliably. Top Ten Pull Up Strength Builders.

Q: What was the gas chamber experience like?

A: Only enlisted do the gas chamber during boot camp. After OCS (OFFICER Candidate School) comes The Basic School for new 2nd Lieutenants, and it is there that we do the gas chamber. I haven’t quite gotten that far yet!

Q: Looking back on your experience, how much “knowledge” did you memorize before going down to OCS? Knowing what you know now, what would you advise others to learn?

A: I memorized a fair amount, but would recommend more.  I will dedicate a post to this topic–standby.

Any other questions?

Just ask them as a comment and they will be answered!

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

Continue reading

Halfway done!

Hello all,

Surprise surprise, first post in over a month! I am home on liberty right now and I can say I am thriving at OCS. Mentally it has not been too challenging, academically I’m doing fine, and I’ve been keeping up fine on the physical training. I got a PR 289 initial PFT and today got a 275 on the intermediate PFT. I lost 3 pullups in the last month! I’ve been surprised how infrequently we do pull-up workouts. The whole platoon has been sick with the seasonal colds and flu going around this whole week, so everyone has been hacking up phlegm, sluggish, feverish and fatigued. Regardless, we all passed the PFT today. Yay Delta 2.

Some random thoughts:

I have enjoyed lots of the things we do at OCS, luckily! Almost every day I enjoy some aspect of our training. My favorite things so far have been individual runs and Marine Corps history classes.

I love getting letters in the mail, but don’t send food! And don’t ask about OCS in letters to candidates, they probably won’t have time to respond. Just write about walking your dog or taking my little cousin to the zoo or something random–the more your letter takes my mind off of the daily challenges, the better!

The physical training stuff posted on this site (which I followed) is spot on. Running is important, but all around fitness is the name of the game. We do way more pushups than I imagined though. My shoulders and chest are pretty sore.

OCS destroys your feet. Blisters, swelling, shin splints, tendinitis, is the name of the game. For everyone. Come with good inserts for your boots.

They pass out ibuprofen like it is candy.

Pain tolerance can be built. Mine is growing.

I am getting enough to eat–they are being pretty smart about getting the candidates a sufficient diet. (I haven’t lost any weight really but some men have lost 15 lbs already.)

I said enough to eat, not all-you-can-eat…

Sleep deprivation is the hardest thing about OCS I think. To get 6 hours of sleep a night is a luxury. Often you’ll get 4 nonsequential hours of sleep a night, then run 5 miles the next morning, drill, have classes, etc etc all day and just have to push through. Gotta stay motivated! At 22 years of age, it is something you can do though. I’m actually one of the youngest if not the youngest in the platoon, most are not immediate college grads. Lots of 24s, 25s.

Liberty is a blessing and a challenge–you get 24 hours or so off to go home (in my case) and eat and relax then you’re expected to turn around and “flip the switch” and be ready to roll again when it’s over.

Everything is a test.

Lots of OCC-202 attendees know my blog–thanks for letting me know you read it, and GOOD LUCK my brothers.

You’re always being watched and evaluated.

The ethical standards of the Marine Corps are honorable, inspirational, and traditional/conservative. The standards and morals this organization preaches and stands by unapologetically are refreshing in this world of political correctness and wishy-washy moral relativism.

The chaplain at OCS is a great source of encouragement and truly cares about all the candidates and their well-being. If the candidates don’t have anywhere to go on liberty, he has a house set up just as a hang out spot and gives away free food etc to any candidate who stops by.

I can’t wait until it’s over but I can see myself missing many aspects of OCS.

I’m tired and going to bed.

Prayers and letters appreciated.

New Marine Corps Commercial

I thought this was such a cool commercial, I couldn’t help but share.  These guys are enlisting but it can be motivating for officer candidates as well!!

PFT Page updated

Some helpful running information is now on the PFT page here:


Click for PFT

Click for PFT page

Hooray!! Selected for OCC-202!

The news I have been hoping to hear for almost a year just came this morning!  Pending physical (which should be fine) I am headed to OCS in October!  Captain Smith, Pittsburgh OSO and helo pilot, called me with the good news this morning.

To celebrate, I had to run a pre-ship PFT today (a fair 275) and fill out alot of paperwork.  Ehh government..

OCS Video: Leadership

This is a great new video from the Corps on OCS, and its goal of Leadership

Media page updated here