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!

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OCS in Review: Academics

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.

[Please see the update of this page, which includes real OCS academics for you to study ahead!]

Although much of the time at OCS is spent in classroom time, and academics are 25% of candidates’ final grades, tests are probably one of the easiest challenges to overcome at OCS. Academic failures do send some candidates home, but in my experience leadership and physical fitness send more.

Academics takes a very routine process at OCS, not unlike in the rest of the Marine Corps.  The stages are illustrated here:

Death By Powerpoint

  • Classes are given by enlisted and officers who are knowledgeable in the particular subject with cookie-cutter outline powerpoints.  Sometimes dry, these lessons are one of the enjoyable things about OCS for the optimistic candidate.  I at least kept a good attitude about them throughout.
This Blog's Author (Left) Reading While Awaiting Initial Haircut

This Blog's Author (Left) Reading While Awaiting Initial Haircut

“Knowledge”

  • All candidates are given a book, called your Knowledge, and expected to study at night and at certain scheduled times of study, which are very helpful.  It merely contains outlines of all the same powerpoints given by the instructors.

Informal discussions in the squad bay

  • Different staff members, including your sergeant instructors will have more informal lessons involving more questions-answer sessions and discussion in the squad bay after a few weeks.  In my opinion, these were very helpful if somewhat long-winded, and you get treated like near-adults sometimes in these discussions.  When the sergeant instructors tell stories of the fleet or their personal experiences, I remember paying rapt attention.  Good training.

Prac Apps

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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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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!!

OCS Preship Video “Welcome Aboard”

All candidates accepted to OCS watch this moto dvd, “Welcome Aboard,” which has several short videos on it which are intended to give candidates an idea of what to expect at OCS, as well as to motivate or educate them a little, I suppose.  Regardless, here’s a nice little video on Marine Corps history, which they showed to me.  More to come.

I watched these at the local officer selection office when I filled out paperwork, got fingerprinted, and ran my preship PFT.

Below is the video to give you a better idea of what OCS is like.  I think if you are a candidate who has done his research, (perhaps by being a reader here?) you will have learned enough that most of this will be review. This is the big video you watch, the main attraction:

The OCS Pre-ship Video

After you watch that, you get to check off a box on your preship checklist that asks “Have you watched the OCS preship video? (Not applicable to ROTC/MCEP or enlisted commissioning programs): Yes ☐ No ☐ N/A ☐ If no, why?”

I know I just made an enduring post which many will find while googling it which will allow them to check off that one box.  Ha ha, you can thank me later peeps.

PFT Page updated

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

https://manlypat.wordpress.com/physical-preparation/physical-fitness-test-pft-pullups/

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..