Guest Post: Marine Corps PFT vs Army PFT

Anyone who has ever attempted to complete the Marine Corps PFT will tell you that it is no easy task. Completing the test is challenging enough by itself, let alone attempting to earn a perfect 300 PFT score.

Max USMC PFT Scores

To earn a perfect score, a Marine must execute 20 dead hang pull-ups/chin-ups, 100 crunches in 2 minutes or less, and a 3-mile run in 18 minutes or less. Anyone that could achieve 300 points on this test is a true warrior-athlete. It is a balance between upper body strength and cardiovascular strength.

The Army PFT is different and challenging as well. The APFT consists of push-ups, sit-ups, and a 2-mile run. A Soldier maxes it by executing 75 push-ups in 2 minutes or less, 80 sit-ups in 2 minutes or less, and a 2-mile run in 13:00 minutes or less.
These standards are relative to the age group they belong in, in this case 21-26 year olds.

Army PFT Max Standards Age 22 to 26

Now that we have a basic overview of each PFT, let’s take a look at how well they stack up against each other. As you read on I want to pose the following questions. Which PFT is more challenging? If you earn a 300 on one, would you able to earn the same score on the other? Which one produces the better warrior-athlete?

Pull-Ups VS Push-Ups

Hands down the Marine Corps pull-ups are more challenging than the Army push-ups. The exercise itself is simply tougher to execute. The pull-ups are especially more challenging for the taller and muscle bound Marines. It is safe to say that if you can do a pull-up, chances are that you can probably do a push-up, but I wouldn’t say the same for the contrary. When you execute a pull-up, you are moving your entire body weight as opposed to moving only your upper body weight during a push-up.

To support this statement, let us take a look at the primary muscles that each exercise targets:

Pull-Ups Common Push-Ups
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) Abdominals Triceps
Biceps Teres Major Quadriceps
Brachialis Pectorals Gluteus
Brachioradialis Deltoids Serratus Anterior
Trapezius Rhomboid
Forearms Erector Spinae

As we can see, both exercises share a lot of similarities. I am willing to stick my neck out there and say that training to do Pull-Ups can make you effective in doing Push-Ups and vice versa, but due to the amount of weight being moved in the Pull-Up it would be more effective.

Crunches VS Sit-Ups

This event belongs to the Army. The sit-ups are a bit more challenging to complete than the crunches. Although a Soldier only needs to do 80 sit-ups instead of 100 crunches, the range of motion of the sit-up is a bit longer. The Marine Corps crunch has a very short range of motion. It would be challenging for a Marine to execute 80 full sit-ups if the Marine is struggling with 100 crunches.

Which is better you say? It depends on your physical condition and your fitness goals. A crunch is generally better to develop your abs while the sit-up is better for your core strength.

3-Miles VS 2-Miles

No contest, this one belongs to the Marine Corps. Marines need to run further and faster to max out. A Marine has to run a mile in an average of 6 minutes per mile for 3-miles. On the other hand a Soldier gets a full 30 seconds longer per mile, and only needs to run 2.
In conclusion, a Marine should fair quite well on the Army PFT, while a Soldier may struggle quite a bit because of the pull-ups and the longer run. I will personally put this claim to the test. I hope that you enjoyed reading this article. Please let us know what you think in the comments… Nothing like a little friendly rivalry!

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: Marine Corps PFT vs Army PFT

  1. The USMC PFT is easier to pass, but harder to max out.

    Of course who cares about minimums?

  2. I have taken the pt test for Army, Navy, and USMC. The easiest to pass was the USMC, but I scored lower overall vs. Army. (230 vs. 270) on the Navy test I scored in the low exceptional range. I got these scores at age 33, the real difference was the run, the 3rd mile on the USMC test was a killer!

  3. I would totally agree with the fact that the Marine Corps PFT is exceptionally more difficult than the Army PT test (integrating the new PRT). I have been in the Army for over 6 years, and now applying to go into USMC OCS, and the only challenge I have physically is the 3-mile run. sad face.

  4. The Marine PT Test has Pull Ups. True. But this is assuming that the Soldier never does them. I happen to know that Army has you doing pull ups. I did pull ups every morning we did Upper Body Fitness. And after each meal during OSUT for Cavalry which is 16.5 Weeks long. And when I got to my Unit. I noticed a pull up bar in different locations so you could do them. On base.
    We do have Airborne Troops. And they need to keep doing those pull ups and push ups to be Airborne.
    The Army does pull ups. There are more Soldiers who do them than Marines who do pull ups and they also max out at twenty of them.

    Sit-ups are and aren’t that hard to do. And we all do those. Who cares.

    The three mile run in the Marines would not be that hard for a Soldier to do. I was a Cavalry Scout and we had that really long bootcamp for my job. 16.5 Weeks of Combat Boot. Run by a Green Beret who had at first been a Marine way back when he was young. Anyway. The Marines would show up to watch our training when ever they could. You could see them somewhere near but not too far and they were polite and actually did things from afar to make us laugh. Marines liked us. They became our friends and brothers. Anyway. They showed up to my last pt test in bootcamp and I asked the Drill Sargeant to let me run three miles for the PT Test and since he had been a Marine before. He agreed. He even smiled at me. And so yes.
    I ran that PT Test and when I was done. He saw that I could keep going. He had to order me to stop running because I wasn’t sure how far I had just run.
    I did the Three Mile Run for the PT Test. In front of a group of Marines. And passed my PT Test.
    I have to admit that this was the easiest part of the whole PT test for me.
    Army and Marines both run past three miles every other morning for lower body fitness.
    If your a Cavalry Soldier who is running 15 to 20 miles every other day. Then doing only three miles for the Test is not gonna be that hard. I did it. And found it to be too easy to call better.
    It’s just to see how fast you can do it.
    One mile two miles or three once every six month is nothing compared to 15 to 20 miles runs in the mountains.
    Combat runs fast. You can’t be slow and be a combat trooper and if you want to be an Elite Soldier. You will have to do more than just the Regular PT Test. You have to do all of them. Pull ups included.
    So yes a Soldier could pass the Marine PT Test. But It’s probably more likely to be a Combat Soldier who does it.

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