The Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout

Candidates, this is my recommended pre-OCS workout. I would do you a disservice if I only laid out a formula to follow. Instead, I’m going to show the process I worked through to generate this plan, so that you can copy the process and get a personalized workout for yourself.

First: Rank Your GoalsCandidates do curls on the run course

First, I ranked my workout goals:

  1. OCS-specific type activities
  2. Run for 3 mile speed
  3. Run for endurance/improve cardio
  4. Core improvement
  5. Pull-ups >20
  6. Stretching: recovery, injury prevention

First, proficiency at OCS workouts is the number one goal. Those are the ones you’re going to be doing! Fight as you train. Secondly, being able to do a strong 3 mile run came in as the second goal. Overall cardiovascular endurance is similar to the second but warrants its own goal. Next, core strength is goal 4 to do such things as planks, to help with humps and the new amounts of weight your body will be supporting. In fifth comes getting those 100 PFT points via pull ups. Lastly, incorporating stretching, recovery and injury-proofing multiplies the effectiveness of the workout and sets you up for success at OCS.

Here are some additional guidelines I set for myself concerning running, and daily and weekly pace of exercises:

Running:

The running program should be comprised of weekly workouts of  1 long run 5-8 miles,  1 day 3-4 miles,  1 day sprints.

Daily:

Stretching. Lower leg care, such as ankle mobility and strengthening exercises.

Weekly:

1 rest day, with yoga or stretching on that day.

2  days a week real OCS workouts minimum

Key:

PPPA: Push, Pull, Press, Abs

Fartlek: Fartlek runs

FF: Functional Fitness

C+FK: Crunches, Flutterkicks workout

Click below for the full workout:

Click for workout

Sunday

Push Pull Press Abs hits your OCS workout goal (1), as well as Core strength (4) and Pull (5)

A sprints workout helps your Run goal (2)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Monday

Crunches + Flutterkicksworkout builds your core. (4)

Armstrong helps your pull ups (5)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Armstrong Pullup Program
Armstrong Pullup Program is of course the number one pullup workout anywhere for PFT success.

Tuesday

A Fartlek hits your OCS workout goal as well as your Run and Cardio (1, 2, 3)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Wednesday

A three mile run hits your OCS and Run goals (1, 2)

100 Crunches work your Core (4)

Armstrong helps your pull ups (5)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Thursday

A functional fitness workout hits your OCS workout goal (1) as well as your Cardio and Core (1, 3, 4)

Alternatively, Push Pull Press Abs hits your OCS workout goal (1), as well as Core strength (4) and Pull (5)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

pft-ocs-crunches-abs

Friday

five mile run hits your OCS and Run goals (1, 2)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Saturday

Crunches + Flutterkicks workout builds your core. (4)

Armstrong helps your pull ups (5)

Stretching helps your Injury prevention goal (6)

Note: Doing the complete Armstrong workout on top of this workout will lead to overtraining. Skip Armstrong’s workout of the day when doing PPPA.

30 thoughts on “The Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout

  1. Are women required to do pull-ups as part of their PFT. My understanding is that women do the flexed-arm hang and males do the pull-ups. Even if the pull-ups are not part of the female PFT, are they part of the female PT-ing at OCS?

    1. Melissa, honestly I’m not an expert on the Female Experience of OCS since we didn’t even have any in our company, but I think women always do bent-arm hangs instead. It’d be unfair to expect them to do the same number of pull ups as men, and OCS is tough but not stupid. Usually. (Female PFT is unchanged–it’s just the bent-arm hang)

  2. Also, I forgoit to ask, on Sunday do I also do sprints on week one with the PPPA or just on weeks 2 and 3? Thanks

  3. For Thusdays, is the PPPA an alternative to FF or is it in addition to FF? I don’t have a buddy to do FF with so im just doing PPPA. Also, any recommendations for the Push pull part of the PPPA? I can do 9-10 pullups on the first set then 25 pushups. However on the second set I can only do 3-4 pullups. SHould I do as many as i can or do the 3-4, rest 10 seconds and then try to do as man yas I can until I reach 8 for the second set of pullups?

    1. Yes it is an alternative. Hmm, for the pull ups there are a few different schools of thought. I would recommend doing about 8 the first time, and scaling the whole workout down a bit. Then, you don’t have one great set that ruins the rest of your workout. You can slowly increase all the sets together. Very good question though.

      Also consider assisted pull ups. You can put a chair in front of you and set your foot on it, to take a little weight off your arms. Then you can have more control over your workout.

  4. Are there any special foods/carbs/etc.. that you incorporate into your diet for running? I’ve gone to sites such as runner’s world searching for the best food or diets, but I want to know from a Marine. I’d appreciate any feedback, thanks.

    1. Hi Maria,
      Runners World and other sources are probably more comprehensive than anything I could tell you, but I have learned the hard way to avoid dairy before a PFT. I have eaten big breakfasts of eggs and fruit and juice before a run, and been fine. So at OCS, do eat before PT, just don’t overdo the dairy. Before very early morning runs where it’s impractical to get a breakfast an hour or two early, I drink some gatorade and take a big spoonful of peanut butter. Although fatty, it’s small and solid enough that I’ll have calories for a few hours but it never makes me feel sick, personally.
      Find what works for you, and talk to the pros, but that’s what works for me.

  5. I couldn’t find the answer to my question anywhere else on this site, so I apologize if I’m over looking it, but…

    How do I know how many reps of Push/Pulls and Crunches/Presses for PPPA?

    Thank you for all the information on this site, definitely the best I’ve seen yet.

    Luke

    1. Luke, I don’t remember exactly but it’s a pyramid workout. So starts with maybe 20 pushups, 5 pull ups, then 30 crunches and 30 presses, and you do the entire rotation several times, adding reps each time. Can’t remember the specifics, but push yourself hard and you’ll be prepared for whatever they throw at you.

    1. Stretching and flexibility has little or nothing to do with runner’s knee. Don’t increase mileage more than 10% per week and run regularly but ease off if it becomes a problem. I had many struggle with runner’s knee, and the solution is not running. Gotta take it slow.

    1. Certainly. Doing several sets of 30 crunches and 20 flutterkicks (Left Up, Right Up, Left Up, Right Up = One) with a little rest to yell in between. For your personal workouts, let your own body be the guide and do as many sets of 30 crunches and 20 flutterkicks you need to get some good burn. Remember you can overdo it though. Feel free to rest in between sets.

    1. It is a superb cardio workout and definitely can help you lose weight. However, it’s not very similar to the OCS workouts you will do. It doesn’t prepare you well for pullups, ammo can pressing, running in boots, moving with a 70 pound pack, or the CFT. It is a workout, but you can do better. We will be writing a post reviewing Insanity and P90X in the future, so stay tuned.

  6. Thank you so much for this workout template. This is a great workout for those who are wanting to get into good shape so they don’t suck when they hit OCS. I want to add one thing though, for those high school students who are thinking or are applying for NROTC scholarship JOIN THE CROSS COUNTRY TEAM AT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL! That supplemented with these workouts have helped me tremendously. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never run competitively before,YOU WILL GET FASTER. I joined my senior year never having run cross country before with a 25 minute pft 3 mile. now just 5 or so weeks into it I have a 20:53 time. That’s my advice for those who want it. Thanks again!

  7. Sir, Do you recommend hill sprint or just sprint workout, and what is a good example of a sprint workout. Like sprint a 100m, then walk 100m?

    1. Jon,
      Great questions!

      Hills are always preferable to flat land in your training, since all your runs at OCS will involve wooded trails over the Quantico hills.

      Any sprint lengths work from 15 meters up to a quarter mile. Mix up your rest and pace. Also check out our 10-20-30 training plan and deviate as your imagination allows. http://officercandidatesschool.com/blog/2013/01/14/10-20-30-training-concept-to-run-faster-by-running-less/

      The key for a sprint workout is multiple short bursts of very high intensity running followed by moderate breaks to catch your breath. Don’t overthink it–just work hard enough to wear yourself out and keep a metric to track your improvement!

  8. I’m thinking about doing OCC-R in two years once I finish my bachelors. Problem is that I’m 6’2″ and 258 right now. I know I have plenty of time to fix myself and get in regs so I’m not too worried about that right now.

    I do have some questions though.

    1. what is a suitable replacement for Fartlek right now? I’ll be doing this program indoors at a gym until it warms up around here (Mid-West USA).

    2. Is the Armstrong pull-up program helpful for me to be able to do pullups right now? I can’t do a pull-up or chin up right now but I’m doing as many negatives as I can every time I go into the gym.

    3. Do I follow the Armstrong program completely or just on the days that it’s listed in the program? For instance I see it’s only on the workout 3 times so does that mean I only follow the first three days of it?

    Thanks in advance, I really appreciate the information on this site.

    1. James, great questions. You’ll get as many different answers as people you ask, but this is what we advise:

      1. Intense circuits are great substitutes for Fartleks. Do 20 minutes of 10-20-30 cardio (http://officercandidatesschool.com/blog/2013/01/14/10-20-30-training-concept-to-run-faster-by-running-less/) on the back end of an intense circuit with only short breaks between exercises.

      2. Armstrong for Beginners is what you need to use until you can get 5-10 dead hang pullups without help. Try this until you can get enough weight off to get to that point: http://armstrongpullupprogram.com/the-pre-armstrong-workout-for-pull-up-beginners/

      3. Try Armstrong just three days a week, following this program all week. The idea is to raise your general level of fitness quickly and sustainably. Then when you get closer to your PFT, you can ramp up the Armstrong and running workouts more, without losing your broad fitness base.

      Lastly, check out 300PFT.com. That’s by a personal trainer and Marine friend, and is a great place to start losing weight and getting fit. You might want to spend 12 weeks doing that program before jumping into OCS workouts here.

      Keep us up to date and good luck!

  9. Sir,
    I am ship to 6 week PLC May 24th (in about 2 Months). I have trained for the PFT while also continuing on my weight lifting regiment. Since some of these work outs are relatively short, should I continue lifting and incorporate these into my regimen? Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

  10. So when I was looking into the Armstrong pull up program, it says to do the 5 workouts for each day in the week, then take weekends off. But in the ocs prep, it only shows 3 days with multiple rest days in between. Should I just choose 3 of the workouts and do them on those specific days, or follow it as the pull up program says

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