Specific OCS Physical Fitness Goals for the Overachiever

Candidate Question

I’m looking for specific goals to train for OCS. Not the minimum benchmarks  or averages, but high goals which would prepare me fully for the physical challenges at OCS.

Specifically things like

U.S. Marine Corps Officers Candidate School candidate does pull ups on the Initial Physical Fitness Test (PFT) at Officers Candidate School, May 26, 2010.
  • How many pull-ups should I be able to do to excel and not worry?
  • Push-ups?
  • Planks?
  • Run 3 miles?
  • 1 mile?
  • CFT score?
  • Bench?
  • Curl?

And any other areas you feel are important.

Not looking for averages but instead what I should aim for to be extremely well prepared and not have to worry about the the physical aspect. Figure if I’m prepared as possible for the physical aspect then I’ll be able to focus more on leadership and academics.


First, take a look at our OCS Physical Fitness benchmarks post. That’s more along the lines of “here are some averages to shoot for.”

Also here’s a third-party take from USMC Officer: Benchmarks and Workouts for TBS & OCS.

High Level Goals

That being said, the benchmarks above are really minimums. Here’s personal advice for what to shoot for as a high-level goal:

  • Push-ups? 350-400 per day, sets of 25.
  • Planks? max set of 5 minutes, strict form.
  • Run 3 miles? 18 minutes
  • 1 mile? 5:00-5:30? Not sure on this one. Focusing on the 3 mile time will be sufficient.
  • CFT score? 315+
  • Bench? useless exercise for combat fitness/OCS. Use your preparation time and energy to become a pushups god.
  • Curl? extremely useless exercise, try getting your deadlift and squat up.

Lifting and Humps

Also consider emphasizing heavy lifts with shrugs and calf raises. Shrugs to build grip strength and trapezius mass to help with carrying heavy weight in your hands and/or in packs. Calf raises to strengthen your lower extremities for all the hiking and running.

If you’re “gym fit,” it’s unlikely that pure exercises like pushups and pullups will be your downfall at OCS. It’s much more likely that humps and all the running will cause an injury.

Nine Tips for Marine Corps Humps

Other Techniques

Bates lights boots
If you’re serious about becoming an officer, work out with Bates Lites before OCS!

Probably the most effective “risk management” preparation you could do is to buy some Bates Lights and really break them in with running and walking in them. Also, if you get the wrong size at least you have time to exchange them before OCS.

Also do not overlook the benefits of serious yoga and stretching. That’s maybe the single best injury-proofing you can do.

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