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: 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. Same for the PFT & CFT.
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.
The best OCS preparation workouts are OCS workouts.
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 TBS, The Basic School for new 2nd Lieutenants, and it is there that we do the gas chamber. It sucked, but worrying ahead of time didn’t seem to help at all.
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 failed one test at OCS and had to take it again on the weekend. Memorize everything you can that I have posted on the site!
Q: I am going to OCS on the Bulldog program. I currently have a 279 PFT but am more concerned with keeping up with humps (the farthest we have gone is about 9-10 miles), and improving on the CFT. I’ve been Crossfitting for about a year but your suggestions seem a lot more applicable. My main question is, how often should each of these workouts be done per week?
A: Alex, crossfit is a good workout, but it is not the USMC OCS workouts–these are. Usually, I would say, do these workouts as much as you can. Most non-Marines/non-crossfitters would not have the discipline to be able to match the OCS intensity of them, but perhaps that wouldn’t be your problem.
So give yourself a day or two of rest a week, that’s just my recommendation but if you do get out there and work out 5 days a week, you won’t be sorry. That’s about the frequency we were doing it at OCS.
Also, I had never humped before in my life–they break you into it. First was a 4 miler, then 6, then 9 then 12. Each time I was more confident and ready than the last. If you want to load up a pack and put on your boots and head out to practice, feel free. The preparation will be mostly mental because I assure you, these workouts will strengthen your body enough.
Q: I plan on becoming an officer, but where do I learn cadences? Or do you learn them at OCS?
A: Excellent question. You will pick some up at OCS but I remember candidates calling cadences on almost our very first runs already.
I highly recommend getting a cd of them or mp3s, and running while memorizing them. That’s what I did and I wished I had learned more ahead of time.
More at Becoming an Officer
Try to memorize 3-4 at a minimum ahead of time, as time allows.
Q: I plateaued at about 10 pull-ups inboard, no matter the program, so I switched to outboard and went from 1 to 9 in only two or three weeks.
My problem, though, is that I got these thick calluses on the balls of my palms, from when the skin get pinched when doing the pull-ups. They hurt and end up decreasing my numbers, no matter whether I use a padded bar or not.
A: Plateauing and the callus pain are common problems, actually both of which I’ve experienced.
Plateauing: if you can do 10 or more pullups, I recommend doing weighted pullups. Read up on the Armstrong Pullup Program Advanced, which incorporates weighted pullups and is designed for someone who’s plateaued like yourself. See how that works for you. It got me from about 18-22 pullups.
Calluses: Padding on the bar never helped me. What did help was using athletic tape and building up a larger, tape-covered bar. I don’t know exactly why, but that felt much nicer on my hands. You can also try chaulk or lifting gloves, which I settled on. I actually ended up getting gel-filled fingerless bike racer gloves (think Lance Armstrong) and using them on my pullups. When you’re doing hundreds a week, it adds up. Good luck, stay consistent in your work!
Q: Is there a high graduating percentage. Like did most people who started finish?
A: In my class, approximately 2/3rds of the males made it through. 82% of the women did NOT make it through, then a majority of them went to Mike Co. (the waiting company) at TBS instead of picking up to recover from injuries. These numbers were for fall OCC–they are worse in winter
Q: Do you get time to practice the Obstacle Course to get good at it?
A: You will run it MANY MANY times before the final graded, timed event. If you are one of the candidates who has a problem on ropes, they will get you special times to practice the rope climb every week. I think just about no one failed the O Course when I was there–they help you quite a bit. Not in the most polite manner possible, but they help you.
Q: What are some of the biggest reasons for getting dropped from OCS?
A: There are a host of reasons to leave OCS. I’ll list the ones I’ve seen. In no particular order: sickness or injury (common), lack of physical stamina, poor leadership, academic failure (rare), stupidity (common). Let me explain stupidity. Some candidates drink on their Liberty, or sleep in and fail to show up on time at the end of Liberty. Some decided to sleep at night instead of do work and preparation for upcoming events. Physical preparation, catching up on sleep ahead of time, and doing what academic work you can ahead of time will cover all your bases. Not being a stupid person and avoiding freak injuries is between you and your Maker.
Q: How to prepare for SULE, LRC or other Leadership Challenges? How to prepare mentally?
A: First, don’t worry about these events. If you have Marine Corps Officer potential, OCS will ably prepare you for each challenge before testing you. Secondly, I don’t want to give an undeserving candidate a huge edge to succeed at OCS, and become an officer just because he got more gouge ahead of time.
If you are a deserving officer, you’ll make it fine with the amount of advice up on the site. Your leadership will be tested appropriately, and I don’t want anyone with poor leadership to succeed just because they “cheated” the system.
Any other questions?
Just ask them as a comment and they will be answered!