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 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.
Ammo can press/crunch supersets come next. Ammo cans are 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 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
There is less running at OCS than there used to be. You’ll have 3-5 mile squad and individual runs. Other than running, great preparation would be to memorize cadences. Every group run will be with cadences, and you will definitely look like a stronger leader if you’re leading cadence-calling.
The runs start faster than a minimum PFT score, and are almost all over trails and hills. So your 23-24 minute 3 mile running pace won’t cut it.
The runs start out in running shoes, aka go-fasters, and eventually you’ll do a 5 mile run on hills with boots and utes. I highly recommend breaking in boots ahead of time!
Functional fitness workouts are circuit workouts performed with a buddy. For maybe 2-4 minutes per station, you and your buddy take turns doing workouts. They could include the following:
- Ammo can carries (Sprinting, carrying two sand-filled ammo cans by your side)
- Buddy drags (alternating dragging buddy where you walk backwards and bear hug your buddy’s upper body; his heels drag.)
- Fireman’s carry
- Plank, with your elbows down and holding your body in a rigid pushup position. Starting center, then going to the right, then left, finally center again.
- Rope pull-ups, which are performed leaning backwards and pulling your body up repeatedly:
- Ammo can press, which is pushing a can over your head like a military press. Of course it’s filled with sand!
A great example of a Marine OCS-style Functional Fitness workout is our “Ultimate Marine Corps Combat Fitness Buddy Workout” If you have a friend to PT with, buddy workouts are a great way to stay motivated and simulate Marine Corps fitness.
First event: Half mile sprint in boots and utes
Second event: Ammo can pressing in 2 minutes
Third: Movement course: sprinting, ammo can carries, buddy drag, fireman’s carry, grenade throw, sprint, crawls
Watch the CFT’s third event here:
You all should know what a PFT is.
- Pull-ups (max 20)
- Crunches (max 100 in 2 minutes)
- Three mile timed individual run, in go-fasters aka running shoes (max points for 18 minutes)
“Okay Delta, on your faces! Ready!” And so begins another seemingly endless round of push ups or flutterkicks before each OCS workout, for some candidate crime, perceived or otherwise. Before most all PT events, there will be 40-200 total warm up, aka “punishment” push ups and at least that many flutterkicks. Flutterkicks are harder to do with boots on, so be able to do a few hundred push ups and flutterkicks or you will be in pain at OCS!
USMC Push-up Rules
I’m not a nutritionist but I’ll pass along a little nutritional wisdom.
Get your protein now! The muscular guys lost a lot of size at OCS. Get your protein on liberty!
It won’t hurt to show up with a little extra padding. Since pretty much everyone shrunk a bit, you’ll have a little wiggle room.
- OCS Stretching Program (Link)
- Lower body conditioning is a must, to avoid shin splints and similar injuries.
- Ankle strength & flexibility should not be overlooked. Balance exercises, stretching, and heavy lifting will help your ankle. I’m not an athletic trainer so I can’t prescribe a well-educated program but do some research on your own.
- Be sure your workout emphasizes knee strength through heavy lifts, full range of motion, and free weights or body weights to work the stabilizers. Preventing knee twists and sprains is a key goal here.
- Rest days are a must, don’t overtrain yourself!