MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Per Marine Corps Order, 6100.13, Marines must take a Physical Fitness Test annually in order to test the strength and stamina of Marines’ upper body, midsection, and lower body, as well as the efficiency of their cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Through this order, it is the commander’s intent for Marines to be physically fit, regardless of age, grade, or duty assignment.
Each calendar year, Marines are required to take the PFT after Jan. 1 and before June 30; the second half of the year, Marines begin taking the Combat Fitness Test. The PFT is comprised of three events, said Staff Sgt. Robert Acorn, training chief on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. For male Marines, the PFT consists of a maximum set of dead-hang pull-ups, a maximum amount of crunches to be completed in 2 minutes, and a 3-mile run … at maximum effort. Currently, female Marines have the option of doing pull-ups or the flexed-arm hang.
All Marines must earn at least a third class PFT score to pass. The scoring varies between males and females, as well as age group, Acorn added.
Male and female scoring is as follows:
PFT Class 17 - 26 27 - 39 40 - 45 46 and up
1st Class 225 200 175 150
2nd Class 175 150 125 100
3rd Class 135 110 88 65
To achieve the perfect 300 PFT score, males must complete at least 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches within the 2 minutes, and complete the 3-mile run in 18 minutes or less. Each pull-up is worth 5 points, each crunch is worth 1 point and every 10 seconds after 18 minutes on the run is a point deducted from 100. Females must complete eight pull-ups OR a flexed-arm hang for 70 seconds or more, do 100 crunches, and complete the three-mile run in 21 minutes or less.
Acorn urges Marines who want to advance in the Marine Corps to push themselves on the PFT. With military drawdown, the Marine Corps is getting more and more competitive, he explained. Failing a PFT or not taking a PFT for that calendar year will affect a Marine’s eligibility for promotion to the next rank or even reenlistment.
Corporal Samuel Ribeiro, adjutant clerk on MCLB Barstow, described the PFT as a test of overall fitness.
Ribeiro, 21, who scored 285 out of 300 on the PFT, explained that most Marines find the run to be the most challenging part.
“I see Marines struggle with pacing themselves,” said the Boston native. “A lot of Marines start off too fast and run out of energy before finishing.”
The only way to get better at running is to run; same with pull-ups and crunches … just do them, Ribeiro added.
Gunnery Sergeant Scott Hubbard, company gunnery sergeant of Headquarters Battalion on MCLB Barstow, and avid runner, encourages Marines to consistently train and do well on the PFT.
Hubbard ran a sub 18-minute three mile more than 10 times during his career; he is always willing to give training advice to those who seek it.
“People need to build a base,” explained the Lawson, Mo., native. “They need to have the endurance and leg strength before working on speed so they can maintain that speed and prevent injury.”
However, once a Marine has that endurance they will need speed work, especially if they want to break 18 minutes on the three-mile, Hubbard added.
Also, the PFT is all about training. It’s not something someone can take for the first time and max out, he further explained.
“Marines may need to train during off-duty hours and weekends to get a high score,” he said. “Training for the PFT and the CFT should be year-round (in order to be successful).”
Having the right shoe is also imperative to achieving a high score and preventing injury, Hubbard explained.
“The average person should get properly fitted (shoes) … don’t worry about current trends, go to a professional that fits the shoe based on your personal foot-strike,” he added.
Whatever shoe allows you to run farther distances and for longer periods of time while preventing injury is the right shoe, Hubbard said.
Hubbard also encourages Marines to run more naturally, with forward momentum, as opposed to running heal to toe.
“Slamming your heel into the (ground) slows you down,” he explained. “However, changing (your running form) isn’t something you can change overnight. You need to ease into it to prevent injury.”
The PFT shouldn’t be the most pull-ups a Marine has ever done, the most crunches or the farthest they have ran, Hubbard explained. Marines should train hard so that when PFT time comes, it’s easy to score high.
“Have trust in your training, run hard and run relaxed,” he said. “Running tense only exerts more energy; relax and push yourself through it.”
In the Marine Corps, endurance is defined as not only the physical strength to continue, but the mental strength. It is for this reason Hubbard encourages Marines to go into the run with a positive mindset.
“Tell yourself, ‘one more step’ … then if you can just keep taking one more step after you take one more step, you’ll get through it,” he often tells Marines before or during a run.
Put forth a maximum effort on all the events, have a pace that works for you during the run, don’t give up, and don’t experiment on the day of the PFT, Hubbard explained. The day of the PFT is not the day to test new shoes or a new diet. Eat how you normally eat while training and wear shoes you know you can run comfortably in.
“As Marines, we are professional athletes in a way. We may not be football players, but part of our job is staying fit (and combat ready). Physical fitness is expected of us and the PFT ensures (we are doing what we are supposed to be doing),” concluded Hubbard.