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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Tips on training for Marine Corps’ physical tests

By Lance Cpl. John Robbart III | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | September 01, 2010

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Cpl. Tyler Kim (left), and Cpl. Matthew H. Kim, riflemen, with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, are training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness.

Cpl. Tyler Kim (left), and Cpl. Matthew H. Kim, riflemen, with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, are training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness. (Photo by Lance Cpl. John Robbart III)


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Lance Cpl. Simon Kim, rifleman, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, is training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness.

Lance Cpl. Simon Kim, rifleman, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, is training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness. (Photo by Lance Cpl. John Robbart III)


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Lance Cpl. Simon Kim (left), and Cpl. Tyler Kim, riflemen, with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, are training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness.

Lance Cpl. Simon Kim (left), and Cpl. Tyler Kim, riflemen, with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, are training for the Combat Fitness Test by conducting a combat conditioning course at Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse, Aug. 16. The Physical Fitness Test and the CFT are the two tests used by the Marine Corps to evaluate Marines’ physical readiness. (Photo by Lance Cpl. John Robbart III)


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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Driving through Camp Pendleton on any morning, expect to see groups of Marines conducting physical training – a requirement of all Marines.

The daily exercise routine by Marines is an effort to keep them mission ready at all times. The semi annual Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness Tests are the two assessments used by the Corps to evaluate the physical readiness of Marines.

“While it may come easy to some, others may need to work harder to procure a perfect score of 300,” said Annaleis K. Petrich, manager and a former personal trainer, 24 Area Fitness Center, Marine Corps Community Services. “With the help of some different techniques and some motivation a 300 is within reach.”

Petrich compared training for the two tests with training for a sport in high school or college. Since both tests are conducted during different seasons it is recommended to alternate preparation for each test monthly.

“Focusing on the PFT for one month then switching to the CFT the next month can help ensure readiness,” said Petrich. “And training for both will help you improve in the other.”

In an effort to assist Marines improve their scores, the base fitness centers have outfitted their gyms with a variety of equipment, such as sand bags, ammo cans and even full-size dummies to practice the “fireman’s carry.”

Here are some specific tips to train for the CFT and PFT according to Petrich:

The Combat Fitness Test is about short intense bursts of speed. Sprints and interval training will help with the “half-mile run” portion of the test. Maneuvering around staggered cones will improve agility for the “maneuver under fire”. It is also important to work on decelerating, as many Marines get injured from coming around the cones too quickly. To improve on “ammo can lifts,” simply practice doing them. Ammo cans, sandbags, and 60-pound dummies available for checkout at most base gyms.

The Physical Fitness Test focuses more on endurance. To improve the “three-mile run,” portion of the test, mix up the workouts. Incorporate long slow runs, sprints and interval runs where you run for 30 seconds, and walk for 30 seconds. This will help build your cardio endurance. Improvement on the three-mile time will also improve your half mile sprint for the CFT. For “crunches,” do as many crunches as you can in two minutes, once a week. Core strengthening exercises such as planks will help increase your stability, and high-mobility exercises like Russian twists will help increase your mobility. To increase “pull-ups,” lateral pull downs will help. For females, using a lateral pull down machine without a seat, while squeezing a stability ball with your legs will teach you to engage your core while doing the “flexed arm hang.”

Personal trainers are available on base and offer four free sessions to interested base occupants.

“(The trainers) are highly qualified, and can help develop a plan that works for you,” said Petrich. “But following through on the plan is what gets you the results. While working directly with Marines to better prepare them for the PFT or CFT, I have seen major results in anywhere from one to three months.”

For more information on PFT or CFT related training, contact any of base’s fitness centers, or call the Paige Fieldhouse at (760) 725-6394.

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