IST Run Workout | How To Train for Marines Boot Camp

How To Train for USMC Boot Camp

A lot of recruits prepare for boot camp training by setting their targets on passing the initial strength test (IST). Well, that’s certainly something to think about, but what you really want to be training for is getting your body ready for extensive, rigorous training. In other words, don’t aim for the bare minimum requirements that allow you to participate in recruit training. You should really be preparing to get your body ready for the more long-term goal of really completing boot camp with the best results possible.

How To Train for Boot Camp Running

To properly train for boot camp, you really want to be working more towards the physical fitness test (PFT) that is tested on day 60 of boot camp, rather than the IST test, which simply gets you in.

The PFT test is comprised of three tests and based on your performance, you get points up to 300. The lowest passing score is 150, with minimums for each of the three tests. Males recruits must run 3 miles within 28 minutes to pass and female recruits must run 3 miles in at least 31 minutes to pass.

If you can and you have enough time before shipping out, aim to regularly run 4 miles. That way, you’ll definitely be able to complete the minimum on the physical fitness test, and you’ll already be quite used to doing even more than that. That’s ideal though; don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t there yet. Absolutely get yourself to do at least the IST minimums, and from there, just keep trying to go longer or faster. If you can only do the bare minimum, your chances of being held back for additional physical training is a lot more likely in boot camp, and it isn’t fun to not graduate with your platoon.

See our initial post on Marine Boot Camp Workouts.

Posted in USMC Boot Camp Training | 11 Comments

Marine Corps Boot Camp Training Workouts

One of the first things future Marines do as soon as they’ve gone to MEPS and enlisted in the Marine Corps, is start a boot camp training workout schedule. It’s absolutely crucial to your success as a Marine recruit in boot camp, not only in terms of completing boot camp, but also in excelling and actually graduating boot camp near the top of your class. Aiming to not just finish things, but to shoot for high achievement and high competency, is crucial for a successful Marine Corps career. You shouldn’t only aim to finish boot camp; you should aim to be platoon leader or graduate at the top of your class. Even if you don’t complete those goals, it’s where your eyes should be looking. So, even if you play high school sports or you’re already fit for some reason, you still need to develop a boot camp training workout regime that is going to push you to be your best.

Marine Corps Boot Camp Workout

Sadly, the truth is that a lot of kids show up to recruit training sorely out of shape. It’s not enough to simply pass the basic requirements to join the Marines. That’s enough to get you in the doors, but it’s not necessarily enough to graduate boot camp. There are a lot of recruits who have trouble achieving minimum test requirements at varying points along the training schedule. Some are overweight. Some are underweight. Some don’t have the upper arm strength to achieve the required pull-ups or arm hangs. Some can’t complete the swim test. When that happens, the recruit is held back, removed from their platoon for additional work on whatever area they are struggling in. They then join a new platoon and prolong their boot camp training time by weeks in some cases. That adds more difficulty to an already very difficult undertaking.

Workout & Train for The Initial Strength Test

The initial strength test requires recruits to pass minimum standards for pull-ups (or flexed arm hang for women), crunches and time limits for running a mile and a half. So the first thing to train for is to meet those minimum requirements if you are already struggling. See our post about how to do Marine Corps-style pull-ups.

How to Train For USMC IST

Basically, if you’re a male, you’ll need to do 2 pull-ups. Regardless of if you’re male or female, you’ll need to do 44 crunches within 2 minutes. Males need to be able to complete a mile and a half run within at least 13 minutes and 30 seconds.

If you’re a female, you’ll need to do a flexed-arm hang for at least 12 seconds and the mile and a half in 15 minutes.

How To Do USMC Pull Ups & Flexed Arm Hangs

So, in order to pass the initial strength test (IST) and do well in boot camp, future Marine recruits should really focus on arm strength exercises. The pull-ups and flexed-arm hangs are among the most common elements of the IST that recruits fail. Pull ups are worth 5 points on the test.

To be prepared for Marine Corps pull-ups or flexed arm hangs USMC-style, you need to focus your workouts on building up upper arm and upper back strength.To build up your biceps, start with a standing easy bar curl or dumbbell curls. Make sure your elbows stay in towards your sides and don’t flare out, otherwise you aren’t exercising the muscles you need to focus on. Do each lift and then stop and start again without using momentum to help. In the Marines, you need to come to a full stop before doing your next pull up. Warm up with a set of 10-12 repetitions. Then do a set until you can’t complete a full lift WITHOUT losing your form. Don’t use momentum. Don’t stick your elbows out. Don’t bend your back. Try to do the same number for each arm.

If you have a hard time completing a single pull-up (it’s common, don’t feel bad, just work harder), you’ll want a spotter. Try to complete a pull up, then do three sets of lateral pull-downs. Do a set of 8-12 repetitions for warm-up, followed by two sets of 6-8 repetitions. If this is easy for you, increase the weights or increase the number of repetitions. Doing push-ups can also really help for people who struggle with pull-ups and flexed arm hangs because push ups strengthen your chest area which is a big part of completing a pull up or flexed arm hang.

As your ability to perform pull ups or flexed arm hangs increases, keep improving by adding a dip belt to your workout.

You may also want to check out the boot camp training schedule to see what kinds of activities recruits are expected to perform and where in the training matrix those activities fall on. You’ll want to certainly be physically fit for the early workouts, but you’ll also want to think about things you expect to be difficult for you and put some extra training time on those. For example, if you struggle with swimming, you’ll want to concentrate on your “swimming muscles” and include swimming as part of your training workout.

See our next post about USMC boot camp run training.

Posted in USMC Boot Camp Training | 3 Comments

Marine Corps Recruit Knowledge

What does someone interesting in going into the Marines need to know? What is crucial important knowledge that recruits can focus on before going to boot camp? Well, there’s a lot to memorize and a lot that can help…more really than just a simple checklist. The best thing you can do is read as much as possible from a variety of sources. You want to know some specific details to memorize, but you also just want to read about Marine Corps life and culture.

Read About the Marine Corps on Wikipedia

Obviously you should first read about the corps at marinecorpsrecruits.com…and no we aren’t biased. OK, maybe a little bit. Seriously though, Wikipedia has tons of basic information that will simply help you get a general understanding of what the Marine Corps is about: the history of the Corps, specific details on different units, information on any MOS you may be interested in, etc. Pretty much anything that you might be curious about will have a nice summary in Wikipedia, so it’s a nice source for Marine Corps topic overviews.

Learn The Marine Corps Chain of Command: Including the Current USMC Commandant

You’ll have to learn the chain of command during boot camp, but wouldn’t it be really great if you didn’t need to spend your extremely limited free time trying to memorize the chain of command when you could’ve simply squared that away before your shipped off for boot camp? And here’s a tip: great Marines go the extra mile. That means, don’t just learn the ranks and names of the chain of command. Find out the real names of your leaders. You will of course not know all of them before you are at boot camp, but you can certainly find out the name of the highest ranked Marine. You don’t want to get caught not knowing that one; it’s like not knowing who the President is. (There’s a joke in there for anyone paying attention).

Become Familiar With Marine Corps Terminology

When you first arrive at boot camp, one of the first things you’ll learn is that Marine Corps terminology is a little different than at home. At boot camp, and throughout your military careers, you’ll be expected to use the “correct” Marine Corps words. Don’t say window, say port hole. Don’t say hat, say cover. There’s a bunch of Marine Corps terminology that you’ll learn in boot camp. Get a head start on that before you go so that you don’t slip up and end up forcing you and your platoon to do more push ups.

Memorize the Marine Corps General Orders

Learn the Marine Corps General Orders before you ship out to boot camp. There are only 11 and they’re pretty important, so recite them until you can say them in your sleep. Have someone pick a number 1 through 11 and recite the order of the number they’ve chosen. If you can only recite the orders in chronological order, you’ve haven’t really learned them. Your drill instructor will most likely yell a random number at you and expect you to call it back, so make it easy on yourself.

Read Books on Marine Corps History and Boot Camp

There’s really no substitute for a thorough book on Marine Corps history or boot camp. There are several boot camp specific guidebooks or first hand accounts out there. We wrote a post suggesting some good Marine Corps Books and guidebooks for anyone headed to boot camp soon. There are more, find a few that appeal to you.

Posted in USMC Boot Camp Training, USMC Enlistment | 1 Comment

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Lodging

There are a few of lodging options for Marines and their families near the USMC Recruit Depot San Diego.

For single Marines, you’ll probably want to contact MCRD’s San Diego Billeting and Housing. Their whole mission is to provide nice housing options for single enlisted Marines. They maintain furnished places, so it’s easy for Marines to move in with basic necessities already taken care of.

Families of graduating recruits should also contact the MCRD San Diego Billeting and Housing organization, because they also provide options for families visiting for graduation as well.

Room rates vary depending on whether you are enlisted or an officer and of course, what type of room and the number of occupants expected to stay in it…but generally prices range from $14-$50 for enlisted Marines and $25-$45 for officers. Enlisted and officers do have different types of rooms.

There are also plenty of hotels and inns in the area for family members and guests. MCRD San Diego is located in the northwest area of downtown area of San Diego.

Hotels Near MCRD San Diego

The following hotels near Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego area are all within a mile. These are not hotel recommendations, just information for Marine recruit families who may be looking for some places to stay in the area while they are in town for their loved one’s graduation ceremony from boot camp.

La Quinta Inn San Diego Old Town

.62 miles from MCRD SD

2380 Moore Street
San Diego, CA 92113

Mission Inn Old Town San Diego

.65 miles from MCRD SD

3900 Old Town Avenue
San Diego, CA 92110

Western Inn Old Town San Diego

.66 miles from MCRD SD

3889 Arista Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Courtyard San Diego Old Town

.7 miles from MCRD SD

2435 Jefferson Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Holiday Inn Express San Diego Airport – Old Town

.73 miles from MCRD SD

1955 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, CA 92110

Days Inn Sea World-Airport

.77 miles from MCRD SD

3350 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Howard Johnson Inn – San Diego Sea World

.77 miles from MCRD SD

3330 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Super 8 Motel – San Diego/Sea World

.77 miles from MCRD SD

3275 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Americas Best Value Inn Loma Lodge

.82 miles from MCRD SD

3202 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Best Western Plus Hacienda Suites-Old Town

.9 miles from MCRD SD

4041 Harney Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Posted in USMC Recruit Depot San Diego (RDSD) | 3 Comments

Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

View Map to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego And Get Driving Directions


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About Recruit Training at MCRD San Diego

Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego is one of two recruit training depots for enlisted Marines. Recruits training includes: morals and ethics, physical training, leadership skills, martial arts, close order drill, bayonet training, pugil sticks, academics, gas mask training, rapelling, combat water survival, marksmanship, basic warrior training and more.

Commanding General Brigadier General Daniel D. Yoo

Brigadier General Yoo, Commanding General of MCRD San Diego, graduated from Arizona State U. in 1984. He completed Office Candidate School, The Basic School and the Infantry Officers Course before reporting to the 1st Marine Division, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines where he served as a Rifle Platoon Commander, Commander, Weapons Company Executive Officer, and a Rifle Company Commander. View the rest of his distinguished career here.

  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star Medal with Gold Star
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star
  • Joint Achievement Medal
  • Navy Achievement Medal
  • Combat Action Ribbon

Sergeant Major Sylvester D. Daniels

Sergeant Major Sylvester D. Daniels enlisted in the Marine Reserves in 1982. After boot camp, he attended Infantry Training School and was assigned the MOS 0341 Mortarman. In 1985, he was reassigned as a recruiter. He participated in Operation Desert Shield as a Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and Platoon Commander with Weapons Co. Later, he attended Drill Instructor School and rose to the rank of Senior Drill Instructor. Read more about Sergeant Major Sylvester D. Daniels here.

  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star with Combat “V”
  • Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars and Combat “V”
  • Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two gold stars
  • Combat Action Ribbon
Posted in USMC Recruit Depot San Diego (RDSD) | 2 Comments

101 or 232 Reasons to Love Your Corps

I debated whether or not to include this video on this site because it’s more fun than informative, but I decided to post it because it does say a thing or two about the Espirit De Corps and there’s a certain amount of information that potential recruits can get from it. It’s fun, hope you enjoy.

The Marine Corps Times created their own list of reasons to love the Corps, a more updated version than the video. Some of the winners:

  • 1. Cpl. Jason Dunham. First Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. If jumping on a grenade to save a buddy isn’t worth the top of the list, nothing is.
  • 9. Lump-sum re-enlistment bonuses up to $80,000. Many of you would consider doing it for free.
  • 15. The Wounded Warrior Regiment.
  • 29. Recruiting in Texas is like hunting at the zoo.
  • 39. The transformation. Who you are when you join is not nearly as important as who you become.
  • 41. If you’ve been on liberty in Twentynine Palms, you’ve been on liberty in Yuma and Barstow, too.
  • 48. After decades of debate, there remains no resolution on whether sand fleas trump “The Reaper.”
  • 50. Cpl. Gareth Hawkins, lying on a stretcher after an IED shattered his leg, demanded re-enlistment before medical evacuation. And got it.
  • 76. Tax-free combat pay. Doing what you signed up for and not having to give Uncle Sam a dime back.
  • 77. Montford Point Marines. The first African-American Marines know a little something about honor, courage and commitment.
  • 84. The Crucible
  • 111. Tattoos #4. Reaction to the new policy: Conway says sleeves are going away, Marines run for the chair. Tattoo parlors never saw so much business.
  • 139. The honor, privilege and responsibility of leading, mentoring and caring for junior Marines.
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Marine Corps Recruit Austin TX

US Marine Corps Recruit Info: Austin TX

There isn’t a ton of information online geared specifically towards those from the Austin Texas area who are either current/former Marines or interested in enlisting in the Marine Corps. If you live in the Austin area and know of groups/places/organizations useful for future Marines, please let me know so that we can add useful resources to this page.

Address of Austin USMC Recruiting Office

The Marine Corps Recruiting Office is located at:
13729 Research Blvd
Ste 870-B, Austin, TX 78750

Austin USMC Recruiting Office Map & Directions


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If you are a young person thinking about joining the Marine Corps, you may want to check out common MEPS disqualifiers to learn a little bit about what may qualify/disqualify you from joining the USMC. If you’re all set to join and qualify, then check out some useful advice on how to prepare for boot camp.

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USMC Book Reading List for Marine Recruits

There are few things better for preparing for the Marine Corps than educating yourself on the history and expectations of the USMC. It will partly help you in boot camp for USMC history testing and will perhaps clue you in to some of the items you’ll need to know, but it’s real benefit is getting you in the right frame of mind for your duties in the Corps.

The following is a partial reading list of books about boot camp and about Marine Corps history that may help you on your journey towards becoming a United States Marine.

Marine Corps Books & Boot Camp Reading List

Guidebook for Marines

The “Guidebook for Marines” is published by the Marine Corps Association and issued to new recruits. It covers Marine Corps values, history, law of war, drill, first aid, small arms, clothing and equipment, detailed weapons info, marksmanship, squad tactics and so much more. It’s a great head’s up for anyone getting ready to join the Corps and get a jump on learning a lot of the items you’ll need to know in boot camp.

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday: Fighting the War on Terrorism

This is a series of stories and essays compiled by Andrew Anthony Bufalo. It’s by and about Marines fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and includes stories about the global war on terror and profiles about Marines that you probably didn’t hear about in the news.

Chesty Puller’s Rules of Success

A book created by retired Marine Col. Bill Davis, it highlights 20 “self-imposed principles of action” of legendary Marine Chesty Puller. This is a great uplifting book, perfect forgetting you motivated.

The United States Marine Essential Subjects

Put out by the Department of Defense (DOD), the book covers Marine Corps history, Code of Conduct, close order drill, land navigation and much more. It includes helpful photos and illustrations; another great book for a soon-to-be Marine.

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Marine Corps Recruit Assistance

While on leave, recruits may be selected for the “Permissive Recruiter Assistance Support Program” (PRASP) to help out USMC recruiting efforts in their hometowns.

Recruiter’s assistance is an opportunity for a new Marine, home on a post-boot camp 10-day leave, to work at their local recruiter’s office. It’s a great way to work towards a promotion.

A lot of Marines really enjoy this opportunity, as they are proud to have recently earned the title of “Marine” and are now back home as a new person.

PTAD: USMC

PTAD is “Permissive Temporary Assigned Duty”, which, in this case, means “recruiter’s assistance”. Not every Marine is even eligible for recruiter’s assistance; it depends largely on what MOS you are in. Specifically, infantry Marines and reservists are not eligible for recruiting assistance duty.

So what does USMC recruit assistance entail? Well, it’s usually long hours (often it’s from 7am-7pm Mon-Sat) where you will assist recruiters in your hometown. The job changes depending on the needs of the recruiters, but in general, it means accompanying recruiters to talk about the Corps to high school-aged teens around town. You may attend events, go to shopping malls or other locations where potential recruits may be found and you’ll relate to them as someone from their own town who chose to join the Marine Corps. You’ll answer their questions and help prepare poolees for boot camp. Who better to give useful advice than a Marine fresh from boot camp? Also, recruit assistants help with a random assortment of tasks like scheduling training events and calling interested people.

Marine Corps recruit assistance does not have a set amount of time, but it tends to be about two weeks long.

Posted in USMC Recruiter | 3 Comments

Marine Corps Recruit Attrition

The military and government agencies have done a number of specific studies and reports on Marine Corps Recruit attrition rates, including analysis of factors that increase or decrease the percentage of recruit attrition.

Recruit Attrition and the Training Unit Environment: 1981 report that compares attrition and performance of Marine Corps recruits who have and have not graduated high school. The conclusion was higher attrition occurred amongst recruits who did not graduate high school.

Trends in Attrition of High-Quality Military Recruits: A 1988 report that examines why attrition rates remained unchanged even after the military managed to recruit “higher quality” recruits.

Military Attrition: Better Screening of Enlisted Personnel Could Save Millions of Dollars: A 1997 report that lays out some statistics and arguments for better recruit screening processes

Emerging Issues In USMC Recruiting: Comparing Relative Attrition Risk Among Marine Corps Recruits: Published in 2006, this report examines Marine Corps boot camp attrition and documents recruit characteristics. It finds that the recruits with the lowest attrition rates are those that sign contracts as high school seniors, go to boot camp from June-September or October-January, are “high quality”, and meet weight-for-height retention standards.

Predictors of one-year attrition in female Marine Corps recruits: This 2009 study examines the demographic profiles and health-related predictors of female Marine recruit attrition.

Posted in Female Marine, USMC Enlistment, USMC History & Information, USMC Recruiter | 2 Comments