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Jon Chang 03-08-2008 06:43 PM

Getting ready for the Marine Corps
Hey everyone. My name is Jon and I just started to use Crossfit as my primary source of getting ready to go to Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps. I am right now 5'9"+ around 138lbs my PFT is probably around 16 Pull Ups (no kipping), 90 Crunches in 2 min., and around a 22:00 3 mile.

My goals are to weigh in around 155lbs, 20 pull ups, 100 crunches, and bring my run time down to around 20:00. I Report to OCS 30 May 2008.

I have a history of shin splints so right now I am using the smart coach on, and am thinking about picking up swimming to crosstrain for my cardio.

Tom Miller 03-08-2008 07:32 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps

I never did OCS, but boot camp has the same PFT. 100 Crunches will come no problem, just keep doing sets of crunches, maybe something like every other day a few max sets. For pullups, the Armstrong pullup program works real good, most people in my squad at MOS school gained 5-10 pullups when I was making sure they kept with the program. For the run, I went from a 23:30 boot camp time to a 20 flat in the fleet through, what else, running. I'd say in the course of a typical week, I did one long run (about 5-6 miles), a interval run, where we would run at a descent pace, then do a pretty good sprint, and keep alternating...using telephone poles or other objects is a good way to switch. We'd also using run 3 miles at a near max pace about once a week. I wouldn't say the running schedule was concrete, but I think mixing it up and doing everything from track workouts to long distance helped keep our bodies in shape...As for gaining 20 lbs, of course Rippetoe's program would work great, but you can't fill your pack too heavy at once. If I were you I'd choose one to do first, either gain muscle mass or get your PT up to a 300. In my opinion, I'd do the bulking first, cause if you do your PFT first, then gain the weight, runnings going to go down, so are pullups...If you get your muscle mass where you want it then work from their it would be easier.

-Tom Miller
Camp Lejeune, NC

Jon Chang 03-08-2008 07:38 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
The last PFT I ran was 10 Nov at a 286. 20 pull ups 100 crunches and a 20:34 3 mile (or something like that). I know I can do it and get there. I am just wondering if CrossFit can get me there. Which I am sure it will and also get me in overall better fitness.
As far as pull ups go Tom, I was using Recon Ron and I was up to 22. What happend was I got satisfied with my level of fitness and stopped going to the gym which was stupid on my part

Elliot Fuller 03-08-2008 10:14 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
You've got about 3 months to get some pretty specialized stuff dialed in. I think CrossFit would be a perfect fitness program for you in the long run, but since you're not trying to achieve results across such broad domains, I think you'd be far better off sticking to specialized training for the time being. Achieve the results you want, and then use CrossFit to maintain fitness down the road.

I'm 5'9" 145# soaking wet, and 23 years old. I'm about the same as you. I'd like to get up to 160 or 165# but you need to prioritize. If you can get the results on the PFT at a lighter weight, then I'd say stick with that weight. Train at your current weight, get the results you want, go nail the PFT, and then worry about gaining afterwards.

If you start packing on the weight now, you might slow your results because your body won't just be adapting to increased workload but to increased weight as well.

As for the PFT itself, I can only tell you what I've done to improve mine. Granted I'm still pretty far from where I'd like to be, but I've made some good progress.

3 Miles: 27:00
20 pull-ups
80 sit-ups

Your pull-ups and sit-ups should come along pretty well if you just work them enough. But I've had great success with just 1 or 2 Tabatas a week on either or. On days when I'm not doing Tabatas, I'll do 1 set of max pull-ups/sit-ups in the morning, and then another at night. You don't have far to go with those, so I think you'll do fine with some Tabatas or maybe GTG for a couple of weeks.

For your run (which is also what I'm trying desperately to improve), I've had success with sprints and intervals, as Tom mentioned. Along with whatever you do for your pull-ups and sit-ups, I'd say add 1 or 2 interval runs a week, and then maybe 1 LSD (5K or so) run.

For the runs I usually do 30s sprint and 30s jog/walk. I've gotten my mile to 7:45 finally, after a year of not being able to break 8:00.

So your mileage may vary with that.

Anyways the bottom line is you can use CrossFit as a conditioning program, but I really think you'll get better gains towards your more specific goals if you focus on them specifically for the time being. You could supplement your specialized training with CF slowly, so as not to over train. Do your specialized training for a week or two, then add a WOD or two, and see how it goes.

Just my $0.02 based on what's worked for me so far. Best of luck

Jeff Sparrow 03-08-2008 11:19 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps

As Elliot said, you've got plenty of time to get back to 20/100. Definitely work to get your run time down if you can, but since you said you have a history of shin splints, be careful you don't show up to OCS with lower leg injuries already forming.

I think that CrossFit (with some special focus on pullups and crunches) would be a good plan over the next few months. If you were running in the 20:30 neighborhood not too long ago, CrossFit will probably get you back down there pretty quickly as well as prepare you for running with gear, with a minimal risk of inducing injury. It is also the best possible preparation for the vast majority of PT you will do which is NOT the PFT.

Just remember, the PFT is like the cover charge of OCS; it gets you in the door. You don't need to have a 300 to be successful. PT is 25% of your grade, and the PFT in particular, is only a fraction of that. When you get there, having solid PT just means you have one less thing to worry about every day. (And it's actually kind of cool, because PT becomes a welcome break.) But my point is, even a 300 PFT won't make you the honor grad. Make sure you're dialed in mentally as well.

Good luck. Are you heading to Juniors, Seniors or OCC?

Larry Lindenman 03-09-2008 06:55 AM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
Check out the last 4 months of the Crossfit Journal (Issues 64-67). It has articles on "Pre-SOF Training". Right up your alley. Bottom line is CF will increase you General Physical Preparation. You will have to do extra workouts. CF workouts generally only take between 5 and 30 minutes (of course 5 mins is relegated to the CF studs and studetts).

One way to get pure numbers up is sheer volume. Throw a pull up bar in your bathroom doorway and knock of 10 pull ups every time you walk by or under the bar, all day, every day. When I was trying to increase my pull ups, I set a goal to do 100 pull ups a day, no matter what. I was doing 30 pull ups for my CF warm-up, so most days I needed to knock off 70 additional pull-ups. You could do the same for crunches.

I would look at doing running intervals, two times a week, separated by 8 hours from your CF workout. Run 400s, 800s, 200s and 100s. On the shorter distances increase your rest and concentrate on perfect form. On one rest day I would run the test distance.

Be sure to taper your training starting a week out from the event and come in fresh.

Probably wouldn't be a bad time to look at nutrition.

I hate gearing training only to an event, even more for MIL/LEO. You are training for the field, not for a test. Might as well start your "real" training now. Too much specialized training can lead to imbalances and injuries. By the way, you are going to need to scale the CF workouts.

Jake Dent 03-09-2008 07:05 AM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
Honestly I wouldn't worry about the PFT too much. All they care about is that you pass. The guys with the 300s vs the guys with the 250s really made no difference.
The hard part is the constant movement, no rest, little sleep, gear on you all the time, etc.

Basically the things that crossfit would really help you with. I'd recommend doing crossfit with a few runs in boots and utes. (go ahead and retire your green on green, the only time you'll ever wear it is for the PFT and one 4 miler at the very end).

Guinevere Petrousky 03-09-2008 07:20 AM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
I'm with Jake Dent on this one. I haven't been doing Crossfit very long but I've been to OCS. I would focus on your upper body strength and boots-and-utes runs. Don't worry about the PFT, by the time you get to your final you should be flying through the run anyway (you'll feel really light being back in sneakers for the first time in weeks). But pullups are important because you'll be doing them constantly, with the obstacle course etc, and if I were you I'd look for a rope too and get very comfortable climbing it, if you aren't already, because that's an area many candidates struggle with.

Be cautious though, not to pick up any injuries with OCS so close. You'll hurt yourself enough at OCS, believe me. :) Good luck!

Brad Gilliatt 03-09-2008 03:06 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
Jon -

No advice from me. Just a short note to say good luck and I wish you well in the service.

Jon Chang 03-09-2008 03:24 PM

Re: Getting ready for the Marine Corps
Thank you for all the advice. My OCS career has been fairly long. I went to Jrs in 2004, Seniors in 2005. and now OCC 198, This May. I didn't graduate from Srs due to a family emergency back at home. I pretty much did everything at Srs, including SULE II, the only thing I missed was the Bn Cmdr Inspection, Field Day, Family Day, and Graduation Practice along w/ Graduation. The one thing I learned at OCS is I wish I was in better shape running wise. I think I am going to incorporate Swimming into my workout. I currently run Tues (Easy day), Thurs (tempo), and Sundays (distance). Once I get my body used to the impact of running I plan on incorporating Boots N' Utes and hill runs. I hated Boots N' Utes runs! especially the CFT Run. From my experience, you dont need a bunch of Upper Body Strength at OCS, just be able to move your weight + gear around quick fast and in a hurry for long periods of time.

Not looking foward to the IMC. or all the freaking waiting

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