The Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT) is a required, annual event for every active duty Marine.  Marines earn points based on their performance in 3 different events: pullups (males) or flexed arm hang (females), crunches, and a 3 mile run.  These points count toward promotions and bragging rights.  A failure may lead to directed additional training or medical evaluation.  Do you think you have what it takes to pass the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test or even compete with the best of the best?  Read on to find out exactly what it takes.

Marine Corps PullupsCredit: By English: Cpl. Pete Zrioka [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsPullups (Males)

Marines are able to complete the 3 events in any order they would like.  When the event is held in large numbers, pullups typically are completed first.

To begin this portion of the test, find a pullup bar that allows you to free hang without your feet touching the ground.  Your hands can either open forward or backward, but they both must be facing the same direction.  Your arms must be fully extended with absolutely no bend in your elbow.  When Marines are doing this, they are not authorized to wear a long sleeve shirt that covers their arm if they are taking it for score.  This allows the monitor to make sure their arm is completely extended when they are in the down position.  Once you are hanging from the bar and your arms are fully extended, you are in the starting position.

Once you are in the starting position, you may begin doing your pullups.  A pullup will not be counted if the chin does not pass over the top of the bar.  Your entire head does not have to pass over the top of the bar, just your chin.

Any sort of kipping movement is not authorized.  This event is to be completed with your arm strength only.  If you have to use any sort of body movement to aid in reaching your chin over the bar, it will not count as a pullup.  Also, your legs must hang straight down to the ground.  You cannot raise your knees or move your legs up parallel with the ground.  You may let go with one hand at any time to give that arm a rest.  However, if your feet ever touch the ground then the number of pullups you had before your feet touched the ground will count as your final score for the pullups.

Scoring the pullups

Each complete pullup counts as 5 points.  The maximum amount that will count toward your final PFT score is 20 pullups, or 100 points.  The minimum amount of pullups authorized is 3, or 15 points.  This is the same for all age groups.

It is important to note that if you get the minimum score on 2 of the 3 events, you will not have enough points to pass the entire Physical Fitness Test.

Flexed Arm Hang (Females)

To begin this portion of the test, a Marine must mount the pullup bar with both palms facing forward or to the rear.  Then she must flex/bend her elbows to the point where her chin is above the bar and her body is motionless.  Assistance to get to this position is authorized.  One she is in the starting position, the clock continues until her elbows are fully extended.  The chin may drop below the bar, this is ok.

Scoring the flexed arm hang

A perfect score of 70 seconds gives 100 points.  Every second below 70 drops 2 points from the score, until 40 seconds is reached, then 1 point is dropped for each second.  For example, 69 seconds is 98 points, 68 seconds is 96 points, and so on... until you get to 40 seconds, at which time 40 seconds is 40 points, 39 seconds is 39 points, 38 seconds is 38 points, and so on...

The minimum flexed arm hang time, regardless of age group, is 15 seconds and 15 points.


Marine CrunchesCredit: By English: Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsCrunches

Crunches are typically the second event when Marines are taking the PFT.  To begin the crunches, find a flat area of ground.  A spot in the grass would be ideal since it is soft.  You will need a buddy to assist you in this event.  Your buddy will sit on your feet and hold your legs (as seen in the picture).  If you do not have a buddy at the moment, finding an object that is heavier than you are or fixed to the ground that you can slide your feet under would work.  This provides stability to your body while you are doing your crunches.

When you have your feet supported by your buddy, you must cross your arms across your chest and lay on your back.  Your hands must be grabbing the other arm.  You are now in the starting position.

At no time can your arms leave your chest and your hands must have a firm grip on your arms.  If your arms leaves your chest, you are giving yourself an unfair advantage, and any crunches completed by removing your arms from your chest will not count.  Also, at no time can your lower back or buttucks leave the ground to assist in the upward motion.

When you move upward to crunch, your goal is to touch your thighs with your forearms.  On your way back down, your shoulder blades must touch the deck (the ground) before you can begin another crunch.  One crunch is counted every time your arms touch your thighs.  However, remember that your shoulder blades must touch the deck for it to count.

Scoring the crunches

You have a total of 2 minutes to complete as many crunches as you can.  Each crunch counts for 1 point.  The minimum amount of crunches varies by age group, but the maximum that count toward your score is 100, for 100 points.  Here are the minimum scores:

Age Group: 17-26 27-39 40-45 46+
Minimum: 50 45 45 40


3-Mile Run

The 3-mile run is self-explanatory.  You run 3 miles in the fastest time that you can.  The fastest possible time that can be recorded is 18 minutes for 100 points.

Here is how to score the 3-mile run for men:

Maximum times by age group (men):

Age Group: 17-26 27-39 40-45 46+
Maximum: 28:00 29:00 30:00 33:00

Depending on your time, you get a certain amount of points.  A perfect score of 100 points is awarded for an 18 minute runtime.  After that, each additional 10 seconds subtracts 1 point.  So, 18:00-18:09 is a perfect score for 100 points, but anywhere between 18:10-18:19 awards 99 points, 18:20-18:29 is 98 points, and so on...

Here is the scoring system for women:

Maximum times by age group (women):

Age Group: 17-26 27-39 40-45 46+
Maximum: 31:00 32:00 33:00 36:00

A perfect score of 100 is awarded for a 21 minute runtime.  After that, each additional 10 seconds subtracts 1 point.  So, 21:00-21:09 is a perfect score for 100 points, but anywhere between 21:10-21:19 awards 99 points, 21:20-21:29 is 98 points, and so on...

Overall Score

To compute your overall score, simply add the points you achieved from each event.  300 is a perfect score.

The score is further broken down into classes, which is identical for males and females.  Here is the breakdown of classes:

Class Age 17-26 Age 27-39 Age 40-45 Age 46+
1st 225 200 175 150
2nd 175 150 125 100
3rd 135 110 88 65

Anything below a 3rd class score is not passing.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Do you have what it takes to pass?  Maybe you can achieve a 1st class score or even a perfect score?  If you decide to give it a try, good luck!

Also, check out these Marine Corps Workout Books:

Semper Fit: The Marine Corps Workout
Amazon Price: $24.95 $22.95 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 7, 2013)
The United States Marine Corps Workout, Revised Edition
Amazon Price: $15.95 $4.12 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 7, 2013)