Marine Workout Routine for Battle-Ready Fitness

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: May 10, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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The United States Marine Corps (USMC) uses high-intensity training to build strength, endurance, and mental toughness.

As a fitness trainer, I often incorporate elements of the USMC workout into my clients' training regimens, including exercises like running, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and even obstacle course training.

While the Marine Corps uses this workout to prepare their service members for battle, anyone can benefit from the total body challenge and mental discipline it provides.

Let’s look at the USMC workout and how to incorporate it into your training routine.

Quick Summary

  • The Marine Workout Routine is designed to build strength, endurance, and mental toughness, incorporating exercises like running, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and obstacle course training.
  • It includes a mix of cardio, calisthenics, and resistance training, emphasizing physical and mental strength and stamina.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, muscles require at least eight hours of sleep for recovery, highlighting the importance of rest in this high-intensity training regimen.
  • Personally, I find the Marine Workout's focus on mental resilience as crucial as its physical demands, teaching valuable lessons in discipline and determination.

Marine Workout Plan

Marines doing their workout

The Marine Corps will evaluate your fitness before you even get to recruit training.

Here is a look at that physical fitness test.

Initial Strength Test

You must be able to complete the following:

Pull or Push Ups (two minutes or less):

  • Male: three pull-ups or 34 push-ups
  • Female: one pull-up or 15 push-ups

Planks or Crunches:

  • Plank: 40 seconds
  • Crunches: 44 crunches in two minutes or less


  • Male: Run 1.5 miles in 13.5 minutes (or less)
  • Female: Run 1.5 miles in 15 minutes (or less)

Physical Fitness Test

Two marines running for their physical fitness test

We found that this test assesses a Marine’s physical fitness and stamina and is one of the first things the Marine Corps will do when you get to boot camp (basic training).

The physical fitness test is given to recruits and all Marines once a year.

Much like the Initial Strength Test, this test consists of the following:

  • Pull-ups or push-ups: Passing requirements depend on the marine's sex, age, and weight.
  • Crunches or planks: Passing requirements depend on the marine's sex, age, and weight.
  • Run: three-mile run with a time limit of 28 minutes (male) and 31 minutes (female)

Combat Fitness Test

The Marine Corps looks for a well-rounded strength, and this test has three elements to evaluate that.

The Marine’s sex, age, weight, and other factors determine the passing requirements.

  • Movement to Contact: This 880-yard sprint imitates the stress of running in battle.
  • Ammunition Lift: Lift a 30-pound ammunition can overhead (until elbows lock) as many times as possible within the time limit.
  • Maneuver Under Fire: A 300-yard course that produces battle-like challenges, including throwing grenades, crawling, agility running, and carrying other marines.

Consider these requirements for a moment before we move on to discussing the USMC workout routine.

To pass these tests, you must have great core, stamina, and upper body strength.

Let’s see what a marine does to maintain that high fitness level.

The USMC Routine

USMC doing their routine

The following is what we think a week of working out to meet the marine fitness requirements would look like.

I recommend completing daily warm-up stretches to loosen muscles, increase blood flow, and help avoid injury.


  • Pull-ups: Perform as many as you can. Do a flexed-arm hang if you aren’t ready for pull-ups.
  • Rest for one minute.
  • Push-ups: Complete as many as you can.
  • Rest for one minute.
  • Crunches: Complete as many as possible, not exceeding 100.

Complete this circuit three times.


  • Run: Complete a 1.5-mile run at a comfortable pace. After, continue walking at a steady pace for a minimum of five minutes.


A man doing decline crunches
  • V-bar pull-up: complete as many as you can, and hold a flexed arm for as long as you can if you can’t yet complete a pull-up.
  • Rest for one minute.
  • Close-grip push-up: Complete as many as you can.
  • Rest for one minute.
  • Decline crunches: Complete as many as you can.

Complete this circuit three times.


We noticed that cardio is essential in marines' training to help build stamina.

  • Begin by running a quarter mile at a comfortable pace that leaves you winded.
  • Walk for one minute so you can catch your breath and cool down.
  • Run for a half mile, picking up the pace from the previous quarter-mile run.
  • Walk for two minutes so you can catch your breath and cool down.
  • Run for a quarter mile at a quick pace.
  • Walk for five minutes as the final cool down.

Read more:


Doing a wide-hand push-ups
  • Wide-hand push-ups: Complete as many as you can.
  • One-minute rest.
  • Crunches: Complete as many as you can, max out at 100, and try to perform them at a faster pace.
  • One-minute rest.
  • Chin-ups: Complete as many as you can. Substitute holding a flexed arm and hang as long as you can.

Complete the circuit three times.


  • Running: Choose a distance of at least three miles. You can work toward five and 10 miles as you build up endurance. You can choose to hike or walk instead of running. Pick a route with varying terrain to ultimately challenge yourself.

Learn more: Does Running Build Muscle: What Science Says


  • Push-ups: perform as many as you can with your feet elevated.
  • One-minute rest.
  • Pull-ups: perform as many as you can or substitute by holding a flexed arm hang for as long as you can.
  • One-minute rest.
  • Decline reverse crunches: complete as many as you can.

Complete the circuit three times.

Other Exercises to Consider

A military man doing sandbag squats

As a trainer, I've found that mixing up workout routines is crucial for my clients. It prevents their bodies from becoming too accustomed to the same exercises, ensuring continuous improvement and engagement.

Consider swapping out some exercises with the following:

  • Squats
  • Running with dumbbells
  • Sit-ups
  • Sandbag squat
  • Running as you carry a sandbag
  • Sandbag deadlift
  • Lunges

Also read: Best Sandbag Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

Marine Workout Tips

A muscular man with great body

Whether you want to gain big muscles, improve fitness, or challenge yourself, here are some essential things to remember.

“Dehydration is known to impair physical performance. That is why athletes should look after their hydration levels before and during exercise.”

- Ariane Lang, BSc, RD

Quality Over Quantity

It is better to do a low number of reps properly than to perform a high number of reps and sacrifice form.

Maintaining focus on form can help avoid injury and improve mental stamina.

Mental Toughness Training

The Marine Workout is not just physically demanding; it requires mental resilience. Practice mindfulness, meditation, or visualization techniques to build mental toughness.

This mental training helps you cope with the physical challenges of the workout, enhances focus, and prepares you to push through tough exercises with determination and discipline.


A person having a good rest

It is vital to give your muscles time to recover.

Even though the above training follows a seven-day schedule for active Marine recruits, incorporating a rest day into your exercise routine is advisable.

According to the National Institute of Health, your muscles require at least eight hours of rest to recover [1].

So, whether you’ve taken the plunge into military life as a recruit or stayed a civilian, sleep is critical and should be prioritized.


You should drink plenty of water every day. Hydration is crucial, but it is even more critical when exercising and working your body hard.

As noted by Harvard School of Public Health, hydration plays an essential role in many body functions [2].

Hydration helps:

  • Keep joints lubricated
  • Deliver nutrients to cells
  • Prevent infections
  • Organs function properly
  • Sleep quality
  • Cognition and mood


For a Marine Workout, focus on a high-protein diet to aid muscle recovery and growth.

  • Include lean meats, fish, and legumes.
  • Opt for complex carbs like whole grains for sustained energy.
  • Incorporate healthy fats from avocados and nuts for overall health.

Remember, balanced meals are key to fueling your body for rigorous physical demands.

Challenge Yourself

A man challenging himself with push-ups

After you’ve powered through a few weeks of the exercise routine outlined above, I recommend giving yourself this final test.

Marine Challenge One

Challenge yourself to complete the circuit as often as possible in 20 minutes. The circuit is to complete 44 crunches immediately, followed by 34 push-ups.

You can modify this by adding a couple of additional exercises when it loses its challenge.

Marine Challenge Two

For this challenge, you begin a timer and complete three pull-ups and a brisk 1/4 mile run immediately followed by 25 squats and another 1/4 mile run.

Finally, finish with a plank and one last 1/4-mile run.

Wait one month, complete the challenge again, and see if you can beat your time by one minute or more.


What Is the Best Time to Do the Workouts in the Marine Workout Plan?

The best time to do the workouts in the Marine workout plan is when you can consistently commit to and complete them. Like any other exercise regimen, it requires dedication, commitment, and consistency to improve physical fitness.

Will the Marine Workout Routine Help Me Lose Weight?

Yes, the Marine workout routine can help you lose weight. Still, with any exercise plan, you must remain committed to maintaining a consistent training schedule and healthy diet and be willing to give it your all during each session.


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About The Author

Senior Coach
Connor Sellers holds a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Rutgers University He is an author and personal trainer with the mission to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their fitness and lifestyle goals. He mantra is that staying fit has an overall positive effect on one’s body, mind, and spirit.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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