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How Many Push Ups Does a Marine Have to Be Able to Do to Join the Marine Corps?

author image Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott has been writing on international politics, local news and culture since 2004. He has written articles, op-eds, columns and edited for student organization presses and blogs, including the Roosevelt Institution Defense and Diplomacy blog. In 2005 and 2006 Scott attended the Journalism Education Association national conferences. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of California, Davis.
How Many Push Ups Does a Marine Have to Be Able to Do to Join the Marine Corps?
Marines are required to be physically and mentally tough. Photo Credit Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As the United States' premiere expeditionary war-fighting force, the United States Marine Corps holds its Marines to a high standard of physical fitness. Its fitness standards emphasize strength and endurance in the upper body, the core muscles and cardiovascular fitness. These exercises are measured by the pull-up, the crunch, and the three-mile run respectively, in the Marine physical fitness test. These exercises are hardly the extent of a Marine's workout, however.


Push-ups are not a required exercise for entry into the Marine Corps, nor a fitness requirement on the official Marine Corps physical fitness test. They are, however, an exercise used in physical training sessions as well as remedial training during such situations as basic training. Push-ups exercise the shoulder muscles, arms, chest and back, thus helping in building a base level of upper-body fitness for any Marine.

Initial Strength Test

The Marine Corps does have a set of fitness standards that all recruits are required to meet upon entry into recruit training. These requirements are known as the Initial Strength Test. The IST requires recruits to perform each of the three fitness standard exercises according to gender. Male recruits are required to perform two pull-ups, 44 sit-ups in two minutes and a 1.5 mile run in 13:30. Female recruits are required to perform a flexed arm hang for 12 seconds in lieu of pull-ups, 44 sit-ups and a mile run in 10:30.

Physical Fitness Test

After entry to recruit training, but prior to graduation, Marine recruits are required to pass the full physical fitness test. Marine recruits are held to gender-specific fitness standards. Recruits must perform to the minimum standards in order to pass the test. For males, this means three pull-ups, 50 crunches and a 28-minute three-mile run. Females are required to perform a flexed arm hang for 15 seconds, 50 crunches and a 31-minute three-mile run. These standards vary based on age group.


Although Marines are held to minimum fitness requirements, they are expected to perform better than the minimum requirements. Fitness standards are often used as evaluators in the promotion process for Marines. The complete physical fitness test scores Marines numerically based on their performance. Attaining the maximum points for males requires 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches and an 18-minute three-mile run. Females are required to perform a 70-second arm hang, 100 crunches, and a 21-minute three-mile run.

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