During the 30 Days to a Better Man project, we’ve been doing a lot exercises for our mind and character, but it’s equally important to exercise our bodies. A man’s health is his most important asset. If you suffer from chronic health problems, it can take a toll on your job, on your bank account, on your family, and on your psyche. And being out of shape and unhealthy saps one’s manly confidence and spirit. Unfortunately, for the past few decades, the fitness level of men, particularly American men, has been going down hill. With cars replacing walking as the primary mode of transportation and desk jobs replacing manual labor, men have become more and more sedentary.
There may have been a time when you were in pretty good shape. Maybe it was in high school or college. But since then, you’ve gotten a job, a mortgage, a wife, and 2.5 kids. But in your mind’s eye, you still think you’re the guy who could bench press 300 lbs and run the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds. You might be a bit softer, but overall you feel good. But the mind can play tricks on you. Slowly through the years the body adjusts itself to a less active lifestyle. The change happens so gradually, that you don’t even notice it. That is until you try to lift a big bag of dirt for your garden or play a pick-up game of basketball. And you’re hit with the realization that you’re not the strapping lad you once were.
While humbling moments like the ones mentioned above can give you somewhat of an idea of your fitness level, an actual fitness test can do a better job because numbers don’t lie. So today we’re going to give ourselves a gut check by taking a physical fitness test. And not just any physical fitness test. We’re taking the U.S. Marine Corps Fitness Test.
How to Perform the Marine Corps Fitness Test
The Marine Corps Fitness tests consists of three exercises: pull-ups, crunches, and a 3.0 mile run. The events are “designed to test the strength and stamina of the upper body, midsection, and lower body, as well as the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.”((MCPFTBCP Sec. 2000(1)))
All the exercises are to be performed in “one single session, not to exceed two hours.”((MCPFTBCP Sec. 2100(2))) Since it’s just you who’s doing the test and not an entire squadron of Marines, it should take you about an hour.
Find yourself a pull-up bar. If you don’t have one, just go to a park and use the monkey bars. They’re perfect for pull-ups. I also highly recommend investing in the Iron Gym Pull-Up Bar. It’s one of the best and most useful things I ever bought. And you’ll be able to use it at home once the fitness test is done to keep improving your strength.
To begin the test, grab the bar, both palms facing either forward or towards you. I would do it palms facing towards you. It’s easier that way.
The correct starting position begins with your arms fully extended beneath the bar and your feet off the ground.
One rep consists of raising the body with the arms until the chin is above the bar and then lowering your body until your arms are fully extended. The object of this test is to measure your performance from a dead hang position. Thus, whipping, leg kicking, or leg kipping are not allowed and pull-ups using these assistance methods do not count.
You don’t have a time limit to perform your pull-ups, but as soon as you let go, the test is over.
The ab crunch test has a two minute limit. Perform as many crunches as you can in two minutes.
Cross your arms across your chest or rib cage with no gap existing between the arms and chest/rib cage. Both arms must remain in constant contact with the chest/rib cage throughout the exercise. A single repetition consists of raising your upper body from the starting position until both forearms or elbows simultaneously touch the thighs, and then returning to the starting position with the shoulder blades touching the ground.
Your butt must remain in constant contact with the ground.
You can have a buddy hold your legs or feet, at or below the knees. If you don’t have a buddy, place your feet under a couch or some other sturdy object.
3.0 Mile Run
Mark out a 3 mile course. One way of doing this is to reset your car’s trip odometer and drive a flat course in your neighborhood to mark out the 3 miles. Another idea is to go to a high school or college track. It’s flat, clear of any obstacles, and it’s measured out for you. Four times around the track is one mile. So for three miles, you’ll have to run around it twelve times.
Time yourself with a stopwatch to see how fast you can run 3.0 miles. Run as fast as you can.
Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test Scoring
Each Marine is given a numeric score based on his performance in each event. Based on the total points of the three events, a Marine will be assigned to a physical fitness test class. First class being the highest and third class being the lowest. In order to get the highest possible score on the test you’d have to perform 20 pull-ups, do 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles in 18:00 minutes. Below are a series of charts that shows how scoring and class are determined:
|Class||Age 17-26||Age 27-39||Age 40-45||Age 46+|
Minimum Fitness Requirements
The Department of the Navy has established minimum fitness requirements for all Marines depending on their age to ensure that they’re ready for combat. Most of us probably won’t see action in Afghanistan, but if you can meet the fitness requirements for these tests, you’ll know that you have the physical condition to take on most of life’s challenges. The minimum requirements below would give a soldier enough points to meet a class three standard.
After you establish your base, start working on improving through regular exercise. Take the test again in a month to see how much you’ve improved. Try making it a goal to score a perfect 300 on the test.
Today’s Task: Take the Marine Corps Fitness Test
Take an hour after work today and do the Marine Corps Fitness Test. No matter what kind of shape you’re in, it will help you know how fit you are, give you a benchmark to base future progression and regression on, and grant you either some motivation to improve or a sense of satisfaction that you’re ready for action. Tally up your score and share it with us in the Community!