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Can You Pass the US Marines Initial Strength Test?

Recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego line up before they face the rappelling challenge.
Photo by Cpl Walter D. Marino II.

Think you have what it takes to be a US Marine? Then here are three exercises straight from the Initial Strength Test (IST) that you will have to pass.

As the Marines state:

“Every Marine must maintain a high level of physical fitness regardless of age, rank or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Those who aspire to become Marines must first pass the Initial Strength Test (IST), and all Marines are required to pass an annual Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Combat Fitness Test (CFT). This information will help you prepare for all three.”

The Marines go on to note “In order to begin recruit training, aspiring Marines must pass the Initial Strength Test (IST). It is recommended that recruits report to training with scores well above the minimum standards. The IST consists of the following three tests.”


1. Pull-ups/Flexed Arm Hang

Guidelines for pull-ups (males):

Mount the bar with your hands facing towards you or away from you. Your legs can be held straight or in a bent position, but may not be raised above the waist. To successfully complete a repetition, raise your body by bending your arms at the elbows until your chin is above the bar, then lower your body until your arms are fully extended. You may have an assistant extend an arm across the front of your body to help prevent swinging. The minimum standard for passing this test during the IST is two pull-ups.

Guidelines for flexed arm hang (females):

In starting position, hang from a horizontal bar with your elbows bent and both palms facing either towards you or away from you. Your chin must be higher than the bar, but may not touch the bar. Attempt to maintain elbow flexion as long as possible. Your score is the number of seconds in which you can maintain some degree of flexion at the elbow. The minimum standard for passing this test is 12 seconds.


2. Crunches

Guidelines for crunches (males and females):

Lie on your back, knees flexed with your feet flat on the ground. Fold your arms across your chest with no gap between your forearms and your chest when raising your upper body. An assistant may hold your feet or legs below the knees in whatever manner is most comfortable. Kneeling or sitting on the feet is permitted. To successfully complete a repetition, raise your upper body from the starting position, touching your thighs with your elbows or forearms. Return to the starting position with your shoulder blades touching the ground. A rest in the down position may be taken at any time. The minimum requirement for passing this test during the IST is 44 crunches in two minutes.

Marines Run

3. Timed Run:

Guidelines for the run (males and females):

Male and female recruits run the same distances during the run portion of the IST but have different time requirements to complete it. Males must complete the 1.5-mile run in 13:30, while females have 15 minutes to cross the finish line. It is advised that individuals who aspire to become Marines report to training able to run much further distances at a faster pace, as the IST run is only half the distance of the 3-mile PFT test required of all recruits. The run portion of the IST is normally administered last, and if an individual fails the pull-up, flexed arm hang or crunches portion, he or she will be re-tested at the end of that same IST.

  • Philip

    Time to raise the bar? I cant speak for the mental preparedness, but that seems kinda easy…

    • Michael: The Rx

      Yeah this is just the first baseline test. I’ll put up the other test next week.

      • Ryan Lang


  • Ryan Lang

    To answer the article title’s question: Yes.

    • Michael: The Rx

      Then again Ryan if you with that In-N-Out begin so close who knows what could happen 🙂

      • Ryan Lang

        haha, those double-doubles are going to start to weigh me down and kill my 1.5 mile time….. lol

  • John Ceniceros

    Piece of cake… Now if only I COULD join at my age…

    • Michael: The Rx

      Nice John

  • afto

    they might want to rethink these, ha

  • Pingback: Could You Pass the US Marines Physical Fitness Test?()

  • That nigga_J

    I’m ready

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