Marine Corps Initial Strength Test (IST)

Marine Corps Initial Strength Test (IST)

The USMC Physical Fitness Test is administered every six months. All Marines are provided time to train and are expected to maintain an adequate degree of physical fitness.

The standard physical fitness test consists of three events that measure cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance and mobility.

Learn About Joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Initial Strength Test (IST) for Recruits

If you are thinking about joining the USMC, you will have to pass the IST (Initial Strength Test). The IST is a shortened version of the USMC PFT. A recruit only has to do pull-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. The minimum standards for passing the Initial Strength Test are as follows:

Male - 2 Pull Ups - 35 Sit Ups (2 minutes) - 1.5 Mile Run - 13:30

Female - Flexed Arm Hang - 12 seconds - 35 Sit Ups (2 Minutes) - 1 Mile Run - 10:30

(Keep in mind that attending Boot Camp or any USMC training with only minimum standards will not serve you well to be a top performer. In fact, below average minimum standards create more problems for you with injuries, remedial PT/running programs, and distract you from learning your true job - being a Marine.)

The USMC Physical Fitness Test (PFT)  Male Marines will perform "dead-hang" pull-ups, abdominal crunches, and a 3.0-mile run. Female Marines will complete the "flexed-arm" hang, abdominal crunches, and a 3.0 - mile run with a pull-up option. 

Check out this USMC PFT grading chart to figure out where your fitness level stands compared to a U.S. Marine.

In order to pass the semi-annual fitness test, Marines must perform the minimum acceptable performance requirements. Additionally, they must have enough overall points to meet the 3rd class fitness requirements. See this chart for all the requirements.

USMC is a challenging profession and more information can be found at the Stew Smith article archive. For more specific info on the USMC PFT read the following related articles:

- Physical Fitness Test Anxiety - Taper Before You Test - One Month From PFT - Help! - PFT: Train for the Transition - The Stretching Plan - Tips for Better Pull-ups - Pull-up Alternatives - Pull-up Push Workout - Pyramid PT - The Proper Technique for Curl-ups - Running Even Faster - Take 2:00 Off Your PFT Mile - Passing Military Swimming Tests

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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