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Here is how to go from doing zero pull-ups to scoring a perfect Marine Corps physical fitness test pull-up score

November 23, 2016

Pull-ups are of the utmost importance in the US Marine Corps. For anyone looking in from the outside, it may sound silly and over-represented. However, for those with the warrior spirit who have accepted the challenge of becoming one of the premier warriors of our country, pull-ups are sacred, respected, almost feared.

Maj. Misty Posey giving inputs to trainees.

A major part of the three-part US Marine Corps physical fitness test, pull-ups is one of those things that enlisted and commissioned officers respect equally, the purest test of endurance and commitment to the Corps. No one get a leg up, you either get “up there” or do them, or you don’t. Rank, age, sex, nationality, or creed makes no difference.

To that effect, many people have offered advice through the history of the Corps in order to crack the holy grail of being able to score the magic 20-pullups score. Maj. Misty Posey, US Marines’ Plans Officer for Manpower Integration, developed a pull-up program to help all Marines improve their pull-ups no matter their starting point, and says she has yet to find a Marine she has not been able to help.

Lack of information is the biggest hurdle in learning how to do 20 pull-ups.

The US Marine Corps has the toughest recruitment training that lasts 12 weeks, and every recruit must successfully complete the training to be able to serve in the Marine Corps. There are two training depots for the Marines: Parris Island, South Carolina, and San Diego, California. This grueling training boot camp requires recruits to be at the pinnacle of health and have exceptional physical, mental, and moral strength.

Pull-ups form an integral part of the training process, and the Marine Corps boot camp lays great emphasis on pull ups.

Trainees watching Major Posey doing pull-ups.

The Marine Corps boot camp has a tougher physical training than any other Uniformed Services. Achieving the minimum score requires a run of 3 miles in less than 28 minutes, 50 or more crunches in 2 minutes, at least 3 pull-ups for males, and flexed arm hang for more than 30 seconds for females. For the maximum score, male recruits must complete the run in 18 minutes, perform 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and do 20 pull ups. Besides, all recruits must adhere to stringent height and weight standards. Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies would not qualify!

To help recruits get through the physical test, the Marine Corps also conducts separate workout sessions for pull ups. Every year, more than 20,000 recruits take the boot camp, and many do not complete the training specifications successfully.