The Ultimate Military Workout Plan

How to workout and train like a United States Marine.

This blog will be beneficial to those already in the service, those looking to join, and civilians looking to take their fitness to the next level. What will set this workout plan apart is a balance of body weight exercises, heavy lifts, and cardio.

Just before the OCS Endurance Course during the first three months of being in the military.

Just before the OCS Endurance Course during the first three months of being in the military.

Blog #54

For those of you who have not already read my blog, my name is Ben Steele and I am an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Fitness has been an essential part of my life for as long as I can remember and becoming a Marine has only strengthened that resolve. One positive thing that the Marine Corps has done for me is that it has exposed me to elements of fitness that I didn’t regularly incorporate previously, such as HIIT workouts, CrossFit, martial arts, and pull-ups. Also, likely due to the many different Endurance Courses I have ran this past year, it has increased my appreciation for cardio.

I recently noticed that my own workout routine has become stagnant, so I decided to write this blog as motivation to revamp things. I will also do a breakdown of my nutrition, which I will post on another article.

I’m going to write this blog in a weekly format from Monday to Sunday, but obviously it doesn’t have to be followed in that exact way. Personally, I like to run first thing every morning then lift at lunch if possible or after work, but obviously that might not work for everyone. If doing both is a conflict or if you don’t have time, you may have to choose between running or lifting each day. Also, the rep pattern of each exercise can and should be switched up from week to week.

If you like what you read, please let me know in the comments and subscribe to the email list for updates.

Pain is weakness leaving the body…

How to prepare for OSC Marine Corps by Benjamin Steele

Monday

Morning Run

  • 5-6 miles at moderate pace

Gym - Back and biceps

  • Warmup

    • Walk then jog: 10-15 minute treadmill

  • Bodyweight

    • Pull-ups: 5 sets max reps with 1 minute rest in between

  • Weights

    • Deadlifts: Weight progression 20 reps, 15, 12, 8, 5. For example, 135, 185, 225, 275, 315

    • Superset Machine Row & Barbell Bicep Curl: 3 sets of 8 reps each

    • Superset Single Arm Dumbbell Row & EZ Bar Curl: 3 sets of 8 reps each

    • Superset Back Extension and Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps each

  • Bodyweight

    • Chin-ups: 3 sets max reps with 1 minute rest in between

  • Cool-down

    • Jog slow then walk: 5-10 minutes on treadmill

Take time after the workout, like in the evening, to stretch, roll out and recover.

Tuesday

Morning Run

  • 3-4 miles faster pace

Chest and Triceps

  • Warmup

    • Walk then jog: 10-15 minutes on treadmill

  • Bodyweight

    • 50-100 burpees

  • Weights

    • Bench Press: Either weight progression or single weight. 5 sets. For example, 135x20, 155x15, 185x12, 225x8, and 235x5

    • Superset Incline Bench and Scull Crushers: 3 sets of 8 reps

    • Superset Chest Cable Flys and Tricep Kickbacks: 3 sets of 8 reps

    • Superset Flat Dumbbell Press and Cable Tricep Extensions: 3 sets of 8 reps

  • Bodyweight

    • Dips: 50 (as many sets as it takes you to get there)

    • Push-ups: 50 (as many sets as it takes you to get there)

  • Cool-down

    • Jog slow then walk: 5-10 minutes on treadmill

Take time after the workout, like in the evening, to stretch, roll out and recover.

Wednesday

Cardio

  • Warmup

    • Walk: 5 minutes on treadmill

  • Cardio

    • Run / Row Machine / Stair Stepper: 30-45 minutes

  • Body Weight

    • Weighted Pull-ups: 3 sets max reps with 1 min rest

    • Abs (see suggested exercises below)

  • Stretch

    • Take some extra time for stretching and rolling out

Thursday

Morning Run

  • 6 miles at moderate pace

Legs

  • Warmup

    • Walk then jog: 10-15 minutes on treadmill

  • Bodyweight

    • 50-100 air squats

  • Weights

    • Back Squat: Either weight progression or single weight. 5 sets. For example, 135x20, 155x15, 185x12, 225x8, and 275x5

    • Front Squats with Barb-bell or KettleBells: 3 sets 8 reps

    • Lunges: With weighted vest or dumbbells 3 sets 8 reps

  • Cool-down

    • Jog slow then walk: 5-10 minutes on treadmill

Take time after the workout, like in the evening, to stretch, roll out and recover.

Friday

Morning Run

  • 3-4 miles at faster pace

Shoulders

  • Warmup

    • Walk then jog: 10-15 minutes on treadmill

  • Bodyweight

    • Pike / Wall Push-up: 30 reps

  • Weights

    • Hang Clean: 3 sets 8 reps

    • In and Out Arm Raises: 3 sets of 8 reps

    • Shrugs: 3 sets of 8 reps

    • Standing or Sitting Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8 reps

    • Standing Upright Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps

  • Bodyweight

    • Pull-ups: 5 sets max reps with 1 minute rest in between

    • Abs (see suggested exercises below)

  • Cool-down

    • Jog slow then walk: 5-10 minutes on treadmill

Take time after the workout, like in the evening, to stretch, roll out and recover.

Saturday

Long-Run

  • Warmup

    • Walk: 5 minutes prior to running then slowly increase speed

  • Endurance

    • Run: 8-15 miles at a moderate pace depending on distance.

  • Stretch

    • Take extra time after the long run to stretch and roll out

Sunday

Recovery / Circuit

I typically don’t take a day off, but if you do Sunday is a good day. If not…

  • Warmup

    • Walk then jog: 10-15 minutes on treadmill

  • Circuit: 5 rounds

    • 25 burpees

    • 25 air squats

    • 25 crunches

    • 25 flutter kicks (count every fourth 1,2,3,1…1,2,3,2…1,2,3,3…)

    • 25 jumping jacks

  • Body Weight

    • Additional abs

  • Stretch

    • Take some extra time to stretch and roll out

Woking out like a United States Marine by Benjamin Steele

Ab exercises that will make you look great

I try to hit my abs 2-3 times a week and generally work them in at the end of a workout. Some of my favorite ab exercises include: (1) chair knee raises, (2) hanging toe to bars, (3) flutter kicks, (4) heel touchers, (5) V-ups, and (6) plank. Abs should be treated like another muscle group and given appropriate attention, but also not over worked. Additionally, I have found that lifts such as front squats, hang cleans, and KB front squats really help work the core.

How to prepare for the USMC PFT by Benjamin Steele

How physical exercise is good for you both mentally and physically

Fitness has had a profound effect on my life and I’ve witnessed it have similar positive effects on people around me. It’s made me more confident in who I am in a person as well as able to participate in almost any physical activity placed in front of me. It not only helps me look good, but it helps my mental stability as well.

Throughout the past year in the USMC, I have been faced with some incredibly challenging physical requirements, such as hiking 12+ miles with an incredibly heavy load as well as flak, kevlar and a weapon. Although I can’t say I have enjoyed all of these physical requirements, I can guarantee that I have become a better person because of them.

Just today I saw a video by retired Navy Seal David Goggins where he said that he had not missed a day of running since Dec 2016. I would love to have that statistic.

Preparing for the United States Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test by Benjamin Steele

What is physical fitness like in the Marine Corps?

Fitness is a very important topic in the USMC and I would guess that someone who isn’t physically strong would struggle to find much success as a leader in the organization. Personally, I haven’t seen many overweight Marines and I honestly do think it’s best that way.

How to max pull-ups by Benjamin Steele

In the USMC one can expect that physical training (PT) is primarily focuses around the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), which a Marine of any rank is expected to pass at least once a year. The PFT includes max pull-ups, max crunches in two minutes, and a three mile run. In order to get a perfect score, which is a 300, a Marine must do 23 strict pull-ups, 115 max crunches, and run a sub 18 minute three mile. A 300 score is the expectation, but it is difficult to achieve.

Organized group PT sessions will often focus on the PFT with lots of pull-ups, a variation of ab exercises, and lots of running. Most initial training phases of the USMC, such as Officer Candidates School (OCS), thrives on running and you literally run EVERYWHERE you go. OCS and The Basic School (TBS), both had challenging 4-5 miles Endurance Courses with varying obstacles that each candidate / Marine had to pass in order to graduate.

The first key to increasing pull-ups is as you guessed, doing more pull-ups, so that’s an exercise that I try to fit in at least three times a week. I’ve never been exceptional at pull-ups, so this is something I’ve tried to focus on.

In addition to PFT related workouts, I have also noticed that USMC training incorporates a good balance of CrossFit type of workouts, HIIT Training, martial arts, and of course hiking…lots of hiking.

If you or someone you know is considering to join the Marine Corps, then I would recommend you get in shape.

Making fitness a part of your life by Benjamin Steele

Final thoughts…

I hope that the above workout schedule will give you plenty of ideas on how to get started on your fitness journey to a more healthy and happy lifestyle. It really just comes down to writing your own plan and sticking to it no matter the costs. Fitness has helped my own life so much, I want to do literally anything I can to help you on your own journey. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Thank you,

Ben