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CFT: Get Some

This post originally appeared in the 2009 issue of Marines magazine here.

CFT. When some Marines hear those three letters together, they might get a little nervous, sort of along the same lines as hearing the words “the gas chamber.” On the other hand, some Marines may get excited. Nevertheless, the CFT is part of the Marine Corps now, so get ready to get some.

Expand your Focus
Training for the CFT will be different than training for the Physical Fitness Test. The CFT involves more explosive movements and uses a wider range of muscles.

“Don’t try to prepare specifically for the CFT,” said Capt. Roger Head, officer-in-charge of the Marine Corps’ Combat Conditioning Program, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. “We have noticed Marines who train especially for the physical fitness test do well, but can’t perform as well on other physical tasks.”

cropped-08gimpedlt.jpgSgt. Danielle C. K. Holladay, former chief instructor of the CCP, explained CFT workouts should be geared toward cross training activities: shorter in duration but high in intensity. Also important are  interval training and overall upper body development.

Since the CFT is comprised of short duration activities, it’s important to start training the body for maximum production during those times. “This will help you increase your output before your muscles start to burn and your ability to process oxygen fades while conducting intense activities,” Holladay said.

Build for a Constant State of Readiness
It is important to constantly vary your workouts as your body adapts to your routine. Varied training cycles create more effective workouts for your time and effort.

Continue reading CFT: Get Some

Question: PFT and CFT Rest at OCS


I have a question about the PFT and the CFT. Are the events (like pull-up, 3 mile run and crunches) back to back or is there a rest period in between?


I have always gotten enough time to catch my breath, get some water and even do a little quick stretching in between. At OCS, you will have so much time in between events that the worry is muscles cooling too much if it is winter or fall, in my opinion. They take a few minutes to total everyone’s scores and give instructions for the following event. Same for the PFT & CFT. The Official Marine Corps order for the CFT actually mandates a minimum of five minutes between events, so you will never be too rushed for the CFT.


Make Your Own Ammo Can to Train for the CFT!

The second component of the Combat Fitness Test is the Ammo Can Lift. To train for this unique exercise, you could use a 30-lb dumbbell gripped with both hands…or you could make your own can!

The Can

Normal 5.56mm (M-16 ammunition) ammo boxes are generally used, but if you can’t find any on ebay or Amazon, then something close like a .50 cal box would be fine. The weight is what needs to be precise: 30 lbs.

The Weight

Just fill it with sand or earth until it weighs net 30 pounds. Not rocket science here.


Grit tape makes for an excellent grip-enhancer. After running or in the heat, your hands will get very sweaty and the ammo can could easily slip and drop to the ground, or worse, hit you in the face. Be careful if you don’t use the tape!

Most units in the Marine Corps, and also at OCS, you will have boxes prepared with grit tape.

CFT Ammo Box Lifting