2017 Update: How to score the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test

You’ve heard the phrase, “Every Marine a rifleman.”  It’s true.

It’s also generally true that Marines stay in great physical shape.  According to USMC policy:

Every Marine must be physically fit, regardless of age, grade, gender, or duty assignment…

One way the Marines maintain and test their fitness levels is through the Combat Fitness Test, or CFT.

The purpose of the CFT is to assess a Marine’s physical capacity in a broad spectrum of combat related tasks.

Basically the CFT exists to test how fit a Marine is.  Through three events (Movement to Contact, Maneuver Under Fire, and Ammo Can Lift), a Marine’s combat fitness level is assigned a numerical value.  This value is used for a number of different things, chief of which is as a way to compete for promotion.

Marine Corps officer candidates participate in a grueling combat fitness test. Pictured, Staff Member, right, encourages candidate Duddy, who is carrying candidate Collins during the maneuvering under fire test. Nov 23, 2022

So how can you make sure you’re actually competitive?  Well…look at the numbers.  The newest CFT standards and how to score your results were released in mid-December 2016, but here they are to make life easier for you hard-chargers.

usmc combat fitness test minimum standards
Minimums (aka: barely good enough)
usmc combat fitness test class

Movement to Contact (MTC):


Maneuver Under Fire (MANUF):


Ammo Can Lift (ACL):



Big CFT Changes Coming

Check out the official All-Marines Message, and the story on the Marine Corps Times:

CFT gets tougher

About seven years after the Combat Fitness Test was developed, data showed that Marines had clearly mastered the sprint, ammo-can lift and maneuver-under-fire events.

About 90 percent of Marines were scoring a first class on the CFT, Lukeman told Marine Corps Times last fall.

“The standards may have been too low when we established them to begin with,” he said.


Now things are about to get harder.

For example, male Marines through the age of 25 currently need to lift the 30-pound ammunition can overhead from shoulder height at least 45 times in two minutes to pass, and need 91 reps for a max score. The minimum requirement has more than doubled to at least 67 lifts, and between 106 and 120 reps will be needed for a max score, depending on age.

Most female Marines, who currently need at least 20 or 21 reps, will be required to belt out 30 and anywhere from 66 to 75 reps for the max score — a 42-percent increase for women in their late 20s.

In addition, roughly 10 seconds was cut from the time needed to get max score in the 300-yard maneuver under fire event, and 5 seconds in the 880-yard movement to contact.

“The new PFT and CFT standards raise the bar on physical fitness for all Marines,” said Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, commanding general of Training and Education Command. “Marines today are stronger, faster and fitter than ever and these changes reflect that. Bigger and stronger often means heavier, so tying performance on the PFT and CFT to changes to the Body Composition Program are improvements that we think the Marines will appreciate.”


Read more here at Marine Corps Times


CFT Ammo Can Questions

Question: Would it help on the real test if you train using a 35lb-40lb can?

Answer: It could help to do a can a little heavier than normal, perhaps 35 lbs, but training with the real thing will also be advantageous for you since the timing and rhythm will be exactly the same on the real test. A heavier can might be more appropriate for separate, general strength goals then test-specific training.

Question: I’m also using a 5.56mm can, instead of the one in the link, i’m assuming that doesn’t really matter much?

Answer: Correct-the size of the can is not going to be a significant factor. It will just be useful to get used to the awkward boxiness of the can. You can even just use a 30 or 35 lb dumbbell if that’s all you have.

The Ultimate CFT Preparation Workout


This workout plan provides for 3 workouts a week with 1 active recovery day. Every training day consists of a warmup, intense workout, and a cooldown. The equipment ideally includes a 35 pound ammo can, dumbbells, and a barbell. For your active recovery day, although a bike or elliptical is recommended, swimming or any other aerobic activity that is soft on your joints could work. Continue reading The Ultimate CFT Preparation Workout