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Marine Corps Base Hawaii

"Supporting Readiness and Global Projection"

Combat Fitness Test Preparation: Prepare for annual fitness test with key exercises

By Lance Cpl. Janelle Chapman | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | August 23, 2013


Once a year, from July to December, Marines all over the world must complete the Combat Fitness Test. Retired Gen. James T. Conway, the 34th commandant of the Marine Corps, added the CFT to Marine Corps fitness testing in 2008 as a more combat-oriented version of the Physical Fitness Test.

Marines have options to prepare for a CFT instead of running a mock course. Four main types of exercises help prepare and condition the body for the grueling stages of the CFT; power lifting, high-intensity tactical training, agility drills and speed and strength exercises, according to Beckie Page, personal trainer and assistant manager at Semper Fit.

“Any speed, agility or strength training will help,” Page said. “Anything you do will pretty much help you with your CFT.”

Marines are sometimes offered opportunities to prepare for CFTs through unit physical training or battalion level fitness events.

“Headquarters Battalion holds remedial physical training every morning from 7 to 9 a.m.,” said Sgt. Landon Chapman, training noncommissioned officer in charge, Headquarters Battalion. “Anyone from Headquarters Battalion is welcome to come. We meet at the battalion’s S-3 at 6:45 a.m. I’m a certified High Intensity Tactical Training instructor so sometimes we will go to the HITT gym or just work out here.”

These four types of exercises not only help for the CFT but also aid in combat conditioning.

Power lifting helps increase power, speed and strength by using heavy weights and low repetitions. It is best to incorporate these in your exercise regiment once to twice per week.

High-intensity interval training is a mixture of high-intensity exercises with lower-intensity exercises for recovery according to This type of exercise helps Marines attain the ability to sprint with heavy loads, like the 30-pound ammo can sprint.

Agility drills help condition the body to make quick turns and helps train the knees and ankles to respond appropriately. During the maneuver under fire portion, Marines must make quick turns, and without proper conditioning this can cause injury according to

To best increase speed and strength, combine them both into your workout according to Page. For the CFT, everything is timed, and two of the three stages involve carrying or lifting heavy objects. Without having the strength, Marines will tire quickly, and without having the speed, the Marine’s time will not be as good as anticipated.

“You have to eat right and work out for best results,” Page said. “If you work out like a crazy person but aren’t eating healthy, then they basically combat each other. You have to maintain your fitness and healthy diet. You can’t just cram like you would for a test and work out for two days. It would be useless.”

By carrying out these types of exercises, and adding them to your daily workout routine, you can better prepare. And with better preparation comes fewer injuries. Condition your body and reap the outcome of a better CFT score.

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