Thursday, June 12, 2008

USMC RECON Fitness Training

USMC RECON Fitness Training
by Stew Smith

There are two types of RECON Marines: "Battalion" & "Force" RECON. The training paths for Marines in both RECON units are similar. The RECON Marine's advanced training focuses on a platoon's likely missions while deployed, so Battalion and Force RECON Marines basically differ only in who their boss is - either the Battalion Commander or the Task Force Commander.

Initial training consists of Marine Recruit Training, and the School of Infantry, which is the standard training where EVERY Marine learns to be a rifleman. Recently, changes in recruiting have enabled young recruits with little experience to attend the RECON Indoctrination Program (RIP). Students with the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 0321 RECON Marine are then assigned to the Basic Recon Course (BRC). The new Marine will be placed in BRC with Marines with several years experience as well. But upon successful completion of the BRC, all Marines report to their assigned recon unit & receive various professional, technical and tactical training. Ask your recruiter about the RECON MOS Option if interested in becoming a RECON Marine.

Marine Recon INDOC

1st Force Recon's current "indoc" or RIP is a 48 hr. evolution. Previously, in order to even get invited to attend the indoctrination course, you must have between 3-4 years of experience in the field and should be scoring at least 285 on the Marine Corps PFT: As with any Special Operations units, you must be a stellar Marine with a near flawless record. Recently, the new program mentioned above will allow highly motivated new recruits a chance to attend RIP. As long as they are physically above average and are able to reach the scores above (275 enlisted - 285 officer) they can attend after boot camp. Below scores represent a perfect 300 on the USMC PFT:

  • - 3-mile run (18:00min 100pts)
  • - 20 pull-ups (dead hang) 100pts
  • - 100 sit-ups/2min. 100pts.

You will be required to perform two obstacle courses in under 2:00 each time, swim 500 meters in full cammies in 17:00, and other fun water activities. 10-mile ruck with 50lbs pack in less than 2 hours is also graded.

It helps to prepare months in advance with swimming at least 4-5 times a week. Wear cammies and fins at least once a week too. Minimum swim practice time should be an hour daily.

You will also be required to perform what is called a Level Test, which is:
  • - Max Push ups 2min.
  • - Max Sit ups 2min.
  • - Max Pull ups 2min.
  • - Max Flutter Kicks 2min.
  • - Max 8 Count pushups in 2:00
  • - Max scissors in 2:00
Your calisthenics workouts should consist of the above exercises performed every other day for a total of 3-4 times per week. The day of PT rest will help your muscles recover and be able to gain more reps in two minutes. Also practice perfect form but do each of the exercises as fast as you can. Speed and endurance is your goal.

Running is also a major part of INDOC. You should run at least 4-5 times per week and perform a rucksack run once a week in order to prepare for the following:

  • - Forced March (or "Hump") for 20 miles @ 4-5mph
  • - Rucksack Run 3-4 miles timed (with 50 lb)
After repeating the Marine PFT again you get to interview with the Team Leader and Company CO/XO. You may physically make it but still not get selected. Usually, it is attitude and teamwork difficulties that get you rejected at this phase of INDOC. Once selected, the Marines are assigned Recon Indoctrination Platoon. This is similar to going back to USMC Recruit Training. The Marines have only supervised liberty, physical training and classes at all time of the day and night at the Amphibious Reconnaissance School (ARS) in Little Creek, VA or Coronado, CA. Once the Marine finishes ARS, he is a Reconnaissance Marine.

PT programs used to train for the Marine Corps PFT can be found in the following links:

Other Marine Corps Fitness Related Links:

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

USMC Special Operations
RECON Fitness Training
The Combat Swimmer Stroke
Performing for Special Forces
SpecOps Fitness Prep
SpecOps: Who's Toughest?

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