PFT Run at OCS

Benchmarks And Workouts For TBS. A Good Reference For…

The Basic School and Marine OCS require officers and candidates to be physically prepared for the training ahead. These are the recommended benchmarks and suggested workouts for Marine Officers preparing for TBS. This information was obtained from eMarines, and will give you a general idea of what to expect.

There isn’t much difference when it comes to OCS prep. If you can do these workouts and meet the benchmarks then you won’t have any trouble.


1. Hike 3-5 miles for 3-4 consecutive days with 15-35 lbs
Justification: Hiking is a consistent exercise and function at TBS. Hiking to and from field exercises and training areas will be consistent. Simply being on your feet all day with body armor can be a challenge for some.

2. Perform running 3-5x week on multiple surfaces and terrain (approximately 12-18 miles per week)
Justification: You will encounter uneven surfaces and varied distances such as the Endurance Course, Land Navigation, and Field Exercises. Building a consistent base of running will be helpful.

3. Perform plyometrics exercises such as: Squat jumps, burpees, jump rope, box jumps
Justification: maneuvering up and down obstacles such as logs, over streams, walls, and barriers will be necessary in a variety of events.

4. Perform weight training exercises with machines, free weights, or Olympic weight
Justification: There are many benefits to weight training and load bearing exercise such as increasing bone density and increasing muscle strength. Have a weight training program at minimum 2 times a week.

There are many conditioning programs available with a wide variety of goals. Try the below exercise program to see if joint or muscle pain become significant.

Sample Exercises

Clean & Squat OR Clean & Overhead Press 10 x 95lb
Box Jump 15x (approximately 16-20 inch)
Kettle Bell Swing 15x 26Kg
Decline sit up 20x
Clap and push up 10x
(Scale weight as needed)

For those with lower extremity pain, injury or surgery

Single leg hops equal in HEIGHT to the unaffected side
Single leg bounding equal DISTANCE to the unaffected side
Range of motion equal or near equal to unaffected side
Single leg squat strength with stable hip and knee
Martial Arts: Leg sweeps, heavy bag kicks, push kicks

For those with upper extremity pain, injury, surgery

Pull ups without pain
Single arm press resistance equal to unaffected side
Clapping push ups
Dynamic side planks
Wall hand stand
Range of motion equal or near equal to unaffected side
Martial Arts: forward shoulder roll, heavy bag strikes, break falls

Sample Workout Programs For OCS/TBS Prep

Week 1


Morning: Low impact cardio 30 mins
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run 2 miles moderate
Evening: Weight train (L), run sprints


Morning: Off
Evening: Sprints


Morning: Weight train (H), Low impact cardio
Evening: Run 3 miles


Morning: Lo Impact
Evening: Weight train (L), Plyometric, run 2 miles


Morning: Foam roller, flexibility
Evening: Run 1 mile interval x 2

Week 2


Morning: Off
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run sprints
Evening: Weight training (M)


Morning: Run 2 miles
Evening: Weight Training (H)


Morning: Flexibility, foam roller
Evening: Sprints 5×100


Morning: Weight train (L)
Evening: Plyometric, run 2 miles


Morning: Foam roller, flexibility
Evening: Weight train (H)

(L) = Light weight exercises: Body weight, 50% of maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 15 and 20.
(M) = Moderate weight exercises: Body weight + weight vest, 70% maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 10 and 15.
(H) = Heavy weight exercises: Near maximal lifting capacity, 85-90% maximal effort, allowing for repetitions between 6 and 8.
Plyometric = Jump routine with jump rope, box jumps, bounding jumps
Foam roller & Flexibility = development of warm up and stretching for range of motion, flexibility training and recuperation.

Marine With A UAV

A Note On MOS Selection And UAV Officers

At TBS there is going to be an “MOS Mixer”, which is basically where a bunch of Captains talk about their Marine Occupational Specialties then you go to the bar and talk to them over beers. It is a great experience that will give real insight into what being an officer in a certain MOS means.

UAV Officers

The UAV Officer MOS is a brand new officer MOS and no one knows anything about it. Here’s is some basic gouge about the UAV MOS that came up during the mixer.

  • UAV Officers work with a team of two or three Marines operating a UAV from a FOB.
  • The UAV Officer is the mission commander who directs the operation of the UAV, gathers intelligence from the feed, and supervises the coordination of that intelligence with the S-2 and whatever unit on the ground the UAV is supporting
  • In the future, the Marine Corps will be arming UAVs. When that happens, officers will begin directly operating them, as enlisted personnel are not allowed to operate craft that can drop ordinance.
  • This is a growing industry. It’s the only growing field in the Marine Corps at the time
  • Marines who get selected for UAVs will go to several Air Force schools. You’ll get your basic pilot’s license flying a Cessna, then focus on UAV material. Similarly to flight school, training will take a few years.
  • Currently, Marines selected for UAVs have only a 55% pass rate through UAV schools. This is an Air Force school that is heavily academic, and Marines coming out of TBS tend not to be prepared because TBS doesn’t teach you any skills relevant to operating a UAV. On the other hand, Air Force LTs show up with a thorough understanding of how the aircraft works.
  • Marine UAV operators are extremely successful once they get to the fleet. Since TBS teaches infantry tactics, how to coordinate with infantry, and how to call for fire, Marine UAV operators are effective as forward observers for fire support.

Some thoughts on MOS selection

If you want infantry, you’re probably going to get it. People are getting dropped and DOR-ing from IOC at a pretty incredible rate right now, which is leaving a lot of openings. Some classes have over 50 infantry slots! Some people who DON’T want infantry are probably going to get it. When you take away reservists, flight contacts, and females (not sure how the new regulations will impact numbers), 1 in every 4 male active duty Lieutenants will get infantry.


Crew Served Weapons Instruction

The Basic School: Patrol, Combined Arms, and Crew Served…

There are several Field Exercises that you will have to undergo at The Basic School.  This will provide an overview of the Combined Arms and Patrol FEXes along with a brief note on Crew Served Weapons.

Patrol FEX

Patrolling is basically what it sounds like: organizing a squad to conduct reconnaissance of the area or make contact with the enemy. Your combat order for FEX I gets more complicated than SULE II orders were at Officer Candidates School. Patrol takes it to a whole new level. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t been introduced to non-OCS combat orders, but to sum it up in a nutshell: with a patrol you have no idea where the enemy is, only a vague idea of what their doing, and your job is to figure out what their up to and disrupt it. You’ll be covering a huge area over the course of about 4 hours, so the level of detail that has to go into your order is overwhelming.

Patrolling itself is exhausting, because you’re walking through incredibly rough terrain carrying 50lbs and up. Every now and then you take enemy contact, enemy indirect fire, or something else that requires you to run. Be prepared to get physically worn down during Patrol FEX. This applies to all FEXes, but patrol FEX especially.

It’s not easy.

Combined Arms FEX

Combined Arms FEX is a great experience. It’s only a day long, but during that day you’ll act as an artillery / mortar forward observer and call for fire on targets 1000-2000 meters away. The sound of the round impacting literally shakes you, even though you’re a mile away. The bleachers by the tower actually shook when a round hit the deck.

As an aside, calling for fire and constructing fire support plans are EXTREMELY important skills both for academic tests and for your tactical billets on FEXes. Spend a lot of time studying them when you get there. Also, if you’ve tossed out artillery as an MOS that you don’t want you should still come to TBS with an open mind.

Learning about Fire Support is one of the most legitimate things you’ll get out of TBS. The Marine Corps’ ability to effectively use IDF assets like artillery and mortars is what allows us to actually practice maneuver warfare and put the bad guys in a combined arms dilemma. When learning it you start actually feeling like an officer with real Warfighting skills.

Crew Served Weapons

Crew Served Weapons Instruction

There are a few introduction classes to crew served weapons organic to infantry, which are basically mortars, medium machine guns (M240), heavy machine guns (M2 .50cal, Mk19 grenade launcher), and various anti-armor weapons (SMAW, Javelin, etc). The ones you’ll actually be employing at TBS are the M240 and possibly the .50cal on patrol FEX, though you’ll learn the basic operations of most of them. There will be a FEX for this as well.

Marine on a hump through wet terrain

Field Exercise I (FEX I) at The Basic School

Marine on a hump through wet terrainWhen it comes to Field Exercise I you should be prepared to be extremely physically miserable. There is obscene amounts of weight to be carried — over 100lbs. You will be humping all over the place, dealing with the weather, and sleeping on the cold, wet ground. Bottom line here is that you, and everyone around you, will be completely and totally miserable.

The experience you have will depend on what time of year you go through TBS. The winter/early spring has a unique set of problems. You have to wear warming layers to stay warm, but once you start a hump, or an attack, you immediately heat up. Therefore, you can’t wear them when you’re doing those things. Once the attack is over, you’re covered in sweat and not wearing anything warm so you get freezing cold again. You also have to pack a lot of additional gear in the winter (e.g., warming layers, extra sleeping bag, goretex, etc), so the weight goes up. Prepare to be physically uncomfortable in the field at TBS.

Don’t take this to be a reason to feel sorry for yourself. It is here to encourage you to be mentally prepared for it and embrace it in advance. About 75% of your peers will go “internal” during the FEX; that is, they will

  1. space out frequently
  2. become absorbed in their own discomfort
  3. and fail to be able to operate effectively as part of the team.

It is essential that you not be one of these people

During the cold months you will be tempted to go internal; it’s so easy not to care. Fight this urge if you want to be viewed as a leader in the squad. Peer evaluations are due the Monday after FEX I.

FEX Overview

The attacks themselves are fairly similar to SULE II from Marine OCS. The order isn’t supposed to be simple memorization like OCS. You’re expected to have a very simple Fire Support Plan (FSP), and the staff does care about things like dispersion and CASEVAC plans. If you pay attention to classes in the weeks prior to the FEX, you have good public speaking skills, and you’re capable of making snap decisions, you’ll be fine.


The ability to effectively deliver an order without glancing at notes too much is essential.

Land Navigation

There will be some land navigation during FEX I, and it will be incredibly challenging. The training area is about 3-6 square miles, and you’ll be going from one end of it to the other in a time limit of 5 hours looking for boxes. It’s just as physically challenging as it is mentally, so don’t get discouraged if you fail.

Field Exercise Squad Live Fire

The last major event during the Field Exercise is a squad live fire range. This is basically where you do a SULE against drop-down targets on uneven terrain … with live ammunition. A billet holder gets assigned to these and delivers an order for a simple frontal attack. Imagine doing buddy rushes with real bullets. It is an incredibly exciting and intense experience.

Once you’re done with that, you hump 6 miles back to Camp Barret with about 110 lbs of gear. It is unpleasant and your feet are destroyed by that point, but home is the light at the end of the tunnel. It can’t be stressed enough, train for humps. They are easily the most difficult thing about TBS.

Marine navigating an obstacle

TBS Phase I and II Recap

The following information provides a quick overview of some events that will be encountered during Phase I and II of The Basic School.

Land Navigation

You’ll do a LOT of land navigation throughout The Basic School. A lot of it is just practice. The final event is in Training Area 16 which you are not allowed to enter for any reason before final land navigation. Looking at it on a map, it’s HUGE. You will work your way up to that level throughout the POI.

In its essence, land navigation hasn’t changed much since OCS. You’ll be doing basically the same thing and you need the same basic fundamentals. You will do both day and night courses at TBS. You need to make sure you understand the following concepts:

  • 8 digit grid coordinates
  • Use of a protractor
  • Use of a lensatic compass
  • Use of the GM angle to convert from a grid to a magnetic azimuth
  • Use of a pace count
  • Ability to identify terrain features on the map and associate them with features in the real world (terrain association)

At TBS, you need to apply all of the above if you want to succeed, or you will never find your box.

Overall, land navigation is not incredibly difficult. You have to drop lazy habits gained at OCS and actually apply the fundamentals. Take the time to learn the fundamentals so that it can be a relaxing experience for you, not a stressful one.

Night Land Navigation

Night land navigation is a lot like OCS, but in a much bigger area. Basically you walk back and forth between a stream and a road (about 800m apart) on an assigned azimuth and hope you hit the box you’re supposed to on the other side. There isn’t much advice to give on this, since all you can really do is take your time and follow directions. DEFINITELY wear eye protection when you do it though. You will have an eye poked out if you don’t.

Endurance Course

The E-Course isn’t as difficult as you may think. The course consists of an O-Course and 5 miles with various obstacles in the middle. You’re carrying an LBV with an assault pack full for various gear, kevlar, and your rifle. It’s definitely a lot of weight. That said, the times for passing are extremely generous. For males, 60 mins is max and 80 is passing. If you’re in shape, the E-Course won’t be a problem.

Double Obstacle Course

The Double-O is actually very difficult. It’s exactly what it sounds like: two O-Courses. It’s not too hard to pass, but it can be tough to score well. For males the times are 3 max and 5 pass. There’s really no good way to practice except to PT as usual, and work on your technique whenever you get the chance.

Squad Weapons FEX

Part of the subject matter you cover during Phase II is how to use various squad weapons, including the M249 SAW, M203 grenade launcher, M67 frag, and AT-4 rocket launcher. One day you go out to a range and shoot all of these weapons. Not very exciting, because you shoot a 9mm training round instead of an actual rocket. On the other hand, you are getting paid to shoot stuff, so there’s no reason to complain.

Phase II Exam I

Heads up, a LOT of people fail this exam, so study for it. Apparently it’s the hardest exam in the POI.


Combat orders are a lot more detailed than those you did during OCS. Before beginning to write you will go through a METT-TC analysis (Mission Enemy Troops Time Terrain Civilians), which is an extremely detailed look at everything affectingthe mission. Based on that information, you begin writing the order. It doesn’t work like OCS where you basically copy and paste higher’s order into various parts of yours; you’re expected to actually exercise tactical thought.

The other thing that makes things a little more interesting is Fire Support. Every order you give will likely have a Fire Support Plan (FSP). It’s interesting learning material, but it is a lot to memorization. Basically, you’re FSP describes how you plan to use those indirect fire (IDF) assets available to you, including mortars and artillery. Learning the capabilities of these weapons, the kinds of rounds available for use, and when to employ them is what makes a lot of people trip up on Phase II Exam I. It’s all vital information so don’t neglect to learn it.