Ace the Marines' Physical Fitness Test: Do More Pull-Ups

Want to do more Pull-Ups? Follow these three tips from former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Stew Smith.

Do More Pull-Ups

For many recruits considering the U.S. Marine Corps., one obstacle looms above all others: the Pull-Up. In the Marines, every soldier must take the Physical Fitness Test twice a year and earn a passing score: three Pull-Ups for men or a 15-second Flexed Arm Hang for women. Even recruits who have no problem with other aspects of the physical fitness test often struggle to reach those standards on the Pull-Up.

How to Do More Pull-Ups

If you can't reach your Pull-Up goal, try the following tips from former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Stew Smith to do more Pull-Ups in a matter of weeks.

  1. Practice Pull-Ups – No exercise will train your body to do more Pull-Ups than the Pull-Up itself. Work Pull-Ups into your routine every other day. If you're currently participating in a sport, it will only benefit your game.
  2. Do Negative Pull-Ups – After completing your maximum number of Pull-Ups, push to muscle failure with Negative Pull-Ups. Performing negatives exercises requires a controlled lowering of a weight (or your body) to the starting position. For Negative Pull-Ups, start with your chin above the bar and lower your body slowly over a five-second count.
  3. Isolate Pull-Up Muscles – Immediately after completing a set of Pull-Ups, move to exercises that isolate the Pull-Up muscles: lats, biceps and forearms.

No problem exceeding the Marines' minimum standards? Excellent! Now, strive for perfection. Using the plan outlined above, work to reach the maximum of 100 points on this portion of the Physical Fitness Test by completing 20 Pull-Ups for men or a 70-second Flexed Arm Hang for women.

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