The pull-up portion of the PFT is typically either a big help in points, (especially for those who struggle on the 3-mile run) or it can hurt your score pretty significantly if you’re having trouble with them.
Since 20 pull-ups is a perfect score (100 points), each pull-up is worth 5 points towards your overall PFT Score. This is why they are so important, adding on a single pull-up is the equivalent of adding 5 crunches or taking 50 seconds off of your run time. So if you’re struggling to put up a good number in the pull-ups, it’s imperative that you put more focus into them.
Keep in mind that not every Marine can or ever will bust out 20 pullups, so don’t panic. I know we’d all love to hit the 20 mark, but reality says that not all of us ever will for one reason or another and there is nothing wrong with this. Like in any USMC event, as long as you give it 100 percent all the time, you will be fine. There is no need to panic if you are enlisting into the USMC and can only do 1-3 pull-ups. This is actually very common and most of you will improve your pull-ups while in the DEP up to the 12-18 pull-up range, so once again, don’t panic.
You also need to understand that you must do a proper “USMC” pull-up in order for it to count. They will not count your pull-ups if they are not done in the proper manner. Here are some basic rules in regards to official Marine Corps pull-ups and as always, you can ask your recruiter to show you how to do them or you can watch the following video:
- You can do them either palms in or palms out. This includes while in boot camp and as a Marine. Find which method works best for you, and master it.
- When you mount the pull-up bar, you must hang there for a second or two until they tell you to begin. You don’t just hop on the bar and start busting them out. No sir.
- Your chin must cross the bar, so having your head tilted back will give you an advantage.
- You can rest while doing your pull-up and you can adjust your hands.You just can’t get off the bar and get back on.
- When you come down, your elbows must lock out completely (dead hang) before you go back up. If they don’t, your pull-up wont count.
- When you are done, you must dead hang until told to get off. You do not just jump off the bar when you feel like it.
- You cannot flap and sway all over the place while doing pull-ups. You must be in control.
Your ultimate goal is to be able to complete 20+ perfect pull-ups and earn that total 100 points toward your PFT. But for now it’s important that you set a realistic goal within a realistic time frame. If you can only do 5 pull-ups now, don’t expect to be doing 20 within a month. Here is the method that Future Jarheads preaches and it seems to work wonders for your confidence level if you follow this plan:
If you cannot bust out 15 pull-ups right now, then you need to not worry about the 20 pull-up mark. Let’s say you can only bust out 3 pull-ups. Your next goal should be 5. Once you reach this level, your next goal should be 10. Once you hit 10 pull-ups, you want to make your next goal 15 and once you can bang out 15 on a regular basis, you shoot for 20. By doing it this way, you gain some confidence as you reach each goal mark. You should always aim for your next goal. Since no one jumps from 2-3 pull-ups to 20 overnight, this is why you have to set smaller goals that are more realistic. Most people will improve quickly up to a certain number and then they will hit a wall. So don’t panic and don’t worry if you can’t reach a certain number. We all are not made to bust out 20 pull-ups, so be very honest with yourself.
Not everyone is a pull-up stud. Some guys can hop on the bar for the first time and bust out 20, while others can train for months and still fail to reach the mark.
For those who are taller and have longer arms, pull-ups are going to be more difficult as there is a greater range of motion to be covered. Logic also tells us that if you are heavier, it will be more difficult, so for those of you who are heavier and trying to lose weight, you will most likely notice your pull-ups slowly increasing as you shed the extra pounds. That does not mean to wait until the pounds are off to start training with them.
Be sure to read through the comments for some advice and tips about pull-ups from your peers. And if you have anything to add, feel free to do so.