Are you thinking about joining the Marines? Are you curious to what the first steps into becoming a Marine are? This is where being a Marine Poolee comes into play. Being a Marine Poolee is the first step into becoming a Marine and getting a somewhat neat blue shirt with the Marines EGA on it.

What is Marine Poolee

A Marine Poolee is just someone who has already gone through some of steps to become a Marine. A poolee has already gone through MEPS, done their ASVAB, and has sworn in. They also get a pretty neat blue shirt that you will see all poolees wear. You will also be given a ship date which tells you when you are scheduled to go to bootcamp. This is really when things get a bit more serious. However, at this stage it is okay you are most likely in an open contract and it is fine to not meet the physical standards yet. As the idea is while you are in the DEP you can hopefully get out of an open contract to one that you want and improve your physical fitness to be able to go to bootcamp. You also can still have long hair and facial hair. Just in case you were wondering.

Can you still back out?

Yes, at this stage you can still back out. Nothing bad will happen, except your recruiter will probably not be your biggest fan since he or she lost a contract. But that is the recruiter’s problem and you should not be concerned with that if you really think you do not want to go through with becoming a Marine. I am not here to tell everyone to be a Marine, I’m just here to tell you the truth with hopefully not any bias.

Being a Marine Poolee

Being a Marine Poolee means you are currently set to go to bootcamp and become a Marine. This however does not mean you are one, and don’t need to be arrogant about being a Marine Poolee. So don’t be that poolee who thinks they are a badass, and there are some who act this way. It’s cool that you have decided to be a poolee but just don’t go overboard with it.

This also means you will most likely will be required to start going to the DEP workouts that they do on Saturdays. These were kind of mandatory at my DEP. Where one of the two of these DEP workouts were just IST’s to see who could pass the IST. The other workout was just a workout that recruiters ran with all the other poolees.

Don’t be like me and sleep in on your first DEP workout. That’s what happened to me and I was slightly embarrassed. I never oversleep and when I showed up the DEP workout my recruiter gave me a 10 pound dumbbell to carry throughout the entire DEP workout. A workout buddy if you will. So any workout we did I had to carry my buddy during whatever exercise we were doing. We are doing sprints, well I need to do it holding my buddy. Squats, squats with my buddy. End the DEP workout with a 1.5-mile run, oh I will also be doing that with my buddy. Was it kind of funny? Not during, but now it is.

Being a Marine Poolee
Neat Marine Poolee shirt

Marine Poolees

Congrats on your decision on completing your first steps in being a Marine. Don’t go overboard with being a Marine Poolee, and if you do its okay. But you will look back once you have completed bootcamp and just feel embarrassed you acted like an idiot. Any concerns or questions feel free to comment below.

Check out some of our other posts about joining the Marines. Joining the Military After High School and USMC IST/ PFT- Running.

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Physical Standards Running

3 Miles
Males                                                              Females
Maximum – 18 Minutes                  Maximum – 21 Minutes
Minimum – 27:40 Minutes              Minimum – 30:50 Minutes
are the PFT standards for both males and females with the maximum and minimums


When you decide to join the Marines you will be put in the DEP (Delayed Entry Program). Once you are in the DEP you will do the IST (Initial Strength Test) during your poolee functions and throughout your time in the DEP until you ship to bootcamp. Usually your recruiters will test you and everyone else in the DEP once a month during a poolee function. The only difference between the IST and the PFT (Physical Fitness Test) is just the running portion. In the PFT you will run 3 miles and in the IST you will only run 1.5 miles. So, throughout your time in the DEP and when you first go to Bootcamp you will only be tested by IST standards.

Don’t worry if you are not in shape from the beginning. Recruiters understand this and are there to get your ready for boot camp. I failed my IST for the first 6 months of when I was in the DEP, as I couldn’t do more than 1 pullup, yes 1 pullup, haha.

Side note- You will finally do a PFT later in bootcamp but keep the PFT in mind. Since you are reading this I assume you are trying to do more than just the minimum so understand that you will be tested for the PFT.

If you struggle with the running portion, I do have some tips in running faster. I will admit this was the one portion of the PFT that I didn’t struggle with. I was pretty decent in being able to run somewhat fast for a while, it is probably my only physical ability that could be considered a gift. I did very bad on the pullups and on the crunches for months in the DEP until I got better and figured it out. (Later posts I will explain those).

If you have trouble running just be honest with yourself and understand you just need to work on it. To get faster I would do and did wind sprints.

Wind Sprints

Wind Sprints: Just running at an increased pace compared to your normal pace for 20-60 seconds, then returning to your normal pace. Do this repeatedly during a run.

You don’t need to run your max speed to get faster all the time, just an increased pace, faster than your normal pace for the 20-60 seconds. I would sometimes run full speed just to make it harder for myself, but don’t do it every time unless you feel really motivated that day. The key here is progression and if you are going to exhaust yourself where you don’t consistently go for runs then doing this would not benefit you. Then return to your normal pace and do it throughout your run. So, I would do this either with a watch, but really, I would just run around my neighborhood and increase my pace by two different points. Like, this tree and that tree or I will run faster at that house until that other house. Keep it simple. This is the best way I found to get faster.

Sprints work well too, but I just never really liked to do sprints. Sprints are hard let’s be honest. Wind sprints incorporate sprints obviously but really doing sprints is what will make you faster. In my DEP workouts we would usually do suicides (if you have done sports you will know what they are), and this would be a good time to work on getting faster.  


But remember, as this is important, focus on progress. Progression is what matters. You will not just start hitting max times or being the best runner after a couple of runs. It does take time and just focus on progression. With progress you can start seeing improvements. This is the best advice I would give is to focus on progress and adjust if you are not getting results. This is how I went from 0-1 pullups in my first 6 months of being in the DEP to doing 17 pullups once I left for boot camp. Lots of adjusting of the types of workouts and exercises I would do.

Feel free to comment below on anything and if you want to ask any questions. These are the USMC IST/PFT Running tips that will help with speed. Also if you want to subscribe to get emails when I knew posts go up, go down to this page and subscribe!

Marine Running IST PFT
* By the way Officers for some reason that is probably logical, like they run a lot in their bootcamp, are usually really better runners. If I had to bet on who was faster between an officer and an enlisted… I pick the officer and I dont like officer just on principle. 🙂
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You decided to join the Marines! It’s a big decision that you just made, and you will probably start asking yourself certain questions once the excitement wears off. (Been there) Like, “What will I actually be doing in the Marines”, “How hard is boot camp”, “What will I be doing at boot camp”, “Um, is this a good idea”? Or whatever other questions have crossed in your mind. I’m here to tell you that it is okay, it happens to most of us. No one knows all the ins and outs once they decide to become a Marine. I certainly didn’t.

When I joined, I was not one of the poolees who’s dad or brother was in the Marines, so I was completely unaware about how the military worked and more so about the Marines. I didn’t know what I should expect and what questions I should have been asking.


The one thing I will tell you though is once you made your decision, congrats! It’s a big decision and a very patriotic one, a decision most Americans would not make. It is okay to be happy and excited about the challenge you made for yourself. But also know, that now it’s time to get to work. To prepare yourself and increase your chances of being a good Marine. I’m also not talking about the physical fitness aspect, but also the mental aspect. The aspect of not just earning the title but become actually a good Marine and not shit bag Marine. If you are reading this, I presume you are making efforts in earning the title and working towards it.

I will be writing more posts like for poolees in the future to spread the knowledge I know to help. Feel free to comment below with any questions you have about any part of the process from MEPS, to going into the DEP, pullups, to being in the Marines. Again congrats on decision to join the Marines. If you have any questions or concerns about the physical fitness aspects check this post. Also if you decided to join after high school head here.

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