To join the U.S. Marines, recruits must meet the Corps strigent fitness expectations, like its height and weight standards, before qualifying.
They must also abide by a set of fitness standards that all Marines, enlisted or officer, must always meet.
The Marine Corps updated its fitness requirements in 2017, which include both the combat fitness test and the physical fitness test. It updated its body fat standards in January 2023.
The weight and body fat standards for the Marine Corps are based on performance and health, and not on appearance. To qualify to join the Marines, you should not exceed the maximum limits set for body fat percentage.
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Enlisted and officer Marines in active duty are weighed semi-annually while Reserves are weighed annually. These weights are compared to the set Marine standards in the below chart.
Here are charts for height and weight standards for the Marines, both for females and males:
Marine Corps Height and Weight Standards Charts
Marine Corps Weight Standards for Men
|Height (inches)||Minimum Weight (in lbs.)||Maximum Weight (in lbs.)|
Marine Corps Height And Weight Standards for Women
|Height (in inches)||Minimum Weight (in lbs.)||Maximum Weight (in lbs.)|
Body Fat Standards for Marines
As per the recent updates, effective for 2023:
Male Marines must be within the 18% -21% body fat range while female Marines should be within the 27%-30% body fat range, depending on age. These standards apply to first-time recruits and extend throughout their career as a Marine.
Marines may avoid body fat screening tests if they meet the set scores for both the physical fitness test and the combat fitness test. These tests are extremely challenging, and Marines must get a score of 285 or higher on both tests to be exempted from the body fat screening tests. Those who get a score of more than 250 are given an allowance of 1 percent for their body fat as per the guidelines.
Here are the maximum body fat percentages for Marines in each age group:
|Age Group||Body Fat % - Men||Body Fat % - Women|
|17 - 20||18%||27%|
|21 - 25||18%||27%|
|26 - 30||19%||28%|
|31 - 35||19%||28%|
|36 - 40||20%||29%|
|41 - 45||20%||29%|
|46 - 50||21%||30%|
Related Article – USMC PFT/CFT Calculator
How Are Height and Weight Measured For the Marine Corps?
To measure height, a Marine must stand with his/her back against a wall with their heels flat on the floor and their head facing forward. Arms should hang relaxed at the sides and shoulders should lean backward. Height is rounded to the nearest full inch.
Weight is taken on a calibrated scale, either a balanced bean or digital scale. For Marines already in the service, their weight is taken while in their PT uniforms with no shoes. This means that a pound is deducted from the measured weight to account for the uniform. Again, the weight is rounded off to the nearest full pound.
What Happens When You Exceed Marines Weight Standard?
If a Marine has exceeded the maximum limit for weight requirement, he/she will undergo body fat tests using a tape measure with a self-tensioning measuring tape. Those results are recorded on the BCP Evaluation form (NAVMC 11621 (Rev. 11-16)) and used to estimate body fat percentage.
If the body fat percentage for the Marine is higher than the allowable number according to the chart above, a Dual -Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) or Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) is used to validate the tape test.
The Marines discovered that the tape test wasn’t as accurate as required, so they changed the policy as of 2023.
If the body fat percentage is still above the maximum allowed, the Marine is enrolled in the Body Composition Program.
Before being placed on the program, active-duty Marines are given a medical work-up to rule out any underlying medical cause.
If even after joining the Body Composition Program, a Marine fails to meet the maximum weight limit, he/she may be involuntarily discharged.
Please note that Marines who exceed the weight standards but meet the body fat requirements are considered fit for the service; they would not be enrolled in the Body Composition Program.
These changes were made because the Marines realized they were locking out fit people who had added bulk in the form of muscles as a result of vigorous exercises.
Also, it is important to point out that Marines who are below the standard weight and body standards are considered fit for the Marines. However, Commanders may refer them for a thorough medical evaluation to rule out any health or psychological factor that might be resulting in them being underweight.
It’s also important to note that the Corps waives weight requirements for existing female Marines up to 9 months after delivery for pregnancy.
Waivers for Body Fat Requirements
Waivers, under rare circumstances, are passed to the first Commanding General Officer in the Marine’s chain of command.
Marines being considered for a waiver should display exceptional military appearance, possess a superior level of fitness, and perform beyond all reasonable expectations, despite exceeding established height/weight and body composition standards.
All Marines are expected to maintain the set height and weight standards throughout their stay in the service. This is to ensure they are physically ready for any operation they get called upon.
Marines who exceed the maximum weight limit or body fat composition may be enrolled in the Marine Corps’ Body Composition Program to help them trim down their weight.
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