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Marine Corps' Seven Daily Exercises

By M.L. Rose

Marine Corps training includes workouts designed to improve the strength and muscular endurance of Marines and recruits. To this end, the Marines developed a “Daily Seven” exercise routine that covered all the major muscle groups. The program has been superseded by a “Daily 16,” but the Daily Seven remains an efficient total-body workout that can benefit anyone who wishes to train like a Marine. If you’re not in Marine-shape, do the routine every other day to allow your muscles to recover.

Side Straddle Hops

The side straddle hop -- also known as the jumping jack -- is the first of the Daily Seven you’ll perform because it’s used as an aerobic warm-up. Begin the side straddle hop by standing straight with your feet together and arms hanging at your sides. Execute a short hop in which you spread your feet about shoulder-width apart while simultaneously raising your arms and touching your fingertips together above your head.

Wide-Grip Pushups

Perform wide-grip pushups as you would standard pushups, but spread your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. This exercise emphasizes your chest while also working the shoulders. Position your feet close together, keep your body straight and lower yourself until your upper arms are roughly parallel with the floor. Return to the starting position, but don’t lock your elbows.


Marine-style crunches are a bit different than standard crunches, which give your abs a challenging workout. Lie face up on the floor and lift your legs so your knees are bent at right angles with your shins parallel to the floor. Cross your ankles and cross your arms on your chest. Lift your head and shoulders and touch your elbows to your knees before returning under control to the starting position.

Hand-to-Knee Squats

The hand-to-knee squat targets your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Stand straight, let your arms hang down and spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself as if you were going to sit, keeping your back straight, but stop when your hands reach your knees. Add intensity by maintaining the squat for eight to 10 seconds before rising.

Standing Calf Raises

The Marine Corps standing calf raise is no different from the standard calf raise, which targets the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and then lift your heels as high as possible. Try to hold your position for eight to 10 seconds before returning your heels to the floor. Add intensity by doing the exercise with the balls of your feet positioned on the front of a step or raised platform.

Standing Toe Raises

Standing toe raises target the tibialis anterior muscles in front of each shin. Begin in the same position as the calf raise, but lift your toes instead of your heels. Make the exercise more challenging by starting with your heels on the edge of a raised surface.

Back Extensions

The back extension targets lower-back muscles such as the erector spinae. Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and place your fingers on the back of your head. Simultaneously lift your head, chest and feet roughly 3 to 4 inches and then return under control to the starting position. Add intensity be holding the extension for three to five seconds, or by keeping your feet in place on the floor.

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