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Military-Mastering You PT Test

Being a United States Army Veteran there are a few things that I understand about serving our country.

Everything in the military is a time honored tradition, and I do mean everything. From the way you treat your leaders and supervisors all the way down to how you tie your boots.

Your personal physical fitness is no exception to the rule.

This is because survivability on the battlefield will be determined by a troops physical fitness. Basically, the fitter a troop is, the longer they will survive when it comes down to a life or death situation.

Because of this fact, physical fitness is a large part of what the U.S. military focuses on.

So much so that you must pass a physical fitness test every 6-12 months.

This test consists of 3 events:

Push up or pull up

Sit up or crunch

1.5 - 3 mile run

Each event is timed, and in order to get a passing grade, you must complete a certain amount of repetitions or complete the distance within the time limit.

Depending on how well you do on the event you are given a score on a 1-100 scale with many troops looking for the coveted 300. A score of 100 in all 3 events.

Troops are also rewarded for scoring a 300 on the test. Depending on the branch the rewards you can get are an annual PT test vs doing the test every 6 months, or promotion points.

This leads to many troops going to the gym and working out trying to increase their fitness scores. I have trained my fair share of these troops.

I was also one of these troops chasing a 300 on my PT test. I have made my fair share of mistakes trying to increase my scores.

Here are a few things I learned about increasing PT scores.

Endless push ups will get you nowhere.

I love push ups, in fact push ups are one of my all time favorite exercises. It has endless benefits to your fitness and your overall strength. However, if I am looking to increase the number of push ups I can do in a certain amount of time, I do not want to only focus on push ups.

I will actually want to put some time into developing my shoulder, triceps, and core strength, more on core strength later.

This is because if I am lacking in my push ups I am most likely weak somewhere in my upper body. Usually this is in the shoulders and triceps.

Incline bench press, shoulder press, and triceps extensions are great ways to get this done.

Miles and miles of running will not make you faster.

We do want to run for multiple miles, this is because running for over a mile is a part of the test. However, if the run (where most people struggle) is what I am lacking in, running more miles or further may not be the answer.

Instead I will want to have some sort of a focus on speed work. Speed work is where we will learn how to run faster and condition our bodies to have the cardiovascular capacity to run long distances faster.

Sprints of varying distance and times are a great way to get this type of work in. You can also try 400 and 800 meter repeats.

Stop doing sit ups and crunches

Ok, I don’t like sit ups and crunches. These are exercises that I wish would just go away. They are bad for your back, neck, and hip flexors.

However, they are a part of the military physical fitness test, and do need to be trained. A better way of doing it is we will want to strengthen our core as a whole. Lucky for us, we can improve our sit up numbers with a much better, much safer, much more effective exercise.


Planks will not only help you improve your sit up numbers, they will also strengthen your lower back. This will help you in every other aspect of life in and out of the military. You will be pain free and you will be able to do your military operations much more effectively.

The increase in core strength will also give the added benefit of helping us improve our push up score.

Keep in mind, we do need to train and practice each individual event of the PT test. I am not saying to stop doing push ups and running, I won’t mention the sit ups/crunches. What I am saying is we need to look for alternatives outside of just doing loads of miles and reps to train for the event.

We need to train smarter not harder.

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