How to Pass the Army Physical Fitness Test
For anybody who has been in the Army for a while, you already know that the PT test isn’t too hard. It’s actually a lot easier than people think.
If there are problems with the PT test, they aren’t with the test itself. Soldiers don’t always spend the time they need to stay physically fit.
When you wait until there are less than 60 days until the PT test time comes before starting to run and do sit-ups and push-ups, you shouldn’t expect to pass the PT test or do better than the minimum requirements.
Commit to Consistent Training
As a soldier, you should be ready to pass the Army physical fitness test at a moment’s notice. If a war were announced, you could deploy for combat at any time. That’s why your commitment and preparation should be every day.
It doesn’t take much of a daily time commitment to pass the PT test. It only has 3 parts:
- 2 minutes of push-ups
- 2 minutes of sit-ups
- 2-mile run
In order to pass the PT test and get at least 80% on each event, you must have dedication, discipline, desire, and determination to do better.
An easy way to do well on the PT test is to follow a 3-part training program 4 times a week:
- Do as many push-ups as you can, nonstop for at least 3 minutes
- Do as many sit-ups as you can, nonstop, for at least 3 minutes
- Run using the following training schedule
How to Train for the Run
For most units and soldiers, failing or getting a low score on the PT test usually occurs because of the running portion. Running can be boring and sometimes soldiers just don’t want to do it. But it has to be done, and hopefully these training ideas will make it more interesting.
The First Mile
So, to start, if you haven’t been running for a while, begin by simply running a quarter mile in 2 minutes. This will help your body get used to running at an 8-minute mile pace. Do this run 4 times a week for 2 weeks.
After the 2 weeks are up, push yourself and run 0.5 miles in 4 minutes. Again, do this 4 times a week for 2 weeks.
Next, you’ll run 0.75 miles in 6 minutes. Do it 4 times a week for 2 weeks.
Finally, move up to running a mile in 8 minutes, 4 times a week for 2 weeks.
The Second Mile
Now that you can do a mile in 8 minutes, it’s time to work on the second mile. Because this is where running usually gets boring, you’ll want to mix things up with interval training. This is where you run for 30 seconds and then walk for a minute.
During the 30 seconds of running, push yourself to about 80% of a full sprint, then switch and walk for a minute. Repeat this pattern for 2 miles, working your way up to where you can do intervals for up to 3 miles in 24 minutes or less.
At this point, you’re ready for the PT test. This is how I used to prepare for mine, and I always scored 300 and above.
In order to keep ready, you’ll want to continue to run 4 times a week, alternating every other day between an interval run and running 1–2 miles straight.
Breaking Down the Run
In order to make the run less boring, I would set a series of challenges and goals for myself. For example, I would try to do the first mile in 6 minutes or less and the second mile in 8 minutes or less.
To break up the second mile, I would also set smaller goals for myself, like finishing the first half mile in 4 minutes so I could rest a little bit and let my breathing slow down.
For the final half mile, I would speed up by picking a point about 200 yards away and pushing myself to run it in a minute. Once I reached it, I would pick another point 200 yards away and try to run it in 45 seconds.
At this point, I would only have a quarter mile left, and this is where the interval training comes in. I would try to do that quarter mile at 80% of my all-out sprinting speed. This would allow me to finish the 2 miles in less than 14 minutes. For most age groups, that would put my score at 80 points or higher.
Leave It All on the Field
For the PT test, you should always try and leave it all on the field and be driven to score as high as you can. Don’t do just the minimum and get up. The Army uses a soldier’s PT score when evaluating them for a lot of opportunities.
Some of these opportunities include promotion points and being able to attend certain schools. Since some schools require a 270 PT score average on your last 3 tests, you should push yourself to not accept anything less than a 280.
Sometimes that requires a gradual improvement, but you can get there. When I deployed in 2011 as a squad leader, my squad had an average PT score of 220. When we left the main operating base, the squad had improved it to 260. And, in under 60 days, we improve our average score to 286, the highest in our company.
In order to make these improvements, I simply had my squad do what I have written. The above suggestions improved their performance and can improve yours as well.
Confident & Prepared for Combat
While physical fitness should be an important part of any person’s life, it should especially be important to someone in the military. Being physically fit builds confidence and helps relieve the stress that a deployment can cause.
You should set physical fitness and PT goals that exceed not only your unit’s expectations, but the Army’s as well. A physically fit soldier is a well prepared and confident soldier that can complete a mission at anytime, anywhere, and under any conditions.
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