How to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test – How can I clear army recruitment rally physical test
How to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test
This article offers a fairly simple and easy to follow PT plan for the busy Army Reservist. It also gives you an “emergency” plan for preparing for a PT test only a few weeks away. This is particularly useful if you are just coming off of profile or for whatever reason are not in optimal shape.
The first half of the guide covers maintenance mode; what you need to do to make sure you stay in shape for your next PT test. The second half of the guide is emergency mode; tips for making the most of your current level of fitness on a test scheduled in the next few weeks.
- Run three times per week. Twice for a mile and once for two miles. A mile is a lot less painful than two miles if you have issues running. Simply run a mile at least twice a week and monitor your time. You should know by now what time you have to run your first mile in to pass a PT test, so as long as you run this time in your practice mile with energy to spare you should be able to maintain your two mile run time. It is a good idea to run at least two miles once per week. This keeps you used to the distance you’re required to run. If you find yourself slipping below your optimum mile time you may want to run at least two miles every time.
If you want to see if you’re running hard enough, buy a heart rate monitor. Once you achieve the time you need to pass during a practice run, make a note of your average heart rate during the run. This will come in extremely handy during a PT test as you can use it as a benchmark to see if you are pushing yourself hard enough (or not enough).
Consider buying these shoes. To the best of my knowledge they are NOT legal on a PT test, however they will force you to run on your forefeet, which if you carry this habit over to the PT test, will dramatically increase your speed and endurance.
- Do push-ups and sit-ups every two days. Just do as many as you can at once, PT test style. As long as you can still do your minimum (with a few to spare for safety) you should be fine. Obviously your ideal workout would have you going to muscle failure each session, but this isn’t always possible if you lead a busy civilian life.
Emergency PT Test Procedures
Push-ups: Point your toes forward and your heels back and start out by doing tricep (hands shoulder width) push-ups. Do as many as you can until you start to feel like you have five left in you and stop for a break. DO NOTgo until you almost can’t do anymore. If you need 42 push-ups to pass you should aim for 35 without stopping. After your first break, resume and start doing wide arm push-ups 3 – 5 at a time until you reach your goal. Do as many as you can, it is pointless to conserve energy since you are typically using different muscles. Also, your grader may not take kindly if they feel you aren’t giving your full effort.
Sit-ups: Next to the 2 mile run, sit-ups are the most challenging event for a lot of soldiers. During a test you can make each sit-up significantly easier by putting your heels as far away from your butt as possible. The lower the altitude of your knees the easier each sit-up becomes. The biggest mistake I see struggling soldiers make is they don’t understand the concept of a 90 degree angle and keep their heels far too close to their rear. Try to take your break at about 75% of your goal. If you need more breaks try to knock out at least 5 sit-ups in between and limit each break to several seconds. You should also focus on letting yourself fall back instead of wasting energy throwing yourself back. Do not come up any further than you have to. Once your shoulder blades cross the base of your spine the sit-up counts.
2 mile run: Before your test you should practice running on the same track you will be tested on. If the track is outdoors and forms an odd shape, use Google Earth to create a line path to analyze which side of the track to run on at all times. Even a track three feet wide has slightly different total lengths depending on whether you run on the right or left side. On a simple oval shaped track, obviously the farther left you stay, the shorter your run will be.
This is important because many times the track was measured on the shortest possible distance. This means that if you run on the outer edge you might be running farther than two miles. On a track that twists and turns you may need Google Earth to analyze the optimum sides to run on for each segment.
The following tips are for the day and morning before the run:
- The night before the run try to get at least 10 hours of sleep. Why 10? Because you will lose at least 2 hours of sleep getting up to pee constantly.
- Have a liter of water by your bedside and take a few sips every time you wake up in the night.
- An hour or two before the run, eat a bagel with peanut butter or a banana.
- Right before the run begins, position yourself as close to the starting line as possible. Some units will start counting time when the first soldier crosses the start line. This could cost you an extra 10 seconds onto your time if you are near the back of the formation.
The following are tips for the run itself:
- Do not tense your core.
- Breathe in a pattern, taking a breath every few steps. Calling cadence in your head can help you maintain this pattern.
- Make sure your foot hits the ground just below your hip or you will over-stride, wasting energy.
- Make sure you land on the ball of your foot first, before your heel strikes, or you will waste energy.
- Keep an eye on your heart rate monitor. If you find yourself falling below the heart rate you normally train at, you are not pushing yourself hard enough and can speed up. If you are above your target rate, slow down to conserve energy. If you are a nerd like me, pretend this is your stamina bar and you’re playing Skyrim or something.
- Do not sprint until the last 1/10th of a mile.
Hopefully these tips will help you pass your next Army PT test. You should ideally be in shape before you take the APFT but sometimes life happens and you need to make sure you pass.
- Start out slowly
- Focus on form
- Follow a plan
- Disconnect to connect
- Redefine your comfort zone
- Be limitless