What Is the Army Physical Fitness Test? (APFT)Each branch of the US Military has a specific set of criteria used to assess the fitness of its candidates. The Army Physical Fitness Test helps determine the health status and physical fitness of prospective candidates as well as current soldiers. The standard Army fitness test consists of:
- A two-mile run
- Maximum sit-ups in 2 minutes
- Maximum push-ups in 2 minutes
Before You Begin Training for the Army Physical Fitness TestThe most important thing to recognize before you start training for the APFT is that the test is simply one measurement tool used to assess overall fitness. If you excel in these three disciplines (upper body strength and endurance, core strength and endurance and cardiovascular speed and endurance) it's likely that you have excellent overall fitness and are well-prepared for the rigors of combat.
If, however, your fitness goal is simply to pass the APFT, you are missing the entire point of the testing. Yes, you can train specifically to do well on the test, and this will generally mean you have good overall fitness, but it's important to have a solid base of total health as well. Total health includes:
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Muscle Strength and Endurance
- Injury Prevention
- Proper Rest and Recovery
- Proper Nutrition
- Good Flexibility
- Ideal Body Composition
Preparing for the Army Physical Fitness TestPreparing for this fitness test can be simple or difficult, depending upon your current fitness level. If you are in excellent shape, simply focusing on the specific test exercises for a month or two should be sufficient to score well on the APFT.
If you are not currently fit, or fit in only one discipline (swimming, cycling or weight lifting) or you have a good deal of extra body fat to lose, you will need to start training long before you take the Army fitness test; you'll want to improve your overall baseline fitness first, and then narrow in on the specific areas that will be measured during testing.
- Build A Base of Cardiovascular Fitness
It's important to exercise consistently and include a variety of exercises in your program. You need to have strength, endurance, speed and power, but building a solid fitness base using long, slow, steady exercise sessions is the starting point if you are just beginning a fitness program. Add cross training workouts to provide variety and improve your overall fitness as you build endurance.
- Begin a Basic Strength Training Routine
If you haven't done much weight training in the past you'll need to start with lighter weights, more reps, and build up gradually over time. A simplified strength training routine may be all you need for the first two months, until you develop overall strength.
Training To Pass the APFTAfter you have a solid and wide-reaching base of fitness, the next step to acing your APFT is to build specific fitness in the areas tested. Adding sets of push ups and sit ups, and other core strength and endurance training to your workout is essential.
How To Pass the APFT Two-Minute Push-Up Test
To pass the push-up test, you need to master the push-up technique and then practice, practice, practice. You can add a variety of push-up styles into your routine, such as decline push-ups, diamond push-ups, plyometric push-ups, etc. When you complete your push-up workout, finish with easier push-ups on your knees and continue until you can't do any more.
How To Pass the APFT Two-Minute Sit-Up Test
In order to pass your sit-up test, you need excellent abdominal and hip flexor strength and endurance. Doing lots of sit-ups is your goal, but to get there, you may want to add a variety of ab and core exercises into your sit-up training routine. This will help you to develop good overall core strength and endurance. Practice sit-ups following the APFT protocol, as well as planks, knee raise, and oblique exercises.
How To Pass the APFT Two-Mile Run Test
If you are new to running, start with this How to Get Started With Running program to get your body accustomed to the activity. Once you are able to jog for 30 minutes, you are ready to build more speed and power.
To improve your two-mile run time, you can incorporate sprint work, interval training, or run "Ladders" at a 400-meter track. Here is a basic ladder workout that will get you ready for the two-mile run test.
- Do this workout at a 400 meter (m) track, twice a week with at least three days between workouts.
- Warm up by jogging for two laps (800m)
- Run 1 lap (400m) at your goal pace
- Jog 800m
- Run 400m at goal pace
- Continue for 8 laps (two miles)
- Over time (every two weeks) increase the laps run at goal pace and decrease the laps jogged, until you can maintain your goal pace for the entire two-miles.
Exercise Safety TipsAs you are preparing for your APFT, the last thing you need is an injury. The first step to preventing training injuries is to pay attention to your body and any aches and pains that come on quickly or slowly:
- Learn: The Warning Signs of Sports Injuries
- Learn: How To Treat Sports Injuries
- Know: Exercise Should Not Cause Pain
By following these tips and suggestions, you'll be better prepared to pass your next APFT, safely and without injury.