How to ACE Your Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
Posted on November 21 2018
I was in the Air Force ROTC program, August 2014. When I joined I was struggling with my push-ups, I was struggling with my run. Then, a week later, we took the PT test and I did horrible on it or was not as good as I wanted to. I didn't max out my push-ups & did terrible on the running portion. However, by not doing well in those departments, it actually led me to where I am today. A few months later I ended up getting a 99.7 on my Air Force Physical Fitness Test and with that, I want to share my experience and give you five tips to passing any military physical fitness test. This info is applicable to any branch of the service; Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, or any international military unit, for that matter, who has a physical fitness test. These exact five tips led me to be able to max out my fitness test in no time.
1. Focus on Your Weaknesses
Let’s say, for example, if you're really good at push-ups but you're horrible at the run or sit-ups, then that means you need to stop doing so many push-ups throughout the week and start focusing on your weakness & making running and sit-ups a priority for improvement. I'm going to use me and my experience as an example of these different tips. I was decent at push-ups. Right? So my priority wasn't to do a whole bunch of push-ups because I knew that in due time I can easily either maintain it or add five to ten push-ups. Meanwhile, I was horrible at running and my cardiovascular endurance and that was quickly defined as my weakness. So my main goal was to focus on my weakness, even though there wasn’t a lot of motivation for me to get up and work out, I knew what had to be done if I wanted to make a change.
2. Tackle Technique
Tip number two is that you want to hack the technique of the test. What I mean by this is for the Air Force PT test, sit-ups, people would absolutely kill themselves with it. Instead of following proper procedure and only touching your elbows to your lower thigh, people would try to ball out, forget technique, and try to bring their elbows above their knees, making themselves more tired and doing more than what they have to do. A way to avoid this is for you to go over whatever guide or manual that your test is in, and look at the technique guide and see exactly what you should do to perform it and what counts as a rep. Another example; push-ups. People would do the push-up going all the way down, touching their chest to the ground and go all the way up. But in reality, the proper technique is to make a 90-degree angle with your arm then extend all the way up and not even locked out, at least for the Air Force PT test. So with that, I definitely used my technique hacks and I did just enough to hit a rep which allowed me to increase my reps in the long run.
3. Greasing the Groove
“What does greasing the groove?” You might ask; let me explain. I mentioned this and explained it in depth in a past video. That's why you should be subscribed if you're interested in anything fitness. But greasing the groove is taking your max number of repetitions and then breaking that down throughout the day. For example, if I can do 60 push-ups in a row, but my goal is 70 to max out my PT test. What I'm going to do is submaximal sets of that throughout the day, let's say three, four times a day spread out between three and four hours. So when I wake up I'm going to do around 35 reps. At noon, I'm going to do 35 again. And then in the evening, I'm going to do 35 again. At night I'm going to do 35 again. You can do this a few times a week. I recommend anywhere between three and four times a week so that your body has time to rest.
4. Double your Goal
This tip is mostly applicable to the running portion of your fitness test, which I know a ton of people have a problem with, even myself. You want to get comfortable running twice the distance of whatever you have to do. If you have to run one mile, you want to get comfortable running two miles without a problem. As you do your runs, don't just run the mile because that's on your test. NO. Stop doing that! Run longer than what you have to, so that way when you actually do your test it feels like a piece of cake for you.
5. Have a Workout Plan
Now the last tip, tip number five, I just kind of mentioned this, and that is if you want to have an actual workout program, a structured workout program that supplements your training program. My commander, colonel always said, when I was in ROTC, is that you don't want to train for a PT test, never train to pass a PT test. Alongside your PT test training, you want to have an actual fitness lifestyle routine and not just going in there, training your push-ups and your run is what I'm trying to say. If you’re new to fitness and don’t know where to start then I highly recommend, from an unbiased standpoint, that you check out The Bodyweight Bodybuilder Program. If this program has helped thousands reach their own unique fitness goals, then it can do the same for you. I know having a structured routine is definitely difficult for a lot of people, but make sure you just define your goal.
Those were my five tips to helping you master your PT test in the military, in any branch. If you have any more questions, be sure to leave them down below.