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Tactical Fitness: Crunch-Time Training for a Fitness Test

Tactical Fitness: Group Push-Ups

Though I am not a fan of short-term gains with respect to a fitness test, sometimes you have to make concessions to quickly train for a PFT. This could be due to a command decision or coming off of an injury and owing a fitness test to make the next rank or even stay in the military. Sometimes it is just lack of personal preparation and procrastination. Regardless of the why, if you have to take a fitness test with little time to prepare, here is how to do it respectfully and obtain better than "just barely passing" scores.

Hello Stew,

First, thank you very much for the great resources you provide to all of us newbies. My question is about my sit up test that's coming up in exactly 2 weeks. My goal is 38 army situps in 1 min.  I'm at a max of 24 sit-ups in 45seconds. Should I be practicing sets of 20 sit-ups in 30 seconds, or sets of 10 reps in 15 seconds? How about doing sets to failure; would that be better? 

Thank you very much,

Jim

Jim –

First of all, either will work, but you need to do them consistently for the next 10-12 days with a rest day mixed in if you feel you need it. But, I would do this:

Odd days: 1,3,5 – Do 1 minute sets of sit-ups spread throughout the day, as many as you wish. Try to set a total of 100-120 situps as a goal for the entire day.

Even days: 2,4,6 – During your normal workouts (lift, pt, run) do your sit-ups as rest sets – work on your 30 seconds pace to be equal to 50% of your 1 min goal like you mentioned in your question.

So if you want 40 in 1 minute, shoot for 20 in 30 seconds. Go for 40!  It sounds better than 38 and much easier with doing the math for 10,15,30, 45 second pace and reps you should be.

Do not start off too fast. 

Learn this pace and maintain it for the full minute. This is greatly more critical for a two-minute test and you will find that after doing sit-ups for a while, a one minute test can be treated like a sprint, and push 50-60+ in one minute. But you have to build up to that.

You need to muscle memory that pace and get your muscles in shape for maintaining it for a minute.

Taper / Testing Days

Keep doing this until day 10-11. Take days 12 and 13 off from doing sit-ups and planks, and just stretch.

Torso Balance and Strength for the Lower Back

Also, for a good torso balance from all these sit-ups, you need to do some plank poses. For every repetition of sit-ups you do in a day, make sure you get 1 second in plank pose at a minimum. So if you are getting 120 sit-ups in a day, you should accumulate at least two minutes in the plank pose.

But do not forget…

Make sure you are still doing other exercises in your fitness test so those do not suffer. You still need to run, do pushups, pull-ups, and shuttle runs (depending on what else you will be tested on). Good luck on the test. Let me know how you do. 

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Fitness Tactical Fitness Stew Smith

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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