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How to Avoid the #1 Mistake in Fitness Testing

US Coast Guard Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA)

Help, I only have one month until the PT test and I'm out of shape! What do I do?

I sadly get this request from readers who are "cramming" to pass a fitness test to either get or keep their job in the military or law enforcement. Often this happens when people do not train year-round and get out of shape. Also, sometimes instead of training specifically for the fitness test they perform workouts or participate in unrelated athletic events that do not contribute to optimal or even passing performance on the test.

Some people may be battling illness or injury and have deconditioned due to recovery protocol, but some are just "too busy" or don't like to exercise. Here are three mistakes to avoid if you're unprepared for your PT Test:

  • Weight-room body building.
  • Exercising only a few times a year.
  • Getting so out of shape that you fail a fitness test or perform your job poorly.

Each of the above three mistakes can negatively affect your overall performance and health:

  • Being able to bench-press a truck is a waste of time if you want to succeed at PT tests and in your profession.
  • Not training regularly leads to injury and sets you up for failure.
  • You only get good at testing by testing. Practice the Test. Get Specific.

Too many people do not train regularly and start training for the PFT about one to two weeks prior to taking the test. Worse still, they do workouts that can actually make running harder or timed events like pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups more challenging than they have to be.

The good news for unprepared candidates and soldiers out there is that it's possible to help yourself in one month, if not one week. Of course, with such a short time to prepare you will not have optimal, 100 percentile scores, but you can get well into the passing zone and avoid flirting with minimum or failing scores.

However, waiting till the last minute is a mistake because not training for anything is training to fail. Failure will lead to many consequences in your profession. Proper training is critical to job performance and acceptance as well as your health because:

  • If you fail, you could lose your job. If you fail as a recruit, you might not get hired.
  • Not staying in shape year-round can get you killed in an emergency situation or prevent you from saving someone that needs your help such as family, friends, fellow soldiers, police, or fire fighters.
  • Failure or sub-par performance can affect your promotion value.

What should you do NOW with only one month away from PT Test:

If you've already fallen into the last-minute trap, here's how you get out:

  • Make sure you know all the testing parameters of the test you are taking. Know the test, required times, rest periods, etc.
  • Take a practice test and start a water and nutrition plan.
  • Each day's workout should feature an element of the test. Each week should include a practice run of the actual test. It's important to learn how to take the test.
  • Start specific training now, even two-a-day workouts. Mix in non-impact options so you do not over-train for the running test. Your goal is to hydrate and lose excess weight to assist with any circumference tests and to make running easier.

Tools and Insight to Help People Get Results Faster, Easier, and More Efficiently

Here is a quick routine not many people know about that has been helping people gain 50-100+% on their PT Test scores in 14 days for over 20 years! 

Pushup Push – With this supplemental plan, you can increase your pushups significantly in two weeks.

Pull-up Push – With this supplemental plan, you can increase your pull-ups significantly in two weeks.

Sit-ups Push – Learn to GOAL-PACE yourself and build up your score in two weeks.

Running Plan – Running plan to assist with getting faster at timed runs. Lay off the heavy leg workouts while in a running/speed cycle.

One of the Exercise 101 concepts is the FITT Principle:  FITT stands for:  Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type (Specificity). If your goal is to pass a test or compete in an event, you have to train with the above four elements to see success.

This #1 tip of acing a fitness test is part of The Military, Police, Fire Fighter PT Test Survival Guide where more than a dozen mistakes to test taking are discussed, complete with a seven week workout plan.

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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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