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Remedial Training for Fitness Testing

Pushup motivation.

It must be Spring time!  It seems this week the email box was loaded with quick fixes for the PFT in a few weeks or requests for getting PFT failures to pass the semi-annual fitness assessment.

Here are several issues people have with fitness tests and ways to surpass these pitfalls that lead to failure:

Nauseated During the Test

Often nausea or actually throwing up during a fitness test (or workout) is caused by lack of proper fuel in your body.  Getting light headed can be a symptom of low blood sugar that is usually caused by having not eaten anything in several hours.  Get some good carbs in you prior to the test like fruits, juice, or Gatorade (in a crunch).  Simply sipping something will help you not only perform better but avoid getting light headed leading to nausea.

  1. Another nausea causing issue is motion sickness.  During the sit-ups or pushups, even if you have any allergy or head cold symptoms, the movement of your head can cause nausea during your test.  You can avoid that the same way sailors avoid getting seasick – look at something stable.  In the ocean, it is the horizon.  During a fitness test it can be a spot on the wall or ceiling.  Do not close your eyes or let your eyes scan the room while moving.
  2. And yet another reason why you maybe nauseated during the PFT, is anxiety.  PFT Anxiety is real.

Cannot Pass the Run

Practicing running is something you have to do in order to be fit enough to pass a fitness test run of 1.5, 2, or 3 miles.  You cannot just wish this to go away.  Now there is no need to run every day, but at least every other day is required to build your legs and lungs for this event.  Two weeks prior to your test is not the time to start training. You should be making some form of cardio a regular event in your life with non-impact cardio accomplished on the days in between running.  You do not need to run a marathon, but you do need to be comfortable running the distance you are tested as a normal workout.  Try to fit five days of cardio into your seven-day week:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Run your test distance and build up to 2x your test distance over time.

Non impact cardio: bike, elliptical, row, swim, stair stepper…20-30min steady pace

Run intervals of goal pace running:

Try the distance of your test broken up into ¼ miles at your goal pace.  *

Non impact cardio: bike, elliptical, row, swim, stair stepper…20-30min of intervals 1 min fast / 1 min slow

Run your test distance PLUS a 2-3 ¼ mile or ½ miles at faster than goal pace.

*For example:  If you want to run a 12 min 1.5 mile run – you need a 2 min quarter mile split.

Help, I have two weeks and have recently recovered from an injury, now I have the test!

If you are cleared hot and ready to roll with your training, here is a plan that can help you do it in two weeks.  I do not recommend only working out for 2 weeks prior to every fitness test as eventually, it will catch up to you and you will fail or injure yourself (again).  See link for Two Weeks from PFT.

What is a good remedial plan for PFT failures?

Well it depends.  Most failures are a few seconds or reps short of a passing grade.  Usually that can be fixed with a few more tests and some technique assistance for either running, situps, or pushups.

Running Technique is important, but your pace can be the biggest issue as most people start out WAY too fast the first quarter mile only to continually get slower each quarter mile.  FIND YOUR PACE.

Sit-ups Technique and tips can help you go from failing one day and passing the next.  Getting smarter overnight is easy and so is mastering the sit-up with this pacing drill.

Pushup hand and body placement is the biggest reason why people fail pushups.  Well – also not practicing pushups is the major culprit.  Practice Pushups – Perfect Pushups.

Teaching these skills and having members practice them during their group workouts will assist with getting the group over the top.

The toughest group is the de-conditioned group to pass the PFT.  This is the group that for many reasons cannot exercise.  You have to treat this group like a beginner to fitness.  If you do a command PT evolution with them, it could break them and they will remain injured and unable to take the test period.  I treat all beginners the same.  Build a foundation of core strength and flexibility.  Focus on the basics with calisthenics or machine weights or dumbbells to build strength.  If overweight too, have them do more nonimpact aerobic activity to safely build cardio stamina and lose weight.  See ideas at Beginner Fitness Programming.

I hope this helped the many levels you have to approach Remedial PT programming.  One size will not fit all, so be smart and remind them that one day their fitness level maybe the difference of life and death for themselves, teammate, or family member.  Yes – it is that serious.

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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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