How to Achieve a Good Score on the Army Airborne PFT

Paratrooper prepares to land during basic airborne refresher course.
U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, act as safeties during the basic airborne refresher course at Caserma Ederle, Vicenza, Italy, Sept. 23, 2014. (Photo by Visual Information Specialist Davide Dalla Massara)

If you are preparing to become a member of any Special Operations group (Army SF, Rangers, Navy SEALs, Marine RECON, Air Force PJs, EOD units and others), you must graduate from the Army Basic Airborne Course (BAC) in Fort Benning, Georgia. Not only is it a prerequisite for special ops, but it has become a mandatory school to further your Army career as well. So let the BAC be a starting point to making your future in the Army bright, exciting and fulfilling.

To prepare for BAC, you need to pass the Army PFT with a score of 180 and hold a flexed arm hang for 10 seconds*. At age bracket 17-21, that is only a score of:

180 Score
  Men Women
Push-ups 42 19
Sit-ups 53 53
2-mile run 15:54 18:54

These scores are below average for the caliber of student who easily graduates Airborne without any trouble on the daily runs and PT. I would recommend getting closer to the 80%-100% on the Army physical fitness test, or APFT, so you can enjoy the training and better concentrate on the mission at hand -- jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. The 80%-100% range is:

240-300 Score
  Men Women
Push-ups 57-71 31-42
Sit-ups 66-78 66-78
2-mile run 13:00-14:24 15:36-17:12

If your goal is to become an Army Ranger or soldier in the Special Forces, you definitely want to ace the Army PFT with a 300 or better. The following training for any SF school will require much more out of you than Airborne, but Airborne is a great first step to "jump-starting" your career. Many of my favorite PT programs to train for the Army PFT can be found in these links:

Pull-ups/flexed arm hang

Push-ups and sit-ups


Prepare for ruck marches

Now, let's meet those physical standards and surpass the 180 minimum score and aim higher. While you are taking the time to exercise to prepare for the training, pick up the training a notch and really get yourself in top shape. Noncombatants and combatants in the Army alike, now more than ever, need to raise the bar and perform at higher standards. Be ready and train hard in all areas. Good luck to all soldiers and future soldiers. Thanks for your service.

Learn More About Army Special Forces

More Army Special Forces articles:

Army Special Forces overview

Army Green Beret training

Army Ranger PFT

Preparing for Army Ranger School

Weight gain for Ranger School

All Army Special Forces articles

Other Army fitness articles:

Army Basic Training PFT requirements

Army weight standards

Army fitness workout plan

Army Ranger fitness

Performing for the Special Forces

Physical fitness test anxiety

Find Available Special Operations Opportunities

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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