The PFT Is Coming Up, and You're Not Ready. Here's What You Can Do

Pre-Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training students run 440-yard intervals as part of their physical training at Navy Special Warfare Center Detachment, Great Lakes, Illinois. (Sgt. Matthew Moeller/U.S. Navy photo)

I received an email from a soldier, who writes:

"I have been in the military for 17 years and am currently serving as a reservist. This weekend they informed me that I would be running the PT test in one month. I don't have any problem with the crunch or push-up portion, but the running and especially the waist circumference could use some work.

"The best way for me to get more points would be to shave off 2" from my waist, and possibly drop a minute or two from my run time. Is it possible to do that in four weeks?"

The good news to you soldiers out there who may have let the six months between PFTs slip by with very few workouts is that it's possible to help yourself in one month's time. You cannot do it by diet alone, but if you mix in the following, this month of PFT training could work for you in the long run:

Drink Water

That's one gallon a day for men or three quarts for women. If you are not drinking enough water, your body cannot burn fat as efficiently, and you also will have unnecessary weight gains because of water retention. It may not make a lot of sense, but you need to drink more water to allow your body to stop retaining water. Limit salty food intake as well.


Swim, bike or run/walk. Do this four times a week for 30-45 minutes. I would spend this time running, since you will be tested in a month. Check out the "Running and Cardio" archive for more tips.

PT or Weights

Two upper-body workouts/two lower-body workouts and abdominal workouts. Check out the "Weights and PT Workouts" article for more information.

These workouts will cause you to build muscle while simultaneously losing fat and inches. This should place your body fat within standard, making the circumference around your waist 2-4 inches smaller. Some people gain weight in this month due to muscle gains over fat loss, but they still will lose inches. 

Muscle weighs more than fat, so do not expect a huge weight loss. Inches lost will be much more noticeable in the first month. Permanent weight loss tends to pick up after the six-week mark, once your muscle growth has stabilized. Weight loss will be slight, maybe 8-10 pounds in one month. Limiting it to 1-3 pounds per week is the healthiest way to lose weight.

The workouts in the articles and eBooks on the Fitness eBook Store will help you lose weight, get faster and score higher on the PFT. By combining strength building, cardiovascular activity and flexibility with proper food intake before the PFT, you will be better prepared for the event.

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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