A Military Fitness Blueprint if Given One Month Before a PT Test

Preparing for the PFT

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 two inches 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 physical fitness tests 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 also could work for you in the long run.

Drink Water

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.

Running increases endurance, builds muscles, promotes cardiovascular health and strengthens the heart.
Running increases endurance, builds muscles, promotes cardiovascular health and strengthens the heart. It also helps relieve stress and can put you in a better mood. (Airman 1st Class Dillon J. Audit/U.S. Air Force photo)


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. Try the workouts listed for running in the Stew Smith Article Guide.

PT or Weights

It is recommended to do two upper-body and two lower-body workouts, along with abdominal workouts.

These workouts will cause you to build muscle while simultaneously losing fat and inches. This should place your body fat within the standards, making the circumference around your waist 2-4 inches smaller. Some people gain weight in this month because of 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. This is the healthiest way to lose weight, limiting it to 1-3 pounds per week.

More Military PFT Prep

The workouts in the articles and eBooks on the Military.com Fitness eBook store will help you lose weight, get faster and score higher on the PFT. By combining all forms of exercise -- strength building, cardiovascular activity and flexibility -- as well as food intake prior to 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. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.

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